Fierce Kindness & Kitchen Yoga// Book Reviews

fierce kindness, kitchen yoga Melanie Salvatore-August
I’ve already talked briefly about Fierce Kindness in an article for Yogi Approved and another article for Bad Yogi Magazine however this is my personal, in depth look into both Melanie August’s books. You can also check out an interview with her here on the blog too, links are provided below.

Fierce Kindness
Fierce Kindness is one of those rare jewels that brought me peace of mind, made me feel joyful and heightened my passion for creativity. Here Melanie helps the reader navigate through numerous pages of positive affirmations, stories and tasks. This book is a fusion between personal thoughts, a diary for readers to scribble in and advice that gently guides us to reevaluate how we see the world and how we can be a positive force for change by ultimately being kind to ourselves and others and even the planet. Melanie taught me to value myself and my creativity, for it is my art that is my strength. My creativity is my yoga, my dancing, my poetry and my art, it is in my bones and in my blood to utilize my talent for creativity to further empower others and unite as part of a massive global yearning for change. For a while I was feeling a bit glum and maybe a little lost as to what my purpose was but Melanie’s book Fierce Kindness reminded me of my worth, that every small act of random kindness I gave on a daily basis did have a ripple effect and that with my creativity I had the power to do good. From Melanie’s guidance I relearned how to feel grateful and counted my blessings, how to see the magic in the mundane again and how to do that little bit extra to be uplifting and inspiring to others.
Fierce Kindness is such a beautiful little book, it’s a very cute size and the design is adorable, I also believe it should be on every Yoga Teacher Training’s reading list as it’s very accessible and brings ideas of the Yamas and Niyamas into a more modern perspective.
you can buy it here: Fierce Kindness: Be a positive force for change

Kitchen Yoga
Kitchen Yoga is a very sweet little book that acts as a simple guide to help the reader develop a home yoga practice. Everybody knows the kitchen is the heart of the home where cooking food nourishes the physical body; Melanie believes a yoga practice at home is nourishment for the the highest intentions of the subtle & emotional body (as well as the physical body), yoga is food to fuel the vital energy of her daily life. If people practiced a ten minute yoga stretch or short meditation every morning (or evening before bed), they’d wake up slightly more calm, a little less worried or stressed, feeling a little fitter and rejuvenated and a little less agitated about things beyond their control. Yoga gives us the opportunity to slow down and be in the moment rather than holding on to the past or overthinking the future. Kitchen yoga cooks up poses and practices to do wherever you are and wherever you call home.
From down dog whilst watching your favourite soap, to handstand prep whilst waiting for your morning coffee to steep, to breathing techniques whilst lounging in the bath and camel pose on the bed plus many more.
Melanie shows us we don’t need to turn up to a yoga studio to develop a yoga practice and this book is especially useful to those who can’t afford to pay for classes or gym memberships. This is a wonderful guide for those who struggle, single mum’s who need a five minute break, the homeless in a shelter, for community centres and even social workers who wish to guide their clients through poses in their homes. Its a must have book for anyone working in a care-giving setting, charity or organization that helps others in a holistic way or its a lovely guide book to take with you on your travels if your home is in a hammock, on a mountain or a cabin in the woods. This little book is a delightful feast for the mind and body. Kitchen Yoga has recently begun to help me keep a consistent yoga practice at home because my local yoga studio (the only yoga studio in Plymouth) has closed down, so needless to say, this book has been extremely valuable to me!
you can buy the book here: Kitchen Yoga

View book reviews on other sites:
Yogi Approved: Six Soulful Books for Summer
Bad Yogi: Four Books by Inspiring Yoga Teachers
Interview with Melanie Salvatore-August on Sunflowerteeth Blog

Other reviews on the blog you might like:
Quotes I like from The Book of Dharma by Simon Haas
Book review of Alchemy of the Heart by Elizabeth Prophet
Book Review of Shamanic way of the Bee by Simon Buxton
Book Review of Love poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky
Book Review of Yoga for Travelers by Jennifer Ellinghaes
Book review on yoga books (miscellaneous)
Book review on the Book of Symbols by Taschen
Book Haul on Art Therapy Books
Book Haul on more Art Therapy Books

