What better way to raise healthy, balanced adults than by teaching them mindfulness, focus and compassion as children. Basma Saimua reports on a new yoga programme for children being introduced into Dubai’s schools.
Imagine teaching children skills that will help build their self esteem and self-love. How about teaching them compassion and empathy for others or encouraging them to understand their feelings and to learn how deal with them in a healthy way. This is what yoga does, through mindfulness practices, breathing exercises, and postures.
For many years now, adults have been turning to yoga to help them find balance in their lives and some peace in a world that is constantly on the go. The modern world of constant distractions and hectic lifestyles also affects young people. For children, stresses result from wanting to fit in, peer pressure, exams, competitive sport, and being bombarded with information from social media, television, and the internet.
In these times, practicing yoga can also help children find more balance.
Mahatma Gandhi once said: “If we are to reach real peace in this world, we shall have to begin with children.” What better way to raise compassionate and emotionally stable adults than to reach them when they are children?
Through mindfulness practices children learn how to stay in the present moment, helping them learn how to be aware of their emotions in the moment, whether good or bad, and how to deal with these emotions.
Through breathing (pranayama) they learn the skill of relaxing their minds and bodies, which brings more peace into their lives.
Through postures (asana) they become strong and flexible. As well, it teaches them to remain focused, which is required to stay balanced and develop in their poses.
All of these practices are integrated into their every day lives shaping their experiences and relationships.
The best way to get children into yoga is to introduce it to schools and make it part of the educational system. That is the motivation of the Dubai-based founders of an after-school yoga programme
for children in Dubai schools. Called Posetivity, the programme is the brainchild of Katherine Cebrowski and Natalia Hassaniyeh.
“Our goal is to provide a place and opportunity for every student to realise his or her limitless potential,” Cebrowski says.
“Children are constantly challenged and placed in competitive and multi- sensory environments; whether it’s at school, sports team or even at home. This creates constant internal stress for the child. Posetivity provides a non- competitive playground where children are equal and are given the opportunity to explore their own potential.”
The women say that their motivation for launching Posetivity came from children themselves.
“They are our future and the ones who can create change. As adults, we recognise and appreciate the benefits of yoga, meditation and self-awareness so why not start teaching these vital tools to our children earlier in life?
Our programmes equip children with life skills that will encourage them to face challenges with positivity, open mindedness and confidence.
“We have customized a Posetivity curriculum that tackles many physical, mental, and emotional challenges that exist in youth. Whether it is our fun yoga sequencing, or engaging mindfulness exercises, we strive to teach techniques and tips that the students learn in the classroom and practice in the real world.”
THE POSETIVITY PROGRAMMES
There are three main Posetivity programmes, aimed at children of different ages. The Mini Vibes programme is for three to five year olds; the Good Vibes programme is for six to 11 year olds, and the Elevate programme is for 12 to 18 year olds.
All the programmes comprise three elements; yoga postures, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence. So far, 10 Dubai schools have taught the Good Vibes and Elevate programmes while some nurseries around the city are offering the Mini Vibes programme for pre-schoolers. A new programme called Yoga for the Special Child is slated to launch in Dubai soon and all the programmes will also be available in various Dubai yoga studios. For more information, go to www.posetivity.com.
BASMA SAIMUA is a certified Holistic Health Coach and yoga teacher. She offers private nutrition, weight-control and lifestyle coaching to women. For an initial free health consultation, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.basmasaimua.com