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26 Mar, Sunday
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Montreal Families

Yoga books for kids

Winter is not the easiest time of year to get your family inspired to be physically active.

Sure, winter offers plenty of outdoor options like skating, sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, but it also offers early nights, biting winds and copious layers of clothing that seem to take longer to put on than the time spent outside. However, with rates of child obesity on the rise and authorities like the Canadian Pediatric Society recommending 30 minutes of physical activity per day for a child, how are parents supposed to motivate their kids to get moving in the winter?
The answer might be to get them to do some indoor activity, like yoga. Working on yoga poses promotes flexibility, healthy breathing, relaxation and good posture.

Yoga can be a fun and uncomplicated way to get your family moving this winter, especially on school nights when it is a bit too late to venture outside but the kids need some unwinding. Here are some great books about yoga for children of varying ages.

 Little YogaLittle Yoga: A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga (Henry Holt & Co, $11.95) by Rebecca Whitford (Ages 1 to 3)

Although we may think that the techniques used in yoga are more suitable for older children, there are a number of books available for the under 3 set. This simple board book is perfect for children who are at an age where imitation is a popular form of learning. The book leads children through nine easy-to-do movements. They are asked to spread their arms like a butterfly or to wag an imaginary tail like a dog. The emphasis is less on genuine yoga poses and more on movement. For children who are just learning to control their bodies in different ways, this is a great way to help them develop coordination.

The Yoga Zoo AdventureThe Yoga Zoo Adventure Book (Hunter House, $25.95) by Helen Purperhart (Ages 3 to 8)

Considering the ancient origins of yoga (thought to have begun 5,000 years ago), it is no surprise that many of the poses are inspired by nature and its wonderful exotic creatures. This book takes direct inspiration from wild animals to give children a basic introduction to yoga. The author creates some fun and imaginative games that encourage physical activity. For instance, children learn how tigers slink through the savannah and are asked to do the same. What makes the book even more amusing for children is that it gives information about the animals in the brief introduction for each activity. The book also offers a terrific guide for parents which explains the principles of yoga, its benefits for children and the most educational way to use the activities presented in the book.

The Girls' Yoga BookThe Girls’ Yoga Book (Maple Tree Press, $12.95) by Michaela Caldwell (Ages 9 to 12)

Although yoga is not and shouldn’t be gender-specific, this book focuses on some of the physical and mental aspects that can be particularly advantageous for pre-teen girls. Buffeted by peer pressures, distorted media images and the changing nature of their bodies at that age, many girls are in need of some serenity and relaxation. This book not only shows girls many of the initial poses used in yoga such as the tree pose on one leg and the seated spinal-twist, but it also emphasizes the mind-body connection and how the two are inextricably linked. For example, the author explains how breathing brings oxygen to the brain, which can help during exams or after a fight with a sibling. As well, she notes, improved flexibility adds to strength, balance and grace. Ultimately, the purpose of the book is to energize its young readers, lift their confidence and give them skills to help them deal with the multiple pressures in their lives.

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