“If you want your children to be smart, tell them stories. If you want them to be really smart, tell them more stories. If you want your children to be brilliant, tell them more stories.” Albert Einstein
Storytelling is a universal human instinct – stories help us make sense of and inject value and meaning into our lives, supporting the development of emotions and feelings in a safe way. Stories are therefore a natural companion to yoga and a brilliant way to engage children in a yoga practice. Both are creative activities which lead to increased compassion, self awareness and improved communication. Coupling movement and yoga with stories actively engages children and immerses them in the experience, stimulating the imagination and allowing them to reinterpret the text. Most of all though, using stories in yoga is FUN!
Top Tips for Using Stories in Yoga:
- Choose your favourite stories – you can adapt picture books, traditional fairy tales, nursery rhymes, poems. Some of my favourites are ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, ‘Walking in the Jungle’, ‘The Gruffalo’ and ‘Old McYogi had a Farm’, but you can adapt any story.
- Weave poses into the story by using alternative names for poses – for example, down dog can become the big bad wolf or the bear in ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, warrior pose can become the hero/ine of the story, child’s pose can be a dragon’s egg, a rock, a snowball or hiding.
- Ask your child to think of poses that can be used for the story – they often come up with some brilliant ideas.
- With younger children, keep it simple and choose a few key poses to tell the story. You can introduce more as they get older.
- Use the story to pace the session. Most stories start with a lot of action which helps warm up little bodies, and slow down at the end which helps move into relaxation. For example, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ ends with the children in the story running upstairs to hide under the covers. This can lead into a visualisation where you imagine lying on a soft bed and relax your body parts.
- Use your voice – vary tone, pitch, speed and volume to keep your child interested and to control their energy.
- Make up your own stories using the Mini Me Yoga Cards or a story dice.
- If you want more inspiration to get started, watch some of the Cosmic Kids videos on YouTube or the Kids Yoga Stories website.
- Have fun and enjoy it! The more enthusiastic you are, the more your child will engage in and enjoy the session.
About Justine Merton-Scott
I am the Mini Me Yoga ambassador for Yorkshire and a self confessed bookworm. I love using stories in my yoga sessions with children and am often to be found in ‘The Work’s perusing their picture book section. Before becoming a MMY instructor, I trained as a early years teacher and social worker and have worked with children and families in both the public and voluntary sector for over 20 years.