Hailed as a Yoga prodigy, 10-year-old Ishwar Sharma from the UK has taken the trophy home after winning the UK edition of the 'My Life My Yoga' video blog contest launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
'iGlobal' caught up with the child yogi who wants to inspire other children to take up yoga and find out the three-time world champion's plans to donate the prize money to help Covid-19 patients.
Organised by the Indian Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the “My Life, My Yoga” contest was open to participants from across the world and conducted across different categories including professional, adult (18+ years) and youth (under 18).
Ishwar, who has been practicing since the age of five, was selected as the winner in the under 18 boys' category. With 28 awards already under his belt, the Yoga enthusiast said: “I am proud of myself on winning the award, but I am more interested in the number of people who are inspired by me when I win.”
Ishwar first became inspired to take up yoga after seeing his father, Dr Nanjundiah Vishwanath, practice daily. He says: “Yoga is just fun; it allows me to explore my artistic side by experimenting with different postures. Currently, I and my dad are practicing acro-yoga together.”
The duo has since gone on to hold over 200 Yoga sessions globally, adding their personal touches to the ancient practice.
Dr Vishwanath says: “We choreograph the yoga postures to music and the 'Bhagavad Gita', presenting it in a nice way where others, especially children, would be entertained and inspired to take up the practice.”
Described by his father as a “born natural yogi”, Ishwar also has the skill to chant up to 50 shlokas from the Vedas and 'Bhagavad Gita'. Practising regularly with his father, the young boy has impressed audiences all over the world in both national and international conferences, including the World Yoga Championship in Italy, the World Yoga Festival, and world games in Nepal and Canada.
Ishwar now aspires to meet Prime Minister Modi. “I want to thank Modi ji for doing this contest, and I want to share my suggestions on how to make Yoga more popular in schools as a lifestyle and my suggestions on Yoga to be included in school.”
At school, Ishwar would find it difficult to concentrate due to his autism and ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder]. But, since taking up Yoga, he feels it has helped find an inner calm and peace.
Having reaped the benefits for himself, he strongly believes there is potential for Yoga to improve the lives of thousands of children with special needs. In a letter to Prime Minister Modi, Ishwar has requested for opportunities to be provided for promoting Yoga therapy for children with special needs and for competitions like 'My Life, My Yoga' to include special awards for children with special needs and disabilities.
Passionate about spreading the word about Yoga and its many benefits to students and children with special needs, Ishwar wants the practice to be introduced in the UK national school curriculum.He also believes that Yoga is a way to overcome lifestyle related issues such as addiction to mobile phones, stress and anxiety.?
He explains: “Yoga benefits us mentally, physically, and spiritually. It would definitely help children who feel stressed in school. I have heard that in some schools rather than detentions, children are encouraged to mediate.
“Those schools have seen an improvement, whereby children overcome their mistakes much quicker.
Finding new ways to encourage children to take up Yoga during the Covid-19 lockdown, Ishwar has been facilitating free online yoga sessions, with children, including those with special needs, joining in from as far as India, the US and Australia.
“I encourage everyone to take up Yoga - because it is fun and it also gives all the benefits. There are even amazing competitions out there where you can win cash.”
Recognised nationally and globally for his contribution to Yoga, Ishwar has recently been bestowed with a Sports Scholarship for Yoga. His previous accolades include been named 'British Indian of the Year' (2018) in the Young Achiever category and winner of the Gold Medal at the Euro Asian Yoga championship.
“Yoga will always be a part of my life as a daily practice and lifestyle, I want to keep on doing demonstrations so I can inspire more people to become yogis”.
by Preeti Bali