I have recently discovered a handful of fantastic yoga themed picture books. Two of my favorites are Yoga Frog by Nora Carpenter and I am Yoga by Susan Verde. I love the underlying message in these two books, “You can calm your emotions,” a theme that is very prevalent in yoga books for kids. With all of the busyness that kids experience in our society, I think it is so important for children to have tools to help them relax and calm themselves, giving them the skills to turn around a bad day or stressful situation.
In Yoga Frog, the main character Froggy has woken up grumpy, as any child or caregiver can relate to, but he knows that as he goes through his yoga stretches, or flow, that he will feel better and be a happy frog ready to take on the rest of his day. I especially enjoyed the kid friendly explanations of how to execute each pose with good form. Having this brief explanation is so helpful to caregivers that may not have any yoga experience. And what better way to learn than by following along with an adorable, chirpy little frog? I found that after reading the book several times, it was even more fun to make up a story that lead my story-timers through Carpenter’s flow without having to look at each page to remember which pose came next. Once you have learned some of the basic poses, try creating a yoga story with your kids, letting the story move their bodies through each of the poses. Many yoga poses resemble animals and the way they move, so don’t be afraid to let those little imaginations run wild, adding sounds and movements to the traditionally still poses. If your little yogis really enjoy the animal themed movements, you might try titles like You are a Lion by Taeeun Yoo or Yoga Bug: Simple Poses for Little Ones by Sarah Jane Hinder.
Although the underlying themes are the same, Susan Verde takes a bit of a different tack in her book I am Yoga. This story features full-page images that incorporate the poses her main character takes into beautiful illustrations. Her crossed legs become a basket for beautiful flowers. Her tree pose sprouts into a leafy green tree right out of her outstretched arms. The beautiful watercolor illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds (author and illustrator of such books as The Dot, Sky Color, and Happy Dreamer) are so visually relaxing that readers may not even need to assume child’s pose to feel a gentle calm wash over them with this book. My favorite element of this title is the opening few pages where the main character laments how big and chaotic her world can feel sometimes. Verde so vividly describes this feeling that I believe any child or caregiver can relate. Working her way through the flow, Verde gives positive affirmations on each page, encouraging the reader with phrases like “I am so free” and “I open my heart: I feel love.” At the back of the book, each pose is described in greater detail with instructions on how to execute each pose. Repeating the affirmations aloud while doing the poses is a great way to engage your kiddos in the reading of the book and help build those important mind/body awareness connections.
If you like these books and suggestions, I also recommend checking out Good Morning Yoga and Good Night Yoga by Mariam Gates. These are pose by pose wake up and bedtime stories that are fantastic tools to build yoga time into your daily routine. And it doesn’t hurt that each page gives simple to follow instructions along with charming illustrations. My last suggestion, if your little yogi is having a blast with these stories, look for yoga studios or kids’ gym facilities near you that may offer Mommy and Me or kid-friendly yoga classes. These classes are a great way to encourage healthy movement for the whole family.
Thanks for reading, and Namaste!