With great pleasure and fun I have been teaching Kumar Kumari, Yantra Yoga for children, to young people in the schools of the Amiata area (Tuscany, Italy) for three years. It became possible thanks to Merigar’s organization of special projects in collaboration with A.S.I.A and with the support of the Italian Buddhist Union.
Each year Merigar participates and organizes a new project which later wins the public bid approved by the government of Italy. Usually such projects last only one scholastic year. This year, thanks to the project “Breathe the Earth. Resilient children mindful of themselves and the environment”, there have been different educational activities for children partly dedicated to physical activity, among them Kumar Kumari yantra yoga.
Starting in 2019, I have been teaching Kumar Kumari to different classes of primary schools in Arcidosso, Castel del Piano, Seggiano and Montenero – small towns on Mount Amiata situated in the beautiful valley of Val d’Orcia (Tuscany, Italy) near Merigar, which is well-known in the local area. So, it was easy for Merigar to propose teaching Kumar Kumari yoga at schools in order to present this project.
I am also very happy that my colleagues, Kumar Kumari instructors Costance Soehnlen, Laura Graci, and Fabiana Esca have been participating in this project and teach Kumar Kumari in other places in Italy (Constance and Laura in Rome, and Fabiana Esca in Naples). I am especially happy that this year my colleague and dear friend Letizia Pizzetti has joined me to teach Kumar Kumari in Seggiano and Montenero.
A project usually has its limits. According to this specific project we performed only eight one-hour lessons of Kumar Kumari with each class, one session per week for two months. In this way, in 2021 I taught Kumar Kumari in September and October to four different classes in Arcidosso, in October and November to two classes in Castel del Piano, in November and December to two mixed classes in Seggiano and this year (half of January and half of March) with Letizia we taught Kumar Kumari to two mixed classes in Montenero. In total, more than 120 children have had an opportunity to learn and practice Kumar Kumari in the Amiata area this year.
In this time of uncertainty and stress due to the pandemic and terror of war children and teenagers are among the most fragile categories and most exposed to psychological and emotional distress. For this reason, the primary goal of the project “Breathe the Earth. Resilient children mindful of themselves and the environment” funded by the Italian Buddhist Union, is to promote well-being, social and emotional development of children at primary schools through activities that facilitate a concrete application of Buddhist principles and values, starting from the understanding that self-awareness, empathy, non-violence and interdependence are the basis of a healthy life and the social and environmental responsibility of the new generations.
Kumar Kumari is a method of Yantra Yoga designed specifically for children between five and twelve years of age. It was conceived and written by our Master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, taking into account the physical size, energy and breathing of children. The characteristic of Kumar Kumari is that it combines movements with breathing through the use of ten syllables or sacred sounds OM, A, HUM, ‘A, A, HA, SHA, SA, MA and HAM to teach children to inhale and exhale correctly. For its extremely beneficial potential, Yantra Yoga for children was compared by Rinpoche to a ‘great medicine’, as these exercises balance the vital functions and all the other aspects necessary to keep children healthy and ensure their perfect growth.
During our lessons the children had fun gradually learning the ten syllables or sacred sounds of Kumar Kumari. Usually, at the beginning of the lesson we would dedicate time to warm up exercises performed in a playful way, games and/or activities with cards, and songs which help the children release the tension accumulated in the sitting position during the school day and warm their bodies up well. I liked the part when, after the warm up routine, we would tell them a beautiful story about Kumar Kumari recently created by our fantastic Italian group of Kumar Kumari instructors in order to introduce the sounds of Kumar Kumari. The children would copy them and the yoga postures with great enthusiasm.
I am really excited and satisfied with this experience as I have noticed the changes in the children. Since I have already known them for three years, I have noticed with great joy that the seeds we have planted during this time are starting to sprout and to grow – the children have become more aware of their breathing, of the sensations in their body, they gladly relax at the end of the session and naturally express empathy and respect the dimension of others. Every time we finish a lesson I feel an immense joy, beautiful recharging energy and happiness!
I was thrilled to know that this year A.S.I.A and Merigar have also launched a new project for the next scholastic year. I hope it will be approved again by the government. We (Kumar Kumari instructors in collaboration with Merigar) are planning to continue teaching Kumar Kumari to the children of the Mount Amiata area. We have also offered our collaboration to the local Social Cooperative in order to teach Kumar Kumari in the summer camps in the area and are waiting for approval of this project as well. It feels great to be active and collaborate with others! I am sure Rinpoche would be satisfied with this news!
May this positive energy bring peace and love to our world!