Yoga, Trees & Wildflowers

camel pose
Enjoying being outdoors whilst the weather is still good and we get more sunlight but I can feel Autumn is on the way, which is my favourite season by the way however I’m not too fond of the darker evenings and the dampness of British weather. We took Milly out for a walk last Sunday and I practiced yoga by the wildflowers and trees. I’m really loving my practice at the moment and I am trying to develop a consistent home practice now that the one and only Yoga Studio in Plymouth has closed down which saddened me a great deal but I know my yoga teacher is a strong woman and she’ll rise up like a phoenix with new projects up her sleeve.
I’ve also been practicing yoga outside in nature (as you can see from the photos), I think because nature is so quiet it makes me feel both rejuvenated and calm. Nature just accepts and loves you for who you are and you can just sit under a friendly tree and know, no matter what your troubles are, everything will be alright or you can simply marvel at the feral divinity within and around you, its truly magical to tap into that wild, earthly energy and I feel rooted. I feel brave. I feel joyful.

So what’s new with me? Right now I am preparing for my Teen yoga teacher training happening in a couple of weeks. I’m super nervous about it but excited to add another yoga credential to my growing skill-set alongside a certificate in yoga philosophy, a level 3 in Anatomy & Physiology and being fully trained as a kids yoga teacher, I feel like my life is finally coming together, and I have hope for the possibilities and new adventures that await me from running classes out in the community, sessions in schools or even birthday parties? I like the idea of co-facilitating day long workshops in Yoga, Belly Dance and Art for Teens and young adults or working for an organization that helps kids in a holistic way. I have so much to offer and I can not wait to jump right in!

Over the past few weeks I have also been planning a cute, bohemian yoga photoshoot with Jon’s Niece Bella, I want it to have that end of summer vibe, sunset tones, long grass, face paint, glitter and flower crowns! These photos will be added to my new website which is taking its sweet time but it’s getting there and when I mean ‘getting there’, I’m still in note taking and scribbling designs mode but I will start building it before this year is up.
Other than that I’m writing new and editing old poetry for my poetry book, I am working on some more dream-catchers and a new arty project which actually compliments the dream-catchers and I will be showcasing all these new pieces soon! So many happy things going on or I’m working on that make me feel content, what joyful things make you feel happy and content?

“From the moment we are born, people tell us that the world is like this and like that, this way, that way. It is natural that – for a certain period of time – we end up believing what we are told. But we must soon push these ideas aside and discover our own way of living reality.”
― Paulo Coelho, Warrior of the Light
bow pose by a tree

sun salutation outside

gentle back bend

handstand practice, yoga outdoors

wheel pose,yoga in nature

Picture books for ESL Young Learners & little Yogis

I am a fully qualified TEFL teacher and I have just completed a specialist module to certify me to teach young learners. I am also a children’s yoga teacher and I feel like both qualifications go hand in hand and compliment each other well and one day in the future I will be looking to work in a school teaching English and perhaps cute yoga classroom sessions too? For those of you who read my blog you also know I am an avid reader and I adore picture books as well. Children’s picture books are inspiring since in my free time I enjoy creating art and illustrations and I hold a BA Honours degree in Fine Art. Sometimes I do treat myself to a picture book simply because they bring me joy, to revel in the beautiful illustrations and it may inspire me to create my own one day?

I could spend a life time researching and reviewing millions of gorgeous picture books but I’ve kept it to my absolute favourite ten books I think are well suited for an ESL young learners class and if you are a kids yoga teacher looking for new and inspiring stories to create a yoga session from.

Franklin’s flying bookshop By Jen Campbell

Franklin’s Flying Bookshop tells of a dragon (Franklin) who loves books and reading to people but sadly people don’t often love him. That is until he meets a young girl called Luna and the best bookish friendship begins. This is a very adorable story with themes on friendship, being kind, sharing and the importance of reading books.

