Gurukul is a volunteer-run Sunday school in Bellevue. Kavita Jhanwar started the school in 1999 with five kids — two of which were hers — out of her home. Being an Indian immigrant, Jhanwar wanted her kids and others to know more about their culture and traditions. So, Gurukul was born. Today, they have 550 kids who come about every other Sunday to learn various Indian languages and cultural lessons. The whole school is run by about 100 volunteer teachers. We (Aham Yoga) were invited to talk and lead a class on Nov. 16.
I was introduced to Gurukul through a student of mine who teaches at the school. Eight months ago, over a brief meeting at our Redmond studio, we decided to go to the school.
We had kids from the ages of five to 13, divided into three groups of approximately 150 kids. The teachers accompanied the kids and some interested parents stayed to watch. The first group was the most energetic, with kids between the ages of five and seven. We addressed questions like “What is yoga?” “Where it is from?” “How old is it?” and “What are the benefits of yoga?”
We started by showing the kids a pose and they would then do it with us. I also asked them to point out areas of the body that were affected positively by those poses and related the poses to the nature around us. We demonstrated some intense inversions for the kids to see. This helped them realize that yoga practice is cool, yet challenging. They watched mesmerized as my volunteers showed them headstands, shoulder stands, arm balances and other poses.
Thirteen-year-old Sanjana Seetaraman said: “I enjoyed the presentation but wish we had more space to spread out and try the poses. I particularly enjoyed the last part where we were lying down with eyes closed [referring to shavasana]. I found that had a calming feeling”.
Her 12-year-old friend, Praneeti Dhanti said: “I think yoga is to relax and calm you. [I] really liked the relaxation at the end.” I asked the group if they were stressed out, since many kids kept talking about how relaxing yoga was and they admitted that schoolwork left them feeling stressed at times.
“Yoga was born in India and it makes me proud that today it is practiced by millions all over the world,” said Gurukul’s culture co-cordinator Manisha Jain. “I want these kids to know of our rich cultural heritage and how yoga can make them healthy in their body and mind.”
The session was energetic, fun and interactive. Gurukul hopes to have more yoga-related sessions from Aham Yoga in the coming years.