By Karen Perry
Every parent has hit that wall. Your preschooler desperately needs to go to bed but just can’t wind down by himself. Reading stories helps. But even after he read stories, my husband used to have to lie down with our son Ryan until he went to sleep. (Of course, I often found my spouse dozing with the child.)
But now there’s extra help in the form of a Yoga “pose-by-pose” bedtime story. Using an activity to get kids to settle seems counter to the purpose but this book is effective.
“Good Night Yoga” by Mariam Gates (Sounds True Inc.) is a lovely way to introduce children age four to nine to the practice of hatha yoga. This new book has one feature that sets it apart from previous yoga books aimed for young children: the reader is taught to breathe in and breathe out.
Relaxation is a key part of getting ready to sleep and breathing helps a child (or an adult) relax and put behind them the hustle and bustle of the day. “As I breathe in, as I breathe out, my arms reach out wide toward the stars.” This sample of text from the book gives you an idea how the author is using simple lyric verse to direct the child to the appropriate pose.
There is a brief story that tells of the sun going down, the stars beginning to shine, and creatures getting ready for night. Accompanying the story are illustrations of a child in pajamas on each page. The main story progresses as the child forms the simple yoga pose described in the separate verse that relates to the main story.
Gates has chosen 11 basic yoga poses that she has placed into a flow to encourage a winding down to a more relaxed state of body for the child.
Her education and yoga credentials (Kid Power Yoga Program) are evident in the care she takes to use simple terms and poses that young children can easily understand.
The illustrations by Sarah Jane Hinder help set the mood of “Good Night Yoga.” At the beginning, the orange sun is visible in the yellow sky as it sets. As the reader turns the pages, the colors change to blues and greens, and finally the dark purples of night.
Various ethnic groups and nighttime dress are represented in the children used to illustrate the poses. At the end of the book is a two-page summary of the poses illustrated within the story.
There is also a wonderful “Cloud Visualization Journey” which can be read by an adult when the child is lying in bed and needs more help getting to sleep.
There are several older nighttime or naptime yoga books that I can recommend. “Sleepy Little Yoga” by Rebecca Whitford (Henry Holt, 2007) is specifically aimed for toddlers and covers nine poses, most named for animals. There is an explanation of poses and practice tips in the back.
Whitford also wrote “Little Yoga: a Toddler’s First Book of Yoga” (Henry Holt, 2005), both illustrated by Martina Selway.
“Good Night, Animal World: a Kid’s Yoga Bedtime Story” by Giselle Shardlow (Create Space Independent, 2013) is out in paperback this year.
Two other titles that are not for bedtime but that have become favorites among young readrs are “You Are a Lion and Other Fun Yoga Poses” by Taeeun Yoo (Penguin Young Readers, 2012) and “My Daddy Is a Pretzel: Yoga for Parents and Kids” by Baron Batiste (Barefoot Books, 2004.)
While we are trying to raise children who are more active than the last generation, sometimes we need a little help.
Yoga books for young children are a great way to teach knowledge of your body, flexibility and strength, and ways to control and calm your active mind.
Karen Perry is a retired youth librarian who lives in High Point.