Children possess a natural curiosity and sense of wonder. Stories are one of the first ways children expand their awareness beyond their immediate world. For both children and adults, stories can open doors in our imaginations to what we did not know existed or was possible.
In Storytime Yoga, these ideas are combined to give children the opportunity for fully integrated learning.
I believe yoga benefits young children in that it gives them a specific way to explore and challenge their bodies. It helps them learn a vocabulary to express both their physical and emotional experiences. They learn calmness, breathing, and mindfulness, while developing strength, flexibility, and focus.
Because children are easily able to embody the characters they imitate, an intentional consequence of the yoga postures is the opportunity to empathize. Being a tree allows you to experience both the fragility and strength of nature. The strength of a warrior comes not only from physical prowess but also from keeping calm and maintaining clear awareness of one’s surroundings.
Storytime Yoga provides another benefit of integrated learning. Participants remember the stories and themes more clearly because they have the connection to a physical action. Many of the concepts present in the yogic philosophy are identical to values we want young children to learn as they grow. These include respect for ourselves and our bodies, respect for the world, and our interconnectedness to the earth and all creatures. While gaining a greater connection to their bodies and developing a sense of spirituality, kids enjoy bringing the characters in the stories to life. Kids begin to recognize their bodies as instruments for spiritual practice.
As adults, we tend to become both more pragmatic and cynical. Our dreams of being able to be whatever we want sometimes get squashed under our limited resources and the stories we create that limit our beliefs in what is possible. I can’t do this because of that. If we can reconnect to our sense of curiosity and childlike wonder, we can more creatively approach each opportunity in our lives.
Our creativity suffers when we relinquish our curiosity in favor of certainty. In yoga practice, this can look like the desire to get the poses “right”. With that in mind, I encourage my students of all ages to explore the sensations in their bodies, to learn to trust their intuition. If a pose feels good, it probably has a benefit. How do we listen to our experience with enough curiosity to be able to trust our intuition and honor what we need in each moment?
This season, I invite you to notice how the stories you tell yourself expand or limit your creative process, your desire to pursue your dreams, and fulfillment of what you are worth.
The next session of Storytime Yoga will be this Saturday, January 9th, from 3-4pm at the SE Belmont Studio. I hope to see you and your little ones there. If you have a favorite children’s book, please share it with me. I am always looking for great stories.
Whether or not you have children, please join me in one of my regular classes at The People’s Yoga to reinvigorate your sense of curiosity and wonder.