WORKING WITH THE STORY "The Banyan Deer"

Use this story as the beginning of a practice to set a theme of awakening compassion and practicing mercy.

I never cut out death in stories for youngsters. Death is a part of life and must be included.

FOR PRESCHOOL – KINDERGARDEN – Tell the story in as simple terms as possible. Focus on the characters and their essential actions without too much detail. Create special voices for each character, and make up a special movement or sound each time a character enters and encourage children to participate by performing the movement or sound and “help” you with the story,

Retell the story with the yoga poses below.

FOR GRADE 1-5 - Tell the story in its entirety. Use the poses below as you recall parts of the story during yoga practice.

Add additional asanas of backbends and heart opening poses, such as bridge pose, upward bow pose and camel pose.

Have children lay on a bolster beneath their shoulders, breath and to let the natural effect of gravity help the heart open more.

YOGA POSES FOR THE BANYAN DEER

King – Warrior I, Virabhadrasana I

Banyan Deer – Warrior II, Virabhadrasana II

Monkey king – Downward dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana

Traveling – Triangle, Trikonasana

Forest – Tree, Vrksasana

Cook – Feather Dancer Pose, Natarajasana

Doe – Pidgeon Pose – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana prep

Chopping block – Bound Angle Pose, Baddha Konasana

King realizing – Camel pose, Ustrasana

Depending on the age of the children, add additional poses in between or after if you wish.

MEDITATION:

During meditation, have children focus on the heart center and repeat silently to themselves the bija, or seed, sound of “Yum.”

Do three rounds of sun salutations before the meditation.

SHAVASANA

During shavasana, let children’s attention drop into their heart center. Call out the images of the story, such as Banyan Deer, Monkey Deer, King, Cook. With each image, have children send feelings of love and mercy toward each character. Have children think of somebody they don’t like. Have them send love, mercy and compassion toward them.

DISCUSSION AFTER ASANA and/or SHAVASANA

Ask the questions and have children respond orally, or have children journal their answers first.

You can also use “Think. Pair. Share” and have children think about their answer, pair up to discuss their answers, then share with the class.

  • How are we like the King? Wanting things and ordering people to do what we want?
  • How can we let go of thinking we know what people want and finding out what people really need?
  • How can we help others?
  • Sometimes there are rules in our society that prevent us from doing a compassionate act, such as the Monkey Deer could not help the mother doe. How do we deal with that in our society and life? What would you do in a situation?
  • How are we like the King of the Banyan deer? What things have we done for others who needed our help?
  • Think of someone that you don’t like. Notice how you feel thinking about this person. Realize that our thoughts have energy to disrupt ourselves and also cause unease in the world. Notice the feeling, and shift that low feeling into one of love for that person you don’t like, and set them “free.” Notice how you feel after sending the person love.
  • How are our thoughts and speech like “arrows” that can wound others?
  • Next time you are around that person, continue sending them thoughts of love. Notice if the person’s reactions and relationship changes over time.
  • With this new awareness, notice next time you are in a situation that requires a sacrifice how you react.

YOGA THEATER

Have children script dialogue to the story and act it out using yoga poses.

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