To what extent can yoga affect the foetus?
There has been a tradition, not only a belief, but a tradition which has always maintained that right from the moment of conception we can provide good positive samskaras to the foetus, to the baby inside the womb. There have been many examples in history, and I think that modern science is even recognizing this concept where after the third month when the soul actually enters the womb of the mother, it is possible to give positive samskaras, positive education to the unborn child so that when the child is born it will be a different child altogether.
Many people are experimenting with such ideas and practices of yoga and I have personally seen people having very good results. The quality of children taking birth after a yogic connection between their parents is incredibly different to those who have had no connection with a spiritual tradition or a yogic tradition. I can only say that it is possible to train the foetus through yoga and in the course of time that person can become a genius.
How can we bring children to the right path?
Before you do that you have to control yourself and bring yourself to the right path. You have to be an example for your children. It is only through example and practical experience that you can instruct your children to develop their potential and creative nature. Just teaching a child all sorts of morality will not improve him, especially if you tell him that he should not do this or that, but you do the same things yourself. Children are very observant, they are very pliable and you can mould them to any shape.
The first thing that you have to do in order to improve the quality of the child’s consciousness and awareness is to let him express himself freely; even if he speaks rudely to you, let him. If you cannot let him insult you, you are suppressing his nature, but if you allow his mind to flourish by giving him freedom of expression, whether verbal, moral, physical or intellectual, he will grow up to be an intelligent and creative person.
Freedom of expression is important and it has to be accompanied by proper samskaras. You can give them proper samskaras through the practice of asana and pranayama, and gradually introduce them to the different practices and principles of yoga so that they are able to build a solid foundation for their future. If they begin to practise yoga from a very early age you will find that in their later life they will not face the same type of tension and frustration that you face, and even if they have to face it they will be well equipped to handle those situations that you are not able to handle yourself because you have never been given the basic training.
If you want to bring your child to the right path, give him this basic yoga training which will enable him to cope with all eventualities.
How can parents set a good example for their children?
Parents, especially mothers, have a lot of emotional and psychic influence on their children. Fathers have an intellectual influence on their children, and mothers have an emotional influence on their children. It is best if the father and mother together can make an effort to provide a good understanding in the child by becoming an example of the life which they wish the child to lead.
Children tend to pick up many things psychically, not intellectually, not logically or rationally. Children know when you are telling them a lie; they feel it intuitively. They may not be able to figure out the sentence in which you said the lie but they know that you have told them a lie somewhere. They have a very keen, very active intuitive ability up to the age of eight or twelve years. Then the intellect begins gradually to take over.
From the yogic point of view it is said that all parent must be able to provide their children with good samskaras as well as an understanding of the lifestyle. This can only happen if you live your own life sincerely, without imposing your ambitions and your expectations on your children. So you have to make an effort to change yourself first, because only through being a righteous example can you teach others how to live in the right way.
—Printed in YOGA, Vol. 6, Issue 5 (September 1995)