KLANG, Malaysia- Yoga lessons should be taught from the pre-school level to develop self-discipline in children, said Malaysia Pranava Yoga Therapy Centre founder and president Dr M. Raajamanikam.
He said pre-school children could be taught yoga 20 minutes a day starting from the age of three during their outdoor activities.
"Teaching yoga to young children can help the nation produce good citizens, besides deterring them from engaging in any crime-related activities when they become older.
"Through the correct method of yoga, children can see drastic changes, both in their mental and physical abilities," he said.
Raajamanikam, 79, who has been a yoga practitioner for almost 45 years, also urged the Health Ministry to set up a special room for yoga practitioners at each hospital to help treat patients who suffer from critical or chronic diseases.
"A room of 20 feet by 20 feet which can accommodate a group of four patients is sufficient," he said.
He added that the Government should give yoga more recognition by allocating it special funds.
Raajamanikam, who is the recipient of the Malaysian Yoga Sports Association's "Life Time Achievement Award", said more people were now aware of the benefits of yoga ever since June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly.
The idea of International Day of Yoga was proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the general assembly, calling yoga "a holistic approach to health and well-being and to finding the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature".
Yoga, originally performed in religious rituals in India 10,000 years ago, has evolved into a form of exercise to relax not just the body, but the mind as well.
Raajamanikam said yoga, if practised constantly, could help prevent or relieve some common diseases, mainly asthma, sinus problems, constipation, stomach problems and even diabetes.
"We have more than eight million yoga asanas (postures). Each position is said to be specifically useful for one particular problem related to our body," he said.