A tale of kindness
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