Written in an informal fun tone, The Yoga Sutras for Children by Roopa Pai (Hachette India) takes the reader through the history and the essence of the Yoga sutras in a light accessible manner. The book starts off with a bit of history, and the identity of Maharishi P (unveiled later as Maharishi Patanjali).
Many children may have a mental barrier to yoga and Pai sets off dismantling these. It starts with the informal language that tweens and teens connect with young. The introduction to Maharishi P, sets the tone for a fun and chilled journey into annals of spiritual and medicinal traditions. The Yoga sutras are seen as the foundational text of the Yoga School, though some version of yoga had always existed in India for millennia. Each sutra is revealed as a secret with an apt translation plus transliteration of the original text. Then, it is analysed and explained with references and examples drawn from modern life.
The concepts of being in the now or the present, mind control, how we are not the storm but its calm steady centre are some of the many ideas that the book explains. Perhaps a key takeaway for me was the section that describes how identifying with our thoughts leads to the churning and changes of our minds. If we instead mindfully observe these thoughts and not really get governed by them, drawn into them, swayed by them, we could “keep our head while all around us are losing theirs”.
At times in the book, there are translations of the sutras given, in form of affirmations, tweaked slightly to convey the same message but in terms that modern kids would relate to. For instance, “I an NOT my thoughts but I can watch my thoughts as they come and go, and that’s a real superpower”.
What works well in the book is the use of metaphors. For instance, the author has described mindfulness and observance of thoughts without judgement, by using the term ‘vritti -watching’ and an analogy with trains. The illustrations by Sayan Mukherjee also add to substantiate the text.
As a book reviewer, who is also a counselling psychologist, I was especially fascinated by the way the concept of mindfulness and its link with common emotional concerns has been so beautifully and naturally outlined in the book. For instance, there are sections where the author talks about harnessing the power of positive memories, becoming fluid and open to new knowledge and yet staying away from wrong knowledge, mindful breathing, mantras and affirmations, controlling anxiety by watching thoughts, getting restorative sleep and much more that falls into the realm of mental and physical wellbeing. And yet these concepts, which are of course integral to the yoga sutras, are brought forth in a very simple manner for the child reader.
The Yoga Sutras for Children by Roopa Pai is a great book to take readers, young and old, behind the asanas into the philosophy of the practice!