A Hemel-based yoga teacher has just published two new yoga picture books designed to spark children’s imagination, get them moving and promote good mental health.
Maria Oliver of Boxmoor Yoga has created and illustrated the books herself - and each one is packed with fun characters demonstrating yoga poses.
One book is for mat-based yoga and the other is for seated yoga.
Maria said: “I love creating stories with children in my yoga classes. We take it in turns to add to the story and suggest a pose to go with each part.
"There are so many poses named after animals, natural features and actions that it’s easy to make up a yoga story adventure if you know how.
“I played around with the idea of creating a children’s yoga picture book, where the child is at the centre of the story and gets to choose what happens next.
"Once Upon a Time, You… begins on top of a mountain and something is flying towards you. Is it a dragon, a flying horse or a golden eagle?
"Whoever it is has a problem that they need your help to solve. You choose where you are going to fly to help your new friend. There are literally hundreds of combinations of stories to create in just one book.
“And of course there are lots of yoga poses to try out along the way.”
Once she had begun work on the story, Maria decided to adapt it for chair-based yoga too.
She said: “Chair yoga, or seated yoga, is just as physically challenging, calming and grounding as mat-based yoga.
“It is fantastic for children with physical disabilities, or when space is limited. I wanted to create a version of my book that would be accessible to everybody, in any situation.”
As well as inspiring children to move, the stories include important messages about mental health with suggestions for positive affirmations and breathing techniques.
Maria added: “I’ve seen first-hand how the months of lockdowns, periods of self-isolation and restrictions can affect mental health
“Yoga has been proven to have a positive effect on mental health, and I hope my new books can bring these benefits to everyone.”