Children’s Book Review: I AM YOGA – Susan Verde, Art Peter H Reynolds

So a few weeks ago now I completed a kids yoga teacher training course. It was awesome and I loved every bit! Although it was funny to observe myself in a large learning group, I find I do get overwhelmed and can feel myself kinda slip into some old bad habits of being hard on myself and feeling doubtful of one’s capabilities. But in saying that I was able to take a step back and check myself, like “hey sure I am not a super bendy, yoga master, but I have a hell of a lot of life experience, knowledge and depth that I can share. I have a lot to offer and I am passionate about giving children tools to be the best in mind, body and spirit they can be, so  hold up a minute and just do this.”

So over the last few weeks I have been looking for some resources that I can use, adapt and that inspire me and I came across this little gem that I thought I must share! It’s such a sweet read and for anyone who wants to get there kids attention with yoga or alternatively see if they have an interest, this could be a great starting point.  I know I already said it but it really is such a sweet read!

So I would say this book would be great for pre schoolers to early primary. But that is just me, I kinda think if you are enthusiastic the joy is infectious and as I read to my 4 year old, my almost 2 year old loved it also. Plus the illustrations are stunning and really detailed. It takes you through a series of 16 poses throughout the story and as I read through to Mr 4, he is happy to impress me with what he can do.  He tells me ” This is easy I can, I can do this!” and ” Oh this one is a bit hard mum”. It’s great to watch them navigate their bodies through a gentle instruction and to see their reactions.

I love how the book begins with a young girl who is feeling “small in a world so big”,  “wondering if she fits in”, feeling overwhelmed by life. ( Hey I still have these feelings) This could even be a great introduction for children, which no doubt there are many whom are experiencing these similar feelings but finding it hard to express or communicate them. Also a subtle way for parents to open up a dialogue if they have any concerns. She the goes on to “tell my wiggling body to be still”, “tell my thinking mind to be quiet” and “tell my racing breath to be slow” and so it begins ..

She closes her eyes, opens her heart, mind and imagines… I AM YOGA!

Then she goes on a journey through the trees, sky, ocean and so on and makes her way through the following poses :Mountain , Tree, Airplane, Star, Half moon, Boat, Camel, Eagle, Downward Dog, Warrior 1 and 2, Peaceful Warrior, Flower, Bow/Basket, Child’s, Relaxation.

She then comes to the end feeling calmer, happy, loved as her mind is still, her body is relaxed and her breath is steady. It’s really simple but addresses a lot and I found it super effective and easy for my kids to connect with. I love the wording as it’s so gentle, magical, soft and really encourages that connection.

I also like at the end  of the book, each pose is explained in more depth, a “how to” with sanskrit name also.  So it can meet many different ages and learning levels.

So if you are looking into some books and resources for kids to play and have fun in the realm of yoga. If you want to introduce them to or even create a little morning or bedtime ritual I would highly recommend this book. It’s a beautiful read and I feel lighter and brighter after I read it also!  I will also be trying to share some tips, techniques and resources I come across as I navigate my way through the amazing stuff that is on offer out there.

Please let me know how you go with it or if you have read it before!

Blessings friends.

 

Book Review: The Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert/ Bloomsbury Publishing

This Year has been a massive year of personal growth for myself. I have really gone deep to heal from a lot of things that I have carried through my life, mostly none of them my fault but I have blamed, shamed and clung on to them for so long. Through all this processing and letting go of unnecessary burden and all that does not serve me I have found something magical happening. It has cleared the way to let new things through, things I have desired to do, achieve, pursue for so long. I have found a buzz of creative flurry stirring up in me and I responding by actually acting upon it. Madness I know!!!. I have been taking workshops and classes, meeting like minded individuals and pushing myself into a new zone, it’s been life changing.

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Now all this leads me to a podcast which lead me to this book. I had read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love like so many of you out there and I had really enjoyed it but this book is something else all together. I had come across The podcast Magic Lessons which I truly loved and would highly recommend to any podcasts enthusiast out there. This will also give you a real sense of what the book is about. I loved the lessons and real life people she would connect with in this series.

The Book Big Magic, creative living beyond fear is an open discussion about utilising your creativity, harnessing your creative energy, living a creative existence without being torn up by fear, negativity or doubt. With so much writing experience under her belt and so much success but also many “failures” to draw on Gilbert really takes you there. One thing I really connected with was feeling fear is nescessary and ultimately unavoidable but feel it and move forward don’t let it disable you or stop you from creating. We have to show up for our passions and creative pursuits and not in the hope for fame and fortune but for the feeling of abundant success, love and joy within.

“Work with all your heart because – I promise – if you show up for your work day after day after day after day, you just might get lucky enough some random morning to burst right into bloom.”

