I've never heard of Storyland Yoga before hearing about this DVD, Playful Planet. In a nutshell, kids learn Yoga in Storyland Yoga by imitating animals and going on a "make-believe" fun-filled adventure to help the planet.
Playful Planet was created by a mom to incorporate kids into a great Yoga workout that involves fun activities. To keep her vision, she incorporates hands-on methods for teaching them about individual wholeness and the well being of the planet.
It's called Storyland Yoga because it takes kids through the Yoga moves as it involves them in a story. There are two story workouts on the DVD. The instructor that appears on the video engages the children and connects them to nature through his imaginative storytelling.
I had my kids (six and eight years old) try Storyland Yoga out for this review. They were excited about the storyline and it helped to get them involved in the workout. My daughter is usually reluctant to take part in these yoga activities, but as soon as the frog jumping part came up, she "jumped" right in. They pretended to be alligators, snakes, lions and more.
The DVD is meant for children ages 3-8, but I think it is best suited for the younger ones vs. the older ones.
I had an opportunity to interview the creator of the DVD and here's what she had to say:
OCM: How did you stumble on the idea to incorporate Yoga into a "child's play"?
Playful Planet: This question was answered by Ahmed, who was already working with kids and yoga through story when we met. Ahmed says: "It came from practicing with the kids and playing with my own kids. I'm a yoga instructor and I was trying to figure out how to get them involved in yoga and had trained in a kids yoga style that uses props. What I found was that the kids focused more on the puppets than the yoga. I discovered that by telling them the story, it engaged their imaginations and because of that they were more attentive to the yoga."
OCM: Is it difficult to get a child to settle down enough to do something relaxing like Yoga?
Playful Planet: What kind of challenges does working with children present? The great thing about using story as an anchor for a yoga session is that it doesn't feel like 'settling down' to a child. The main challenge in working with children and yoga is to engage them. Parental participation can help a lot, especially when the parent can approach it in a playful mood and not like it is something they 'have to do.' If the parent can get into the roles with the kids, the magic happens from there. If the child is not interested, it is important not to push it. This should feel like playtime and the child should be happy doing it.
OCM: I would imagine, since kids are naturally flexible, that the stretching would be really beneficial to growth and coordination. Do you find that to be the case as kids grow into doing Yoga? Are they apt to be a little more coordinated or athletic?
Playful Planet: Yes, yoga definitely affects bone, muscle and tissue growth. Yoga creates a balance between the left and right hemispheres of the brain and so it helps the body develop equal strength and reaction times equally on each side. In this way it is not like sports which often require more development in one hemisphere over the other. However, the practice of yoga can definitely enhance a child's coordination and overall body confidence which will help in other athletic endeavors.
Yoga also strengthens the heart muscle because it does give a cardio workout, but it also relaxes the heart muscle, especially during inversion positions which brings more blood to the brain. More blood to the brain brings increased oxygen to the brain which in turn brings a greater sense of ease and relaxation. The result of that is better concentration and focus.
OCM: Do you find the routines work best before bed or before kids start their day?
Playful Planet: I could see it as a way for a child to wind down after a long day or I could also see as it a great way to get the blood flowing to begin it. It is good for both day and night time practice. Sun salutations (ie. the Sun Dance,) and poses that have you stretch up are a great way to get blood flowing and begin the day. The inversion postures (i.e. rocket) and postures closer to the ground are designed to help calm the body and mind so are a great way to settle down for the night.
OCM: Do you incorporate the same kind of "spa" or quiet setting in the DVDs or is it more animated and fast-paced to keep up with a busy child?
Playful Planet: The Storyland Yoga stories are meant to engage a child and keep them interested for about 20 minutes at a time. Each of the stories has a fair amount of activity to help keep kids moving and each of them also has a wind-down at the end. Historically, yoga is meant as a means to prepare for meditation, so you should find that kids will be feeling peaceful at the end of the Storyland Yoga programs.
OCM: So far you've released "Save the Whale" and "Condor Trek". What other animals' movements are you exploring to do for your next series?
Playful Planet: We have about 12 more stories lined up that will explore different places and cultures in the world (Africa, Egypt, the Rainforest, and more,) so there are many more animals and adventures coming up!
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Note: Playful Planet gave me a Storyland Yoga DVD to review free-of-charge, but the opinions reflected in my writeup are my own.