Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

50 Kids in a Memorable 4-day Program

by David Rodrigo

More than 50 children had a notable learning, practice and joyful experience within the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition in a 4-day program 20th-23rd June, 2012 organized by Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG), Swami Rama village of spiritual seekers, in Rishikesh, India.

It was a special program for kids from 5 to 10 years of SRSG, both residents and staff children, and of Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust (HIHT), Dehradun, the last institution founded by Swami Rama. Twenty to thirty children daily travelled by bus or car from HIHT to SRSG.

The program had two core subjects:

  • Hatha yoga, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, joints and glands exercises and systematic relaxation in the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition as taught by Swami Rama
  • Story-telling of Indian classical tales.

“It was an enjoyable as well as educative opportunity,” said Dr. Gita Negi, of HIHT.

“This was a chance to introduce the little children to spirituality,” added Mr. Amit Sharma, from the same hospital.

“I enjoyed it a lot because it was good for our mind,” stated Bindu Rodrigo, a 5-year old boy of SRSG.

Children learned and practiced yoga, meditation, values, Sanskrit prayers, kirtan (devotional songs) and art in a playful way. “All children liked this program,” remarked Gaurangi Srivastava, a 9-year old girl coming from HIHT.

Kids were divided in two age groups, 5 to 7 and 8 to 10, and had parallel programs. They started daily at 8am with aarati ‘worship’ of Gurudeva Swami Rama, Shiva, Tara Devi or homa ‘fire oblation’. “Gurudeva wanted all this children to be here,” whispered Joanne Sullivan (Lab. Dept., SRSG) after the first day aarati of Swami Rama.

The program finished daily at 6/7pm. “The children were not tired even at the end of the day. That’s surprising!” observed Dr. Vibha Gupta (HIHT).

Children from 7 to 10 had two 1-hour classes on yoga and related subjects daily with devoted expert residential SRSG teachers, e.g. Swami Niranjan, Ramprakash, Pramod, Adhikari.

“What we have learnt is good for everybody, both children and adults,” explained Sakshi, a 10 year old ashramite, an SRSG resident, “Anybody who suffers should do the yoga we have practiced.”

“I really liked the yoga sessions,” said Ayush Nautiyal, a 9-year old child from HIHT.

“I could learn new yoga postures,” stated Puja Sahoo, a 10-years old ashramite.

While the eldest children were doing yoga, the smallest, of 5 and 6 years, enjoyed art activities with the American artist Swami Apurvapranananda, yoga for small kids with the Italian teacher Laura Quartieri, or played games with the ashramite Puja Nakoti.


The program counted on the special participation of the famous story-teller and writer of classical Indian stories for children Mr. Vishwa Mohan Tiwari, Indian Air Vice Marshal (Retired), and two of his volunteers Commander Chopara and Dr. Keshav Ratnam.

Children enjoyed two or three 2-hour Hindi story-telling sessions daily with twofold objectives: Teach the children to think logical and independently to arrive to a solution; and, second, help them to become human beings, i.e. with love and compassion for the others, while rooted in Indian Traditions, which “can never be individualistic or materialistic, but conscious of the oneness with the family, the society, the nation and the whole world,” expounded Mr. Mohan. “Our educational system does not teach to think but to memorize.”

Mr. Mohan has developed his own story-telling method based on questioning constantly the children and teaching them to raise their own questions (Read the sample story Questions Can Save a Life, immediately after this article).

“I loved the stories because they were for us to think and we did. Thus we become cleverer,” explained Emitai Rodrigo (SRSG, 7 yrs). “They taught us to think more and watch less TV.”

“I liked the stories a lot. They cannot be read in any book because they had questions for us to answer,” said Sakshi (10).

“Children love the stories I narrate because I live them,” explained the story-teller, who also encourages the children to explain stories themselves in front of the others, which increases their self-confidence and esteem.


The stories which Mr. Mohan narrates are based on classical Indian tales, e.g. Panchatantra, Hitopadesh, Vikram Betal, but also on modern Indian literature and on his own tales. “Stories must appeal realistic and not an artificial construction to indoctrinate. Value must come out of the story in a natural way,” stated. Thus, Mr. Mohan never asks the children what they learnt with the stories.

Vedic Chanting

All children studied also how to chant properly seven basic Sanskrit mantras, sacred Vedic verses, along with an introduction to their meaning by resident Pandit Harshananda in an enjoyable way.

“I liked the Sanskrit sessions,” said Vinayak Uniyal (11 yrs., HIHT).

“Sanskrit is a very important language as it is spoken by the gods,” uttered Bindu (5).  

They were really touched when chanting and dancing kirtan ‘devotional songs’.

“I felt very well in Sadhaka Grama,” added Gaurangi Srivastava, a 9-year old girl from HIHT.

The resident mother Mamta Nakoti observed that “children from outside and inside the ashram joined in a very good community. I hope we had many programs like this.”

Classical dance

The program concluded with a performance of kathak, a classical Indian dance, by 10 girls of the local music school Noorpur Nritya Kala Mandir.

Nuria Martinez, an SRSG mother, commented that “the group of eldest children (7-10 yrs.) learned many important things both from the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition and their own culture, which are required to have better personality and thus be happier. The smallest group (5-6 yrs.) enjoyed all together.” Nuria pointed out “the need in such programs of a permanent yoga teacher expert on the smallest kids.”

Thankful children

“Children are very thankful for this very good program,” said Sunakshi, an 8-years old ashramite.

So were parents, as Dr. Vikas Kesarwani pointed out: “I appreciate the efforts of the organizers of such a well-coordinated program.”

“Children were very happy and did not want to leave the ashram, which shows the excellent impact the program had in their minds,” said Pramod Sahoo, father and SRSG resident teacher.

“Tomorrow more!”

“I enjoyed the program thoroughly,” said Ekagra Kesarwani (10 yrs., HIHT).

“Wow, I want to participate next time also!” exclaimed Anshulika Gupta (6 yrs., HIHT).

HIHT children left SRSG with an Indian sweet and Gurudeva Swami Rama’s picture on their hands. “Two sweets,” exclaimed Swami Niranjan.

“When will the next program be?” the HIHT children asked together as the were leaving with bright faces mixed of learning, excitement and future wonder. “We want it to happen again very soon,” said Gaurangi (9). “We want more programs like this,” added Puja (11). “Tomorrow more!” cried out the HIHT children while saying goodbye with hands from the bus back home.

As the SRSG resident father and teacher Pramod Sahoo said: “It was a rainbow of knowledge, a very good support for the children to grow.”

One week later, Arnav Maitrey (6 yrs., HIHT) resolved: “I am already waiting for the next camp.”

Children’s libraries

Brought to SRSG by Maryon Maass of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition - Teacher Training Program (HYT-TTP) Office, Mr. Mohan founded in 2004 Baal Vikaas Bhaaratee, an institution aimed at creating children’s libraries run by volunteer story-tellers trained by him. Nowadays it has 85 libraries all over India and a waiting list of 40. “Since the first narration I did 8 year ago I have total faith in the power of the stories, as they reach the children’s sub-conscious and remain there longer,” he declares.

Children’s spiritual education

This June Special Program was immersed in the SRSG aim of nourishing children within the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition for the knowledge, freedom and happiness of themselves and all.

SRSG children, of 5 to 11 years, practice three 1-hour yoga classes weekly with resident teachers and Swami Rama Dhyana Gurukulam students. They performed a yoga presentation on 30th June at SRSG, which, according to Silvia Baratta, Manager of SRSG Guest Department, showed that “they have learnt something and are very happy.”