Fish in a Tree and Yoga

When my fifth grader asks me to read one of her books, I know it’s going to be good.  Having purchased Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s Fish in a Tree at her school book fair last year, my daughter finally was able to read it this past fall and fell in love with this novel.  Despite its heft at fifty-one chapters, she finished in record time and advertised it at her book share in her classroom.  My daughter and I agreed this is a novel whose retelling should be reinforced with yoga.


Theme:  Accept and Embrace Others for Their Differences

Breathwork:  Balloon Breathing as found in Lisa Roberts’ Breathe, Chill

Warm-Up:  The Sshh Game as found in Lisa Roberts’ Breathe, Chill

Chapter 1:  In Trouble Again- Mountain Pose with Arms Outstretched to form a “Y” for Ally’s repetition of the word “Why?” on her paper.

Chapter 2:  Yellow Card- Knees-to-Chest because everything inside Ally shrinks.

Chapter 3:  Never up to Me- Legs-up-Wall because Ally just wants to disappear into the wall.

Chapter 4:  Bird in a Cage- Chair Pose because Ally spends a great deal of time sitting at the counter at her mom’s work.

Chapter 5:  Silver Dollars and Wooden Nickels- Roll and Stop! (Lisa Flynn’s Yoga for Children) because the reader is first introduced to Ally’s brother who looks as if he has rolled in grease.

Chapter 6:  Triple-Sided Coin- Hero Pose because Ally’s brother gives her amazing advice.

Chapter 7:  No Grandpas Here- Star Pose because although Ally doesn’t realize it yet, Mr. Daniels becomes a “star” in her life.

Chapter 8:  Real Trouble- Twisty Star because Ally does not yet know what to make of Mr. Daniels.

Chapter 9:  Bag Full of Nothing- Warrior 1 because we are all unique and should be proud of our differences.

Chapter 10:  Promises, Promises . . .- Child’s Pose because Ally thinks it would be easier if she could be invisible.

Chapter 11:  Scrambled Egg- Airplane Pose because Ally makes the comment that “. . . Jessica would follow Shay out of an airplane without a parachute” (62), and in this instance, it appears Ally would, too.

Chapter 12:  What’s Your Problem, Albert?- Pigeon Pose because Keisha notices Ally’s pigeon drawings.

Chapter 13:  Trouble with Flowers- Flower Pose because of the flower incident at the holiday concert.

Chapter 14:  Boxed In and Boxed Out- Crab High-Five because this is the first time a teacher has ever given Ally a high-five.

Chapter 15:  Ungreased Gears- Table Pose because Keisha invites Ally to sit at her table for lunch.

Chapter 16:  What I’ve Got- Cat Pose because Ally lies about having a cat.

Chapter 17:  Misfit Lunch- Table Pose because Ally invites Albert to sit with Keisha and her at lunch.

Chapter 18:  Truths and Untruths- Lotus Pose since Albert would prefer to be alone on a planet due to unkind people on Earth.

Chapter 19:  Not-So-Sweet Secret- Huddle Pose because Albert and Ally share secrets with each other and Keisha.

Chapter 20:  Is This a Good Thing?- Happy Baby Pose because Ally’s brother Travis is thrilled with his new-to-him car.

Chapter 21:  Butterfly Wishes- Butterfly Pose because the butterflies come to Ally at Shay’s party.

Chapter 22:  No Way to Treat a Queen- “P” Pose (Half Sun Salute, look up) for the color purple.  As Albert informs us, it used to take a lot of snail slime to make purple.

Chapter 23:  Words That Breathe- Candle Pose to represent how Ally feels Mr. Daniels’ understanding can be compared to his handing her a “flashlight in the dark”  (123).

Chapter 24:  Imaginary Hero- Hero Pose because Mr. Daniels asks the class to write about their favorite fictional character, someone they consider a hero.

Chapter 25:  Celebration or Devastation?- Chair Pose because Albert pulls his chair in closer hoping he won the Fantastico Poetry Award.

Chapter 26:  Stalling- Legs-up-Wall Pose to represent how Ally just wants to disappear into the bathroom wall after she wins the poetry award.

Chapter 27:  Half-Baked Afternoon- Cow Pose because this is the word Ally picks to make out of the cookie dough.

