“The blend of sensory integration strategies and yoga techniques creates a natural sensory diet for children. Through yoga partner poses, we find core sensory input though proprioceptive (input to the joints) and vestibular input (movement of the inner ear fluid).
Yoga can also offer a unique opportunity to enhance social skills, especially when using partner poses. With partner poses, two children partner and work in tandem to strike a specific yoga pose.
Partner poses are fun for children. Partner poses are sort of like puzzles that children try to solve using their bodies. It feels nice and enhances self-esteem when a child has a peer willing to help him into a pose. Helping another child strike a pose also offers a sense of gratification and reward also boosting self-esteem.
Enhance Social Skills with Partner Poses
Partner poses involve the foundations of communication:
- eye contact,
- body language and
Partner poses can be a great way for children to socialize. Children working together to form a partner pose helps to develop empathy as each pose requires cooperation and consideration.
One partner must let the other know if they are getting the right amount of stretch or pressure. The other partner must tune into that need.
The pressure of another child’s body also helps each child to feel the pose more deeply. This experience can be an effective way to sooth children who are seeking sensory input.
Partner Poses for Home or Classroom
Many times when teaching a group of children and the energy levels get too high, I engage the children with partner poses. It seems the eye contact and body contact is soothing and calming.
Some poses need to be done with similar size bodies. Others work well with two different size bodies. And with some, it doesn’t matter.
Row Boat and Seated Triangle are two partner poses to try at home or in the classroom. These two partner poses go well together.
Set up the partners.
Instruct the children to sit on the floor with their legs wide and facing their partner. In this pose, partners don’t need to match in size. If children are similar in size, their feet will touch. If one partner is much shorter or less flexible, he will place his feet on the calf muscles of his partner, rather than at his partner’s feet.
Encourage the children to sit up tall and reach for their assigned partner’s hands or wrists.
Advise the children to move slowly back and forth as if they are rowing a boat. SLOWLY is the operative word here as this will allow for time to hear from each partner as to whether one would like more or less stretch.
Continue to support the children in moving back and forth slowly with each breath. Ask each of the children to hold their pose for several breaths.
One child may be able to lie back on the floor if their partner has that flexibility. Coming back up to a seated position strengthens abdominal muscles and helps to build core strength.
This Row Boat partner pose involves an additional important piece of communication – turn-taking.
One partner lets the other rest while getting a good stretch and then roles are reversed. This is the natural flow of giving and receiving that occurs during communication.
This physical movement can be a very helpful way for children, who are working on communication skills, to practice this dance of give and take.
Side Stretch Seated Triangle
While the children are still in the Row Boat pose, ask the children to shake hands with their partner. This will bring the right hands of each child together in a natural way.
Encourage the children to reach their left arm to the sky and to stretch towards their own right foot. When observing this, you will find that many children will need to be prompted to move in the opposite direction of their partner, as they tend to mirror their partner.
Next, advise the children to pull their partner’s right hand in toward the center of the triangle. This step will help her roll her chest open to the sky. Each child will peek up in front of their armpit. Encourage the children to breathe into the stretch they should be feeling on the top side of their ribs.
Change sides. Advise the children to come back to the center and thank thank partner!
Need A Visual Example? Take a look at this video!
(1) Backsen, Brooke S., MOT, OTR/L, RYT -. “Sensory Diet = Yoga Throughout Your Day – Special-ism.” Special-Ism. N.p., 15 Feb. 2014. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.