Dharma Bee 2020 – Discover Your Hindu Heritage
Week #5, Elementary School
Section 1 – Main Reading
In previous lessons, we have learned that Hindu Dharma is ‘way of life’ – i.e. how to live a happy peaceful life as an individual and in harmony with the bigger society. But it is very hard to follow dharma (duty and good values), do good karma, respect Guru, listen to elders, make healthier food choices, be strong, etc. That requires a lot of training to our mind and body. Fortunately, our ancient Rishi’s figured that out for us in the form of Yoga. Let us learn more about what Yoga means from a story.
Let us summarize what we have learned from the story.
Yoga means “union.” Yoga has many meanings. Yoga is derived from the root word “YUJ” which means connection or union. One definition is the union of mind, body, and spirit. At the practical level, it is being aware of who we are. Mastery of self. By practicing Yoga consistently, we can achieve a healthy body and mind and will be able to unleash the full potential of us. We can slowly become mastery of self to achieve anything and become a role model in the school and people around. We can easily overcome all the problems we see in daily life and follow the Dharma always.
Yoga is from Sanathan Dharma. Our Rishi’s in ancient times not only came up with concepts of Sanathan Dharma but also practiced, followed and lived that way for centuries. Early texts of Upanishads said to have mentions of some of these practices. Later, around 200 BCE, Sage Patanjali compiled all these practices into what is known as ‘Yoga Sutras’. It is considered as the ancient science that stood the test of time and is still widely in practice around the world.
Yoga is asanas (postures). A healthy, flexible and strong body is possible by practicing asanas. All the asanas we do in shakha, including Surya Namaskars are part of Yoga practice. Many of these asanas are inspired by nature.
Yoga is meditation. Just like Surya Namaskar is an exercise for the body, meditation is an exercise to the mind. It helps bring calm, focus, and relaxation to mind. Meditation is also like any other skill; it needs consistent practice and patience. One simple way to meditate is by sitting in a relaxed position in a quiet place listening to the breath as we inhale and exhale and observing the thoughts.
Yoga is breath. Practicing yoga helps to breathe more deeply with awareness in a controlled fashion. There are many techniques to gain different benefits but in general, controlled breathing can rejuvenate the nervous system, infuses the body with oxygen and reduces stress and anxiety.
Yoga is a way of life.
Yoga is not just on yoga mat. Yoga shall be practiced in everyday life. Yoga is about being kindness, honesty, gratitude, passion, and self-esteem everywhere we go whether it is in classrooms, while playing, in shop, etc.
Section 2 – Additional Reading
Additional Reading #1
Asanas and Pranayama
Out of 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, let us explore two here:
Asana – This is the most commonly known limb of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. Asana is stretching and/or compressing your body in a certain way. It improves flexibility, balance, stamina, strength at physical level. It improves respiration, energy and vitality. It helps maintain a balanced metabolism. It improves cardio and circulatory health. It improves athletic performance. In short, it helps to maintain the overall well-being of the body. One important part of asanas is keeping the mind calm and observe breaths and the part of the body that is being stretched or compressed. Watching TV or listening to load music nullifies the benefits of asanas.
Let us practice two out of the numerous asanas or postures. You can watch the video links at home to gain more knowledge and guided practice.
1. SetuBandhasana (The Bridge Posture):
Setubandha means formation of bridge (remember rama-setu built by Rama with help of vanara sena!). In this posture, the body is positioned like a bridge, hence the name.
Sthiti: lying or Śavāsana.
- Technique: Bend both the legs at the knees and bring the heels near the buttocks. While holding both the ankles firmly keep the knees and feet in one straight line.
- Inhale, slowly raise your buttocks and trunk up as much as you can to form bridge. Remain in this position for 10-30 seconds, with normal breathing.
- Exhale, slowly return to the original position and relax in Śavāsana. Note In the final position, the both shoulders, neck and head remain in contact with the floor
Relieves depression and anxiety. Strengthens lower back muscles. o Stretches abdominal organs, improves digestion and helps to relieve constipation.
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B-7ZKMPW8c
2. Vakrasana (The Spinal Twist Posture):
Vakra means twisted. In this āsana, the spine is twisted which has a rejuvenating effect on its functioning.
- Bend the right leg and place the right foot beside the left knee.
- Bring the left arm around the right knee and clasp the right big toe or place the palm beside right foot.
- Take the right arm back and keep the palm on the ground with the back straight.
- Exhale, twist your body to the right. Remain in the posture for 10-30 seconds with normal breathing and relax.
- Inhale take out your hands and exhale to relax.
- Repeat the same on the other side.
Relieves Helps to increases flexibility of the spine, stimulates pancreas functions and helps in the management of diabetes.
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgArzac-fNw
Pranayama – means control of breath and/or breathe in a specific way (breathing exercise). It establishes harmony and makes us calm. It helps to build emotional stability and ensure well-being. It helps to keep the body and mind in healthy condition for a long-lasting happiness and health. It produces a soothing effect on brain and counteracts aggression or anger.
Let us practice two pranayamas out the numerous pranayama exercises/techniques. You can watch the video links at home to gain more knowledge and guided practice.
