Welcome to the Balance Feature! Each month Believe in Balance features an individual or organization striving to make a difference in the lives of the communities and the people they serve.
The idea of having tools like these to help my son, Gil, learn how to use his breath and body to find calm and peace was so exciting to me.
We still use these books (especially Good Night Yoga) frequently and it’s amazing to watch him instinctively understand the poses and the value of his breath.
Mariam just released her newest book, Sweet Dreams.
Meet Mariam Gates….
Start by telling us a little about you.
I am a mother of 2 (now teenagers!) and I started writing and dreaming of being an author at age 8.
You have combined your experience as a teacher with your passion for yoga. Tell us a little about how that evolved.
I worked in education for most of my young adult life. When I found yoga, I thought, there has to be a way to bring these two together. I was hired to do yoga (as the PE program!) for an entire year for the K-3rd grade at a school I had been a traditional teacher at in the past.
When I started going into classrooms as a yoga teacher (and actually making it part of the regular school day) I thought, THIS is what I have been looking for.
How can yoga help children?
Children are natural yogis. When they are given the tools to listen to their bodies, use their breath to self-soothe and regulate and to relieve mental and physical stress, they are able to start using them right away. Kids already live so much in their physical experience, so they are really ready to have ways to make that connection deeper.
What is the Kid Power Yoga Program and why is it important?
The Kid Power Yoga program was designed to bring Yoga and Mindfulness to families and school-age children primarily in school settings. We have also offered many in-service trainings for teachers and administrators over the years.
I believe the more young people are given some support to feel comfortable in themselves, in their own skin, the more the world becomes a better place for all of us.
You’re also a writer. I first came to know you when I purchased Good Morning Yoga and Good Night Yoga for my son. Tell us about the inspiration for your books.
I wrote Good Night Yoga because my first child, my daughter, had a hard time settling down for the night. She really needed what I call a ‘long runway’ to get to sleep and so we started doing this flow I created to help her feel calm and settled in her body and in her thoughts and emotions. It worked.
It also helped both of us because it was always the last thing we did together. It became a ritual that signaled to each of us that then it was really time for lights out.
Good Morning Yoga was created out of what I felt was the need for helpful transitioning tools and exercises for being intentional about the day. Good Morning Yoga was a way for me to support my kids with a yoga flow in many different moments in their day when they were little, and now classroom teachers in setting up the day the way they want.
Your latest book, Sweet Dreams, is a guided visual meditation book. Tell us about it.
Bedtime visualizations give kids a way to use their minds and bodies to settle at night. The visualizations in Sweet Dreams invite children to follow their imaginations and have fun while they also slowly calm down and get ready to rest.
Bedtime is such a special time of day but for a lot of kids and families, it is not necessarily the easiest time, so these visualizations are there to support a fun way to use the body and breath (and mind) to really let go of the day.
Good Night Yoga ends with visualization and kids and families have loved that part for so many years, I had to create a series (based on visualizations I do with my own kids).
What is your hope for the next generation of children?
That they know how to slow down. That they learn to feel a full breath in and a long breath out and notice how quickly they can connect to a deep sense of well-being when they need it.
If you could give one piece of advice to our readers, what would it be?
Do what brings you joy and don’t get too caught up in what it looks like. I wanted to be a writer for most of my life and finally decided to just create a few copies of a passion project I had–Good Night Yoga. It became a bestseller, but it was the decision to do it anyway (even though I thought I might have to publish it on my own and didn’t know how it would be received) that was what was important.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
My series, Good Night Yoga, Good Morning Yoga and Yoga Friends each have a hidden figure on each page. Also, Good Night Yoga and Good Morning Yoga each have illustrations of my son and daughter in them (I sent the illustrator photos and she created the images of them).
What’s next for Mariam Gates?
Dinosaurs! Seriously, Dinosaur Yoga releases October 2019! I can’t wait.
How can our readers find you and your books?
Well, wherever books are sold!
Mariam’s website is MariamGates.com
I don’t know about you but I can’t WAIT for Dinosaur Yoga! Many thanks to Mariam for sharing her story with us.
If you enjoyed this post, I’d love it if you share it with your world.