In 2005 while looking for opportunities for Seva, I met Mrs.Jaya Krishnaswamy in a meeting of NIP (Network for Information on Parenting). She is the Director of Madhuram Narayan Centre, a centre dedicated to children with exceptional needs. She invited me to visit MNC and see what can be done for the children. When I visited MNC for the first time, it was shocking to me to see the children with disabilities.
I decided to spend some time for MNC to apply the practices of yoga in the life of exceptional children.At first it was decided that the care givers, staff, organizers, special educators, occupational therapists and coordinators of MNC would be given a course.
PM1 series of practices, Tadasana, Triyak Tadasana, Kati Chakrasana, Marjari Asana, abdominal & yogic breathing & simple Yoga Nidra was taught to the participants for a period of three months. The program was received very well; all participants were convinced with the usefulness of regular practices. The academic year was coming to a close & we decided that we would take the program forward to the children of MNC.
I was convinced that any program for the children would be complete only if the mothers were empowered with the techniques and the attitude of Yoga. It was suggested to MNC that firstly a program would have to be conducted for the mothers of exceptional children.
The coordinators & faculty of MNC were not used to this kind of an approach. They were focusing on finding some kind of solution to improve the condition of children, whereas I was suggesting them to accept a program for the mothers.
However finally they agreed my proposal & before the close of the academic year we conducted a series of workshops for the mothers of MNC to educate them and sensitize them about the need for yoga in their life and in the life of their children.
During these workshops, they we given opportunities for participating in group discussions with other mothers & with yoga teachers from Satyananda Yoga Centre and to practice PM1, Yoga Nidra.
We were able to create interest in the mothers. All were looking forward to the next year. At this time Swami Niranjan had decided to visit Chennai & Bangalore. This was a great blessing for the initiative.
In Feb 2007 when Swamiji visited Chennai, the mothers of exceptional children of MNC came to meet Swamiji & got the opportunity to listen to Swamiji. As Swamiji was addressing them most of them were moved by the compassion that was showered on them and were weeping in joy.
They all felt blessed and expressed their heartfelt gratitude for arranging the meeting.
Swami Niranjan met the children and mothers of Madhuram Narayan Centre. Lecture by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswatiin Chennai on 21/02/2007 at Shiv Darshan Yoga Vidyalaya, Chennai is given below
I am very happy to see all the children with special needs & I am also very pleased to see their mothers.
Children with special needs are children who have not received something in their lives. May be in the past they have gone through several situations in life, that they have been isolated, rejected neglected & God has sent them with special needs so that they can receive the special attention & care & love which they missed before.
Mothers have been honored by GOD by giving this duty to them. Remember you are not the sufferer but you are chosen one of GOD. Yes physically, socially in family life this can be seen as a crisis. In family life it can even been perceived as a burden that one has t carry throughout life.
But that is our perspective as a social being, but if you see the karma that is inherent in their life and their needs, then it is a clear indication that GOD wants them to have an exposure and experience of that they have lacked in their previous experience. And definitely as their parent we have the responsibility to give ensure that we are able to provide the environment for their development and growth.
This development and growth in these children with special needs can be had in the following manner. When they sleep at night put on a Kirtan cassette beside them. Let their subconscious mind absorb the name of GOD the kirtan sung, the devotion. It will make them more peaceful more comfortable within themselves.
So when they are sleeping at night just put on a cassette with bajan or kirtan for one hour or so that they can listen at night. Second item: In a tape recorder record five different sankalpas or sentences. Sankalpas such as “I will be receptive”. “I will be receptive to learning I will be expressive in my life”. “I will be happy in life”. In this manner you will look the different traits of the children and give the appropriate Sankalpa in a cassette.
Each resolution should be repeated at least seven times in the cassette. At night when they of sleep or when they come to the class room the Sankalpa should be the first thing they should hear. I had mention before that after playing the kirtan cassette put the Sankalpa cassette. After that let them sleep.
Also expose them to certain yogic practices. You have to understand that they will be unable to practice yoga practices on their own. What should to be taught to them, should be actually done by you. And my advice is that these children should be made to practice TADASANA, TRIYAK TADASANA, and KATI CHAKRASANA should be followed & those who are capable and can be guided into the practice of slow SURYA NAMASKAR.
