By Faye Martins
Children begin learning important social skills from a young age. Toddlers often gather in play groups, under the watchful eyes of loving mothers and fathers, to learn how to share and interact with peers. Preschool-aged kids begin to pull away from their families a bit, as they enter academic settings for the first time. As children progress to elementary school, they continue to learn important social skills like making friends, sharing, and dealing with conflict appropriately. Sports, clubs, and other after school activities are often great places for children to practice social skills in a more relaxed environment. Yoga is no exception. Children who participate in yoga classes learn to interact positively with other kids and adults in a safe environment.
The very essence of yoga is acceptance. Any child who wants to practice yoga can do so without being judged, criticized, or ostracized. Children of all shapes and sizes are accepted as they are and taught to work to the best of their abilities. Kids learn to stop when there is pain, and to readjust their bodies. In this type of environment, children learn to appreciate differences in others as well as their selves. As they realize that yoga class is a place where they won’t be judged, they will learn not to judge others.
Yoga poses can be tricky and intimidating. They require balance, strength, and practice. When children begin practicing, they may feel they won’t be able to succeed. As they progress, children’s self-confidence increases as they achieve success with the poses. Kids will also learn how to meditate and self-reflect. Meditation helps encourage positive thoughts and feelings to rise above the negative. Children who practice kids yoga will begin to feel strong and confident, knowing they can rely on their bodies and minds for strength, agility, and comfort.
Many children are self-centered, thinking only of themselves throughout their days. When conflict arises, it’s often hard for youngsters to see the situation from another person’s point-of-view. As they begin to develop empathy for others, children learn that sometimes you have to give a little to resolve conflicts. Yoga teaches children empathy, as they help each other with poses during class, play games together, and celebrate successes. Yoga instructors also use stories to teach empathy, allowing the kids opportunities to imagine and discuss what they would do if put into certain situations. Over time, children will begin to realize the benefits of showing empathy toward others.
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