As part of their unit on Healthy Habits, the 1st grade classes at Ambrit International School in Rome, decided to travel outside their school, to a place in the city that promotes physical activity and well-being.
Zhenphenling, near the Pyramide-Ostiense area, was that PLACE and was a fine choice by the teachers for the children. Last year, I visited each of the classrooms (3 in number) for a 20 minute introduction to Kumar-Kumari Yantra Yoga for children. It was a bit difficult due to limited space and time, but still the teachers and children were able to see what can be done in those conditions.
Zhenphenling instead could easily host each class with 15 children and their teachers. The three classes camefor individual morning visits over the week of November 12th to the 17th. Each group of children seemed to have a different energy as they entered, and the yoga lesson was adapted to each group, those calm, those full of energy, and others quite joyous.
As the children were taking off their shoes at the entrance, one boy asked, ‘Is this your home?’ Another child commented ‘ I like this smell, and still another, commenting on the scent of incense ‘me too, it’s like my home, when I go to Vietnam.’
All the children were quite taken by Zhenphenling’s mandala painted on its wooden floor, used for Vajra Dance. The mandala seemed to hold a magical quality, a ‘Wow’ for them, expressed by the boys and girls as they stepped onto it.
One group of children entered quietly and sat on its most outer curved blue line. Another group of children began to move slowly, counter clockwise around its concentric circles. A third group cartwheeled and danced on its surface.
The children gave their own ideas about mandala’ colours. The blue, green, red, yellow and white circles represented ‘fire’, ‘water’ and ‘wind’, ‘the sky’, sun, grass, ‘calm’ and ‘anger’, Its shape is ‘with circles and triangles, ‘its the World’.
When the Kumar Kumari lesson began, each child had their own yoga mat and lots of space to follow warm-ups, the beginning breathing, followed by various tsigjong, lungsang, the tsandul movements and yantras. Different balancing poses were tried out too – be a tree, bird, frog, crane. The lesson ended with Kumar-Kumari’s finishing exercise and resting on the mat afterwards.
Replenished after a snack of fruit, biscuits and fresh water, the children left smiling and saying, ‘I really enjoyed this’ ‘ I hope we can come again.’ And I can say the same. What a pleasant experience,so interesting for the children, to repeat time and time again at Zhenphenling.