It seems like most young kids love making animal sounds; in fact, before my daughter could even talk, she was barking like a dog and mooing like a cow. She also loves to imitate me while I do yoga in the living room, so for her sake I repeated a cat-cow-downward dog sequence a few times, making the sound for each animal. She took to it right away and now and then she drops down on all fours and does this little sequence spontaneously!
Monkey see, monkey do: Here are some books to speak to the little wild animal in all of us…not just kids! Besides, they have more fun when we’re roaring and meowing right along with them.
You Are a Lion and Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo: The instructions for each of the 7 poses in this book are woven into a narrative so that there is a moment of suspense before you turn the page to find out which animal the pose is imitating. The illustrations are super cute and lively, too. The final page is dedicated to savasana, or Secret Garden, but the author doesn’t label this special resting moment anything in particular. This leaves it open to the teacher to refer to it however they will (so you can keep on calling it Secret Garden!).
I like this book because you can imagine that if you read it more than once to a group, they will have fun remembering which animals they are embodying before you turn the page to reveal it since the prose flows somewhat like a guessing game.
Little Yoga: A Toddler’s first Yoga Book by Rebecca Whitford: In this basic book, readers go through 8 poses followed by savasana at the end. As the title suggests, this book is probably best for younger yogis as older kids will probably find it too babyish. This book might be good for kids up to age 5 or 6 except that on each page it says, “Yoga baby (does whatever action called for in each pose).” Because of this, I’d say it might be best to keep this one to kids 3 and under, or you can say ‘Yoga kid’ instead of yoga baby.
At the very end, the author provides practice tips and a chart to review all the poses in the book. The chart displays photos of the poses done by a real child, which can be helpful in knowing what they might look like. The very last page has detailed instructions on how to do the poses that might be helpful to a parent or caregiver. I would recommend this to parents who would like to build upon what their child is learning in class at home.
Breathe Like A Bear by Kira Willey: My daughter is only 2-years-old, so I bought this book with a long-range plan in mind: the activities are suited more to ages 4 or older, although they can be modified for younger kids with a little imagination. What I love most about Breathe Like a Bear is that it focuses completely on the mental and emotional aspects of yoga through imaginative work and breathing practices. Just as in the world of adults’ yoga, there is so much need for ways to present these other aspects of yoga beyond just the physical postures.
The theme of animals and nature is so age appropriate as well. From clouds and rainstorms to bees and bears, the guided visualizations and exercises are beautifully illustrated and written in clear, kid-friendly language. Even more importantly, the activities in this book are meant to guide young yogis through a process of taking yoga off the mat and applying it to difficult situations they might encounter. I would even venture to say that parents, educators and yoga teachers might love this book and use the practices for themselves, too!
KAY Yoga Stories by Haris Lender and Cassie Dixon: I’m including this precious yoga book by Kidding Around Yoga’s very own Haris and Cassie, not just out of loyalty but also because it’s a very unique work! Why? It features 15 stories that you can use in class or while playing with your favorite little yogis. The poses are woven into the story so that the telling happens while doing the poses. Each story has a kid-oriented topic (such as Becoming Independent, Sharing, and even Clean Your Room). Along with each story there are pictures of real kids doing the postures so that readers get a clear idea of how the postures look. At the end there is a script for Secret Garden (a guided meditation), followed by an index to reference which stories feature which postures.
Yoga Stories is really like 15 books in one. Each story is just as substantial in text and postures to most kids yoga books. While the stories are interesting and varied enough for big kids, with some imagination they can be modified to suit very little yogis (ages 2-5). Finally, there is a link to a webpage for more information on how to do the postures, since some readers might not know proper alignment.
So if you want to bring some joyful noise and appreciation for nature into your kids’ yoga practice, help those little yogis focus their breath, body, and mind by imitating our wild friends. Yoga is so much more fun when we can tell or create the stories behind our postures!