Do yoga and just be nice


Yoga has been around for 5,000 years and is practiced by millions. That’s a lot of yogis! We come in all shapes, sizes, ages and interests. Some of us are bendy, some of us are not. What makes yoga so significant is the awareness we cultivate on our mat that connects us all more peacefully when we step off of it.


Through the deep breathing and melodic movements, yoga guides us from the outside world to a quieter place within. The more time we spend in stillness the more profound our awareness of this moment becomes. When we are present, we are better able to manage stress and be kinder to ourselves and others. Why is that important? Because kindness matters.


The definition of kindness is: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.


Making Caring Common, a Harvard Graduate School project, is on a mission to make kids kind. When we heard about their studies and research, we instantly thought about yoga. Yoga is the answer!


While some people are innately thoughtful, Making Caring Common co-director and psychologist Richard Weissbourd believes that kindness is a taught behavior. We have to raise our kids to be nice. And we have to remain nice in our adult life. Don’t forget the Golden Rule. In fact, this is the first of the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Yama. Yama is the guideline of integrity and ethics. Be nice through nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, self-control and non-envy.


To understand what kindness is, it’s important to understand what causes the opposite of it – thoughtlessness or being inconsiderate. Road rage, name calling, hitting, spitting, littering - all of these are unkind actions that are the result of a hyper-tense, reactive state.


No matter what type of yoga you prefer, breath is the essential foundation for the proceeding poses. You need to be in control of your breath in order to utilize it as a tool to calm and cool yourself when a posture gets too intense, the room gets too hot or you want to dive a little deeper into the pose. When we teach kids how to use their breath, we are teaching them how to slow down. Take a deep inhale in and exhale deeply out. This immediately reduces anxiety, lowers blood pressure and decreases feelings of distress. When kids (and adults) are calmer they are better able to consider and control their actions.


When we take a pause and observe the setting, we can think about what is right and what is nice. Say ‘thank you’, share your toys, make eye contact, let the car get in front of you. We have this moment to be nice. Ommmmm.

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