In this interview, When I Feel: Easy Yoga for Big Feelings author Kathy Beliveau shares her inspiration for the book, the importance of yoga and even her favorite yoga pose! When I Feel is available from your local bookstore or orcabook.com.
Sometimes I feel angry, so I become the sea. I breathe in deep an ocean breath and breathe out peacefully.
We may not be able to help the overwhelming feelings, but we can learn tools to help us regulate them. Practicing yoga can increase our ability to accept and mindfully manage our emotions. Yoga is known to have a positive physiological effect on practitioners of all ages and abilities.
When I Feel offers effective yoga poses and breathing practices that help children embrace healthy ways of acknowledging their emotions. The rhythmic text and repetition engage young readers and support early literacy skills while the photographs layered with illustrations will show readers each pose in a playful way.
1. What inspired you to write this book?
As a parent, a yoga instructor and while working as a preschool teacher and education assistant, I have witnessed the effect of a society disconnected from itself.
Often, we rush around stressed and over-scheduled or sit for hours in front of screens forgetting that we are part of nature. The more we live disconnected from nature, the more we feel disconnected from ourselves.
Many yoga poses reflect things we find in nature. The practice of yoga offers opportunities to slow down, to notice how we are feeling and to reconnect with each other, with the earth and with ourselves.
There is a rising epidemic of anxiety and stress in children and teens. I was inspired to write When I Feel: Easy Yoga for Big Feelings because I believe there is a need for simple and effective tools to help children recognize and manage their feelings. I am passionate about inspiring people of all ages to create better health and well-being through yoga, to connect with nature and to live with a greater sense of ease and joy.
2. Can you tell us about your background in yoga?
I began practicing yoga at age 11 and have been teaching yoga for almost 20 years. I have studied Yoga for Children, Yoga Safety and I am a Certified Yoga Instructor. I’ve taught yoga to thousands of children and watched their delight as they build focus, balance, courage and self-awareness. My own children began practicing yoga as babies and with them, I’ve had the great privilege of seeing yoga work its magic, creating calm, soothing anger and offering a lifeline through bumpy teen years. The deeper I journey into my relationship with yoga, the more I am in awe of this wise and ancient practice.
3. What do you hope readers will takeaway after finishing your book?
I hope readers of all ages will recognize how effective and powerful even the simplest (and sometimes silly) yoga pose can be.
I hope they will be inspired to incorporate these practices into their daily lives.
4. This book uses such a fun combination of photographs by Jesse Holland and illustrations by Julie McLaughlin, do you have a favorite spread?
Isn’t it fun?! When this idea of photographs with illustrations was first suggested I couldn’t quite envision what that would look like, but yes, I love it! Talk about connecting with nature! And the kids did amazing. I really love the bee breath and the tree pose spreads, however, as I have such a deep love of the sea and the colour blue, I especially love the ocean breath pages. I think this spread has a little magic with all the kids breathing peacefully, the critters joining in and the sea filled with sparkles.
5. Do you have a favorite yoga pose?
Yes, my favorite pose is the tortoise pose. People often assume I am an extrovert because I love people, adventure and gregarious gatherings, but there is another side to me that loves and needs silence and solitude. The forward bend in the tortoise pose offers a lovely calming effect and by tucking the head and connecting with breath, one can create a quiet space.
6. This book champions the fact that yoga and breathing practices are for all ages and abilities, why do you think that is important?
Absolutely! Yoga is for every age and every body and the practice offers lifelong benefits.
Of course, it’s important not to force your body into uncomfortable postures. Only do what’s comfortable for you. Yoga is not about what the person looks like on the outside, it’s about how it feels on the inside. I think it’s unfortunate the way media often portrays yoga as a practice for people who look photoshopped, super fit and flexible, rather than for anyone and everyone.
Yoga helps us become more flexible–and not just in our bodies but in our minds, in our lives and our communities.
The word yoga comes from a Sanskrit word meaning to unite, to connect, to bring together. Yoga connects us to our world and to ourselves and helps us become more aware of how we’re feeling and how we’re doing…and maybe more aware of what needs a little attention or a little loving kindness.
Everybody can do yoga and being “good” at yoga doesn’t mean touching toes or perfect balance, it means being good at listening to your body, listening to your feelings and listening to your heart.
Kathy Beliveau’s passion for yoga and nature shines through in her writing, presentations and workshops. She has studied yoga for children, yoga safety and is a certified yoga instructor. She is the author of The Yoga Game picture-book series (Simply Read) and co-author of the Strong Nations Yoga Cards. Kathy lives on Vancouver Island, close to nature and the sea.