Children’s Yoga & Mindfulness Books Within Reach
My home state of Illinois is one of a growing number of states currently under a “Shelter In Place” rule, and for many students, this week is Spring break. Whether or not they were planning a staycation, parents find themselves at home with their kids 24/7. In recent days I have heard from so many families hoping to establish a home yoga practice with their kids, and feeling frustrated when it all goes sideways. I thought it might be helpful to pull together some resources for parents.
A few things to note about this list…
There are no video links. Video is great, and while there is lots of wonderful children’s yoga video content out there, in homes with internet access and devices, most kids have been completely overloading on screen time. Mine too! No judgment, but it really isn’t the best for anyone’s brain or body, and as a Western postural practice, we all pay way too much attention to how yoga looks. That kind of misses the point. I am suggesting books in hopes that you might introduce yoga to your children and get them thinking about how it feels. How does it feel to move, breathe, and rest together? Think of an invitation to yourselves and your children to connect, explore sensations, be present, and let yourselves feel whatever it is that you are feeling.
You can find everything online for free. If you have a public library card, then you can find everything I mention here on Hoopla. Several of the children’s books are also available on Epic, which has a really nice interface. Your kid doesn’t have Epic? Don’t despair Epic is offering free remote student access during school closings. Many of these are picture books, and in an ideal world you could go get them and hold them in your hands, but things aren’t exactly ideal right now. Social distancing doesn’t exactly jive with hitting a bookstore, and given the economic instability lots of families are trying to reign in their spending. If you fall in love with these books (and I hope that you will) maybe once things calm down you will go and buy them from an indie bookseller that will be so very grateful for your business.
BOOKS (to read with your kids)
Susan Verde‘s spectacular “I Am” series is a lovely starting place, and I have read her books to everyone from preschoolers to tweens. They are picture books, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, and I kind of think everyone should own them – I Am Yoga, I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness, I Am Love: A Book of Compassion, and I Am Human: A Book of Empathy.
Mariam Gates of Kid Power Yoga has beautiful picture books that are wonderful for younger children, and for families whose routines have been upended, Good Morning Yoga, Good Night Yoga, and Sweet Dreams: Bedtime Visualizations for Kids could form the basis of an accessible and meaningful family practice, along with Yoga Friends, Breathe With Me, and Dinosaur Yoga.
Parents, your children’s yoga practice will likely bear little resemblance to your grown-up practice, and it’s all good. Baron Baptiste of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga has a great kids’ book that does not require flowing or heating your living room to 95 degrees – My Daddy Is A Pretzel.
BOOKS (to read on your own)
Little Flower Yoga for Kids: A Yoga and Mindfulness Program to Help Your Child Improve Attention and Emotional Balance by Jennifer Cohen Harper is a great text written expressly for parents. Occupational Therapist Britt Collins-Feist wrote Sensory Yoga for Kids: Therapeutic Movement for Children of all Abilities, an invaluable resource for parents of children with sensory processing differences. Mark Bertin‘s Mindful Parenting for ADHD: A Guide to Cultivating Calm, Reducing Stress & Helping Children Thrive is the roadmap for all parents of kids with ADHD who find themselves in the dual role of parent and eLearning school administrator. Mindfulness for Anxious Kids: A Workbook to Help Children Cope with Anxiety, Stress, and Worry, by Catherine Cook-Cottone and Rebecca K. Vujnovic is a great resource for these times. It features 30 activities to respond to our unusual circumstances, including practicing compassion, cultivating gratitude, and learning how to better manage stress, insomnia, and loneliness. Finally, two of my personal favorites are Ready, Set, Breathe: Practicing Mindfulness with Your Children for Fewer Meltdowns and a More Peaceful Family by Carla Naumburg, and Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community’s Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children.
I can only imagine a parent reading this and thinking, but I need a teacher! To which I say, you already have a house full of teachers. Our kids are truly our best teachers, we are our own teachers, and when we do the work of personal practice, study, and self-study, it all comes into focus. Have fun with it. If you are practicing yoga postures approach it less like a work-out than a work-in, and keep it safe (no arm balances or inversions). Don’t get stuck on how you think your family’s yoga practice should look. Focus on how it feels.
Questions? Please reach out. Wishing you all peace.