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Creating a yoga story with your kids: enjoy calm and centered little ones with this method from yoga teacher Sierra Hollister.

Doing yoga with your children (or someone else's) is a wonderful gift for everyone involved. If the goal of yoga is to unite body, mind, soul and breath, then it is clear that all people--regardless of age--can benefit. Children engaged in yoga can maintain their birth gift of flexibility. They can increase their muscle coordination, strength and tone. They can calm their minds, develop their inner spirituality and achieve wholesome good health.

Most children (especially young children) view yoga as play. It is in that spirit that yoga is best presented. My own children have come to enjoy yoga best when it is presented as a story. Most yoga poses are named in ways that lend themselves to the weaving of a story as you practice. If you are unsure of the name, go ahead and be inventive. What does the pose remind you of? A horse? A river? Well, that is now the name! (In my own yoga journey of many years, I have encountered poses that are named differently in each tradition.) In my home, our yoga stories vary depending on our mood, what theme might be curative and what poses we feel like doing. We do have some consistent favorites, however. Let's go on a yoga journey right now.

If you are doing yoga with more than one child, and space permits, try and sit in a circle; it feels nicest for sharing. We always "tune in" first. We sit with our legs crossed and our spines straight, then we place our hands into the prayer mudra and sing "Ong namo guru dev namo" three times. This is basically a way of clearing our space (inside & out) and signaling the universe that we are trying to be in our highest, best heart space. You can sing anything you like. Next, we warm up by flexing our spines back and forth, touching our toes, twisting our shoulders, and rolling our necks. We also fill our lungs with air--long and deep inhales--while letting our arms make a fuller and fuller circle as the inhale becomes complete. We call this a balloon and each child can choose a color for the balloon as each balloon fills. When we empty, our lungs, we empty, our balloons slowly. Then, we begin our story.

Today feels light and airy, so we come into seagull pose (Picture A).

While in seagull pose, we gently flutter our wings and imagine flying above the ocean. We will stay in this pose for about two minutes per forward leg. Oh, and now the seagull sees the moon rising gently over the sea and it is a crescent moon (Picture B: actually this pose is formally known as half locust, but we call it crescent moon). The seagull loves the sparkling, white moon. The moon is so beautiful tonight. Graceful, serene. The seagull wants to share this beauty with someone, so the seagull flies toward the mountain (Picture C). The mountain is strong and straight and rooted to the earth. The mountain can stand forever and is home to many creatures. The seagull finds some children to admire the moon. The children are so inspired by the moon that they want to meditate on the beauty, of their hearts by doing the heart meditation (Picture D). We finish our yoga with a brief meditation. Today, we bring the sparkle and majesty of the moon into our hearts and feel moonbows and quiet and love expanding our heart with each breath. When we have finished our yoga and meditation, we always sing a little song called "The longtime sun song." The words are. "May the longtime sun shine upon you, all love surround you and the pure light within you guide your way on." Today, it is the longtime moon. I can always tell when it has been a good yoga set because the children want to keep doing yoga!

Some other ideas for yoga stories include jungle journeys, camel rides to strange and distant lands, hunting outings, and boat rides. Good luck and remember that the point of yoga is not the destination hut the journey!

Do yoga on a mostly empty stomach-before breakfast. Wear comfy, stretchy clothing. Make sure the floor or carpet is clean. Warm up with stretching and breathing. Above all, have fun. Progress is day by day. Yoga is a life long treasure!

Sierra Hollister is a mother of yoga kids, a yoga teacher, and the proprietress of Laughing Guru Goat Cheese, available at the French Broad Food Co-op Saturday Farmers Market. For information about Sierra's classes, or to schedule a workshop for your school or group, call her at 828-689-4190.
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Title Annotation:Breath & Movement
Author:Hollister, Sierra
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Aug 1, 2002
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