Vellore native Ajay Mani Raj, Shivanga Solberg from Norway and Annie Liebman from California met during a hatha yoga teaching training at Coimbatore. After bonding over their love for yoga, the trio decided to propagate the benefits of yoga and meditation to children in villages across the country. They embarked on a bicycle journey from Kanniyakumari to Kashmir in September and so far, have covered many schools in Tamil Nadu. Their initiative is called Bicycle Yogis.
“Children learn many things in school but the most important thing they should understand is how to handle themselves. Moreover, we have to inculcate certain values in children when they are young. That’s why we decided to offer free yoga sessions in schools,” says Ajay.
The trio has chosen specific yoga practices that are simple and support children in their growth and development. Shivanga interrupts the conversation and tells us, “We are teaching yoga to students above seven years of age. We will be focussing on yoga practices that will help activate students’ brains and increase their memory power. There are also meditation and breathing techniques.” The yogis say that the journey from the lowlands to the Himalayas will last approximately 11 months. “We will be having two sessions at each school. After the lessons, children will continue to practise on their own during school time,” he adds.
They have completed their yoga tour in Tamil Nadu and are currently at a remote village in Karnataka. The reason why the trio chose cycling over other modes of transport was that they can reach as many schools as possible.
“If it was a car or a bike, we tend to miss schools in certain rural areas. Another advantage is that cycling helps in meeting a lot more people and we can also explain our mission to them. We cycle about 60-75 km daily,” adds Ajay.
In addition, they are also planting a tree at every school where they teach. “The experience has been incredible so far. The response from students and school managements was overwhelming. Teachers were appreciative of our efforts. These practices have changed our lives in a profound way, and we feel every child should have a chance to benefit from yoga and meditation. It is a special opportunity to share the science of yoga in places where these tools would not normally be accessible. We are looking forward to the rest of the journey across different landscapes, terrain and climate,” says Shivanga. In order to complete the full mission, the Bicycle Yogis have started a crowdfunding campaign in Milaap.