Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Wish Fish

A Tale of Contentment

"Wish Fish, Wish Fish, come to me." Sounds familiar doesn't it. We have so much to be grateful for; family, friends, our health, yet we are always wishing for something more. We say to ourselves "If I only had this or that...then I could really be happy." We never seem to have enough. It is human nature to want more, but things and circumstances can never bring true happiness. Happiness comes from a place of contentment within each of us. Oh to be grateful and content!

With Thanksgiving upon us and Christmas right around the corner we couldn't have told a more perfect story this season. "The Wish Fish" is our adaptation of the classic folktale, " The Fisherman and his Wife." Our story begins with a fisherman and his wife living in a simple grass hut by the sea. 

One day the fisherman catches a glittering, golden wish fish. The fisherman kindly releases it and when his wife hears the story she tells her husband to go back and ask the fish for a stone house, she is tired of the grass hut. Her wish is granted and and she is happy for a little while but soon becomes greedy and asks for more and more. The sea gets stormier and stormier each time the fisherman calls to the wish fish. Eventually everything gets washed away in a mighty wave and the fisherman returns to his simple, peaceful life where each day as the sun rises he rows out onto the ocean and gratefully casts his net. Some days he catches several fish and some days only one, but either way he is content. 

Many opportunities for interaction presented themselves with the story. Each time the fisherman paddles his boat we paddled our arms side to side, and as the wish fish swims alongside the boat we made a swimming fish motion with our hands. The children loved calling out, “Wish fish, wish fish come to me.” And could hardly believe the greedy wife asking for more and more, “She should be happy for what she has,” was many a response. Warrior II became our fisherman, boat and fish pose were obvious choices for the little boat and the wish fish. Mel and I enjoyed coming up with poses for the wife’s wishes as well as the stormy sea; low lunge, Warrior I, gate pose, wide angle forward fold, extended side angle, and of course, goddess pose. We ended the session with a grateful Sunbreath.

Gratitude is a hallmark of well- being. It affects not only our happiness but our health. Gratitude changes our perceptions. It changes our experience of life. Fortunately we can cultivate gratitude through story and yoga. Our story is our response to our life experiences. It is not only what we say and do it is also what we feel and think. Through the practice of yoga we become aware of our thoughts and feelings. Not only do we begin to notice our strength, flexibility and balance increasing but also our levels of gratitude and contentment. 

Appreciating what we have is everything. Everything is a gift. Gratitude actually makes us feel good. It is the feeling that we have enough. This feeling that we have enough brings deep feelings of contentment; it calms our bodies and our minds. 

Gratitude, like everything in the universe, is a form of energy. The energy of gratitude draws unto itself. Being grateful for what we have opens the pathways of energy allowing more abundance to come into our lives. Being grateful is a powerful transformative tool and we can transform our lives by being grateful.  So let’s cast our net with gratitude and we just might draw in a glittering golden fish, but either way we shall be content. 

Moving Tales; Kathe and Melanie, tandem yoga storytellers

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bhakti on and off the Mat

What an aum…mazing weekend with Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band! When our yoga storytelling adventure began with a picnic lunch at Lafreniere Park and a carousel ride, I knew I was in for a weekend of enchantment and that is just what I received. May I always remember, thoughts become things.

We headed over to the Bywater Bed and Breakfast and settled into the whimsical old New Orleans home filled with local artwork before setting off for the concert celebrating the release of the band's new cd “Unity.” Friday night’s presentation was held at a Café Istanbul, a quaint little club that hosts live performances, inside the New Orleans Healing Center. Café Istanbul was open to the public as well as the 30+ band followers who were in town for a Bhakti weekend. Those unfamiliar with bhakti and kirtan were given an undeniable delight. Sacred songs, poems, and Sanskrit mantra infused with New Orleans funk, jazz and rock beats. An enlivening experience for all.

