playingwithblocksKindness is a practice. In yoga, Ahimsa or “Non-harming” is the foundation of practice.  As a yogi and yoga teacher, this is the building blocks of my life, my Yoga with a capital “Y”. Young children can astound us with spontaneous outbursts of kindness.  Yet in another moment we will observe the same child act out of frustration.  Taking the perspective of another is a developmental milestone for preschoolers. This perspective is necessary in tasks such as waiting, sharing and taking turns. As a result, young children are not always kind.  They are learners, growing in the practice of friendship. Children learn kindness through imitation, through experience and with practice.
In all children’s yoga classes my primary objective is to model kindness. In doing so, I am planting the seeds that will grow and bloom in the future.  As parents and teachers, our actions are vital, we are setting the example that children will follow. Treating children with kindness and respect is more than “the right thing to do”, it is a powerful tool, a gift.  Just as important, acknowledging simple acts of kindness reinforces that kind behavior is how we treat others.  

Each week I teach several yoga classes for 3-6 year old’s.  We practice kindness by sharing, helping one another, taking turns, using kind words, listening, cooperating, and offering support.  I do this for the children and they, in turn, offer it back to me and then to one another. Over the course of several weeks, powerful things begin to happen.  Sharing. Turn taking. Helping. Acts of kindness. 
These are some of the things I see in yoga class:
  • a child offering to change places with another child who desires to sit next to a friend
  • a four year old giving a toy to a friend who needs something to complete her construction project
  • a five year old reaching out to hold the hand of a younger child in balancing poses, as someone once did for them when they were small
  • taller children turning on the light for a smaller friend who needs help
  • three year olds taking turns in games
  • students problem solving and cooperating together to put toys and props away
  • children using kind words when they speak to one another
  • a five year old offering encouragement to a friend who is having a shy moment

It is important as a parent, teacher or friend to remember that when we model and offer kindness to children, they will respond and react with kindness.  Little by little the seeds are sown, watered, tended and open up into glorious blooms. As it is said, “A simple act of kindness is felt around the world.” 

What a gift it is for me to receive the kind, open-hearted, joyful energy of young children.  I am truly grateful and honored to be their teacher.
Jai Bhagwan.  Victory to the Light within each of us.