“mini yogis minute” tip of the week
When a child says that s/he is feeling pain…how do you differentiate between “good pain” (strain) and “bad pain” (injury)?
A few suggestions:
(1) Basic rule of thumb (and this is something I repeat over and over in class): tell every child, “If it hurts, then just don’t do it.” Plain and simple.
(2) If the child is older and understands the concept of gradation, you can ask him or her to place the pain on a scale of 1-10, ten being the most severe. Anything about seven or higher should be assumed to be “bad pain” and the student should be asked to back off the posture.
(3) If the child is younger and the pain scale doesn’t really apply, try to ask a question in terms that s/he can understand like, “Does it hurt like something is stabbing you or like you’re tearing apart? Or does it hurt like it feels like it’s just hard to do?” This is another way to discern “good pain” from “bad.”
(4) If a posture is uncomfortable to a student for any reason whatsoever, I show them how to modify/back off the pose. Once they let me know that the pose is okay for them, then I slowly start moving them back towards the deeper variation to see where their edge of comfort is.
Bottom line, you never want a child to hurt him or herself. Since yoga for kids is meant to be fun and exploratory more than anything, don’t worry how deep your students are going into a pose or whether they are doing it perfectly. If they’re feeling it, if they’re trying it, they’re doing it. Always make sure that they are working within their comfort zone...whatever that is. Respect them as you teach them to respect themselves, and everyone will be safe.
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