City schools add yoga

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Yoga has become a part of the daily routine for Ho Chi Minh City schoolchildren - grades K to 12.


Tre Tho (Little Children) kindergarten in Tan Binh District says it was the first school in Vietnam to include yoga in their syllabus.


The children begin their lessons by gathering in a circle and take slow, deep breaths while sitting and lying.


Soft music is turned on, the children are told to close their eyes and sit in the lotus position, listening to a fairy tale told by the teacher.


Sometimes the teacher stops and asks the children to visualize, with their eyes still closed, an object like an animal, mentioned in the story.


The teachers have also tried to associate a character in the fairy tales the bee, the tree, the flower or the crocodile with a yoga act.


"I like the crocodile and the lion pose," said Ho Nhuan Phat, 5. "Every time I practice, I feel stronger. I always do it for my parents to see at home."


Nguyen Thi Binh, principal of the kindergarten, said yoga has been taught at the school for two months. "We have done a research and found out that several schools in Japan have taught yoga to kindergarten children, so we decided to follow."


Thai yoga trainer Didi Ananda Carushila helps the school teachers and teacher assistants to have ten children practice at a time, for around 60 minutes.


Meanwhile, Luong The Vinh High School in District 1 now offers yoga classes every Sunday as an extra-curricular activity. The school has even invited an Indian trainer to instruct the students.


Do Hoang Hung, an eleventh grader at the school, said "My friends and I are very interested. We feel relaxed and buoyant after every session.


"And the most important thing is we learn to concentrate thanks to meditation practice."


The school principal Kim Vinh Phuc said they began offering yoga classes after many parents complained about how their children spent all their time at home playing online games.


"Many students have told me they want the school to maintain the class regularly," Phuc said.


Doctor Nguyen Trong Anh, vice chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Sports and Gymnastics Medicine Association, said students including kindergarteners are restless and can hardly focus on a specific thing.


So yoga is very useful in cultivating their ability to concentrate.


Yoga has been taught during gym classes at many schools in the US, Japan and India.


Several yoga centers in Hanoi and HCMC have also opened classes for children.


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