Sample from the Spring 2004 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine

By H. H. Sri Swami Satchidananda

Children should be introduced to Yoga while they are still in the womb. How? By the parents becoming good Yogis. Children are best taught by example. Words don’t carry much weight. The children watch you. They naturally try to follow and imitate. Your duty is to develop your spiritual side, and let the children see it. That is the best way of teaching children. If you want your children to be good Yogis be a good Yogi yourself.

When parents do asanas, their children will come and lie down. They will try to pull their hands and legs here and there. Set examples for them. You don’t even need to tell them what to do. The best way to teach is by setting good examples. When they are ready to listen and want to understand better, you can talk to them in a convincing way. Don’t simply say, “Do this. Don’t do that.” Every time you say something like that, you should present the reason also. You should tell them, “It is for your own benefit. It’s for your welfare, your physical health, mental health, your social health. If you do this, you will ruin all that. If you do the other way, you will enhance that.”

Explanation is necessary. Young children are eager to learn. Sometimes even from their very birth, or even while they are in the womb, they are eager to learn. Don’t think that babies are just dummies lying in the cradle. Their ears are always open. Their eyes are always watching. They can learn everything by seeing and hearing. So, we have to set good examples.

If you have planted the proper seeds in their hearts at home, they will do well in their schools and in the community. They will not get pulled into undesirable things. Because the proper seeds have been planted, they will be able to face the dangerous outside currents.

At the same time, we should not be overconfident about it. It’s our duty to make sure that when they leave home, they go to the right school and are in the proper environment. And, if you really know that some schools are not administering the needed discipline and other things, it’s better not to send the children to those schools. Find some better place.

It’s very, very hard to bring up children nowadays, particularly with all the things that they see, watch, read, and hear. So, their entire atmosphere should be peaceful and calm. Their food should be sattvic (pure and clean). Let them listen to sattvic music and read good books. You cannot ask them to see all kinds of wild pictures and then expect them to be calm. Parents have to take care of all these things. It is worth doing, and it’s a parent’s duty to do that. You have brought forth a soul into the world and you have to take care of that soul in the proper way…

Read the rest of this article in the Spring 2004 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine.