Children of Light School and Ananda Kutir Ashrama
The idea for the formation of the Children of Light School was borne out of the support of children, parents, teachers and facilitators of the ‘Children’s Integral Yoga Programme’ at Ananda Kutir Ashrama.
The name ‘Ananda Kutir’ was derived from the name of the cottage in which Swami Sivananda lived in Rishikesh, India. Ananda means ‘Bliss’ and Kutir means ‘Cottage’. It is therefore the ‘Cottage of Bliss’.
Ashrama is a Place of Peace. It is a home for all people to learn about themselves, to learn the Truth and to find love in their hearts.
When Swami Venkatesananda visited Cape Town, South Africa, he inspired many people to practise the teachings of Integral Yoga. In 1982, Mother Yogeshwari, Swami Parvathiananda and many other special devotees of Swami Venkatesananda started the Ananda Kutir Ashrama.
Mother Yogeshwari shares her perspective on parenthood and education:
Swami Venkatesananda used to say that the mother was the first Guru. She is his/her first teacher. She is, or should be, the one who tends to the baby and child and teaches basic knowledge, which includes moral standards as well as general knowledge. This may be a thing of the past. But it is the ideal start for a balanced, happy personality. There are instances when the mother is the bread winner and the father stays home and takes over the motherly duties. If both parents are happy with this arrangement, it works out well. Other times, there is a loving granny to look after them. This is often very good as the granny has developed wisdom as well as having experience.
A child’s education then begins by following the example of the parents. Going for walks with the parent or parents is important. An awareness of nature and the importance of treating animals kindly and having respect for the environment.
Singing beautiful songs to a child at bedtime has lasting effects as well as reading to them. The choice of reading matter should be educational. As early as possible the parent should take the child to a library so that he or she will develop a love of books. Children who love reading are very easy to teach and have a good grounding for almost any subject. A father or mother should play games with the child or children, not only sporting games, but board games and educational ones. As they grow older games like Scrabble. A weekly outing is important when the whole family are together. Meals should be with the family, at least once a day when they can share their experiences. When a child comes home from school, there should be a parent or grandparent at home to greet them and to whom the child can confide. So parents should take responsibility for their offspring and not leave it to overworked school teachers! There should be communication between the teacher and parents.
Love of God and awareness of God is the most important knowledge to impart. Regular prayer should be encouraged and the best form of teaching is by example.
Swami Parvathiananda shares Three Spiritual lessons for children based on the Vedas:
- Every day appreciate, love and care for your parents, brothers, sisters and extended family. Learn to show it by really just enjoying their company. Do little things to help them.
- Every day, give a little help to animals in your life by simply being kind and caring. Never hurt an animal deliberately. Feed them if you can.
- Do something daily to care for Mother Earth, our living planet, by taking some responsibility for your environment. Plant flowers, trees and vegetables and water them. Practise recycling and taking care of the forests and mountains.
Ananda Kutir Ashrama Children’s Integral Yoga Programme
‘True education must impart initiation into the divine life, because, ultimately, its aim is to draw out the dormant divinity hidden within each human being.” – Swami Sivananda
In August 2011 a group of parents who have been attending the Ananda Kutir Ashrama’s programme and have gained immense benefits from participating in Integral Yoga activities got together to initiate a children’s yoga programme. This programme takes place once a month, with an average of 25 children from various faiths attending on a regular basis. The parents are very actively involved in the planning and running of the day activities.
Yoga teachers who have been trained by Swami Parvathiananda and Mother Yogeshwari offer their time as seva to facilitate sessions. This programme has a very positive effect on children and their families.
These are some of the children’s comments on the Children’s Yoga Day activities:
Sanoshin, 8 years old says: “I enjoy gardening and making sandwiches for the children. I enjoy giving.”
Dorje (7 years old) said the following to his mother: “You know mum, when I did yoga this morning I felt peace and love that I have never felt before. I think it’s God.”
Ananda Kutir Ashrama offers Integral Yoga, which combines all the Yogas:
- Hatha Yoga: purification of body through asanas, pranayama and mudras
- Raja Yoga: purification through mind/awareness training
- Meditation: purification through dharana, dhyana and samadhi
- Bhakti Yoga: purification through the Compassion of a Loving Heart
- Karma Yoga: purification through Selfless Service
- Jnana Yoga: purification through contemplation of Scriptures
For more information, visit http://www.anandakutir.org.za