We are sometimes contacted by people who are worried that yoga has an association with Hinduism, so we thought it would be helpful to talk a bit about our perspective on this.
In Cosmic Kids yoga, we combine kid-friendly story-telling with yoga postures. Jaime leads the kids on a fun adventure in yoga poses. The kids become the heroes of the adventure and meet fun animals in amazing places. There is no religious content or intent at all in what we're doing.
We base much of what we do on elements of classical yoga - and this has a long history - so please read on to learn more so you can make an informed decision:
As background, we (Jaime and Martin who run Cosmic Kids) were both educated in Church of England schools and we married in our local Church of England church. We aren't regular churchgoers, but we do go at Christmas and for weddings and funerals. The values Jaime includes in her stories are essentially christian values (reflecting those of most other religions, for that matter) including the importance of being kind to others, taking responsibility for your actions and being a contributing member of your community.
We (Jaime and Martin) practice yoga ourselves, and have found it helps us feel great physically and mentally. We're sharing it with kids because because we've found it has a positive effect on them too. We continue to study the impact of what we do, and take very seriously the role we have in helping kids develop into happy adults.
Yoga is so old that it's hard to know exactly how and when it started. Most people agree it was probably developed in India before Hinduism existed - some 3000 years ago. Over the years different people have adopted it, transforming it for their personal (and sometimes commercial) purposes as they bumped into new ideas and met people in different cultures. To this day people argue about what 'proper yoga' is. It will probably be adopted and adapted for centuries to come.
In the 2nd Century a Hindu sage called Patanjali organized the practice of yoga into a system of ethics and approaches. Patanjali is often considered the father of yoga and his Yoga-Sūtras still influence many styles of yoga. So in this sense it's true to say that the philosophical roots and influences of yoga have at times been connected to Hinduism. Some call this 'classical yoga'. Even though there is this connection, it is hard to find a yoga class that is about Hinduism or has firm reference to Hinduism, its deities or its beliefs. In general, people do yoga and also teach it because there is something wonderfully connecting about the movement and breathing you do in a yoga class - it brings you back into the present and stills your mind.
Coming forward a couple of thousand years to the present day, yoga is available in a mishmash of styles around the world. Cosmic Kids yoga and kids yoga in general is even less related to classical teachings of yoga. Aside from the poses, we feature only two artefacts from classical yoga:
- we say 'namaste'. Namaste is a word commonly used at the beginning and end of yoga classes all over the world. It is still used today in India and other countries as a warm everyday 'hello'. Kids love to say it in Jaime's classes and it's become something she says as a focusing device at the start of the class.
- we lie down and relax at the end of the class. In Cosmic Kids we call this relaxation; in yoga people generally call it Savasana. It's a nice way of allowing the body to become calm and relaxed after the exertion, and Jaime uses these moments to reflect on what we've learned today in the adventure we've just been on.
Looking back, the goal of yoga has always been to provide mental and physical strength and stability and this is how most people use it today. We share it in the form of a fun story-based physical exercise to help kids feel grounded and balanced. We avoid all religious content whatsoever so as many kids as possible can access the physical and mental benefits of yoga movement.
If you want to learn more, here are some useful articles: