Every year during the third week of August we go to Sivananda Yoga ranch. At first the idea was to give kids a new experience at a yoga ashram, to learn about Buddhism and to practice yoga. Having tried Yoga summer family program at Sivananda, it is now our favorite annual trip that we look forward to all year. Parents and children participate in activities together, but there are two breaks from 8 to 10am and from 4 to 6pm when adults can leave children with teachers and take a yoga class themselves or simply relax.
The Family program is for kids 4-10. If you want a sleep away summer camp, they have 1 week camp for 11-14 year olds we are yet to try, but plan to in the future.
For a novice there may be a cultural shock:
The accommodations are from basic to spartan, meals are vegetarian and sometimes spicy, no coffee or milk, all meals are communal and served outside and you wash your own dishes afterwards. You have to perform karma yoga: prepare at least one communal meal per week under supervision of a head teacher and participate in one useful deed daily. Sometimes that includes weeding, another time it could be washing outside tables.
But the pleasures and benefits outweigh any challenges:
- Lots of time outside, old fashioned games and pure fun
- Tour of the Buddhist temple
- Meditation, chanting and yoga for kids
- Going blueberry picking
- Tending to a garden, seeing vegetables grow
- Hiking the beautiful countryside
- Bonfire in the evening
The teachers at the yoga summer family program are on the strict side, there are many rules you should be aware of before you go, but our children are coming back year after year and loving it. It is a perfect way to find quiet calm and take a break from gadgets, schedules and Facebook. The spiritual path is different for everyone, you can go as deep as you want, or just watch from the sidelines. Either way, you will find a whole new world inside an ashram that is usually unnoticed in our busy lives. Family yoga week makes the experience and transition to ashram life much easier.
There are many other ashrams in tri-state area and a few have children program. We are yet to try them, but will provide all contacts for you to choose:
Sivananda Ashram – has kids program
Woodbourne, New York
The Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health – has kids program
Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville – has kids program
Peace and light!