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How to Teach Kids Ahimsa

This week we’re talking about yoga philosophy and how to introduce the teachings to children. I’ve included a quick overview of yoga philosophy below. We’ll be exploring each limb in more detail on this site.  

 

In this week’s video we’re talking about the first yama, ahimsa, or non-harming. We can be non-harming by showing kindness and compassion to others and ourselves. I’m using a book called Garuda, the Eagle Who Soared with Ahimsa to talk about this with Harlem. The book is about an eagle who befriends other animals by being kind and loving. We’ve read the book so many times that now when we ask “Harlem are you being kind,” he’ll respond “like Garuda!” My hope is that it’s all sinking in somewhere. First and foremost, I strive to model kindness to him. Having a pet or sibling around is also a good opportunity to talk about kindness, we’re often reminding Harlem to be kind to our dog Nama. As he grows older, I’ll also speak to him about compassion, non-harming thoughts and actions, and self-love. Ahimsa is a life-long practice with many nuances. And a foundation for the rest of the yamas and niyamas.

 

Quick Overview of Yoga Philosophy:

 

Once upon a time, there was a sage named Patanjali. He wrote a book called The Yoga Sutra. In it he describes eight limbs of yoga. Each branch is designed to help the yogi live a more disciplined life with less suffering, in tune with the divine.

 

1. Yamas: 5 ethical standards on how to conduct ourselves

       a. Ahimsa: non-harming

       b. Satya: truthfulness

       c. Asteya: non-stealing

       d. Brahmacharya: self-restraint

       e. Aparigraha: non-greed

2. Niyamas: 5 self-disciplines on how to take care of ourselves

        a. Saucha: cleanliness

        b. Santosha: contentment

        c. Tapas: heat

        d. Svadhyaya: self-study

        e. Isvara pranidhana: surrender/devotion to the divine

3. Asana: physical postures to prepare the body to sit still for meditation

4. Pranayama: breathing techniques to steady the flow of energy and prepare for meditation

5. Pratyahara: sensory withdrawal in order to direct our attention to the internal

6. Dharana: concentration on a single point

7. Dhyana: meditation, being aware without a single focus, mind has quieted

8.  Samadhi: enlightenment, connection with the divine or self-realization

 

Additional resources to learn about the Yamas and Niyamas:

 

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