Anna and Her Rainbow-Colored Yoga Mats, written by Giselle Shardlow, is a yoga story with multiple layers of learning; about friendship, happiness and acceptance. This winner of the Family Choice Award 2016, presents the theme for many of my children’s yoga classes, ages 5-9. The powerful and colorful illustrations by Paul Wrangles, and the charming characters, keep the children engaged while they learn to “be true to yourself” and “be happy inside”.
Anna is new to school, is hearing impaired and practices yoga at recess, all which isolate her from the other children who tease her for being different.
Anna uses her different colored yoga mats to go on adventures, where she is in her own imaginary world. Every day she remembers what her mother told her
“Be happy inside. Be true to yourself. Be happy for others around you.”
The animal poses that Anna practices in each adventure on a different colored yoga mat are fun for the children to practice as I read the story. They are simply and clearly illustrated and
explained in a way that tempts the children to try each pose.
On her red mat Anna imagines visiting a farm where she arches up like a cat, kicks up
like a horse and waddles like a duck. The next day at recess she unrolls her orange yoga mat, explores the jungle and becomes a palm tree, jaguar and snake. She can’t hear the teasing that the other children are shouting as she is happily away on her imagined yoga adventure.
A boy, also hearing impaired, is curiously drawn to the happy attitude that Anna expresses. Nick teaches Anna to lip read and she teaches him how to travel the world. At recess Anna and Nick use their imagination and concentration to travel the world together on their colorful yoga mats. Anna’s joy and confidence eventually draw many of her classmates into her circle of friends, all on different colored yoga mats happily practicing yoga. Anna was happy inside, her dreams had come true.
The children in my yoga classes participate freely and move their bodies practicing each pose as we read the story. As Anna and then all the children go on their adventures we become cats, 3-legged dogs, ducks, trees, cobras, sphinx, camels, mountains, bears, fish, surfers, sailboats and birds. We then gather in a circle and share our thoughts about Anna and what happened in the book. We talk about teasing/bullying, friendship, diversity and acceptance, and about being happy inside.