Janet Williams had barely started studying yoga when her instructor pegged her as a future teacher of the centuries-old posture and breathing exercises.
That was in 1988 when the Sault Ste. Marie native was a second-year English major at University of Western Ontario.
“When I was doing the yoga I felt, ‘This is amazing.’
“When I left, I felt so good,” said Williams.
“I was so calm and so relaxed.”
Her teacher’s prediction was accurate. Williams started teaching yoga in 1996 and has studied the art not only in Canada, but also in Australia, England and Spain.
Earlier this decade, friend and former schoolmate Gratia Giovanatti suggested that with Williams’ educational background — she’s also a York University faculty of education graduate — she pen her own yoga book.
It took eight long years, but her first work is now published.
What I See, I Can Be: A Guided Yoga Flow for Children was released Sept. 1 through her own publishing effort, Light Connections Press.
The book and accompanying CD of “soothing” music encourages teachers, parents and youth group leaders with no yoga experience to lead youngsters aged three to nine in 13 different moves.
“We have to model (physical activity) to our children,” she said.
“If we do not show how important exercise is, how important to move your body is, how are children ever going to know that’s an important thing?”
Children, said Williams, benefit from strengthening, stretching and concentrating during traditional exercises with kid-friendly names such as dog, tree and cat.
“The kids love it. They want to move their bodies. They’re designed to move their bodies,” she said.
“Children cannot grow into healthy adults if they haven’t moved during their childhood.”
Williams hopes her work can be used by elementary school teachers during mandated 20-minute daily physical activity in their classrooms.
The activities are non-competitive and, with their calm approach, won’t send kids back to their seats too wired up to concentrate on the next subject.
“It’s a lovely thing to do with a child,” said Williams.
“They can’t possibly do it wrong. You can’t do it wrong.”
Williams, now based in Mississauga, has plugged the book to daycares, schools and yoga studios in several southern Ontario communities, including Guelph, London and Oakville, as well as parenting and family literacy centres in Sault Ste. Marie.
“There’s no reason why every child around the world can’t do this,” she said.
“I look forward to spreading it as far as I can … Everybody’s got a role to play in helping society and I think this is mine.”
An accompanying colouring and activity book, poster and resource material for teachers are also for sale.
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