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“Children of great light must be gathered together, for on their own, their light is scattered, but brought together their light shines far, far beyond human understanding.”
-Sri Swami Sivananda-
“Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core.”
“The greatest divine revelation on earth is the evolving human being.”
Children are born in a state of yoga (union). However, in this culture, many children are moving at a much faster pace than they are naturally developing. This inevitably puts stress on their young bodies and spirits. A yoga practice gives them the opportunity to slow down, reconnect and establish their inner rhythm, thus balancing their energy. As they develop, their practice takes on new rhythms and cycles, moving from an amorphous way of being to developing stability and awareness of structure from the inside out. The self-motivation and independence that blossoms through their relationship to the yoga process expresses itself in other areas of their lives.
The practice of self-less service towards others and the self. This could be doing chores, helping those in need, supporting family members.
The experience of love and devotion through artistic activities; song (chanting), dance, media arts, listening to stories, drama and prayer.
The practice of cultivating a sturdy body and mind so as to merge one’s awareness with the wonder of life. Children can learn these accessible tools for self motivation and confidence in all life pursuits.
The pursuit of knowledge through study, inquiry, analysis, experimentation and experience. The child attends some aspect of a directed quest towards learning at home and school.
While Yoga is all inclusive to the multicultural and universal beliefs, the first two limbs of the practice of Raja Yoga outline some basic character building principles that offer a positive intention, attitude and foundation for the other limbs. These principles offer a container by which children can learn and experience through practice the benefits of a healthy yoga practice. The eight-limbed path is as follows:
Ahimsa: Non-injury by random acts of kindness, sharing, forgiveness, compassion, caring for the environment and all living beings, offering love and friendship to those in need, family and friends. Learning through modeling and practice how to communicate feelings, needs and requests with awareness and caring language.
Often, thoughts, feelings and beliefs we hold have a direct influence on one’s actions. In 1991, Tara began her year-long research study on Peace and Education, as part of her Montessori teacher training. She explored through inquiry, the many ways the teacher must unveil what comes between her and the essence of peace growing from within. Thus, to discover how to interweave this essence into the way that she models how to “be” with herself, the children, their families, other colleagues and ultimately the world. Her first contact with this process was through her readings by Thich Nat Hahn, other related writings on Buddhism and Maria Montessori. It was during this time that Tara found the practice of yoga and valued it as a practical tool in order to live into this process of Peace. Tara found, that coupled with this care of self, other and the planet, was a deep need for integrity in communication. After many years of extensive study on the subject of the spoken word and how it influences the nature of peace, in 2003, Tara was introduced to a remarkable tool for non-injurious communication that was developed by Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg. This tool has several names; Non-Violent Communication (NVC), the language of the heart and giraffe language. He chose the giraffe as his symbol; as it is a peaceful animal and has the biggest heart of all creatures.
Tara has been able to inspire many friends, colleagues and organizations to consider this tool of NVC as part of their programming with teachers, parents and children. She has, since 2003, also been studying the Work of Byron Katie, a woman who guides others through self dialogue, to discover the ways their feelings and thoughts have been limited by their own subjective perceptions. She encourages people to question their perceptions.
Satya: Truthfulness in all aspects of life and having the courage to be truthful about one’s feelings and needs and the feelings and needs of others.
Asteya: Non-Stealing by showing gratitude, asking permission, having a willingness to support others success, big heartedness and charity.
Brahmacharya: Temperance and moderation in life’s explorations, particularly with polarities. Discovering when enough is enough through trial, error and experience.
Aparigraha: Non-clinging to more than one’s needs. Developing discernment about what one’s needs really are. Becoming conscious about ways to take care of what one has. The willingness to acknowledge appreciation and giving selflessly to others.
Soucha: Purity and Cleanliness practices as part of the daily routine of life; bathing, brushing teeth, wearing clean clothing, combing one’s hair, cleaning one’s room, resting well, eating well, exercising, spending time out in nature…
Santosha: Experiencing contentment with one’s self by honoring one’s own boundaries and the boundaries of others; finding the inner strenghth to find confidence and ease in times of adversity as well as serenity.
Tapas: Cultivating self-discipline by learning in a developmentally prepared environment with dignified role models who inspire innate curiosity and motivation to emerge through interactive study.
Svadyaya: Deepening a knowing of one’s self through art, journaling, communicating with trusted mentors about one’s struggles and triumphs, reading about people whose actions have brought about change.
Ishwarapradnihana: Cultivating faith in one’s sense of spirit and honoring the same sense of spirit in others and a willingness to bring the best of yourself to each new situation and trust in the unknown.
Practicing postures that nourish the proper function of the physical body, balance emotions and awaken the spirit.
Exploring various breathing techniques that balance the nervous system and bring equanimity and higher awareness to the mind.
Lowering the external stimulus in one’s environment and cultivating discernment and rhythms around cycles of action and rest; stimulus and quiet.
Developing concentration by doing just one activity at a time and eliminating the habit of multitasking. Exploring practices where one focuses on an affirmation, the word peace, the mantra OM and repeating it over and over for a period of time.
Meditation and developing an awareness and understanding about the nature of intuition; this can be enhanced by spending time in nature everyday.
