Story telling and Yoga combine beautifully and powerfully together, and my Yoga stories are an integral part of my Yoga classes. I write new programmes constantly and much of my inspiration comes from nature. I teach in Steiner Schools, who use a thematic approach to learning, so if they are studying Aboriginal Heritage, my Yoga stories may be based on Aboriginal Dreamtime legends.
You can adapt well known children's stories to Yoga. You can read the story to the children first, as a focus and to fire the up their imagination. There is such a wealth of beautiful Yoga poses that you can easily make up your own stories. Animal stories are the most popular when introducing Yoga to children. Try short stories first, and then lengthen them as time goes on.
When designing yoga stories look at the flow from one Yoga pose to another, and also use easier poses before more difficult ones. It's most important that you incorporate counter poses, particularly after strenuous backbends like the Wheel.
To weave Yoga poses into stories I may use different names for the same Yoga pose:
eg Downward Dog Pose can be the Mountain, or the Bow Pose can be a nest. Be creative and look at the shape of your body in a Yoga pose. eg The Lunge Pose looks just like a lizard.
I've found the children need to have practised the Yoga poses beforehand in the class,(unless they are familiar with them) and then act out the Yoga story. The childrens rich imagination and sense of drama is inspired by the story format. Its a great way to present educational content for children who learn in a Kinaesthetic way or ADHD children. You can also create stories that foster positive human qualities.
*I am in the process of writing a Childrens Yoga Storybook that should be available by the end of 2008.*
A short example story ................. "GOING FISHING”
One day some children decided to go fishing so they got in their boat
They rowed steadily upstream against the current
Beautiful butterflies fluttered around their heads
They saw a large green turtle floating downstream
They threw in their fishing lines and hey presto they caught a fish
And then in their boat they floated quietly back downstream.
Lying on their backs, watching the clouds drift by.
© Joanna Gardner 2005
HOW THE ELEPHANT GOT ITS TRUNK
High up in the MOUNTAINS of Africa, whose peaks stretched upward, lay the source of a river.
A small trickle of water became a stream, which became a WATERFALL that cascaded, splashing down over rocks and cliffs.
By the time it reached the floodplains it had become a large
river that looked just like a huge SNAKE’s body winding its way over the
The river was called the Great Limpopo River and it was home to many people-eating CROCODILES. The meanest one of all was called
His home territory was a deep still HOLE in the river.
Nearby further down river, round BOULDERS ROLLED in the strong current of the Great Limpopo River.
Along the riverbank a vast jungle of green leafy TREES grew,
stretching their branches towards the sky.
This jungle was home to many
Giant LIZARDS who raised their faces to the sun.
The black and yellow striped TIGERS who flicked their TAILS UP AND DOWN.
The cunning spotted HYENAS.
And the fierce golden-maned LIONS, whose roar would echo through the trees.
The largest animals of all were the huge grey ELEPHANTS,
who in those days had short stumpy noses. (Bend elbows and hold nose
with interlocked hands).
Now it just so happened that a wise mother ELEPHANT BENT DOWN to caution her new baby elephant. ‘Never stray too far from my
side. The jungle is a dangerous place, and never ever go down to the Great Limpopo River by yourself.’
But one day the baby ELEPHANT was terribly thirsty, and, forgetting his mother’s warning, he trundled down to the
edge of the Great Limpopo River and began to drink.
Lying close by, as still as a log, was Mandebeka the CROCODILE. Quietly he swam up to the baby elephant and with one SNAP of his
powerful jaws he took hold of the elephant’s nose and began to pull him into the river.
The baby elephant screamed for help and the mother ELEPHANT lumbered up and took hold of the baby. But Mandebeka the crocodile
would not let go so,she called to the LIONS to help. They all joined in a line one behind the other and pulled. (Children in groups of
5, moving as the different animals, sit in the lion’s pose, lined up close behind each other, holding each other’s waists, pretending to
pull), but Mandabeka still held on.
As the animals helped pull, the baby elephant’s nose began to stretch and stretch.
The mother elephant called the TIGERS, then the HYENAS then the LIZARDS To help, but still they could not free the baby elephant and his nose grew
longer and longer.
At last the animals called on the SNAKES. The snakes pulled the hyenas, who pulled the tigers, who pulled the lions, who pulled the
mother elephant, who pulled the baby elephant. (Children gently pulling each other now).
Mandabeka the crocodile could not compete with all of the animals’ strength. Suddenly, he let go of the baby elephant’s nose! And all
of the animals (gently leaning back on each other) fell backwards one on top of each other. And do you know, from that day on, all
elephants have had long trunks!
© Joanna Gardner 2005