Sibling yoga

When I first opened the studio, I had narrower age ranges for the kids yoga classes. As time progressed, I broadened these age ranges, partly for practicality with parents enrolling multiple children.

One unanticipated outcome I hadn’t even considered… sibling connection. Almost all our classes have at least one set of siblings in them and some of our PD day camps have siblings attend together.

I think what makes yoga different than other activities is possibly what allows this bond to grow. The non competitive, non attachment based individual practice allows children to turn inward rather than worrying too much about what others are doing. There’s no “goal”, no winners and losers, and no competitive objectives.

I think back to my childhood and outside of birthday parties and playdates, rarely did I get to do an extra curricular activity with my brother. He played hockey, I was in dance. We both played ball but the leagues were gendered and age specific.

Seeing the connection between siblings during yoga classes is something incredible. The children tend to naturally strike a balance between connecting with new friends, and staying connected with their sibling. Often the older sibling will keep an eye on the younger sibling to ensure they know what to do, or offer to help them, while maintaining their independence in their own yoga practice. The younger sibling often follows the older sibling in the asana practice, while taking chances and trying new things on their own. I have yet to see a sibling squabble occur at the studio which has me wondering if these kids get along this week at home, or is there something about a structured (mildly structured) activity with an adult who isn’t related leading the activity that breeds a deeper connection?

As always, I turned to the research. It turns out, there isn’t much research out there on sibling relationships and connection outside of the home so your guess is as good as mine.

Growing up, my brother and I never got along. We fought violently and were just so horrible to each other. Then something shifted… I wanted to start playing hockey when I was in grade 11. Suddenly my role as big sister was flipped around and I was the vulnerable one as my brother helped me go through his old hockey equipment to find pieces that fit me and practiced throwing me over the boards at the local rink (not sure he knew girls hockey didn’t have hitting!)

Now, we stay connected daily. We are each others confidants, travel buddies, business partners, and are always ready to hop on a flight to help each other out (I am still waiting for him to come fix that loose floorboard in the studio once it is safe to travel again.) I would have never predicted this relationship when we were young children who couldn’t even handle a car ride to the grandparents without a huge dramatic fight breaking out.

How interesting that it was a sport that started to bring us together. Although we couldn’t play in the same league, we’d watch each others’ games and practice together at the local outdoor rink, the power in my vulnerability as someone who was brand new at a sport my younger brother excelled at. I sometimes think back and wonder what it would have been like if we had done yoga or another activity together.

I am curious… with siblings doing yoga together, engaging in an activity outside the home without family, are we possibly strengthening a bond at a young age? What other benefits are happening when kids do extracurricular activities with siblings. I’d love to hear your thoughts and observations.

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