Saturday morning teased us with a flavor of fall.  Cool temps and low humidity, a taste to savor for the weekend, woohoo! Something we southerners look forward to after the long hot summer. Our Bhakti yoga session opened with introductions and intentions. My intention for the weekend was to simply enjoy the experience. We gathered around the band for a story.  Sean is not only a terrific yoga teacher, he is a storyteller extraordinaire, along with Gwendolyn and Alvin’s accompaniment I was transported to another time and place. We listened to the “Birth of Ganesha”  and prepared to delve into relationships, creativity, disparity and possibility during our practice. Om Gam Ganapatye Namah. 

The closing session of this fascinating weekend opened with the story of “Sudama and Krishna.” This  story reminds us to trust ourselves, to trust what we have to offer, to remember that the Divine is always with us, to “Remember Who We Are.” Bhakti is a spiritual path. It is the yoga of love, devotion, and surrender to the Divine. The Bhakti yogi is motivated by the power of love and sees the Divine as the embodiment of love. Singing songs of praise one is able to focus the mind, emotions, and senses on the Divine. This creates an atmosphere of unconditional love, an experience of oneness with everything. 

The only requirement for practicing bhakti yoga is an open, loving heart. You only need to surrender doubts, fears and worries and express genuine love. Expressing our devotion to the many aspects of the Divine is a practice of empowerment. The power we receive helps us to perceive and perception is everything. And so I sing, "Open the eye of my heart Lord."

Om Hari Om. 


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Full Moon Dumming

An end of summer yoga storytelling adventure took me on a solo sojourn to Lake Pontchartrain’s North Shore. I returned to the comforts of Camellia House B&B in Covington, LA.  The “Petite Room” was my home away from home for a rest and relaxation retreat. The cozy space was surrounded by windows, a cushy twin bed and a tiny table and chair, who could ask for anything more. The warm, friendly Linda presented me with a lovely, light quiche for breakfast, tender melt in your mouth pastries, yogurt and fresh fruit each glorious morning. Ahh…the luxuries of a B&B.

Friday evening’s adventure began in a charmingly renovated old home at the Women’s Center for Healing and Transformation in Abita Springs. The center serves as a haven for personal growth and connection. The community is blessed to have such. Classes are donation based and all are welcome. They are a non-profit, partnering with female-owned businesses in the healing arts, offering classes, workshops, and retreats. Once a month they offer a Full Moon Drumming Circle on the Friday night closest to the full moon. My handsome borrowed drum and I entered to find women already gathering.  Mothers brought daughters and daughters brought mothers for a time of sharing and bonding. Greeted by the open arms of Patricia, we placed cushions on the floor creating our circle.  Drums of all kinds were placed before us to share. The drum is a powerful instrument. It is believed to have power to heal and send messages to the natural and spirit worlds. The drumbeat evokes many powerful forms of energy and aids in focusing one’s attention. The full moon is also known for evoking many powerful forms of energy as we all well know.  In addition the moon’s reflection gives us an opportunity for self- reflection so we opened the circle by introducing ourselves and offered our intentions. The full moon reminds me to be grateful for the abundance in my life, so I brought gratitude to the circle.  Then the drumming began and all timidity fled. Passion and freedom took its place. Time passed, our hearts beating as one, our drums in rhythm. I left with a heartfelt embrace and a serene sense of acceptance. As I stepped through the door the fullness of the moon shined upon me. May I remember to listen as spirit calls me and to do as spirit says.

Saturday morning brought soft sunshine through the windows. Yoga time! I hopped in the car and drove down to Mandeville. Libby with Yoga Sanga offered a heart centered practice at the MarVilla Guest House where I met Michael, the owner, who generously offers the use of the room. It too was a donation based class.  Donation based classes are great for developing trust. Trust is the knowledge that all we need will come to us. We began our practice of cultivating happiness by focusing on the bud of the lotus that begins to open at the heart center. The mind lives in the heart and fluctuates between positive and negative energies. The mind also lives in the past and the future, but happiness happens in the present moment. When we bring the mind’s energy into balance through yoga we bring it into unity. We become centered in our hearts and happiness can grow. The root of the lotus gets it nourishment from the earth; this is where we realize that we are cared for. The stem grows straight and strong through the muddy waters and here we come to understand that we are capable and so we receive courage. The bud of the lotus blossom forms at the heart center and begins to open; this is compassion, compassion for ourselves and as well as compassion for others.  The practice was sweet and lovely as a lotus blossom. Another kind embrace and I departed focused on happiness, may my heart stay centered.

