________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 20 . . . . June 10, 2005


The Girls' Yoga Book: Stretch Your Body, Open Your Mind, & Have Fun. (Girl Zone).

Michaela Caldwell. Illustrated by Claudia Dávila.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2005.
64 pp., pbk. & cl., $12.95 (pbk.), $21.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-897066-25-2 (pbk.),
ISBN 1-897066-24-4 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Yoga-Juvenile literature.
Girls-Health and hygiene-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Andrea Szilagyi.

**1/2 /4


A girl who stands tall and straight exudes confidence, strength, and style. Thinking about your body and how to position it is very helpful when you're doing yoga. In yoga we use our own body weight, breath, and concentration to do the poses. So, basically, yoga is your own body helping you get stronger. By being aware of your body, you can learn to do the poses better, since every pose is designed to help out specific parts of you.

Sometimes it must feel like you are carrying a heavy weight on your shoulders with so many pressures in your life school, friends, family, and everything else going on in the world around you. But still, you manage to grow and sparkle through it all. Maybe you could use a little help shrugging off some stress, so that you can feel confident and glow with good health. This book will show you a new way to relax and let go of some of those pressures you fee and have tons of fun while you're at it.

Aimed at pre-teens, The Girls' Yoga Book provides an introduction to yoga while promoting self-confidence and character development as well as health consciousness and relaxation. Three main components and the connections between them are emphasized: the physical self, the mental self and the external environment. The scope of the book is broad and includes the origins of yoga, common terminology, theory, descriptions of poses, yoga sequences, definitions of different kinds of yoga, practical uses for yoga (at school, before sports, in the car, etc.), energy food, how to keep a yoga journal, doing yoga with friends, visualization, and an index of terms. The book is packed with information but coherently organized into sections: Getting Started, Yoga and Your Life, Yoga in Your World, and Putting It All Together. The book tries to reach young girls and provide them with skills for dealing with stress later on in life, as well as existing stresses.

     In addition to sending positive messages, this book is visually appealing with its vibrant colours and large illustrations. At first, the content and the design of the book may seem contradictory, by using, for example, brightly coloured, uppercase letters that dance at the top of the page to introduce sections on slowing down or relaxing deeply. Overall, though, the book tries to create a balance between mental and physical discipline and fun. Illustrations are predominantly functional and clear; colourful cartoons demonstrate the different poses. The following excerpt describes the goddess pose:

Goddess pose is a strong standing pose. It can make you feel beautiful, proud, and confident. Standing tall, spread your legs wider than shoulder-width apart, pointing your toes out. Bend your knees slightly and lower your hips. Feel the contact with the ground beneath your feet. Your legs feel heavy and strong. Stay here for a few breaths, keeping your shoulders relaxed and feeling the stretch in your chest and upper back. You are strong and confident and can do anything that you set your mind to.

     The book's layout has a magazine feel to it, incorporating different types of text on each page. "Girl talk" sections allow girls to speak out about their thoughts and concerns, strengthening the related motivational passages, and grounding the theoretical blurbs in reality. The index is helpful, but a glossary would also be useful, since yoga terms are only defined once, on the page they occur. Directions are clear for the most part, and the language seems appropriate for the intended audience.

     Though The Girls' Yoga Book is primarily recreational reading, some aspects may be incorporated into physical education, such as breathing for relaxation and safe stretching. The overall positive tone combined with the emphasis on stress management and maintaining a healthy body makes this is more than just a "how-to" book about yoga.


Andrea Szilagyi is a graduate student studying children's literature at the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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