The illustrations are beautiful and children will instantly be intrigued and engaged in the story.

Lesson plan ideas: Help the children make dragon masks or have a pre-made Franklin painted on the wall and encourage the children to draw and paint their own book which they can stick around Franklin.
You can purchase it here: Franklin’s flying Bookshop

 

Whose Moon is that? By Kim Krans

This book is about a cat who wonders to whom the moon belongs, and various animals and natural resources respond — the trees, bird, ocean, wolves… and the moon responds. The cat sleeps, and when it wakes up, it wonders, to whom the sun belongs. Lovely use of line and color in these illustrations which will capture your pupils  attention.

A brilliant book to incorporate into a themed lesson about nature and the environment. Encourages children ponder life and how things work.

Lesson plan ideas: Turn the story into a mime dance. Have the children move about and make noises like the many animals in the book as you read the story out to them.
Purchase the book here: Whose Moon is that?

 

There is a tribe of Kids by Lane Smith

A boy sets off on a journey alone and encounters all kinds of creatures along the way. There is a tribe of young goats (kids). There is a colony of penguins, a pod of whales, a flight of butterflies, and much more. He also sees different groups of objects like a formation of rocks, a family of stars, and a growth of plants.

This book is filled with collective nouns. There is one after another that manage not only to show children the beauty of the language of collective nouns but also move the story ahead. They form into a cohesive journey for our young hero to embark upon.

A lovely book that teaches children about collective nouns, finding your tribe (family), the concept of home and loved ones and understanding that animals on our planet also have families and homes too.

Lesson plan ideas: Split the kids up into small teams and each team gets an animal. It’s a race to stick back together pre-made animal parts. Each child picks up a body part and runs to the other side of the classroom to stick it on the wall decorated in a forest-like theme.
Purchase the book here: There is a Tribe of Kids

 

A cat learns to listen at Moonlight School by Simon Puttock

This is such a delightful story about a serious subject – listen to what you’re told and don’t wander off!

“Miss Moon is taking her class on a magical moonlit nature walk to see what interesting things they can find. Mouse finds a special starry leaf, Bat finds a swirly snail and Owl finds a swirly stone that LOOKS like a snail. But then Cat follows a flittery firefly and suddenly . . . she’s lost! Luckily, she has left behind lots of clues for her friends to follow, and they soon find a very relieved little Cat, who wished she had listened properly in the first place.” Perfect story for a Halloween themed lesson or a lesson outdoors! Lesson plan ideas: Fancy dress! Have the children make their own witches hats and wizard wands!
Purchase the book here: A cat learns to listen at Moonlight school

 

Tell me a Dragon by Jackie Morris

Tell Me a Dragon is a supremely imaginative list of dragons that in some ways is simply an excuse for Morris’ gorgeous art, but the art is worth it. Translucent watercolors fill the pages with dragons both oversized and tiny, both beautiful and fearful. The last page is what sold me on it for my storytime though as it ends with the phrase, “Tell me about your dragon.” Here you can go around the room and ask each kid what kind of dragon they want. This book could inspire a great a writing or art prompt, but also as a browsing treat for the fantasy obsessed kids.

A briliant story that teaches children about individuality, how everyone comes in all different shapes, sizes and colours. Lesson plan ideas: Ask the children to draw what their dragon looks like and teach them a song about dragons!
Purchase the book here: Tell me a Dragon

 

The Book of Dreams by Shirin Adl

A colorful and imaginative journey through the night, with lots of different kinds of dreams, funny, fantastic, wish-fulfilling, exciting.Dreams come in many different shapes and forms. Some dreams are nice and simple, some dreams are confusing – and some are scary. But even these can be exciting!

The book includes bad dreams as well as pleasant dreams, but ends on a positive note, looking forward to bedtime and the next night’s dreams. The pictures have a dream-like quality, with lots to discover and explore. This is a beautiful and unusual picture book for sharing.