Just around the corner was the lakefront so I sat on the seawall absorbing the gifts of sun, water and air and all I had experienced so far.

The North Shore never fails! 


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Coyote and the Fire Stick

The 2014 Summer Reading Program theme this year, “Fizz, Boom, Read!” was all about science. Mel and I chose the science of fire for our yoga storytelling adventure and presented “Coyote and the Fire Stick” as our Moving Tale. It is a Native American tale from the Pacific Northwest, a pourquoi tale.  Pourquoi is a French word meaning why. These folk tales not only tell us why something is the way it is but also how things came to be, helping us understand the natural world. “Coyote and the Fire Stick” tells of the people’s desire for fire and how they got it.

We gave this gift of story to kids ranging in age from 4-11 at both the North Regional and South Regional libraries. Bodies and minds were engaged throughout proving yoga and storytelling can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. Everyone enjoys a good story and anyone can practice yoga. The postures may not be perfectly formed but that's not what yoga is all about anyway. Yoga is about doing our best, not being the best. Older kids are able to go deeper into the yoga poses holding them longer and refining their alignment, they are also able to go deeper into the story discovering all sorts of buried treasure. The little ones practice yoga with their whole heart giving it their best effort and they often absorb more of the story than we realize.

Our story opens with Coyote, he is Guru dev, a divine teacher. He does not need fire; conscious of the oneness of all beings he offers selfless service. Our lives are enriched as we observe the natural world and learn the great many things that animals and nature have to offer us.

Kathe sounds the Gong
Mel passes the Storystick
And so our yoga storytelling adventure begins...long, long ago when the world was brand new and just beginning people are completely happy and satisfied with their lives…except in winter. Winters are cold, bitter, and hard because the people do not have fire. Fire lives high on a far off mountain at the end of the world, guarded by Thunder and Lightning and people are afraid of Thunder and Lightning. Here we became Thunder and Lightning, standing tall in Mountain pose we rounded our arms overhead for a big thunder clap of the hands and Chair pose was an easy one for Lightning. 

One day Coyote visits the people’s village and they gather around him, thanking him for helping them in the past and asking for his help once again. We took Downward dog for Coyote, yipping and howling with joyful abandon creating a noisy ruckus in the library. Coyote feels compassion for the people and sets off for the far off mountain. Climbing the mountain with Triangle pose we went this way and that way up the rocky crags. Next, Coyote discovers a way to get fire for the people and overjoyed he dances down the mountain. Dancer pose was a sure thing here. One of the kids was able to demonstrate an advanced Dancer pose, very cool. 

Now Coyote knows he will need the help of his friends in order for his plan to succeed and sure enough they all agree to cooperate. The scheme ensues and we stood strong and courageous in Warrior II fitting for Panther leaping from crag to crag. Deer then darted gracefully between the trees, Side Angle Stretch felt nice here. Eagle waited at the edge of the forest and we lifted our wings flying swiftly in Eagle pose. Naturally a few eagles fell from the sky, enlivening the room with more laughter. Lastly fire is tossed to Tree, perfect for Tree pose which is always a favorite. Thunder and Lightning are angry, rumbling and sizzling they chase everyone. Yet unable to recover fire they return to the snowy mountain top worn out and defeated. Coyote presents fire to the people and they are ever so grateful. Once again the people gather around Coyote welcoming him and his friends to visit the village anytime. And the people's appreciation cover Coyote like a warm blanket. 

Prepping for Dancer pose
Rooted and grounded Trees

We practiced three balancing poses with this story, Dancer, Eagle and Tree. Balancing poses are great for kids, they encourage them to focus. One-legged poses give us a chance to find our center of gravity. This is not accomplished so easily, we must refresh our balance moment by moment, recentering ourselves. This balancing and centering affects bones, muscles and nerves as well as thoughts and emotions, promoting concentration and calm. Introducing the use of a gaze point, drishti, offers another measure to achieving success by eliminating outward distractions. When the eyes wander we loose our balance. The focus of the attention is a fundamental principal in yoga practice.

