As we start the story, we meet a little girl. She's feeling rather small in the big world and isn't quite sure how she fits in. So, she tells her body to stop wiggling and her mind to be quiet, slows her breathing, closes her eyes and starts to move through some yoga poses.
Balancing on one leg, she reaches up to the sky, feeling tall and strong (Tree pose). Pushing up into an inverted V, she feels playful (Downward Dog pose). Stepping into a lunge and spreading her arms wide she knows she can stand up for herself and others (Warrior pose). And when she's had enough for the day, she can curl up and relax (Child pose).
This is just a sample of the poses that are shown in the book, and the powerful message of self-expression, identity and creativity that is linked to them. Susan Verde's words are at just the right level for children to be able to really engage with them, while Peter Reynold's illustrations not only carefully depict each pose but also place them in context so that it's easier for kids to remember their names. For example, Camel pose is shown against a backdrop of desert and Egyptian pyramids, while Half-Moon pose shows the little girl balancing in the crescent of a new moon.
At the back of the book, there's a detailed explanation of each pose and how to get into it, and the Sanskrit name for each pose is also given.
I've found this book a fabulous way to enjoy a kid-appropriate yoga session with my daughter and introduce her (very gently) to mindfulness and meditation. Yoga is a proven tool for building a calm, resilient mind together with a strong, flexible body, and I would love to think that this book could sow the seeds for a future regular yoga practice in all the children who read it.
Title: I Am Yoga
Author: Susan Verde
Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
Publisher: Abrams, $17.99 RRP
Publication Date: August 2015
Format: Hardcover with jacket
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book