Chapter 28:  Deal of a Lifetime- Happy Baby Pose because Ally is thrilled when she realizes Mr. Daniels thought of her outside of class.

Chapter 29:  Fish in a Tree- Fish Pose and Tree Pose because “‘. . . if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking its stupid'”  (159).

Chapter 30:  Miserable King- Chair Pose because Ally sits down with Mr. Daniels and learns how to play chess.

Chapter 31:  Lots of Ways Home- Mt. Pose with Uplifted Arms because Ally is “mostly filled with hope”  (167).

Chapter 32:  Screen Time- Warrior 2 because Ally’s mom says “. . . being a soldier’s wife means being strong for him”  (169).

Chapter 33:  Possibilities- Mountain Pose to mimic the red line drawn between the “M” and “P” in IMPOSSIBLE.

Chapter 34:  Birth of a Star- Star Pose because Keisha tells Albert he’s going to be a star one day.

Chapter 35:  A Picture Is Worth a Gazillion Words- Reclining Hero Pose because Ally thinks her hero, Mr. Daniels, betrayed her.

Chapter 36:  In the Game of Life . . .- Standing Forward Fold because Mr. Daniels apologizes to Ally.

Chapter 37:  A Chicken, a Wolf, and a Problem- Boat Pose because Mr. Daniels presents a problem to his students involving involving a boat.

Chapter 38:  Loser for President- Corpse Pose because Ally lies in bed hoping for sickness so that she does not have to attend school the next day.

Chapter 39:  To-Shay- Forward Fold because students fold their papers in half after they vote for a class president.

Chapter 40:  Tears of Different Kinds- Airplane Pose because Ally says she could “fly happy”  (209).

Chapter 41:  Not-So-Secret Letter- Staff Pose because Ally sits “. . . up straighter”  (213) feeling as if she has a place in the class.

Chapter 42:  The Gifts of No Excuses, Scotch Tape, and Antibiotics- Half Sun Salute because Mr. Daniels is in this position when he tells Oliver what a kind heart he has.

Chapter 43:  Set the World on Fire- Candle Pose because together Ally, Keisha, and Albert are going to set the world on fire.

Chapter 44:  Tales of a Sixth Grade Something- Humble Warrior because this is the first time Ally can remember a teacher saying he/she is proud of her.

Chapter 45:  My Brother’s Question- Bridge Pose because, perhaps, Ally can be the connection her brother needs to improve his own reading.

Chapter 46:  Flying Tigers and Baby Elephants- Airplane Pose because Albert compares Ally to a Flying Tiger.

Chapter 47:  Great Minds Don’t Think Alike- Gentle Seated Pose because looking from one end of the board to the other, Ally sees famous people who have dealt with dyslexia, too.

Chapter 48:  Oliver’s Idea of Lucky- “A” Pose (Triangle Pose) for Ally.

Chapter 49:  I See the Light- “Lightbulb Pose”  (Triangle Pose with Arms Overhead in a Circle) for Oliver’s “Lightbulb” joke.

Chapter 50:  A Hero’s Job- Hero Pose because Albert is a good friend.

Chapter 51:  C-O-U-R-A-GEnius- Join hands to show how we can all reach out and help one another just as Mr. Daniels reached for Ally, and she’s reaching for her brother, Travis.

Cool Down:  Seated Circle Squeeze

Guided Meditation:  While in Corpse Pose, have students imagine helping a fellow student in need.

Journal:  How can you help fellow students in need?

Gift “Thanks for being FANTASTICO!” cards.

Ruth and Naomi

The Bible story “Ruth and Naomi” is taken from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling Bible Storybook.

Theme:  Kindness Towards One Another Counts

Breathwork:  Back-to-Back Breathing as found in Lisa Flynn’s Yoga for Children and Feel the Vibration as found in Lisa Roberts’ Breathe, Chill


Make New Friends, and Keep the Old” Girl Scout song

Begin in Easy Pose

Make new friends- Seated Gentle Twist Right

and keep the old- Seated Gentle Twist Left

one is silver-Lying Spinal Twist Right

one is gold- Lying Spinal Twist Left

a circle is round, and has no end- Wheel

that’s how long I want to be your friend- Child’s Pose

Candle Pose- Twin Flames*

Pose Series:

Here, I am having students work in pairs to reinforce the theme of Kindness Counts Towards One Another.