When we dig deeper into our story we see that fear is the source of the people’s suffering; this is true today just as it has been since the beginning of time. We are either worried about something that has already taken place or anxious about something that might happen. But bringing ourselves into the present moment can help us to loosen fear’s grip. We must be willing to sit still and look at our thoughts, softening our gaze, focusing our attention, allowing the thoughts to come and go. We can then begin to look past them and watch them change. Quite often what we will discover is that the fear has diminished if not completely disappeared. At the very least changed its shape and is not quite so big anymore. This is yoga.

Hari Om Tat Sat

Moving Tale; Kathe and Melanie, tandem yoga storytellers

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Swamp Cat ponders the Mystery

Swamp Cat ponders the mystery in the marshy, bottomland woods where she lives and loves. She contemplates the muddy, brown bayou and the way it slowly flows towards the cool, azure sea. She is here and Solstice has come. His warm energy pours upon the earth in all its radiant abundance.  She wonders what the season will bring.

She knows that if she lets go of trying to see the mystery this will allow her to actually see it. She knows that desiring and desirelessness are different and yet the same. They are part of the mystery.  She must let go of the desire to figure it all out and allow life to stretch out and unfold before her.

The soil is soft in the bottomland woods and shifts beneath her feet, yet Swamp Cat stands firm like a mountain. She trusts that she is supported by the earth. She is strong, steady, and stable. Her head lifts towards the heavens and she breathes. Facing east she salutes the splendid sun. She feels the long time sun shine upon her, all love surround her and believes the pure light within her will guide her way. She opens her heart and accepts what comes, for it will be what it will be, and Swamp Cat intends to enjoy the mystery.

Mountain pose (Tadasana) 
  • All standing poses arise from mountain pose so it’s important to prepare a firm foundation.
  • Stand with feet hip distance apart and parallel, legs straight, arms hang by your side, hands soft yet active.
  • Balance your weight evenly between the four corners of your feet, feel your connection to the earth.
  • Create a firm foundation, breathe and feel the energy filling your body, your ankles and calves become steady, your thighs and hips are stable, engage your belly and lengthen your spine, lifting your head high towards the sky. Stay here for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Tada! You are still, strong, steady and stable like a mountain. Try it you just might like it and while since you're here, check out the following link. I love Erich's Schiffman's directions...snuggle your feet into the floor...experience the wide open...


Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Twisted Tale

Come on Baby; let’s do “The Twist.”

Do you remember hearing about “The Twist”?  It was a dance craze in the early 1960’s inspired by rock and roll. Popular songs by Chubby Checker and The Beatles as well as others had people up on their feet twisting the night away. You might be wondering, where in the world is she going with this? I thought this was a yoga blog…

Well yoga and dancing have all sorts of delightful things in common. First off, both dancing and yoga can be magical and transforming. They not only lift our spirits but energize our lives. Dancing and yoga are mind-body experiences, keeping our bodies and our brains healthy. We have to pay attention to the dance steps as well as the yoga instruction and these actions keep our minds engaged. They strengthen bones without stressing joints; toning the entire body, improving posture and balance. Stamina and flexibility increase and stress and tensions are reduced, sounds good to me. 

It has been said that the original inspiration for the “The Twist” came from the African American plantation dance called “Wringin' and Twistin’.”  Wringin’ and twistin’, that’s just what we do when we practice yoga twists. We wring the body out as we twist. 

Twisting poses help restore the spine’s natural range of motion, cleanse your organs, stimulate circulation and release tension. Twists penetrate deep into the core of the body, offering powerful benefits to muscles and organs. They encourage deep, full breaths. Practicing twists regularly can restore flexibility and mobility to the spine. Internal organs are compressed during a twist, pushing out blood filled with metabolic wastes and toxins. When we release the twist, fresh blood flows in bringing oxygen for healing, ahhhh.

