Yoga practice enhances flexibility and is a healthy choice, but when coupled with literature, yoga becomes much more. A few years ago, I attended a yoga retreat in San Francisco to learn how to teach yoga to kids. My premise for signing up for the workshop was simply as a refresher course with my own yoga practice and for something to do with my son. What I got was a deeper understanding of yoga and the role it plays with a child’s learning process. At that point, I combined yoga with literature. I wanted a different venue for reading with my son. What developed was a program that builds literacy especially awareness and skills for kids who tend to be kinesthetic learners; i.e., the need to move to learn. Our practice strengthened our mother-son bond and provided a powerful message for us both–a message to further.
When I got home from my kids’ yoga retreat years ago, I was fired up to use this new method of literacy learning with my kid. Originally I stuck to the book of stories provided by the yoga teachers at the retreat, as they were well guided and simple poses with stories. I started to branch out to Chinese and American proverbs, no particular reason except that I was interested in the two and they had a good flow with yoga. This developed into a deeper appreciation for story telling through yoga when my son initiated question sessions as we practiced. Our conversations were simple and usually regarded the story itself, but more importantly emphasized why we practice yoga and do the Chinese practice yoga like us? We talked a little about the differences/similarities between our culture and the Chinese culture, including food, all the while we continued to move through our series of poses; he was three years old at the time.
Usually my day with my son is indicative of trying to wear him out with long hikes and trampoline sessions. I was so moved by our interaction during yoga while engrossed in literature, I decided to canonize our time together. Our experience made me appreciate our time and of course I had to share this idea with parents.
The teacher in me realized the potential for children to engage with literature while practicing yoga and my target group was three-four year olds at the time, as it followed suit with my own child’s age. I offered yoga literature classes for children and found the boys tend to need it most. While both girls and boys equally enjoyed our 45 minute story telling sessions through yoga, the boys made huge strides with listening more attentively. Over the course of a six week session, where consistency with the structure of the class was key, the boys made larger strides lengthening their attention span. This is not to suggest the girls lacked in attention span growth, rather, they didn’t seem to need the outlet for movement to listen to the story as much as the boys tendency. All the kids understood the story lines, the message, and the poses as they related to the story. It’s proven successful to the testimony of a child’s craving for movement while learning.
The past five years I have been compiling lists of stories and restructured yoga poses accordingly. I delve into our practice with the intent of telling a story that carries a message. Our discussions following our interactive story telling are spent gleaning the messages from it and applying them to our daily lives. Using folklore and proverbs, our sessions are interactive with a global perspective as we grow to appreciate people of all cultures through the mediums of story telling and yoga.
I am offering two Yoga For Literature courses this Spring 2012, May 8-June 12. If you are local, nearby, or visiting Lake Tahoe, your children are invited to join us. For more information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mom, Educator at Home