My daughters, 5-year-old Hadley and 3-year-old Pippa, received lots of books for Christmas. One of them was a little different from the rest. Good Night Yoga, written by Mariam Gates and illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder, is a relaxing book that takes young readers through calming yoga poses and deep breathing exercises before bedtime. My kids loved it.
The first time we read it, we were visiting friends and were at the end of a day with lots of activity. The girls were exhausted. The kind of exhausted that results in crazy bedtime antics. I had been saving Good Night Yoga for just such a night.
The rhyming story begins with the sun going down and narrates the natural world putting a close to the day — the stars come out; the birds, ladybugs and butterflies find their way to bed; and the moon finds its place in the nighttime sky. Each page offers a calming warm color palette illustrating the natural process of nighttime taking hold.
The animals and plants are joined on each page by illustrations of children who demonstrate yoga poses. Through the course of the book, young yogis learn how to do “The Good Night Yoga Flow,” a series of 11 poses starting in standing Sun and ending in lying down Child’s Pose.
The first time I read it, it was difficult to figure out which part to read first — the rhyme or the description of each pose. I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the story but the girls’ eyes were immediately drawn to the yoga poses when I turned each page.
But working out the sequence was something I worried about more than the girls. When Hadley saw how the book worked, she jumped on the bed and her eyes lit up with excitement. “I know this pose! We do this at school!” she said, immediately bending her knees and stretching out her arms into Cloud position. “See? I can do it!” Pippa squealed and followed suit, contorting into her 3-year-old version of Cloud.
We spent a good bit of time on the last page of the book, which illustrates the full “Good Night Yoga Flow” sequence. We took turns demonstrating our favorite positions before it was time for lights out.
Movement, even calm movement, is not usually part of our nighttime routine so I was a little unsure how our yoga session would affect bedtime. But when I settled Pippa into bed she said sleepily, "Mama, I love this book!' and turned on to her side, pulling the covers up to her chin.