Easy Pose Easy Twist
With mindfulness we begin by letting the breath be our guide. Inhaling we lengthen the spine lifting our heads towards the sky before we twist.  An exhale follows as you gently twist into the pose. Pause and breathe and when you are ready gently come back to center. Always repeat the twist on the opposite side bringing balance back into the body. The following are two gentle twists and a few of their benefits.

Bent knee Spinal Twist
  •    encourages mobility in the spine and vertebrae
  •    massages, stretches, and tones the internal organs
  •    improves digestion
  •    stretches the chest, shoulders, lower back, hips, middle and upper back

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
  •     increases spinal flexibility
  •     expands chest and shoulders
  •     relieves mid back muscle tension
  •     stretches the hip
The physical practice of moving into these twisting poses helps us to have a balanced view of life. Giving us the ability to look at all sides of any given situation. This improves our overall sense of balance, calming the mind. So we learn through yoga, whatever is twisted can be untwisted.

Twists can help you eliminate tension from deep within. Emotional stresses often manifest as physical tensions. Twists help the muscles relax and allow stress to leave the body. Notice the aftereffects of your favorite twist. Perhaps you’ll feel more centered and balanced, energized or calmed.

Enjoy what comes your way and remember when dancing the night away is not an option then… come on baby, let’s do the twist! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

StorytimeYoga for Kids

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a quiet little mouse of a librarian. She loved children and was passionate about promoting literacy. One day out of the blue, she was asked to conduct the weekly story time at the public library where she worked. She had never done this sort of thing before though and she was a little bit anxious but she gave it a bit of thought, did a bit of research and imagined the possibilities, then jumped right in. What fun she had with these precious preschoolers! Reading books, doing finger plays and singing songs, she didn’t think it could get any better than this.

Right about this same time she began a practice of yoga and several sweet years went by. Before long she longed to do more than read stories to children, she wanted to TELL stories to children. She wanted to be a STORYTELLER but she didn’t want to be just any old storyteller, she wanted to be a yoga storyteller. She wanted to share her love of yoga and story with children. Now where in the world could she find training for such a thing?

Where does a reference librarian go when she needs information? The internet of course! And what did I find, Storytime Yoga for Kids at Sydney Solis has developed a storytelling and yoga teaching method that is simple, yet thorough; comprehensive and compelling. These training materials are incredible. They have helped me to grow both personally and professionally.

Sydney’s course begins with “Awakening the Storyteller” which is absolutely apropos. The storyteller, who thinks, speaks and acts, as well as the storyteller within will be awakened. The adventure begins as she takes you through your dreams, learning the importance of story, symbolism and imagination. You will then be captivated by the healing power of story. Sydney’s creative techniques lead you to explore the art of storytelling and discover the many benefits of storytelling.

I have taken Sydney’s methods and modified them to fit a public library program. They would also work well in a school setting. I introduce children to yoga through storytelling. My hope is to inspire children to express themselves through story and yoga. Feedback from parents and children is remarkable. Here are a few testimonials;

mom; “My son enjoyed this so much, even more than my daughter!”

child;  “When can we do this again? It was so much fun.”

parent; “Thank you for giving my daughter this opportunity. It was fantastic.”

child; “Are we doing yoga today?”

Headstart teacher; “Thank you, the kids loved it. They are going to go home and talk about it. This was perfect; we are working on story sequencing at school.”
mom; “That was phenomenal! He is usually very shy and he participated and loved it.”
child; “I had a great time!”
dad; “This program is Beautiful!”

Story is a tool of yoga and both story and yoga awaken us to our true selves. As I work with story and yoga I am transformed.

Sat Nam

Kathe Hudson; Master Certified Storytime Yoga Teacher

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Lion and The Mouse

A tale of kindness

Roaring Lions

Once upon a time in a deep, dark forest there lived a ferocious lion. All of the forest creatures cowered in fear whenever he came near. His might was renown throughout the land… The Lion and the Mouse, an Aesop fable from the 5th century BC with many a moral lesson.

