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Yoga adventure to introduce more children to benefits of practice

The popularity of yoga has been increasing year on year in the UK, with even more adults and children finding comfort in practicing during the Coronavirus pandemic. Yoga has been introduced in nurseries and primary schools, and classes are held in communities and online. For children, as well as building core strength for good posture and overall fitness, yoga and mindfulness exercises can also benefit a child’s confidence, help build concentration and improve the way they deal with anxiety and stress. 

This week sees the publication of an unusual story and exercise book that aims to introduce more children to the practice of yoga. Strong as a Mountain, Supple as a Snake: A Yoga Story and Exercises for Children and Grown-ups by Ginny Moffett (Y Lolfa) weaves detailed descriptions of more than twenty yoga poses and breathing exercises into a story about a visit to Tada mountain and the Great Forest.

“The idea of this story-practice book came about through the teaching of Hatha Yoga to children. I noticed how positively they responded to the yoga postures, many of which are named after animals, such as Downward Facing Dog, for example. I started to teach telling a story which involved us practising yoga at the same time. The combination of the yoga practise and story catches the children’s imaginations, and they enjoy the exercise,” said author and yoga instructor Ginny Moffett. 

The book includes lovely colour illustrations by Cate Wise, which shows the pilgrimage of the main character to Tada, the tallest mountain on Earth. The story then leads us through a series of yoga postures, such as Tadasana (Mountain pose), Vrksasana (Tree pose) and Marjaryasana (Cat pose) to name a few (full list at bottom of page). 

The book also allows children to learn listening and reading skills, as they initially listen to the story being narrated and later go on to read it for themselves and practice alongside it.

“Practising yoga with children is wonderful, it gives them a chance to take up space and to notice how they feel. All the benefits that can be attributed to children also apply to adults – it’s non-competitive and suitable for all ages and abilities. It’s also great for overall wellbeing. As well as giving them movement to build strength and improve balance, which gives a positive experience of their bodies, it also teaches them correct breathing for physical and mental health and how to relax and be calm. The relaxation and breathing techniques can be introduced to daily life, which can help with coping with overwhelming emotions and changes – such as we’ve all felt during the past year. Yoga teaches children to stretch, breathe, relax and be still; and they learn a little about the vast subject of yoga,” added Ginny.