MYS 2012 YOGA CAMP FOR TEENAGERS
GIFT OF LOVE : MYS 2012 YOGA CAMP FOR TEENAGERS
Life becomes a burden when you don’t simplify it.
Mind-boggling formulas and difficult theories can bog you down horribly when you don’t fit them into a frame that you can understand and memorise. Well, thanks to the God that wrote a simplified version of the yoga postures and their benefits on the board — in the facilitators’ room.
Why didn’t I think of doing it this way? No wonder I couldn’t remember the asana names and their benefits. Short-note versions! How enlightening!
The yoga camp was for mine and the other Malaysian Yoga Society instructors’ learning as much as it was for the students who participated — and that was how we each thought and felt about the whole camping project for the teenagers. Our first big-scale endeavour.
It was a trilling experience to take them head on into the journey, give them a firsthand experience of the art, shake up their old belief system and watch them struggle and find their peace with the wonders of yoga — working directly in their body, mind and spirit — as it sank little by little into their awareness. “Yoga happens when the body, mind and breath are synchronised,” cooed teacher Saravana, his soothing voice echoing across the blocks. “All of yoga, leads to the straightening of the spine,” guided teacher Iswari as she reminded the slouching teenagers to sit upright. Which I hope they remember, especially when they are sitting in front of their TV sets.
Besides the many hours of valuable yoga lessons and subtle insight into their benefits and philosophies, the days were filled with highly building, motivating and educational talks and lessons that covered a wide range of topics that would show each student the value of his body, the greatness of his mind, the social skills that would build his character and personality, and the teachings that would uplift his life as a human being full of huge potentials. On the very second day, when Master Mani read out the notes many of them had already commented, “I love this camp” and “I love yoga”. Arjuna (not his real name) came across as any other boy in the camp. When I approached him, he said he doesn’t have a father and his mum was a cleaner. He showed no emotions whatsoever about whatever he’d done ... enough to have all the other boys single him out and mount complaints against him.
Like master said, when a father is not around, it’s understood why children behave in unencouraging ways.
But instead of pitying, I encouraged him to spare a thought to his hardworking mum.
Hopefully, the seeds planted at the camp will flower positive petals in his life and he’ll bloom into a large, life-giving tree. Somebody has to follow up on him. Divagar and his little assistant (Lavanesh, I think) taught me to plant. What a valuable lesson! He was very keen and enthusiastic on gardening and gave me generous tips on the right tools to use, when to plant, how to nuture the young plants, how much water is sufficient and also landscaping. As a bonus, he also showed me a little Ganesha statue he had sculpted using the soft red soil we found around the planting area. Wonder if Lord Ganesh is staying fit under a small stone shade we had hid him under — since it rained cats and dogs every evening! My oh my, don’t these young adults have mountainous talents hidden in them!
Towards the end of the camping period, these talents started to come out one by one, thanks to Master’s method of making each student feel truly wanted, greatly appreciated and totally welcome to express themselves freely, without any judgement on what they said, how they spoke or how they presented their views, feelings and thoughts — no matter how big or small their issues were — on some casual as well as serious subjects very close to their age and heart.
On the final day, as some parents witnessed their children on stage, they just couldn’t believe their eyes.
“My son is smart, but he had never gone up a stage and spoken with such confidence and clarity!” cried Vinayagan’s mum.
Vanitha (not her real name) has always been talented. Her parents are not so well to do, but they always encouraged her to excel. She does to the best of her ability. If earlier she had bizarre ideas of being ‘popular’, I hope she learns to shed them as she goes nearer and nearer towards the kind of mammoth fame that comes to greatly passionate and talented little people like her.
Sivanayah (not his real name) comes from a family that needs financial help. He has four other siblings and his mum struggles to make ends meet. When he said that he had lost his jeans, he added sadly that his mother had spent RM100 to buy it and he was obviously very distressed. I stood outside the rooms as he anxiously opened the drawers and pushed the chairs, tables and cupboards to look for his precious pants. After a while, he was really glad to find it nearby his place, neatly kept in a plastic bag. If it was stolen as he said it was, and returned by some student who had abided by master’s words, then bravo to him (the fellow who had taken it), whoever he was.
The highlight of each day was Master’s reading of their comments and complaints, if any, put in a box placed on the stage. Master made the event funny, exciting and enjoyable. The students were then taught, even without their own knowledge, of what to do, what shouldn’t be done, what is building and what is right and wrong.
Surprisingly, many of the complaints were not so much against other students but of the other world entities. “This is very serious,” retorted Master. “Do you believe in God?” “Yes!" came the answer in one big voice. “If you believe in God, then how can you believe in Devil as well? Who is stronger?” Oooo! Aahh! The audience sounded like it got the matter resolved for life. “I have never seen a man, in my entire life, as patient as this one,” was one 13-year-old’s comment about Master. “I really salute him!”
The camp organiser and coordinator Mogana, was filled to the brim in every student’s heart. She stood by them with love and lots of disciplining and light-hearted reminding of their duties and obligations. The students found in her not only patient listening ears but also a caring guide. She, like the other instructors, were there giving their whole heart and being to the youngsters. Three days into the week, we could notice the chinese students becoming more interactive.
By the end of the 7 days, they became one with the others. Being there, they and the others probably learnt the most valuable lesson of all — race is only on the surface of their skins, there’s no religion greater than the religion of loving and understanding every human for whatever he or she is and there’s no creed as important as that which teaches him to know, love and understand his own self.
Well, thanks to the wonderful indian classical music teacher, Renuka Shree, who taught them a fantastic method of making hard formulas easy to remember with popular and catchy tunes.
Thanks to SK Durai, who won every student’s attention by sharing his life story.
Thanks to Prof Jeyaraman who shared his knowledge on physiology.
Thanks to Uthaya Sankar SB, who brought out their creative writing talents, especially in Turiya Deva, a brilliant student with splendid imagination.
Thanks to teachers Surya, Priya and Murali for making the yoga sessions beautiful and enjoyable.
Thanks to teacher Surya for her interesting and meaningful anatomy lesson and her gift of life — planting green-gram seeds in mineral water bottles — to every child.
Thanks to the other wonderful instructors.
Thanks to the school headmistress and Puan Jeya.
And mostly thanks to the canteen caretaker who gave us such delicious meals. Mmmm... very tasty!
We all know of screen superheroes like batman, spiderman, superman, Rajinikant, Jacky Chan, etc, but the only real-life superheroes walking amongst us are the policemen. Big cheers to Surendran for spending his precious time talking about the profession to the students. Weren’t they excited and impressed!
Whatever it was the teenagers had experienced at the camp, whatever their education level or the environment they were going to return to, they sure were lucky to go home with a handful of big brothers and sisters to lean on to guide them on to a brighter ‘future’ path based on the pure yogic wisdom.
Let’s hope they make wise use of the phone numbers given to them. And thank you kids, for your wholehearted participation. (smile)