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Once Upon a Pose

For Sydney Solis, yoga lives in stories.

By Diane Anderson

NOV05_21a

In Sydney Solis's Storytime Yoga class, she joyfully leads her youthful audience on an imaginative adventure. When telling "The Peddler's Dream," she might animate it with colorful puppets and silly voices. As she retells the tale, her class chimes in and acts out the story through yoga poses. "Who's the hero?" asks Solis. "The peddler!" shout the children, standing in Warrior I Pose. His house had a giant apple tree, so the kids move into Tree Pose. When the peddler arrives at London Bridge, it's time for Bridge Pose. Afterward, the group talks about following dreams and recognizing that everything you need you already have. After all, the peddler's dream took him to meet someone who spoke of treasure underneath an apple tree, and the peddler returns home to find jewels in his own backyard.

Convinced that children learn best through stories, play, and yoga, Solis creates a fun environment to convey important life lessons. This yogi and mother has collected folktales, myths, and interfaith stories that kids enjoy in her three books, Storytime Yoga, The Peddler's Dream, and The Treasure in Your Heart, and on her upcoming DVD to be released by PBS.

Solis's heartfelt yoga storytelling practice was born out of personal tragedy. Her seemingly perfect life—two children, a loving husband, and a big home full of material comforts—was shattered in 2003, when her husband pulled out a .35-caliber pistol and shot himself in the heart after his once-successful company went bankrupt. Without a penny left in her bank account, Solis sold the Porsche, the Lexus, and the Range Rover and moved to a nearby Denver suburb with her kids, then two and five years old. She started over with what she knew: storytelling and yoga (she's since received more than 300 hours of training in Anusara Yoga).

"I wanted to teach yoga, but I had to bring my kids with me, so I started to teach a children's class," says Solis. In class, she encourages children to discuss how they're like characters from the tales. "It's like a form of fun therapy," one teen student told her.

And Solis's story has a happy ending. She's remarried and added two more kids to her family, which now lives in Boulder. She's training other teachers in her yogic storytelling method via e-courses to connect what she calls a League of Yogic Story-tellers. "Myths are like yoga: The purpose is connection," says Solis. "Stories connect us to our true nature versus ego-self. My goal is to send teachers out into the world for healing and change."

To learn more, visit storytimeyoga.com.

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