social + emotional support
What is Social Emotional Learning?
How can yoga and mindfulness contribute to SEL?
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) began receiving national attention in the mid-1990s, and has been steadily gaining momentum ever since. SEL can be defined as enhancing the relationship with oneself and others through positive social skills and effective emotional regulation.
Since its introduction, social-emotional learning has taken on new importance in our educational system. Consequently, it is often considered something that applies specifically to children and teens. SEL, however, is important for people of all ages.
Learning does not stop once formal education ends. Our needs, thoughts, and even our habits change as we age, endlessly shifting the way we view and interact with our environment. To keep up with this constant change, we have to relearn or review what we thought we knew to be true about ourselves and others.
Additionally, many adults have found a need for guidance in navigating a world that has become increasingly digital and fast-paced. There are more and more emerging SEL programs designed for adults that offer this support.
Social-emotional learning is formally broken down into five categories:
Self-Awareness: Understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses, and setting realistic goals for learning and growth.
Self-Management: Learning to recognize and control strong emotions, and developing grit in challenging situations.
Social-Awareness: Practicing patience, tolerance, and flexibility with others; and recognizing the effects of one’s behavior on others.
Relationship Skills: Developing and exhibiting expected social skills when interacting with others, and learning what it means to be a good friend.
Responsible Decision-Making: Learning to make good decisions based on one’s personal values and past experiences, and taking responsibilities for one’s actions.
How Does Social-Emotional Learning Connect to Yoga and Mindfulness?
At the heart of social-emotional learning lies Mindfulness: learning to listen and pay attention to yourself and what is around you in order to live with more peace, self-love, and gratitude. Those who understand and practice Mindfulness also have strong strong social-emotional foundations.
Yoga, which has a special and intimate relationship with Mindfulness, can also be partnered with social-emotional learning and growth. Beyond the physical poses, yoga is about learning to be with ourselves and learning to be with others.
In yoga you have a safe space to listen to your mind and body—to decide what feels good to you. It encourages you to discover what is inside your comfort zone as well as what hovers outside its borders. Through this process, we aspire to develop unconditional acceptance of ourselves.
Yoga is very personal and non-competitive. On your yoga mat, you are simply encouraged to notice the limitations you have set for yourself, and then to investigate those boundaries through physical exploration and self-inquiry. Your only comparison for improvement here is to yourself—have I made any progress since yesterday?
In yoga, we learn to breathe through painful and challenging poses so that we can develop grit and perseverance to transfer off of our yoga mats. In this way, we develop patience with ourselves. As we continue to pause and breathe, we can begin extending this same patience and non-judgment to those around us. We learn from our own internal truth that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. We learn to encourage ourselves and others; never to criticize or shame.
Yoga, mindfulness, and social-emotional learning all begin with the self and then move outwards to others. We begin with self-awareness to create positive self-improvement. We use what we have learned about ourselves to then move through the world with more humility and intention. No matter the path you take, the journey to expand your mind and heart will always begin inside yourself.
Mindfulness Within CASEL & KCG Frameworks
The opportunity for mindfulness exists in the PAUSE between stimulus and response. When we react automatically to a situation, we often escalate conflict. This causes added pressure on relationships, unwise decisions and consequences we may not have intended.
When we take time to PAUSE before we react, we give ourselves time to deescalate, contemplate options and then react in a way that produces outcomes that will benefit everyone involved.
At Challenge to Change, we recommend utilizing a mindfulness technique during the PAUSE.
Stimulus + MINDFULNESS = Response
"Kids yoga is a great practice for meditation and relaxation. Our students at Jefferson often times don't get opportunities to do either. I have seen just from when the time Ms. Chappell has been in my classroom; students using mudras and different stretches throughout the day when they feel it's needed. This has helped calm students (who are often not calm) or help students meditate when they feel frustrated with school work or situations. It has been a great opportunity for our students as well as myself."
-Chelsey Knapper / 2nd Grade Teacher / Jefferson Elementary / Davenport, IA
"This program has helped our school tremendously! Thank you for sharing it outside of the of your immediate area. A big part of the success in our school is that our school principal has made this program part of our PBIS initiative and has required it as a tier 1 intervention where all students in our building receive this program. The teachers in our school have seen the benefits and now realize how important it is for students to be taught these skills."
-Judy Doolittle / 2nd Grade Teacher / Sunset Heights Elementary / Webster City, IA
"As a result of the Yoga and Mindfulness Program, I have noticed: coping skills have
improved, student relationships and empathy have improved, anxiety has decreased, the noise level in my classroom has decreased and students report a positive feeling after mindfulness activities."
-Hannah Jahn / 4th Grade Teacher / Delhi Elementary / Delhi, IA
One of the first steps in making an emotion feel less intense is to simply name it. From there, you get to choose how you react to the emotion during the "Pause." Use the chart below to regularly check in with your emotional state!