What many of you may not realize is that I live in an imaginary world. I do. It’s okay. It’s a really happy place. Actually many of your children may know it well because I share it with them. We all have an idea of what it looks like, what the characters look like and together, regardless of the differing views, we love our time virtually being there. This place is Farmer Brown’s Farm. Go ahead, ask your child.
Farmer Brown and Mrs. Brown are people I created over 13 years ago when I first started teaching children’s yoga. I have since discovered that storytelling is one of the most enigmatic ways to engage a child’s attention then we add the yoga poses and songs to make it a captivating adventure that pulls the whole child in for a full experience; body, breath, mind, and imagination.
So, these wonderful people live on a farm in the southwestern most tip of Virginia. This farm is a kind of Utopia where there is no violence, no guns, people are vegetarian, renewable energy runs the farm and the town from windmills to water power to solar panels, and Mrs. Brown is known to be very resourceful (I love to teach kids new vocabulary words). She doesn’t go to the store much but prefers to make her own tea from her herb and flower garden, she churns butter and grinds flour, she harvests honey from bee hives, and makes her own clothes. She also has a wonderful berry patch, nut trees, and fruit orchard. Farmer Brown and Mrs. Brown grow and create much of what they eat and need to survive and enjoy a humble, simple life.
The yoga kids arrive throughout the year to offer karma yoga, selfless service. We help fix the broken bridge (bridge pose), we ride the horses (saddle pose), we plant seeds in the spring and harvest in the summer and fall on the tractor (plow pose), we enjoy the shenanigans of Slinky the Fox (plank pose) as he chronically chases chickens and rabbits with marginal success, and Mrs. Brown is known for her wonderful homemade muffins, flavored according to whatever fruit is in season and her wonderful tea sweetened with a drizzle of honey from her own honey bees. She has a larder in her dirt basement for storing all her canned foods to get through the winter including baskets of root veggies, apples, pears, and nuts. We learn from them about the seasons, about seasonal foods, about living simply and kindly. We also learn that being helpful is a natural part of living in a community: we come together and lift each other up, we come together to enjoy each other’s company, we come together to celebrate nature.
As my yoga kids grow up probably their biggest loss is that we move away from storytelling and living in an imaginary world to a traditional Hatha Yoga class and the songs go away to be replaced by chanting. Personally, I think we could all use a little more magic, a little more imaginary fun, a healthier, simpler, more humble approach to living life as we walk with reverence on this good Earth.
I don’t know that I could ever write a book about these wonderful people because I never want to identify them by a specific class or race, shape or size. We know that Mrs. Brown wears a big white apron and is a large woman. We know Farmer Brown wears tattered overalls that have been patched up. But what they look like is really never brought up, they just live in our minds as only we see them.
My yoga kids will ask me, “Miss Nitya, is Farmer Brown real?” I pause, and say, “They are as real as you want them to be.” Because for me, I need them to be. I need to believe there are people, millions of them, all over this planet that can be that good. That’s what I want to inspire in these kids, to be that good.
Nitya Living Teachers Scout Ries and Nitya Griffith have created a map of Farmer Brown’s Farm that will be available soon both colored and laminated as a poster to be put on the wall or black and white to be colored by your own magical child.
(the featured picture is of my little brother, Ben, with Farmer Strawberry circa 1970s on the Eastern Shore of Maryland)