Kindness is an important part of practicing Yoga. In your physical Yoga practice, you want to be kind to your body. And, out in the world, you want to be kind to others. In my children’s’ Yoga classes, we practice Karma Yoga – performing acts of kindness with no expectation of recognition or reward.
These Random Acts of Kindness (RAKs) don’t have to be huge or expensive. One of my favorites is making Love Rocks. Each child decorates a smooth stone with bright paint and an inspiring message (like a smiley face, words like “Joy”, “You are loved”, or “Peace”, or a short quote). Then the kids take their rocks and secretly leave them somewhere for someone (A stranger? A relative?) to find. They can leave one inside someone’s shoe or in a mailbox. Sneak one into a teacher’s desk or on a library shelf. Leave one on a park bench or on a box of cereal at the grocery store. Then, after the rocks have been hidden, come back as a group and share how they felt when they left their rocks. How do they imagine the finder will feel? I like to give each child a few rocks to take home to continue sharing their kindness with others.
Along the same lines, leave homemade bookmarks inside library books! Colorful paper, stickers, and markers are all you need to make the bookmarks. Add a positive message like, “Have a great day!” or “You are special” and sneak them into books at the library. If you teach at a library, this is especially fun because you can sometimes see people find the bookmarks. Or, if you teach in a studio or gym where people borrow the Yoga mats, leave a bookmark inside a mat as it is rolled up. The next person to use the mat will get a nice surprise when they unroll it.
Kindness Catchers are fun to make and play with friends (I’ve heard these called Cootie Catchers and Fortune Tellers. Watch how to make one here). You can use colors for the outside flaps (like heart stickers) and simple numbers for the inside. Older kids may want to use kind words to label the flaps. Then, brainstorm four RAKs for the inside – high five someone, sweep, sort laundry, feed the dog, etc. Your RAKs can be whatever you’d like to do for someone else to make their day easier. Then, play with the Kindness Catchers and send them home as “Om-work”. Report back as to how their Kindness Catchers worked and what their favorite RAKs were.
One more idea to spread RAKs into the world is Undercover Friend. This activity gives your child the opportunity to build connections with other people. Everyone likes to be noticed and heard. It is an act of kindness to really get to know people around you. Ask your child to choose a person they see regularly but don’t really know. It could be a classmate, a bus driver, or a neighbor. Everyday, they will complete a simple task designed to get to know their undercover friend. They should keep a notebook handy to record clues about their friend.
Day 2: Notice something that’s different about you and your friend. Not bad, just different.
Day 3: Notice at least one quality you admire in your friend.
Day 4: Secretly send positive thoughts and kind wishes to your undercover friend.
Day 5: Pay your friend a genuine compliment, one that really comes from your heart and is specific to something you’ve learned about him/her.
Day 6: Think about how you feel about your undercover friend now that you have gotten to know him/her better. Are you more comfortable around him/her? What do you think your friend would notice about you?
Day 7: Start again with a new undercover friend.
It only takes a few minutes a day to be kind and spread a little sunshine with RAKs!