Breathing Space Family Yoga instructors often use books in class as storytime before relaxation, to spark discussion, or as inspiration for an entire theme. Books can help illustrates yogic values – peace, love, friendship, feelings, compassion, honesty – or enhance children’s physical and emotional awareness.
Using books in class, and reading in general,
- increases creativity and imagination,
- enourages students to empathize with others,
- helps with language accquisition,
- enhances logical thinking, and
- improves concentration and discipline.
A key benefit of yoga for children is how the practice helps them develop better emotional regulation skills. Incorporating books like The Way I Feel by Janan Cain and My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss sends the message that strong feelings are ok even if acting on them might not be.
At least every couple of months, I do a dance theme in my preschool yoga class, after which I feel compelled to read Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson. I love that Hilda figures out a way to express that dance that is in her soul no matter what obstacles may seem to be in her way.
One of my favorite books to read in preschool yoga class is Jamberry by Bruce Deegan. The story follows the fanciful journey of a bear and his boy through what is clearly jam country. The kids love identifying the animals and actions in the story and it’s fun when they figure out the fantasy elements: skating on jam, rabbits playing a brass band, etc. But the signature characteristic of my reading is most definitely that (in our household at least) Jamberry must be sung.
When I stumbled on a reading of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by author Bill Martin, I realized that I’d found a kindred spirit:
For older children, I love using more complex stories, such as The Rabbit in the Moon and Diamonds Rubies and Pearls from Storytime Yoga, to build entire classes and encourage children to write their own yoga class stories. We use the opportunity to talk about what makes a good story and who is and what are the attributes of a hero.
While reading them could simply help children relax, books like
- Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney,
- The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch,
- The Happy Dromedary by Bernice Freschet, and
- stories from Buddha at Bedtime
make nice discussion starters.
Older children and tweens are defining themselves and are often eager to discuss issues related to their place and possible contribution to the world. Story books can help set a safe context for such a discussion.
Breathing Space Family Yoga has collected many of our favorite kids yoga books, story books and other resources in one place.
We’ll keep adding to it, so please let us know what’s missing in the comments. What’s your favorite book to use in class?