The benefits of yoga seem to be numberless. Every person has a different reason why they practice yoga or even a different idea of why others practice yoga. Common responses are for flexibility, relaxation, or general fitness. However, those are just a few key points. When working with children, yoga can be used to build self-esteem, compliment a sensory diet, teach self calming and regulation strategies, and address motor planning and development to name a few. Yoga can also be used to develop social skills!
Develop Social Skills with Yoga Poses
With all of these benefits, yoga can even create a rich social outlet for children. The use of partner yoga poses in a classroom setting, summer camp, or social skills group provides a wonderful teaching platform for social skill development. Here are a few tips and tricks to develop social skills through partner yoga poses.
Encourage Joining In
For some kids, the hardest part of social development is that first step of asking a peer to play. When teaching kids a partner pose start with a simple social introduction to develop social skills.
When asking to try a partner yoga pose with a peer, kids can ask “Would you like to do this yoga pose with me?”
Discuss with the group how this is just like asking another child to play at the park or to join in play with a group of kids.
The act of asking to join can ignite anxiety in some kids. Partner poses offers a time to practice joining in, as well as, to teach kids to prepare with simple breathing or relaxation strategies.
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“Are you having fun?”
“Do you like this game?”
Teaching kids to talk to each other during play will encourage communication skills, relationship building, and empathy for the feelings of others. Living in the world of electronics, kids are more likely to face a screen then face their friends while playing. Teaching kids to check in with their partner during a pose can support this critical communication skill and develop social skills.
Some poses may offer a bit of a challenge for one partner while the other may be resting.
Encourage words and phrases such as “How are you feeling?” “Do you like this pose” “Are you ready?”.
These phrases, as well as encouraging the partners to look at each others facial expressions, will allow kids to build their communication skills. Additionally, children can increase the success rate of their relationships with peers through showing that they care for one another.
Foster Listening Skills
Right in line with working on communication, partner yoga poses foster the art of listening. Being heard is one thing but being listened to requires action. Listening is an important skills needed to develop social skills.
In partner poses, kids can ask how the other is feeling. For example, does the other child desire more of a stretch? Is the other child ready to be done with the pose?
This opportunity to build listening skills provides a chance to discuss our feelings. It teaches the difference between feeling heard by others and not feeling heard.
Once kids make a new friend, they need finesse to build and maintain that friendship.
Kids often relate to the concept of trusting current friends. When asked if they trust their best friend to not tell their secrets, kids will respond yes. In yoga partner poses, we work on trusting our partner to hold us tight, listen to our feelings, and respect what we have said.
Several partner poses offer each person in the pose a different stretch or feeling based on position.
To develop social skills, require each child to switch positions so they both get the chance to experience the pose differently.
Discuss playing fair and how good it feels to get to try both positions.
Relate this concept to playing different positions on a sports team or even being a line leader or ender.
“Thanks for playing”. Simple words that often get left out of the language shared with kids.
After performing a partner pose, encourage kids to thank their partner for playing. Kindness is an important ingredient to develop social skills.
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Yoga is a great tool for kids. Yoga provides so many platforms for teaching valuable life skills. Work in one or two partner poses during your next kid’s group and discover all the social skill opportunities!