Happy International Youth Day!

By Poorvi Pandya and Sowmya Ayyar - August 12, 2017

“The youth is the hope of our future”
--Jose Rizal

Indeed, the youth play an important role in nation building. Youth are the leaders of tomorrow, as well as the participants in the change that is taking place today. They are a crucial part of development of a society.

The youth are full of hopes and dreams and are filled with tremendous energy. Their energy needs to be utilized in a constructive way. Education plays a key role in channelizing the energy of the youth in the right direction. The youth need to learn to read, write, think, understand, analyse, discuss and be able to make decisions regarding the issues their country or the world faces. They have the responsibility of running the world and they need to have skills to do it.

Youth is also the time when new, revolutionary idea born and these ideas shape the world we live in. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft Corporation, is a living example. His ideas, thoughts and his vision transformed the world. We should help them develop more such ideas.

It is important for the youth to grow up to be healthy, both mentally and physically, individuals. For the mental and emotional growth, they need to develop high moral values and principles. Moral education should be an important part of education. And for good health, the youth need to be involved in physical activities such as sports.

Many social, political and economic changes are happening in the world today. There are wars and other conflicts going on around us. All this is affecting the growth of the youth.

At present, we have the largest youth population ever. There are around 1.8 billion young people living in this world. Many of them live in conflict or war hit areas. They do not go to school and live in poor conditions. Even in other areas, young people are facing many problems.

To promote healthy growth of the youth and to solve their problems, the United Nations introduced International Youth Day. It was first celebrated on 12th August 2000.

This day focuses on the rights of the youth to have full access to education, healthcare, job opportunities and full participation in the all the activities related to the nation.

International Youth Day brings the youth into the focus. It makes people aware of how important it is to take care of the youth because the development of any society depends on how well the youth is looked after. Through International Youth Day, the world ensures that the youth acquire the ability, skill, motivation and recognition they deserve.

International Youth Day is celebrated around the world through various events like sports, exhibitions, parades and seminars which showcase the talents of the youth. The UN provides resources like ideas and promotional and training material. They even declare a theme for the year. For example, the theme for IYD 2011 was "Change Our World", in 2014 it was “Youth and mental health” and this year it is “Youth building Peace”.

We invite all youth to build peace through yoga, to channelize their energies, bloom and grow! Here are some simple practices you can utilize:


Ahimsa is also known as non-violence. Ahimsa is the concept of being non-violent in thought, speech, and action, to others and to oneself. Moreover, it is the idea that one must not bring any violence into the world; rather, one should bring more peace. In order to begin a yoga class in a non-violent (aka, peaceful) way, we start at the very beginning, like a child.

During class, allow yourself to be happy with who you are and where you are in your yoga practice, just like a child is always happy with who they are. Children are open and transparent. They have no inhibitions, nothing to hide. Be yourself. They are open to new experiences. Explore yourself. Children are playful as they grow. Remember to have fun in your yoga practice as you learn, try new ideas, and grow. Take baby steps as you grow. Whatever it is, be true to you. Have the integrity within yourself to know your body. Be happy and at peace.


Noticing the breath.

Find yourself in a comfortable seated position. Remove the flesh out from under your sits-bones. Gently close your eyes. Place your hands on your knees, with your palms face up to receive or down to ground. Elongate your spine by rolling your shoulders up and back, allow your head to rest directly in line with your spine. Observe your breath. Deepen your breath and notice the difference.

Bring your hands into Namaste, with your palms gently together at your heart center. We will join together in three rounds of OM, the eternal sound. Taking a deep breath out to begin, breathe in. OM, OM, OM. Rub your hands to create some heat. Place your palms over your eyes. Gently allow your eyes to open into the darkness. Remove your hands, placing them back on your knees.

Yoga is a way to find peace within and without. Within, you learn to rest, to calm, to find balance of human qualities. On the outside, yoga helps to gain control and steadiness over one’s body, mind, breath, and environment. Yoga teaches us to be at peace with ourselves, others, and nature.


Yoga asana practice is best when done in a cycle. We will some warm up poses, some building up, the climax, and then returning back, cooling down, and integration. In addition, it is important to create poses that use all the various muscles groups and parts of the body. We will try to add some heart openers, hip openers, balance poses, low back poses, poses for hands, feet, neck, inversions, and twists.

We will use the Sanskrit and English terminologies to describe these poses. The below table is a list of some simple poses for a Beginning Yoga class.

Sanskrit English Child-like Characteristics/ notes/ comments
Padmasana Lotus Sit however is comfortable for you
Badhakonasana Bound-angle, also known as butterfly Pretend you are a child, imitating the butterfly, and flap your wings!
Simhasana Lion Let it all out!
Maricasana Pose of Sage Marichi Twist
Maryaryasana & Bitilasana Cat & Cow Be like a Halloween cat, and a happy cow
Balasana Child’s pose Release with a sigh, as a child might do when he/she is tired.
SAdhomukhasvanasana Down dog Note: wrist problems, use dolphin or finger tips
Uttanasana Forward fold Be free like a child!
Tadasana Mountain Grow strength through the bottom of your feet
Cactus Arms Ensure your shoulder blades are down the back
Ardha Chandrasana Half-moon Side-stretch Stretches entire body
Surya Namaskar Sun Salutation Bask in the glorious warmth of the sun, like a child during the summertime
Vrksasana Tree Balance & Hip Opener: Focus your gaze (drishti); start at first level
Garudasana Eagle Balance: Hands only, then add legs
Utkatasana Chair Core: make sure to stay at a level comfortable to you!
Malasana Garland Hip Opener
Bakasana Crane/ Crow Balance
Oostrasana Camel Backbend
Ekapada Rajakapotasana One-legged Pigeon White pigeon (aka, Dove) is a symbol of Peace
Salambasana Locust Back
Dandasana Stick A child might find a stick and play with it
Agnistambhasana Firelog
Ananda Balasana Happy Baby A child starts its observations early, when it is a baby, looking up into the world
Savasana Corpse Allow the Mother earth to nurture you, its child, as you relax your entire body into the ground

It is important to remember that although the above list is huge, a yoga class adjusts itself to its students needs. Therefore, the yoga instructor must be ready to choose the appropriate poses for the class. Also, students adjust themselves to their own needs: students should feel free to come back to a restorative pose at any point, where the head is lower than the heart (symbolizing the humbling of the ego). Some of these poses include down dog, child’s pose, and easy pose.


Be happy with whatever you have done today because you have been true to yourself. Now meditate on that self within, the childlike qualities that you have, such as innocence and curiosity, trying new things, being non-violent and following ahimsa. Notice how you have grown and changed. Let us end with one round of OM.