Contemplation and the acute sense of one’s connection to all living beings through selfless service, extended time in nature, deep meditation and fulfillment through the flow of LOVE.
All classes include age-appropriate approaches to offering:
|English||Sanskrit (the language of yoga)|
|Fresh Organic Food, sweet offering||Prasad|
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Very young children are explorers of the world. They absorb everything in their environment through their senses. They are just beginning to interact with others, build self esteem, make friends and most significantly experience an inner sense of order in how they relate to the environment around them.
A yoga class for this age is a spontaneous journey of song, verse and circle play to inspire, creative movement, cooperation, concentration, coordination and independence.
Children’s lives unfold the wonders of the human experience through the innocence by which they relate to the world around them. As their developing bodies express the evolution of our physiological movement, their yoga practice is a unique interplay connecting the beauty and wisdom of this ancient practice with their needs and urges of the moment.
These classes are a structured rhythm woven together through story, song and verse. The exploration of asana is aligned with awareness of evolutionary movement and observation of the child’s nature movements in free and imaginative play.
Children blossom from the inside out. As they move into our culture with their questions, emerging responsibilities and expectations, their young minds, bodies and spirits are affected by this quest in a variety of ways. The teachings of yoga offer techniques for exploring the world.
These classes present a consistent series of postures and yoga games to explore flexibility, encourage imagination and stimulate inner curiosity through listening to multicultural stories that convey ancient wisdom. Children practice concentration games and learn meditation techniques. Each class ends with guided imagery and relaxation.
These years are bringing the childhood era to a close. Hormonal changes begin and the child prepares for the coming phase of becoming a teen. Maintaining a balance between relationships to community and a relationship to the self can be challenging. It is quite helpful find a place to just relax, share life stories find tools for inner peace and really let go and have fun with friends.
This class routine consists of a flowing series of postures and breathing practices. Students are introduced to the foundations of yoga philosophy and quieting the mind through relaxation and meditation. Journal writing and drawing may be a component.
The teenage years are times of a great crossing over a threshold into the adulthood. It is an opportunity to discover one’s self and learn discernment towards one’s life choices and future contribution to humanity. It is a peak occasion for harvesting inspiration from ancient knowledge. A yoga practice can be an accessible tool to explore inner wisdom and find inner guidance. This class is both challenging and deeply relaxing.
This class routine consists of relaxation, meditation, breath work and structural alignment in the postures, basic anatomy and physiology and yogic diet. Hatha Yoga is introduced as a dynamic flowing series of postures moving with the breath. Journal writing and drawing may be a component.
© Jonathan Hexner (click photos to enlarge)
Family life has a milieu of details to balance each day. Practicing yoga together can offer some insight into another way to meet the day to day happenings between parents, caregivers and children.
Parents, caregivers and children are invited to play yoga and cultivate a life long practice together! Classes are designed to meet and share experiential what the developmental needs of the children are and be a place where families have fun and grow collectively.
The class presents to parents and children joyful and creative ways to explore asana, breathing and meditation together through inspiring stories, games and partner poses.
Tara’s intention is to offer parents, caregivers and teachers tools for greater harmony in their relationships with their children.
Tara’s focus in working with children is about observation, intention, awareness and just simply BEING with them, rather than what to “do” with them.
Simply “Being” with Children: Discussions on the way we develop ourselves, our life rhythms and an environment that allows essence of the inner life of the child to blossom. The work that we do is about embodying a relationship from within ourselves that touches the heart of each child.
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Tara taught children’s yoga at an organic garden farm in a local suburban town, outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1998.
Tara has started children’s and family yoga programs in the following studios of Massachusetts:
|Yoga and Nia for Life, West Concord||1997, 1999-2001|
|Baptiste Power Yoga Institute, Cambridge||1999-2000|
|BKS Iyengar Center, Davis Square||2000-2002|
|O2 Yoga Studio, Somerville||2002-2004|
|Mystic River Yoga , Medford||2002-2005|
|On The Mat Yoga, Concord||2003-present|
|The Arlington Center, Arlington||2004-present|
Local Massachusetts Schools and Organizations include: since 1997
The Nature School, Bedford; Davis Public School, Bedford; The Atrium School, Watertown; Lowell Elementary School, Watertown, Russell Cooperative Pre-School, Watertown; Bright Horizons, Watertown; Hardy Elementary School, Arlington; Nashoba Brooks School, Concord; Lesley Ellis School, Arlington; The Girl Scouts, Boston, Concord; Concord Academy, Concord; Citizen’s Schools, Boston; The Cambridge School of Westin, Westin; The Waldorf High School, Belmont; Spring Hill Montessori School, Cambridge; Parents Nursery School, Cambridge; Merriam Elementary School, Acton; Brackett Elementary School, Arlington; Acton Art, Acton; Thompson Elementary, Arlington; The Victor School, Acton; and Bowman Elementary, Lexington, Lincoln Public Middle School, Lincoln; The Barn Nursery, Concord; Fenn School, Concord; Oxbow Schoolhouse, Devens; Stratton Elementary School, Arlington, Alcott Elementary School, Concord; Oxbow Schoolhouse, Devens; Haggerty Preschool, Cambridge: Lincoln Public Library, Lincoln; Newton Public Library, Newton.
“Simple Living and High Thinking”
-Sri Swami Sivananda-