Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Happens When I Tell Stories With Just My Voice?

About a year ago, I started to read my three-year-old son some wisdom stories from a little book called Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire.

I was amazed when he loved them. They have many captivating images and always have great "teaching" moments. This made me think about how important it was to not just read or tell him stories that where entertaining, but ones that actually had good values and had teachable moments too.  


Many nights before sleep, we put away the books and I make up a story special for him. With eyes closed, he is deeply transported by just the sound of my words. Looking over at him in this state, I began to understand the magic and power behind oral storytelling.


When I tell my son stories with just my voice, I can see that he is transported to another world. It is a body centering activity so he is in his body focused and listening, yet he also has one foot in the transcendence. It feel so good as a mother to be able to indulge his imagination and nourish his internal self by just telling stories with my voice.


So much of the world that my son experiences is through touch or visual stimuli. We are a visual culture with children absorbing images from tv, videos, computer and story books. Today's children have a hard time fully accessing their imaginations. So many products have done all the work for them. As well as our schools cutting the arts and PE programs, so they can focus on academia.


It feels so right spending my time as a parent sharpening my oral storytelling skills because I know it feeds my son's imagination, and will only deepen our mother/son relationship. Not to mention all the ways I can incorporate these stories into his learning, development. Just like how we learned recently about the Inuit Native Americans that live in the artic, near Santa, by telling him the story of Raven Brings the Light. It has spawned all sorts of questions.

Storytime Yoga.

Seeing the importance of oral storytelling in my son's life, and how it could be a powerful tool to help so many other children, last September I started my journey in Storytime Yoga's teacher training.

Storytime Yoga combines my love of yoga and movement, with my new-found love of oral storytelling. In a Storytime Yoga class, the adult tells a special story taken from another culture or time period, and tells it the whole way through while children listen intently. While the children listen, they activate their imaginations that transports them to another world. The stories have wonderful real life moments that children can learn from while being safe and asking questions.

When I began my teacher training, I started to notice how natural the Storytime Yoga method is for children. For example, while eating dinner, my mother-in-law told us a cute story while we all listened intensely. Then my son said to her, "now you pretend you are the plumber, and I will pretend I am the parrot in the bathroom. Go!" They then acted out her story.  

Storytime yoga integrates the learning process even further by re-enacting the stories with yoga poses, and then adding on various other activities such as singing, chanting, art and meditative relaxation much more. It is amazing all the learning that can happen without trying by using these wonderful mythic stories.

Even better, this method can be used for adults too. For example, as part of our holiday gathering at my yoga studio where I teach adults, I will be retelling the story of Raven Brings the Light and doing yoga poses. I know the adults will have a fun time with it, and it gives us an opportunity try something fun and new, and to talk about honoring the sun and the ever-lasting light within during these dark days of the Winter Solstice.

No Comparison.

All the other yoga books, DVDs and trainings for children I have seen seem so basic and boring. I was struggling in my own children's yoga classes to make it more captivating, and now learning the Storytime Yoga method, it has really brought a whole new shift of enhanced attention and enthusiasm to my children's classes and at home with my kids.  

On a personal level, the training has helped me to explore more deeply my inner world, as well as help me find my voice as a storyteller and deepen my teachings as yoga teacher. I am still working at it though, and look forward to riding out this exciting Storytime Yoga teacher process!

I highly recommend this training to anyone looking to teach children. It may be a longer training than others out there, but the wisdom that is gained in the nine-month process is invaluable!

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