Monday, 30 March 2009

Storytime Yoga


A Review by Michelle Morgan

Storytime Yoga is the brainchild of yoga teacher and mother Sydney Solis, who set up the company after the death of her husband, in order to make a living and future for her children. She began teaching Storytime Yoga classes to local children and in no time at all her hard work paid off and her company became not only successful in the area of teaching children, but also she was able to branch out into books, lectures and a series of E-courses.

Sydney offers three different courses: Awakening the Storyteller, Stories from the Heart and Mythic Yoga. All of these courses are run over the Internet, and you have to complete all three before you are eligible to become a member of the League of Yogic Storytellers and go onto live training with Sydney herself.

I recently undertook the first part of the E-course: Awakening the Storyteller, and I greatly enjoyed my experience.

The course lasts four weeks and during that time each student has access to Sydney’s knowledge through emails, podcasts and two live tele-conference calls. However, if you are not able to take part in the calls, Sydney’s very efficient assistant Gina will send you the MP3 version, so that you don’t miss anything that is said. This makes it very easy for International students like myself, who can’t take part in the call due to time difference and expensive call charges.

There are a maximum of 15 students on each course and a special forum is set up so that you can keep in touch with each other, share notes, questions and ideas. I found this very useful and inspirational, to be able to hear from other like-minded people, and I was very glad to share my own knowledge of teaching children over the past four years.

Preparation for the course involves posting your introduction to the forum, taking part in the telephone call and listening to a specially-prepared audio lecture, which explains the course and goes into the benefits of telling stories both for children and adults. You should also purchase a copy of Sydney’s beautiful book, ‘Storytime Yoga: Teaching Yoga to Children Through Story’, which is not only insightful and informative, but also acts as the course manual throughout the four weeks of study. Alternatively you will receive the E-version of this book, though of course it’s always nice to hold the hard-copy in your hands when working.

You will also receive some MP3 recordings of stories and songs, along with a video download of a Storytime Yoga class. The MP3 audios were great, but unfortunately for me I couldn’t get the video to work, though I’m sure this was merely a technical problem on my part, rather than a problem with the file itself. (Incidentally, when you go onto course two, you will receive Sydney’s second book, ‘The Treasure in Your Heart: Yoga and Stories for Peaceful Children’, but I would suggest you don’t wait until the next course to buy a copy, as it is a very useful investment for anyone interested in stories and yoga.)

When course one started I was terribly excited, and for good reason. I found the coursework to be varied and insightful, with notes and tuition on setting up classes, how to find stories, techniques for teaching children of all ages including teenagers, meditation, warm-ups, games and so much more. I decided to try out one of the stories, ‘The Peddler’s Dream’ to my older yoga children one Friday afternoon, and the response was amazing. They sat enthralled as I told them the tale of the Peddler who kept dreaming he should go to London, and at the end of the story every child was eager and happy not only to tell me what specific yoga postures they would use in each part of the story, but also what dreams they have – either night dreams or life dreams – and the whole class turned into a lively discussion with many smiles, and much applause along the way.

The coursework is send out without fail every Monday morning, which was terrific for me because I teach yoga to junior school children every Monday afternoon, which gave me time to print the material and read it before taking the ideas into my classroom later in the day. There are assignments to undertake which are voluntary, but if you choose to do them as I did, you will definitely get a lot more out of the class. You need to do lots of reading too, but if you’re anything like me, it just gave me a good excuse to dive into the library and also order a few tomes from Amazon too!!

Each week Sydney sends a podcast to explain specific points and answer any questions students have brought up through the week. I thought this was really useful and really made me feel part of the Storytime team when I heard Sydney refer to me by name and answer a query or thought I had brought up.

When the course finished last week, I was really sad because I had enjoyed it immensely and will certainly miss receiving my coursework and notes every week. Being involved in the course certainly gave me a reason to get up every Monday morning!!

I would recommend part one of the Storytime Yoga course to anyone. I sincerely enjoyed taking part in it and hope that one day I’ll be able to do the second and third parts too.

The next course starts on 5 April and you can register at Also on the website you will be able to find out much more about children’s yoga, Sydney, the courses and her books. It is well worth taking a look, especially if you have an interest in stories, children or both!

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