Moral guidelines help us to live well in the world. The yamas are yoga philosophy’s moral guidelines. The yamas are restraints, they teach us self-control. They are the first step on the yogic path and we develop self-control through self-awareness. Providing children with an early start on healthy mind body practices can develop habits that contribute to learning, health, and well-being, which progresses to self-awareness. And how do we do introduce children to mind body practices? Through story and yoga of course.  

Storytelling is an art we all respond to. It offers a means of communicating thoughts, images, and emotions recognized throughout the world.  We hear the words, see the images in our mind’s eye and feel them within our hearts. The powers of these timeless tales lend themselves to effective yoga instruction. The characters and actions speak to the lives of children today. Children are able to learn valuable lessons within the safe environment of a story. One of the first things we must learn if we are to get along well with others is non-harming (ahimsa).  So what does non-harming mean?  It simply means to be kind. 

Our story opens with a mighty, ferocious lion. Ferocious is defined as being fierce, cruel or violent; no wonder poor lion doesn’t have any friends.  He needs to learn how to get along with others. He needs to learn to be kind.  Thus we began our yoga storytelling adventure with roaring lion pose. This pose offers numerous physical, psychological, and emotional benefits; these are merely a few,
  • stimulates the muscles of the eyes, face and throat
  • removes tension from the body
  • supports the thyroid gland
  • strengthens the voice and will power

With my personal all-time favorite being laughter, I laugh every time I practice! The kids had a blast with this one naturally. Roaring lions became laughing lions.  It tames the ferocious lion transforming tension into happiness. Happiness is our essential nature. Through the practice of yoga we awaken to the realization that we choose to be happy.

Each day we have countless opportunities to choose. We make choices in how, what, and where to focus our attention. So what kinds of choices make us happy?  Personal pleasures do increase our happiness but only for a short while. Choices that really make us happy are those that allow us to express our creativity or encourage the happiness of another, in other words being kind. Kindness is the first step on the path to happiness, and its effect is long lasting. Kindness opens our hearts. Giving our attention, affection, acceptance, and appreciation to others is one of the most powerful ways to awaken happiness in our lives.

To give our attention to someone we must listen. We come into the present moment and focus on understanding the other person’s perspective. We give our appreciation to someone when we let them know that we value them and are thankful they are in our life. We express our affection through our thoughts, words, and deeds, letting them know that we care for them. Acceptance is one of the deepest human needs, we accept someone even with all of their imperfections. We all want to be accepted.

Throughout our story various circumstances lead lion to choose kindness. In doing so he opens his heart and gives the gifts of attention, affection, acceptance, and appreciation.  And in the end we find the mighty lion bounding away taking pleasure in the day, thankful for small things.

Moving Tale: Kathe and Melanie, tandem yoga storytellers

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Anarosa the Mariposa; a tale of true love

We thought this story would be a sweet one for the month of February and presented it as a puppet show, since love was in the air and all. Giving this tale a yogic twist we encourage you to look on your relationships and frame them with self love. In reflecting on your relationship with yourself you will learn to love yourself and in kind learn to love others more fully. 

future storyteller
Puppetry is an oral art form similar to storytelling, a valuable means to build oral language skills. It is an entertaining way to introduce children to literature, bringing folktales to life. Both children and adults enjoy a live performance and the puppeteers have a good time too! Children learn the elements of a story, the beginning, middle and the end, preparing them for both reading and writing. 

A puppet craft completes our presentation inspiring children to explore their new found skills as storytellers and puppeteers. 

future puppeteer
Anarosa the Mariposa is our adaptation of Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, a Cuban folktale retold by Carmen Agra Deedy. It explores family relationship and culture as well as romantic relationship. Anarosa has been raised by a loving family and is ready for marriage. She must choose between several suitors while being courted under the watchful eyes of her family. She is reluctant to follow the shocking advice given from her grandmother but out of love and respect does so anyway. Which leads us to the story's sweet surprise of an ending. 