I also love how Gilbert talks about aspects of having to make money off your creativity. That you need not put pressures on yourself or your art to support you financially. It made me realise that putting that kind of pressure is a sure fire way to lose your passion very quickly and also your creativity. We are creative beings of light and our art needs to come through us from an authentic place we are not meant to churn and burn through ideas and pump things out, we need to respect the process and let it flow when it is meant to. We don’t need external validation to make us a true artist but to live everyday pursuing your art and owning it how you want it, dream it is the goal. Find your teachers, practice and practice some more. Enjoy the journey!

” Because in the end, creativity is a gift to the creator, not just the audience.”

Gilbert breaks it down and really gives you the tools to give yourself permission to just get in there and be creative. Let your self be free and just get your hands dirty with it, have an affair with your art she advises. I love her inspiring notions on ideas choosing you and you them, about timing, the creative process and how this all intertwines in daily life. It is romantic and whimsical, yep it’s magic! When you are truly passionate about a craft it is not something you can choose to do it is something that has to be done. When we don’t fulfil these parts of ourselves we die, maybe not in a psychical sense but emotionally and spiritually we do, for me that is the same if not worse.

So if you are stuck in a rut or looking for some inspiration, wanting to be more creative or simply just wanting permission to bring to life an idea/s that has been on the back burner than treat yourself, indulge in this book because it may just be the kick start you need to living a more fulfilling and creative existence. Get some Big Magic in your life.

“Creativity is sacred, and it is not scared. What we make matter enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege.”

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Children Book Review : The Lost Leadbeater’s Possums/ Tim Faulkner-Illustrator Elin Matilda

On the weekend we were ducking into the shops and as usual Otis asked if he could go into “the space shop” aka Australia  Geographic Store. I reluctantly said ok not because the store isn’t wonderful ( it’s actually one of our faves!!) but because I know how long our visits there can extend for.

As we were having a wander through I was taking a moment to look through the children books. This story The Lost Leadbeater’s Possums caught my eye ($14.95). Over the past few days we have been reading it and the kids and myself have been really loving it.

It recounts a tale of how the Leadbeater’s possums were once thriving  in the southern parts of Victoria in Australia and all of a sudden they was a rapid decline in numbers until they were gone. They were disappearing because man had cut down the trees in which homed them, altered the particular habitat in which these small creatures need in order to survive. How bushfires were devastating their habitats and they could no longer survive. A theme is continuously repeated ” this is why the possums cry at night when we’re asleep“. It’s a strongly emotive phrase that young minds and hearts are struck by.

I found this book brought up discussions about, how are these things are happening? why are animals becoming extinct? what can we do to create change and respect the space we co exist in? Then we find out that the Leadbeater’s Possums after being declared extinct are re – enlisted and there is hope.

A few things I really liked about this book was the story was clear, emotive and honest. At the end few pages there are facts about the Leadbeater’s life span, reproduction, food, habitat, ect and photographs of these cute little marsupials. I must also make a special mention of the gorgeous Illustrations throughout this book that capture and enhance the narrative of the story so well. I love the contemporary nature of them and  the use of colour palette that is so distinctive with the mood of each page.

All in all I would totally recommend this book for anyone with early /mid primary aged children. It opened up a dialogue with myself and my son about animals becoming extinct and what positive role we can play in protecting our wildlife here in Australia and abroad. I feel very strong about fostering a love for the earth and all creatures in which we share this amazing space with and this book was great tool on that journey.

let me know if you read it would love to know your thoughts too… Enjoy xx

Book Review : The Parents Tao Te Ching Author: William Martin/ Published: Da Capo Press

So we all know that raising children does not come with a manual and we will establish our own way and rhythm with time and perseverance.  At times we all look for guidance and enlightenment to help us find our way through the struggles and the achievements too that we encounter on the road of parenthood. When I came across this book though, I felt like I had stumbled across something really powerful and that impacted me greatly on just the first read. That would strengthen on many re reads after. That feeling when you are struggling to find the words or interpretation of feelings and profanities that arise and it is verbalised in a text is how The Parents Tao Te Ching is for me. I found a parenting bible of sorts!

“if you always compare your children’s abilities to those of great athletes, entertainers, and celebrities, they will lose their own power. If you urge them to acquire and achieve, they will learn to cheat and steal to meet your expectations.

Encourage your children’s deepest joys, not their superficial desires. Praise their patience not their ambition. Do not value distractions and diversions the masquerade as success. They will learn to hear their own voice instead of the noise of the crowd.” #3 Happiness is Contagious

I love that this book is set out in 81 short, distinct and beautifully captivating chapters that you can pick up, open at any page and read any time and anywhere. I find myself at night opening up and finishing my thoughts for the day with a message that seems to align perspective again. In a world where we are bombarded with parenting information it is refreshing to have these thought provoking, meaningful philosphies exacted down in a language that relates and inspires the modern day parent. This book has really bought such a beautiful ancient wisdom that has been lost in our modern culture in to a new accessible modern text, that is as relevant now as ever.

