The What and the Why of Children's Yoga

The What and the Why of Children's Yoga

The What and the Why of Children’s Yoga

By Levi Andrew Noe


Yoga is not necessarily difficult to put into words. But words can only take us so far. Patanjali, the first to transcribe the ancient oral tradition of yoga, put this system into four concise chapters, or paddas, around 2,000 years ago. His yoga sutras, sutra means thread in Sanskrit, describe very specifically and lucidly the process of coming from a state of imbalance and disharmony to yoga, which translates to yoking or union. However, the intellectual understanding of the content of Patanjali’s sutras is not the same as the practice and application of yoga.  If one were to read a book about flying planes and then expect to know how to actually fly a plane, that would be comparable to someone reading the yoga sutras or any other yogic scripts and expecting to achieve the liberated and transcendental states claimed to be possible through yoga.  

All of this is to say that yoga is readily defined, but by definition it is beyond the comprehension of the analytic, logical mind.  Patanjali describes yoga in the first padda and the second aphorism as “yogas citta vrtti nirodhah.” One translation of this is: yoga exists in that field of consciousness that is free of all fluctuation. Another translation could be: complete mastery and control over the fluctuations of the mind is yoga.

For me, heady, and esoteric concepts are best understood through stories. This is what Tall Tales Yoga is all about. So, let’s imagine a great, big, endless sea and on that sea you are seated in a small boat. When you are calm and centered the sea is calm. When you are nervous or anxious, the sea rises and swells with turbulence. When you are angry, or afraid, or feeling out of control, the sea rages and tosses you about. It’s a bumpy ride. It’s exhilarating, it’s beautiful, it’s exhausting. It’s whatever you make it.

Are you with me so far? Yoga teaches us that this sea—our mind—is under our control. Sure there are external factors that influence us like demands from our job, our friends and family, like the stresses of daily life, like the frustrations that come with them. And there are the countless emotions we ride like a rollercoaster. But yogic philosophy tells us that these are just waves in the sea of the mind. And our mind is ours to struggle with or make peace with. 

So picture yourself on that boat again, and picture that sea. Most of the time we look at that sea of emotions, and thoughts, and choices as something outside of ourselves, something beyond our control. What if it were the opposite? What if that sea was the only thing in this life that we could truly control?

It’s not an easy thing to comprehend, let alone to put into practice and act accordingly. It’s a lot of responsibility, and it puts the consequences of our actions and reactions right on our shoulders. 

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t grow up with this worldview. I think to myself often of how much different my life could have been if I was given tools from a young age to observe, understand and control my thoughts and emotions. 

The more I work with children, the more I begin to think of education in a different light. The three R’s still have a great importance, but I believe that as a society, as a culture, as a world we owe it to our children to teach them the best tools we have available for living, learning and experiencing this life in the fullest, happiest, healthiest way. This is the foundation of the Tall Tales Yoga vision. What vision do you have for your children?