The camp theme this year is "Yoga". However, what is Yoga? “Yoga” seems to have become a word which refers to everything, and thus means nothing. There are so many different “Yoga”s – the yoga of eating, of sleeping, of thinking, of doing, etc. What does it all mean?
The word "Yoga" comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj" which means to unite/join/harness/connect. So the word “Yoga” means any method by which any human being is brought into union with the Higher Power governing us; that Power has many names - God, The Universe, Source-Energy, The Force, Truth, Reality. So Yoga is any spiritual path which creates a “union with this Power/ truth/reality”. So Yoga can refer to any spiritual path in any religion. “Paths are many, Truth is one”.
One who practices yoga in this sense is a Yogi/Yogini.
This Yogic Philosophy was documented in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, and consists of 8 Limbs - thus this philosophy is called Ashtanga Yoga. One of the limbs is Asanas (Yoga as a form of exercise), however, there is so much more to Ashtanga Yoga. I am very excited to be teaching this Yogic Philosophy to your children, and it is being received by them extremely well as something they can apply to their everyday life.
To give you a small taste, one of the principal teachings of Ashtanga Yoga is AHIMSA, which is often thought of as non-violence, but actually translates to "NO-PAIN". Ahimsa starts with not causing pain to yourself (negative self-talk, not believing in yourself, self-destructive behaviours such as staying up too late, eating too much junk food, reliving negative past experiences). It was a small miracle to see the wonder on the kids' faces as they realized that often times they are the one making themselves feel bad, and they have a choice to stop that behaviour and be free of it. We cause pain to others when we ourselves are suffering, thus others cause pain to us because they are suffering. Ahimsa asks us not to waste our energy judging others, but instead have compassion for them. How do we do this? By replacing our judgement with a mini-meditation in that moment - by (in our minds) saying to the other person, "May you be happy." This protects us from their negativity, and also spreads positive energy in the world.
Many kids have come up to me at times outside class, to tell me how much they are enjoying the Yogic Philosophy and its relevance to their lives.
Yoga is a sophisticated system that is much more than just doing yoga postures – it is a way of living which help us to live life more fully, not trapped in our own minds. The guidelines of Yoga are not just instructions on the “right thing to do”, but they are guidelines of ways to live, which create concrete results on one’s life. The most important thing we are learning is that PRACTICE of the techniques we will learn is paramount. “KNOWLEDGE COMES ALIVE ONLY THROUGH PRACTICE.”
Teaching your children is the greatest gift I have received and I am learning so much from their questions and feedback. I hope you enjoy talking to them about everything they have learnt in Philosophy Class at the camp.
May you be happy!
Heritage teacher at HYSC since 2013