” Your children do not need more. Each day adds more facts, more gadgets, more activities, more desires, and more confusion to their lives. 

Your task is to subtract. Each day seek to remove, to clarify, to simplify. Society’s wisdom adds, and confusion grows. The wisdom of the Tao subtracts, and serenity flourishes. 

If each day one minute less was spent doing something. And one minute more was spent being present, in simple pleasures, with your children. In two months you would transform your life, and theirs. One minute less.” – #48 Less is more

This book has become one I refer to often. I find myself writing out the things that resonate with me and stick them around my home to re read them often. I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough it is such a rich and gentle read. Guidance for the parents of children old or young, you never stop learning and growing. We all try to be mindful but at times need direction and this is just a gentle reminder of what really matters. It would be a lovely gift for a new parent or one whom may need some light in a troubled time. Do you self a favour and purchase, read and re read this book you won’t regret it.

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Book Review Home Grown Ben Hewitt Shambala Publications

 

“Like so much of what my sons know and do, Fin did not learn how to craft a bow because someone told him he should learn to craft a bow. He learned because he had no choice but to learn, because his innate curiosity and desire to learn simply could not be overcome. In the same way that we cannot stop children from learning to walk, or to talk, you cannot stop them from learning anything they set their minds too.” Ben Hewitt

A couple of months ago I  ordered this book on researching some personal experiences of homeschooling.  Something I too am interested in embarking on with my family. When I received it in the mail from the moment the pages were open and I began to read I was totally captivated. I expected a personal account on homeschooling/un schooling yes, but I was inspired on so many levels by this book. Ben so honestly accounts his personal tale of teaching his children off the beaten path. Choosing a life that is less conventional, what he and his wife face emotionally, spiritually and practically in the quest of educating their boys in the natural world. Allowing them to lead through their innate curiosity, instincts and inspirations. I love how honest and brave Ben is through his writing, really being true to his essence, what had them to choose this path and how they have managed to maintain it. Being connected to his family, learning from the earth with respect and love for each other, the family unit amongst nature.

“What is education?” and inconsequently, “what is childhood?” Should It be one thing and not the other?” Ben Hewitt

Maybe it’s where I am at on my journey in motherhood, or even in my life but Ben’s word’s really spoke to me and have resonated with me. Not just about homeschooling but about finding the courage in one’s self to not only go to that place within to recognise one’s truth but to follow it, to live it, authentically. His connection to the land and understanding of his spiritual self here on earth is inspiring. I think it takes a lot of courage to live a life that you uniquely pave yourself, where you set the rules and Ben and his wife not only do that but he has the courage to write about it and put it out there for all of us to share and enjoy.

“Encouraging our sons to think critically is one of the most important aspects of their education; it is also one that foments the most conflict.” Ben Hewitt

Ben doesn’t come across as “selling ” this way of life, nor putting down anyone else’s but simply sharing his story in hope the it will open your eyes and heart to a new perspective. He also admits that he does not yet have all the answers nor does he know the outcome of where un schooling will lead his son’s but is trusting in the process, something I think that we all must do in life. Feel from our gut and trust it, ride it out and honour what that inner voice is guiding us to do today for really that is the only sure thing we have.

I love this courageous,wild-eyed  and truthful conversation about parenting and educating our children. Not just academically but spiritually. Even if un schooling is not something you are interested in, aware of, or even care for, as a parent reading this it inspired me to act on my beliefs, trust my instincts more than ever and remember that I am here to guide my children to trust their instincts. I know them better than any other, in a primal and instinctual way. I must, for who better to teach them but the ones whom love them the most and who want to see them flourish into the version of themselves they want to be. To extend themselves to beyond what they perceive imaginable. Essentially if we feel loved do we not feel purpose and meaning? What greater gift could I give my child but allowing him/her to have to space to know themselves, understand and perfect their gifts to go out into the world and share them with others. Whether at school or homeschooled we must remain connected to the true essence of our children and allow them to just be who they are.

“When you take responsibility from a child, he becomes less responsible. And as he becomes less responsible, he is granted less and less responsibility.” Ben Hewitt

This book is one I will re read again and again. I have fallen in love with Ben’s writing style, his genuine and sincere way in which conveys his story from a place of knowing himself and his purpose. It will sit on my bookshelf and be referred to as a guide when feeling overwhelmed  or a reflection into the beautiful, real space living consciously. I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough.

“I know they will be frequently frustrated. I know they will often fail. But frustration and failure are as natural, healthy and essential to their development as confidence, success and joy.” Ben Hewitt

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Book Review Home Grown Ben Hewitt Shambala Publications