Candle Pose- Twin Flames*

Corpse Pose

Partner Sailboat


Huddle Pose

Owl Friends

Twin Dragons

Puppy Friends

Tic Tac Toe


Cool Down:

Legs up Wall

Human Zipper


Mantra:  I am breathing in God’s love.  I am breathing out God’s kindness.

Additional Options: 

Make Friendship Bracelets

Host a Friendship Potluck

Circle Squeeze- Students sit in a circle in Easy Pose.  With arms crossed in front of chests, they hold hands with neighbors on either side.  One person begins by squeezing the hand of another.  They then pass the squeeze around the circle.

Write positive notes to his/her yoga partner.

Trust Circle as found in Lisa Flynn’s Yoga for Children

Hannah’s Special Prayer

As a Kids Holy Yoga instructor-in-training, this is my first lesson sampled on my two daughters.  For those whom may be unfamiliar, Kids Holy Yoga is a combination of God’s Word interwoven with yoga poses to reinforce learning.  This balance of movement and reading is ideal for the reluctant reader as well as the reluctant exerciser and a medium truly loved by my two elementary-aged girls.

The story “Hannah’s Special Prayer” is taken from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling Bible StorybookI am a fan of this Bible storybook due to the length of the stories which are brief, but informational.  My eight-year-old enjoys reading the stories aloud once for other Holy Yoga Kids students before we incorporate the poses in a retelling.

Theme:  God Answers Prayers

Breathwork-  Starfish Breathing:  This involves the use of a child’s fingers.  A student breathes in as he/she traces up a finger and breathes out as he/she traces down a finger.  We did breathwork on both hands.  I used this breathing technique to reinforce the use of our hands when praying.

Warm-up:  The Lord’s Pray with yoga poses (Kids Holy Yoga Manual)

Our Father- Mountain Pose with hands at heart center

Who art in heaven- Mountain Pose with lifting arms up towards Heaven

Hallowed be thy name- Forward Fold

Thy Kingdom come- Halfway lifted with hands resting on shins

Thy will be done- Plank Pose

On Earth- melt into floor

As it is in Heaven- Cobra

Give us this day our daily bread- Downward Facing Dog

Forgive us our trespasses- Warrior One Right

As we forgive those who trespass against us- Warrior One Left

And lead us not into temptation- Forward Fold

But deliver us from evil- roll up slowly to Mountain Pose

For Thine is the Kingdom- Mountain Pose with arms reaching up towards sky

And the Power- Mountain with arms reaching left

And the Glory- Mountain with arms reaching right

Forever and Ever- Mountain with arms reaching back overhead with a gentle back bend

Amen- Mountain with hands back at heart center

Both of my girls thoroughly enjoyed this sequence, and my youngest was quick to comment how she hears this prayer in church.  I think this will be a great mnemonic device so that they can eventually memorize and internalize The Lord’s Prayer.  In addition, I like the use of hands at heart center as a means to reinforce the theme of this lesson, God Answers Prayers.

Pose Series to accompany “Hannah’s Special Prayer”-

Mountain Pose with arms at heart center

Camel Pose

Child’s Pose

Warrior 1 Right

Warrior 1 Left

Right Side Triangle

Left Side Triangle

Chair Pose

Child’s Pose

Happy Baby

Tree Pose with cactus arms right

Tree Pose with cactus arms left

Hero Pose

Cool Down-  I read the “Jesus Calling” portion at this time.

Crocodile Pose right

Crocodile Pose left

Resting- We completed the Snow Globe Meditation found in Lisa Roberts’ Breathe, Chill.  I emphasized how the glitter were our worries and/or troubles.  We then shake our snow globe and watch the glitter fall to the bottom of the mason jar.  This reinforces the idea of giving our upset to God through prayer.


Conclusion- I gave each of the girls a small (50 cents for two) journal and told them they were our Prayer Journals.  I asked if each of us might write down prayer requests and praises, enough to fill the page.  Then, I asked if each student would like to share.  Not only were they happy to share, but they borrowed requests and praises from once another.  We then used these pages to compose a prayer together.  The goal is for each of us to fill out a page daily and then use the list for our prayer before bed.