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Teach language with Yoga Stories!

April 24, 2019

One of our family's favorite ways to get the squiggly wiggly's out is with Cosmic Kids Yoga. In each episode, Jamie tells a story and acts it out with yoga poses and other forms of movement (ex: jumping jacks, running in place, etc.). Our kids love the stories, love Jamie's accent, and love yoga.

Adapting Cosmic-Kids-Style Yoga Stories to your language class is easy!

Use Cosmic Kids stories in class

Watch the stories on the Cosmic Kids channel, then re-create them in your classes. Need more support? You can actually purchase full lesson plans (with written-out stories and pictures of the yoga poses) directly from Cosmic Kids. Click here! All you'll need to do is translate and simplify the language so that it is comprehensible: so that your students can understand the story!

Act out the stories that you tell in class with yoga poses, movement, and stretching. Great for language teachers!

Tell your own Yoga Stories

With even a teeny weeny little knowledge of Yoga, you can write your own stories. You can write original stories, or you can Yog-ify familiar stories: fiction or non-fiction!

I have never taken a real yoga class, so my knowledge of yoga poses is limited to what I've learned from Cosmic Kids and from looking at images. If I can do it, you can do it!

Here is a yogified version of Hansel and Gretel that I wrote with some help from Michele Whaley's daughter Rin, who is a yoga instructor (click the image to access the full text):

Click to read a Hansel & Gretel yoga story!

Ask a Yoga Story

This might be my favorite way to use Yoga Stories! I tried it out with my own kids, and we made a little video for you.

The first thing that we did was make a poster of all the different kinds of characters that we could create with our sweet yoga moves:

As we were creating the story, the kids were facing the poster so that they could get ideas.

Next, we decided on a main character: a mermaid! We did this before filming the video.

Finally, we started storyasking–and we filmed the whole process for you to see how it worked! This video will not be a great way for you to see yoga poses, since my kids have their own interpretations of everything, but you can at least see how I balanced story asking and storytelling!

To keep it simple for yourself and comprehensible for your students, it might be helpful to create a slide with images of all of the different kinds of characters and objects that you can mimic with yoga and movement. This will serve two purposes:

  1. When you say a word that students are unfamiliar with, you can point to the image to support comprehension.
  2. Students have an idea bank to choose from, which guarantees that you will be able to find ways to bring yoga poses and movement into the story.

Religious considerations

While Yoga in Western cultures is often–not always–nothing more than a physical activity, its roots are in Eastern religion/spiritual tradition. For this reason, some families with strong religious convictions avoid yoga. As teachers, we need to respect that–meaning, we don't make them feel bad for living by conviction, and we don't post on facebook about how ridiculous their conviction is. Honor their choice! You probably know which of your students' families might raise concerns about yoga in class, so head them off at the pass.

First, I would not recommend starting or ending your yoga story with a prayer pose or by saying "namaste". A word that communicates love and peace to many people could be interpreted differently to folks that do not want their children to participate in other spiritual traditions.

Second, I would recommend calling your stories "Movement stories" instead of yoga stories. After all, what you will be doing is not really yoga; it's stretching and moving. Even still, you might have families that want to opt out...let it be okay for them to do so.

Make all students feel comfortable

You'll likely have students that will feel uncomfortable trying out some or all of the yoga poses. It might be because of their body image, because of what they are wearing, or any number of other things. Think ahead, and have a list of ways that these students can participate without actually doing the movements. Here are three ideas, and I'd love your help in coming up with some others:

  • Artists: they can illustrate the story.
  • Sign holders: Print out pictures of possible characters in the story or of different yoga poses. Have them hold up the images to support comprehension during the story, on your cue!
  • Writers: they can write the story.

Collaborate to create great yoga stories!

Does this idea sound neat to you, but you–like me–don't know enough about yoga to tackle it?

I have started this spreadsheet that contains pictures of poses along with possible storytelling uses. Please add to it!

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