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