In my city, Toronto (Canada), school teachers must guide kids on Character Development themes. Today’s theme is Perseverance and is the last in the Character Development series. Thank you to Donna Freeman, our guest blogger, for persevering to provide us with these Character Development and Yogic insights. Donna Freeman is the author of Once Upon a Pose: A Guide to Yoga Adventure Stories for Children and blogger at Yoga In My School.
A Successful Handstand Requires Perseverance
Living with Perseverance: A Core Principle of Yoga
by Donna Freeman
Fall seven times, stand up eight.
– Japanese Proverb
Watch an infant learn to walk and you have the definition of perseverance: that dogged determination to succeed despite setbacks or obstacles. As we get older we often lose this sense of will power or resolve and begin to take the easy road thinking this will lead to happiness. Temporarily it may make life painless. However, in the long term we end up lacking energy, drive, motivation, enthusiasm, and purpose for living, making life truly miserable.
One of the core principles of The Yoga Sutras is abhyasa or practice: having an attitude of persistent effort to attain and maintain a state of stable tranquility. Children need to be taught the value of consistently choosing actions, speech and thoughts which lead to personal harmony.
The yoga niyama tapas (self-discipline) addresses living with perseverance. Tapas involves making the most of yourself, setting goals and not giving up easily. As we do this we free energy and live with greater vitality and intention. Tapas also involves curbing addictive behaviours be they shopping, video gaming, watching TV, eating when not hungry, overindulging or other destructive habits which consciously or unconsciously become part of our lives.
A kids yoga class is a wonderful place to teach these skills. As each individual regularly practices the poses, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques they will see an improvement in their health, attitude and self understanding.
Children who doubt themselves become confident and sure after attempting and succeeding at a challenging pose. Very active children can learn to calm their body and mind and find peace in a hectic, confusing world. Those with emotional turmoil are encouraged to listen to their heart to find freedom from strife.
Yoga simply asks that you show up, that you begin where you are today, and strive through consistent effort to find your best self. Ralph Waldo Emerson explains the process in this way:
Sow a thought and reap an action.
Sow an action and reap a habit.
Sow a habit and reap our character.
Sow our character and reap our destiny.
Perseverance is the core of yoga. Coming to the mat, exploring and expanding your abilities, determining in some small way to take these skills into the world, and doing it all again the next day.
Persevere and all will come. This is living yoga.