Meet this mum who is based out of Mumbai, runs her own yoga studio which is now adapted to an online format and believes Yoga is a great tool for kids. She even began yoga as a connection and bond with her daughter and now teaches yoga to kids.
Sabrina Merchant shares with Mums and Stories, “I was always into yoga and I knew someday I would want my daughter to also have the same connection with yoga like me. I was at a yoga retreat at Lonavala when I decided to start yoga with Iqra. The challenge was how to make it interesting for her to like yoga and not find it boring. That’s when I started exploring interesting ways to begin. That was the inception of Li’l Yogis. I got myself certified as a 200 hours yoga trainer and Li’l Yogis started in Jan 2019.
Yoga is definitely an exercise for the mind, body and soul. It’s all about developing a deeper connection with yourself. It’s the only form of exercise that teaches you to respect your body and accept it the way it is.
As easy as it may sound, to the contrary, teaching yoga to children is challenging. Kids today need to be entertained and making yoga entertaining is what makes it challenging. Its important for children to understand how to get into a pose or what the asana means in order to do it correctly and reap all its benefits.
To make it fun and interesting, every class comes with a theme. Classes are conducted using stories, pictures, games, fun fact, music and mindful activities. At the same time, I do not tweak yoga. Every class starts with acknowledging each other with a Namaste, Warm Ups, Asanas and a Yoga Breath.
While I always knew I would introduce yoga to my daughter, I never expected to do it at the age of 5 years. It was basically to make sure she is aware of the limitless possibility of achieving whatever she wanted by putting her mind and body to it. From not being able to sit criss cross on the floor to then succeeding with Padmasana, the whole process was to make her understand that everything in life is about practice and persistence.
Today though she doesn’t practice every day with me, she knows that her body is healthy and capable of doing anything if she practices them properly. She follows some basic breathing exercises that help her calm down, or the buddy breath which she does every night before sleeping. It’s definitely been a fantastic start to her yogic journey and I hope and pray she follows this path till the end.”
Sabrina has also written a book on yoga titled Ocean Yoga. According to her, “Ocean Yoga was written with just one objective – ‘To make yoga available to as many kids as possible’. I often received calls from various parts of the country asking about the availability of my classes. So Ocean Yoga was written for every parent who wants to introduce yoga to their child, but doesn’t know how to go about it.”
Talking about relevance of yoga in the current time, Sabrina shares, “Yoga is the need of the hour. Look around and you will find that there are very few things that are restricted to adults only. Today’s urban parents want their kids to be exposed to a lot of new things. Right from being multi linguistic, to learning robotic & coding, martial arts to gymnastics, there is an array of classes available and children can learn some amazing competitive techniques.
As parents we all have aspirations, however in the quest to keep up with current trends, children do not get time to just be themselves and enjoy their childhood. Despite of being involved in a lot of activities and owning the latest gadgets they are easily bored, they lack contentment, feel lonely and are depressed. Technology and innovation has opened up a lot of avenues for adults and kids but alas it has taken over our time to reflect and introspect.
Now that’s where the question of balance arises. How does one maintain a sense of awareness of everything around them and still remain connected to their inner self?
Here is where YOGA comes to your rescue. Today Yoga is recognised all over the world, the sole reason being it does not only look into one’s physical well being but also nurtures emotional, mental and spiritual connect.”