Probably the biggest struggle in life is the struggle to know and accept ourselves. Unlike Anarosa, many of us were raised by parents who were not taught to see their own worth. Therefore they were unable to teach us that we too are worthy. Family face all sorts of challenges and these stresses wear on us making our closest relationships difficult. So what can we do?

We can become more mindful of our thoughts, words, and deeds. Those stories we tell ourselves. We can change our stories. We can change how we think about ourselves. We can learn to accept ourselves. In order to truly unite with others we must first unite with ourselves. This is our yoga, this is our practice. And as we open our hearts to ourselves we become more open and compassionate with our loved ones as well as others.

Ahhh peace and love, what a sweet combination. 

Kathe and Melanie; puppeteers

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Monkey and the Croc

A tale of honesty...a tale of dharma

Emma Jean, our butterfly, helps us with our imaginations

We're all familiar with the age ole tale of the monkey and the crocodile. The cunning croc tricks the unsuspecting monkey. You can really dive deep into this story but since we presented to children in the library we just swam on the surface. Though we did splash and thrash and have a bit of fun in the process!

The Jataka tales from India are dated from 300 BC to 400 AD. They were a major source of instruction for developing the character of people and widely used by monks. These tales offer timeless truths. By listening to these stories, children and adults can improve their knowledge and learn how to face the difficult experiences of modern life. 

Infinite possibilities are available to take this story across the curriculum. Besides the obvious language arts, we can look to social studies. The history of the Jataka tales might be one aspect. The study of India's geography, its jungles and rivers another. Science topics and the natural world offer unlimited prospects. Monkeys and crocodiles and their food sources as well as the plant life found there are samplings to consider. All sorts of math concepts from the simple to the complex exist. Art enhances our creative curriculum, giving us freedom and fun. And last but certainly not least health and wellness, our yoga. 

crocodiles swimming
Left brain and right brain connect strengthening neural pathways as we listen and move our bodies into yoga postures. This whole brain activity, thinking and doing simultaneously, promotes deep learning. Our yoga storytelling adventure began with a forward bend as we became the monkey swinging our arms from side to side. We took cobra pose for crocodile and with plank pose and a reverse pushup we dove deep underwater. Monkey quickly gathers his wits with a deep breath in easy pose. Something we can do anywhere and anytime. Slow deep breaths calm us and help us to focus so we too can gather our wits. A seated twist along with a seated forward fold took the monkey and croc back to the riverbank, where monkey hopped off with a low squat. The kids had a lot of fun with this one, monkey sounds and bouncing chimps. The croc swam back and forth with a variation of locust pose watching the monkey, good for coordination. Realizing the monkey's resourcefulness the croc approached humbly admitting his mistake. We closed with tree pose, for that is where we find monkeys today, happy and carefree. 

bouncing chimps

Time to contemplate the stories we tell. The story we tell ourselves and the story we tell to others. The what, where, when, why, and how of things. What am I hungry for and what will I do to see that my needs are met? How am I like the croc? How am I like the monkey? How might I use my wits to deal with a difficult dilemma? Honesty, conceit, cunning, and resourcefulness are characteristics to consider. 

So the croc tricks the monkey and what do we do? We judge the croc as the bad guy. We forget that it's just the nature of a croc to eat monkeys. That's his dharma, his purpose in life, to swim in a slow moving river and to eat the food provided for him. There is nothing inherently wrong with crocs eating monkeys. Without crocodiles we'd have an imbalance in the environment, too many monkeys!

The problem in our story begins when the croc thinks he is smarter than the monkey. His ego goes to work and all he thinks about is catching and eating a monkey. Our thoughts can consume us. The more we think about something the more it can take hold. Thoughts become things!

Things come about for a reason. Seldom do we see the big picture. Life is relationships. All of our experiences are lessons on love. Learning to see from a different perspective opens us the wonderful world of grace. When we are thankful for what we have, be it a little or a lot, and trust that all our needs will be taken care of, transformation happens. And that is how we can live happy and carefree.

Moving Tale; Kathe and Melanie, tandem yoga storytellers