- Sit down comfortably with closed eyes. Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Inhale slowly through left nostril as deep as you can. This will fill your lungs with air.
- Now close your left nostril with the middle finger, open right nostril and exhale with it.
- Then inhale with your right nostril as deep as you can. Then close your right nostril and exhale with left nostril. Repeat this process for 5 minutes. Be focused and concentrate in your breathing. Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15B_Qv5ecbo
Helps to cure mental problems like depression, anxiety, tension etc. Most beneficial for breathing related problems like (Bronchitis, Asthama) etc. Improve the working of lungs.
2. Kapalbhati Pranayama
- Sit down comfortably with closed eyes. Keep the spine straight. Now take a shallow breath (inhale minimal) through your both nostrils until your lungs are full with air.
- Now exhale through both nostrils forcefully, so your stomach will go deep inside. As you exhale, make a hissing sound and feel some pressure in your stomach. It feels like you are exhaling more than inhaling. Repeat this process for 5 minutes.
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UURgA8Rf7E
It generates heat in the system to help dissolve toxins and waste matter. Adds luster and beauty to your face. Improves digestion, Improves the function of kidneys and liver. Cures intestinal problems. Improves the blood circulation.
Go through the following website and learn some more asanas and pranayamas with your parents’ help.
Additional Reading #2
Sage Patanjali and Ashtanga Yoga
Sage Patanjali is known as the father of modern Yoga. He did NOT invent it, but he put together all aspects of Yoga into a specific format called—Yoga Sutra. Sutra literally means a thread, but in modern language, it is like a formula. It has tremendous science behind it. Not only Yoga Sutra, but Patanjali also author of two more brilliant works. One was on Sanskrit grammar; the second was a work on ancient Indian medicine, Ayurveda.
Whenever we study the Yoga Sutra or practice yoga, we begin with an invocation to Sage Patanjali. In this invocation, he is credited with three areas of knowledge – science of Ayurveda to purify the body, the commentary on Sanskrit grammar to purify the speech and the science of Yoga to purify the mind.
योगेन चित्तस्य पदेन वाचां । मलं शरीरस्य च वैद्यकेन ॥
योऽपाकरोत्तं प्रवरं मुनीनां । पतञ्जलिं प्राञ्जलिरानतोऽस्मि ||
yogena cittasya padena vācāṃ | malaṃ śarīrasya ca vaidyakena ||
yo’pākarottaṃ pravaraṃ munīnāṃ | patañjaliṃ prāñjalirānato’smi ||
“I respectfully bow down with folded hands and offer my salutations to Sage Patanjali, the highest among the sages, who has presented the remedies for removing the impurities of the body through his treatise on Ayurveda, of language through his treatise on grammar and the impurities of the Chitta (mind field) through his treatise on Yoga”
Ashtanga Yoga (Eight limbs of Yoga)
The core of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is Ashtanga Yoga, organized in following eight (Ashta) parts. These sutras form the structural framework for yoga practice.
- Yama – Self-control.
- Niyama- Discipline.
- Asana – Physical exercises.
- Pranayama – Breath exercises.
- Pratyahara – Withdrawal of the senses from external objects.
- Dharana – Concentration.
- Dhyana – Meditation
- Samadhi – Letting go of everything to be in bliss
Section 3 – Take Away and Questions
Take Away from this week:
- Yoga means union of mind, body, and spirit. At the practical level, it is being aware of who we are.
- By practicing Yoga consistently, we can achieve a healthy body and mind and will be able to unleash the full potential of us.
- Sage Patanjali is known as the father of modern Yoga. He compiled all aspects of Yoga into a specific format called – Yoga Sutra.
- Core of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is Ashtanga Yoga i.e. 8 branches of Yoga.
- There are 3 other ways of practicing yoga, yoga through knowledge, yoga through good action or selfless service, and yoga through devotion.
- THINK: If you do pushups while watching TV, it is considered as Yoga?
- EXPLORE: Find out how many verses are in Yoga Sutras.
- THINK: Yoga Sutras were compiled by Patanjali around 200 BCE. Can you calculate how many years ago that was?
- EXPLORE: Go to https://sites.google.com/site/yogahss/home/yogamodules
Explore some asanas and find 5-10 that you like. And find 3-5 pranayamas you like.
- EXPLORE: Any of your family members perform meditation regularly? Find out how they feel and what motivates them to sit in silence for a longer time. Ask them if they can guide you for a couple of times. How do you feel after doing the asanas, pranayama or meditation?
For Groups K-2:
1. Select all that Yoga include:
d. Surya Namaskar
2. Who is the father of modern yoga?
3. Is playing considered as Yoga?
4. What is the book Patanjali wrote on yoga called?
For Groups 3-5:
1. Yoga means union of ______, ________, and __________.
2. Patanjali compiled all aspects of Yoga into a specific format called: ______________
3. Core of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is _______________________
4. Besides Yoga, Patanjali also wrote books on two more fields: _________________ & ______________
5. Which century Patanjali compiled Yoga Sutra?
6. Name any 4 practices of the Astanga Yoga.
7. Match following Astanga Yoga Practice and the subject it deals with