As a yoga practitioner for 10 years I was delighted to read this post about yoga as a prevention tool against student violence. Rob Schware interviewed Dee Marie, who founded, Calming Kids (CK): Creating a Non-Violent World. CK has run pilot groups to prove that yoga indeed can help young people!
A tenant of yoga that I learned early on in my practice was compassion – compassion for myself, for my fellow yogis in class and for my fellow man. Compassion – at least for me in yoga – comes in the form of understanding that if I cannot get into a certain position (asana) that’s ok, this is where I am today. A lack of compassion can look like forcing yourself into a pretzel-like position to only hurt yourself, or looking at another yogi critically in class wondering, “Why can she do it but I can’t!” I’ve found that without compassion in life or in yoga, the ability to accept where you are and who you are in this moment is difficult.
So how does this help our kids and bullying?
Compassion can teach our kids that we are all different and in different places in our lives; it can increase a sense of empathy and gives our young people the time to be introspective.
Introspection is hard for many of us (myself included!). If we help our young people develop the ability to look inward, know how they feel and self-sooth in a healthy way, the tendency to discharge uncomfortable feelings (like anger, sadness, and fear) in the form of bullying can decrease.
Dee Marie shares her thoughts on why yoga can be helpful to young people, and I couldn’t agree more:
Students of all ages love yoga. It is fun and very relaxing. The CK system teaches children how to balance their lives and how to communicate effectively. Students do not ask for asanas (yoga postures); they do ask for relaxation, concentration or conflict resolution scenarios. It is the lifestyle of yoga that sparks their interest. Yoga is an enjoyable way to learn self-reflection, introspection, and relaxation, which most children greatly appreciate. It helps them to counterbalance their reaction to the busy world they live in.
So grab a mat with your kids, say, “Ohm…” and breathe in. Yoga, does a body and mind good!
Mom and son doing yoga photo available from Shutterstock