A yoga teacher and storyteller, Sydney is passionate about the healing power of yoga and story for children and their families/caregivers. Storytime Yoga, teaches kids and their families peace, health and literacy. The Mythic Yoga Studio, has two books out for parents and teachers on how to use her method.
The award-nominated classic Storytime Yoga: Teaching Yoga to Children Through Story has ready-to-tell stories scripted with yoga poses from all over the world.
The Treasure in Your Heart: Yoga and Stories for Peaceful Children, focuses on relaxation and peace and character education.
A DVD for children, The Peddler’s Dream, which was featured on PBS last spring, won a recommended award from the Parents Choice Foundation. Sydney also does in-person and online trainings, and is working on a Spanish-language version of her first book, Storytime Yoga.
Sydney’s Take-Away Tips
Can you share some insights into what makes storytelling and yoga great for kids?
The combination of yoga and story connects kids to their bodies like nothing else. Tell a kid a story, allow his or her inner imagination to take hold and watch out! They are sitting still, spellbound by the power of words. When children act out the story with yoga, they become the hero; they identify with the story and gain tools into self-mastery, peace and character education, and how to deal with life.
Stories as Teachings
Storytelling helps children master relationships with symbols, required to learn symbolic languages such as reading, math, music, computers and more. It also gets their imaginations running to write, speak and create their own stories. Storytelling really should be used to teach everything! It’s much better than lecturing, because the listener makes up his or her own mind about things because he or she experienced it internally first. Also, images are the picture language of the soul and come from the internal realm and the body and are self- created and original, rather than the marketed, external realm of TV, etc.
Yoga Kids = Healthy Kids
Yoga naturally is all around fitness for kids for the muscular-skeletal alignment, balance, coordination, stress-release and more. The combination of Yoga and Stories I’ve found has been very beneficial to children with ADHD, ADD, depression, bipolar, anxiety and other mental health issues. The main element is that this combination gets kids into their bodies. It’s the ultimate mind/body connector: yoga and stories. Getting kids to do yoga early is crucial for life-long health and disease prevention, as well as creating inner peace and mental health, so that we can have peace on earth.
What can families do together if they want to do some yoga with their kids?
1 Create a yoga and storytelling hour in their own home for health, literacy and communication. It may be the last thing you do before bed. Practice a little yoga, with a story before and re-enacted, or just tell a story and do some yoga. Later discuss the story and how it relates to your life, any things that mirror problems you may be having in life.
2 It’s also a great time to tell personal stories: stories of when the parents were growing up, or funny stories about the kids when they were young. The kids love the stories and it gives them a sense of connection and grounding. The storytelling sinks in and trickles down to children’s creative desire to write, read and tell stories, promoting literacy. The time together will foster strong ties and trust, and children will be able to release and share any emotional issues that are bothering them, such as bullying at school, insecurities and worries, etc.
Sydney’s Stress Busters
15 for At Work, At Home, Anywhere
1 Cut out caffeine and alcohol. I know, I know, they are so fun and so difficult to kick, I’ve been there myself. But eventually you will finally realize how they wreck havoc on your nervous system and you just feel so much better without them!
2 Work on non-attachment; examine your desires. They can cause a lot of stress and suffering.
3 Choose the path of least effort. Mediate more.
4 Ideally, you get up early to do a yoga and meditation practice to start your day. Or slip in a few minutes at work.
5 Also, keep track of your dreams. They are your private myths and give great insight into your life and can offer solutions to problems.
6 I’m a heavy hitter for proper diet and Ayurveda, just from experience of what junk food, sugar, dead animals and wrong food combinations can do to your mood and energy level.
7 Keep business and home separate and resist the temptation to answer emails every five minutes!
8 Keep the television turned off or get rid of it all together.
9 Play relaxing music.
10 Pick up a creative endeavor, such as a musical instrument, art, needlepoint or knitting, cooking or gardening.
11 Enjoy more time in nature.
12 Plan simple family activities you can do weekly.
13 Farm out the cleaning if you can afford it.
14 And, most of all, stay centered in the transcendent and don’t worry about the display of duality before you. You are the eternal participating in duality. You never die, so don’t worry about a thing!
15 Practice yoga and meditation daily for yourself, and find a time to include your kids.
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