Airdate: November 1, 2012
Radiant Child Yoga Program teacher trainer/author Shakta Kaur Khalsa joins Ramdesh to discuss her renowned and radiant program. Shakta, a former Montessori schoolteacher, has worked with children since the 1970s, and has brought the Radiant Child training all over the world. She is also a gifted singer.
What is the difference between teaching Kundalini yoga to adults and teaching children? Up to age eight, Shakta explains, yoga is about play. She uses stories and other playful methods to engage the children. Little ones are already active so they don’t need to do breath of fire (nor is it easy to explain this technique to kids). For young kids the yoga is interwoven with fantasy and imaginative, creative stories.
Older kids may not relate to an imaginary jungle trip and can be taught in a more adult manner. With children over eight, Shakta presents the concept that yoga is a toolbox to take into their lives. She introduces pranayama that will help them prepare for an exam or wake up their brain for a test. It helps them with the challenges that they’re facing as they growing up. A kriya to strengthen the energy field is also very effective with preteens and teens.
A popular meditation for kids is “I am Happy I am Good.” Shakta recalls how Yogi Bhajan gathered the children and told them, “When your parents are not behaving you can teach them this!” Kids love this playful meditation, which can be done with celestial communication.
Where to start when teaching kids? If possible, with Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo. However, school systems are sometimes reluctant when it comes to the use of mantra. To resolve this, Shakta shares a tip from Yogi Bhajan. Arrive at the school in your car, turn off the engine and tune in out loud. Then consciously carry that energy with you to the children and when you sit down to teach ask them to close their eyes, and do three deep breaths together to begin.
What about kids with special needs? Kundalini yoga is an excellent resource for these children. Shakta explains, “Every child is beautiful. Kids with sensory issues are differently wired. It’s not good, not bad; just different.” When approaching children with autism or ADHD, for instance, “We think of these children as children who came here with special intentions, not special needs. They come with a different wiring, a different perspective, and there is something for us to learn from them as well as for them to learn from us.”
Kundalini yoga balances the brain and helps to organize the nervous system. For example, bundle roll is a great exercise to deal with ADHD or hyperactivity. When you lie on the floor, stiffen the body and roll, your body automatically starts isometrically helping your nervous system to organize. Kids get a whole body massage; this helps with proprioception, or feeling the body in space.
Kundalini yoga also helps “special intention” kids to feel good about themselves. “Can you imagine how much unintentional negative feedback they get every day just because they don’t do things the way everyone else does?” Shakta points out. Through the Radiant Child program, kids learn to love and accept themselves. Standing in Archer Pose, for instance, they chant, “I am brave, I am bold, my own spirit I can hold. I am safe, I am strong, to my own spirit I belong.” Beautiful!
In closing, Shakta, the author of the wonderful book Yoga for Women, shares some special tips for mothers. Says Shakta, “It doesn’t all have to be a grueling road to enlightenment. It can be a fun, focused and very connected, heartfelt road to enlightenment, too.” Join in the fun, relax, and renew as the podcast plays out to “You Can Relax Now” from Deeply Relax and Meditate. Tap into your inner child, and learn to play!