Janet is the award-winning author of the children’s picture book, What I See, I Can Be: A Guided Yoga Flow for Children. Concerned about the increasing amount of sedentary activities that both adults and children engage in, and the fact that the upcoming generation is expected to have a shorter life expectancy due to obesity related issues, she decided to take action. She has taught thousands of parents, teachers and children how to do safe, fun and age-appropriate yoga.
Janet’s mission is to promote healthy and active children so that they may lead long, healthy and happy lives. She has developed easy-to-use children’s yoga resources that are fun for the whole family. The products promote physical activity and provide a safe and fun yoga workout. All of the resources have been printed in Canada on FSC-certified environmentally-friendly paper. In 1993 she received her Bachelor of Education from York University and is a certified primary-junior school teacher.
Janet is a certified Hatha yoga instructor and has studied many styles of yoga in Canada, Australia, England and Spain. She has been practicing yoga since 1988 and has been teaching yoga since 1996.
Tell us about What I See, I Can Be.
JW: It is a how-to book with a storybook twist. It allows parents, teachers, youth leaders, librarians and health care practitioners—whether they have any experience with yoga or not—to provide their children with a safe, age-appropriate and most importantly fun yoga workout. I am so proud of the fact that the book won the Living Now Book Award and I went to New York to receive the award. The book comes with an audio CD which promotes literacy and allows children the option to follow along as they hear soothing music playing in the background. There are other supporting materials including a DVD, a full-size instructional poster, a colouring and activity book, a yoga match card game, teacher’s resources and training and more.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
JW: My friend Gratia is very intuitive and it was during a visit that she said to me, “I see a book inside of you Janet.” When I asked what type of book she saw, she said she didn’t know but that there was a book. I meditated on it that evening and realized that as a certified primary-junior school teacher, yoga instructor and English major, I could combine all of my skills and write a fun yoga book for younger children. Up until that point there really weren’t any yoga books in the marketplace that were suitable for primary children...just some books that had teenagers posing in black leotards against a white wall in a static and uninteresting way. I realized that with my fun approach to children, I could make a really great book for them. I realized that many parents and teachers wouldn’t know anything about yoga so I decided to make it so the book illustrations would show the children how to do the poses in a safe and fun way and the words would be there for the adults to rely on.
Why is it important to promote healthy children?
JW: Unfortunately, we are currently facing a children’s health crisis. Today’s children are faced with a very unhealthy combination—obesity and diabetes—creating the perfect storm. Childhood obesity and diabetes are on the rise and they have dire consequences to the life expectancy of children. The statistics are showing that children today won’t live as long as their parents will. With the lack of exercise and movement and the increased processed and fast foods that they eat, children are gaining weight at an alarming rate. Active childhood play has been replaced with hours of sitting playing video games and looking at computer monitors. This childhood health crisis is completely preventable. If we can get parents moving and doing fun activities with their children along with promoting physical activity at schools, we can turn this crisis around. We have more helpful information about childhood obesity and fun ways to keep your kids healthy on our Pinterest page, www.pinterest.com/childrensyoga. Doing kids yoga is a great way to get the whole family moving.
You are the owner of Children’s Yoga Books.Please, tell us more about it and its mission?
JW: Children’s Yoga Books is committed to children’s health and caring for the environment. My mission has been to educate adults about this children’s health crisis. I have been going into schools doing presentations to classrooms of children, teachers and parents, showing everyone how much fun it can be to exercise together. I also care about the environment so all of the products are printed on FSC-certified environmentally-friendly paper and produced in Canada in order to reduce the carbon footprint. Recently, I shifted my focus from teaching in the schools to kids yoga training and training parents and teachers how to do yoga with kids.
What do you hope parents/guardians, teachers and even health practitioners will take away from the book?
JW: My hope has already manifested into reality. My hope was that teachers and parents would find this book and resources super-easy to use and that their children would have fun and love their experience with kids yoga. Teachers and parents all around the world have been purchasing the book, DVD, yoga match card game and teacher's resources and doing yoga with their kids. The testimonials I have received are tremendous and so encouraging to me. The book is in libraries coast-to-coast in Canada. People who work with autistic children are big fans of the book and love the supporting materials because it helps them introduce fun movement to their children. Yoga also has the benefit of helping children feel calm and relaxed which is a wonderful “side-effect.”
What was the feedback to What I See, I Can Be?
JW: The feedback has been tremendous—from receiving an award to being written up in Yoga Journal magazine and landing in newspapers across Canada. Teachers and youth leaders appreciate the helpful information and freebies we have on our website, www.childrensyogabooks.com/blog, including the Going to the Beach game which is free. Kids love this game and all of the information and resources they need are available to download.
One of my favourite unsolicited stories that I received comes from a supply teacher who shared her experience using the book for the first time:
“As an experienced supply teacher, I know that it can be a challenge to get children to listen during Physical Education because of the less structured format and the high excitement level. The first class that I tried What I See, I Can Be with, were a notorious grade 2-3 split. They were known as a difficult class to control and all morning they acted up. When we got to Gym Class, I put on the CD and had the children follow along with the yoga book. The results were amazing! To my delight, the yoga book and CD captured their interest and attention. The children who had been uncooperative all morning settled down and remained settled down for the rest of the day. I recommend What I See, I Can Be to all teachers. You will benefit immensely from using this children’s yoga program in your Gym Classes and for DPA. It is a great way for children to start the day.”
– Mary Jaglowitz, Primary/Special Ed Supply Teacher, Grand Erie School Board and Brant Haldimand Norfolk Separate School Board–
What was your publishing experience like?
JW: I call my experience "my 8-year pregnancy.” This incredible personal journey took the shape of a long 8-year pregnancy. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, and that was the approach that I took to create a high-quality product that would delight generations to come. It was an exciting journey and required a lot of work—researching, talking to other authors, reaching out to parents and teachers and meeting fabulous people along the way.
What’s next for you?
JW: I just came out with an environmentally-friendly kids' yoga mat. It depicts all of the poses from What I See, I Can Be performed by the children in the book. This light-weight and reversible blue/green mat is child friendly with no harmful chemicals that are found in regular yoga mats. Kids love seeing the children from the book demonstrating all of the poses on the mat. It gets kids moving and helps them stay healthy!
I have also been focused on my new Kids Yoga Teacher training so that I can teach other parents, teachers, yoga instructors and youth leaders how to do yoga with kids in a fun and safe way.
To purchase the book, resources or learn more about the Kids Yoga Teacher training available please go to www.childrensyogabooks.com.