And also a special research was done in Switzerland with children of special needs. And these children were given a coloring book. But in the book there were no pictures of animals, or houses or cars or sun or moon or Mickey mouse or Donald duck. But it had black and white reproduction of the Yantras.
You know “Yantra Coloring book.” It had Shri Yantra, Kali Yantra, Shiva Yantra, Ganesha Yantra it had all the different yantras of our Paramapara. And children were given the coloring pens to color that. After about three months of coloring, which in the early stages used to be lines all over the page, after three months the yantras were seen as yantras with colors in them.
And this doctor in Switzerland uses only the Yantra coloring book to help children with special needs. So if there is a Yantra coloring book available then that should be used by these children. Yantras are geometrical figures right. When you are looking at that the eyes are capturing that image and it creating certain influence inside the brain.
And this kind of Tratak on Yantra in Black and white actually readjusts and realigns the centers that are under active or over active. So Yantra coloring book, the four five asans, listening kirtan and Sankalpa at night are a must for these children.
Accept our heartfelt prayers for their well being in their life and also accept our gratitude specially the mothers for fulfilling their responsibilities. VANAKKAM HARI OM TAT SAT
SATYANANDA YOGA PROGRAM FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN
In June 2007 the Satyananda Yoga program was started in Madhuram Narayan centre for mothers and children. Every day mothers and children assemble at the hall in MNC. After Om Chanting, Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and Gayatri Mantra are chanted 11 times, the 32 names of Durga are chanted.
It is followed by asanas and concluded with a short yoga nidra. When we started the program the volunteers from Satyananda Yoga Centre and the care givers of MNC were startled because it was totally unmanageable to have children in the class.
They were crying so loudly and were so restless that we could not give the instructions & even if we were shouting out instructions no one would hear our voice. We kept our fingers crossed about how effective these classes would be.
However the decision was made that we would definitely conduct yoga for the children. The classes were conducted for half an hour for one batch & then the next group would come for the next half hour.
We had four batches every day from Monday to Friday. A total of 110 children were going to benefit from this project. We decided to run the two programs; first for the mothers and the second for the children. The programs were run parallely. First two weeks of the month we held classes for mothers and second two weeks for the children, with the help of mothers.
- Pawan Muktasanasa Part-1
- Triyak Tadasana
- Kati Chakrasana
- Marjari Asana
were taught amongst asanas.
- Abdominal breathing
- Bramhari Pranayama
- Nadi Sodhana Pranayama Stage-1&2
were taught in pranayama
- Yoga Nidra was conducted every day for 15 minutes.
These were covered over a period of one academic year. Initially mothers were reluctant to new learning
They did not see any possibility of including something new into their already cramped day; however within few months mothers realized that regular Yoga practice was having a positive effect on them.
They have shared with us that they are having lot more energy than they used to have. They expressed that the relaxation was giving them a great leverage in dealing with the daily domestic chores. The mothers have seen a new hope in their life with Yoga. The mothers realized that they should avail the guidance given by Swamiji about the practices to be taught to the children with special needs. Mothers began to enquire us about Yantra painting, about kirtan and sankalpa.
During the year we conducted several workshops for all the mothers to explain about Yoga Nidra & to emphasize the relevance of the yoga input in their own life as well as the lives of the children. The workshops were like elaborating Swamiji’s formula.
We did a Yantra painting activity in which every child of MNC participated. We painted the palms of the child with colors and with their palm print we painted the Mooladhara Chakra. Now this Yantra hangs on the wall at MNC. Children are seeing it as they learn the practices. We have planned to take up one Yantra after another.
Sankalpa: Mothers were guided to frame sankalpa’s that they could whisper into their child’s ears in the night when they had just begun to doze off. The sankalpa had suggestions that would change their behavior; make them calm and relaxed; improve their ability to communicate; begin to look into the eyes of others; improve health & the like wise.
When we moved into the next academic year many mothers were smiling with lot more energy & enthusiasm that Yoga had brought into their lives.