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Poha and padmasana in the summer

Poha and padmasana in the summer

Author: Sudeshna Chatterjee
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 15, 2009
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Mumbai/Poha-and-padmasana-in-the-summer/articleshow/4531850.cms

Introduction: Urban, Tribal Children Camping Their Way through the Vacation

It's a large, non-AC room, the props are a few mats flung on the floor. The Yoga Institute in a leafy lane in Santa Cruz thrums to life at 10 am, and by 4 pm it's time again for shavasana and some shut-eye. In between, there is breakfast (poha, upma or sabudana khichri), lunch (vegetarian, washed down with some chhas) and plenty of yoga and meditation. Participants in this one-month course are not middle-aged lawyers and accountants, but fresh-faced 15-year-olds.

Batches of children, teenagers and collegians all over the city have signed up for yoga camp, which they say is both fun and fulfilling.

The asanas and meditation help them to live their lives better, as in the case of 15-year-old Bandra boy Ravish Manglani, who says yoga has helped rein in his snappy temper, and 21-year-old Ritambhara Juneja, who hopes it will be handy when she becomes a counsellor. Anumita Shenoy, 13, enjoys vipassana, not because her father organises them but because she feels "more confident while answering her exams''.

Yoga teachers have noticed that in the last five years, kids and teens have made a beeline for yoga and meditation camps during the summer vacation. Kaivalyadham teacher Ravi Dixit says, "Classes run full during the summer. From 10-year-olds to teenagers to college kids, students do not bunk a single class in our seven-day or fortnight courses. There are written exercises as well.''

Ramnath Shenoy, in-charge of children's Vipassana courses, maintains "the vacation brings in larger participation".

Why does a generation that thrives on game parlours, playstation and pizza, want to be stuck with padmasanas? Social psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty from L H Hiranandani Hospital, says some of it is aspirational. "Meditation camp has become very yuppie and attractive,'' he says. "There is a brand value attached to it, celebrities are seen there. These camps relax the mind, bring clarity of thought and discipline the body, all of which make the kid a better competitor in an aggressive world.''

The camps are also cleverly packaged with the right sales pitch of helping `personality development' and `emotional intelligence'. Even the vipassana course, draconian about its `no-talking' principle is flexible when it comes to children.

Besides, there are interactive sessions. Armaiti N Desai, dean of The Yoga Institute, says the old English picnic song, `If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands' has been reworked into, `When you're angry and you know it, breathe, breathe, breathe...' Learning to exhale, slowly, is perhaps just what this instant generation needs.

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