Lesson plan ideas: Teach the children about collage making to create their own wacky and textured dreamscapes.
Purchase the book here: The Book of Dreams

 

The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na

A wonderful quirky story about an elephant and an umbrella. There is much pondering and speculation about the capabilities of an umbrella … and equally its limitations.

The illustrations are childlike, with lovely embellishments in unexpected places. At first glance the umbrella is simply bright red, however if you take a moment to look you’ll see that there’s a design of swirls, raindrops, and clouds on it. It’s the little touches like this that make the illustrations so fascinating.

Lesson plan Ideas: This is actually a great story to read young learners in a vocabulary lesson, just like the elephant they get to learn what the word ‘Umbrella’ is and what it can and can not do. Bring an umbrella into the class as Realia and you can create a mime/drama lesson asking the children to act out what it is or they can pretend it is something else entirely!
Purchase the book here: The Thingamabob

 

Grandmother’s Dreamcatcher by Becky McCain

This beautifully written story highlights an important element of Native American culture, and exhibits the special relationship a young girl has with her grandmother. After the girl in the story continually has bad dreams, her grandmther shows her a way to avert them by making a dreamcatcher. Her grandmother explains to her the Chippewa story behind the dreamcatcher, and helps her granddaughter construct it after they go out to collect the items they need from nature. I was touched by this book because of the striking illustrations and vivid language, and I am reminded of my relationship with my own grandmother. It showcases how a grandmother’s love and know-how can make everything better, and I love the way it incorporates Native American heritage.

Wonderful story that touches on importance of family, love and home.

Lesson plan ideas: With the help of the book, teach children to make their own dream catcher to take home with them. This would be a wonderful thing for them to show their parents as they tell them what it’s used for and what culture it is from. A great way of teaching kids about other people’s way of life.
Purchase the book here: Grandmother’s Dreamcatcher

 

The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson

The Snail and the Whale is a heart-warming story about how friendship can come about in the most remarkable way.

A snail stuck on his rock yearns for adventure and to see more of the World. The whale who is passing by offers the snail a chance of adventure and together they set sail seeing: towering icebergs; far off land; huge waves; the enormous sky and so on. The snail is awestruck by all the things he sees and feels his place in the World is very small. That is until the whale gets beached after becoming too curious about some jet-skis and getting to close to land. The snail has to use his ingenuity to rescue the whale and in doing so realises that it doesn’t matter what size you are, you can still help your friends and be recognised in the World. Together the snail and the whale return to the rock they started their journey from and collect all the other snails to go on another adventure. This is a story that teaches about friendship and kindness.

Lesson plan ideas: Have a pre-made whale on a board and pre-made little snail that is sticky and for the children to hold. Blindfold the children and have the take turns in trying to stick the snail on the whale- an adapted version of pin the tail on the donkey!
Purchase the book here: The Snail and the Whale

 

I don’t want Curly Hair by Laura Anderson

This book is about a little girl with the craziest of curls and her quest to straighten them flat. She doesn’t like what she has and tries many different ways to tame her mane, including hanging upside down, flattening them with a pile of books and even tying balloons to the ends and hoping they pull her air straight. She comes across some obstacles as she tests all her theories which children will find this highly entertaining.

What I loved most about this book was the lesson it taught. As subtle as it was, it beautifully teaches boys and girls how to really appreciate what they have been born with. Straight hair or curly, just love the skin you’re in.

Lesson plan ideas: Take the time to reinforce the message this book gives in the end. I think it’s so important in this day and age, no matter how small, to tell the next generation of kids that beauty comes in all colours, shapes and sizes. Follow up this story with a quick and simple vocabulary activity of going around the room and encourage your pupils to tell their friends the colour of their hair and eyes, showing each other how different, yet unique everyone is.
Purchase the book here: I don’t want Curly Hair

If you are an ESL English teacher or kids yoga teacher reading this and have book recommendations too, please do share. I also hope one day to be able to share my lesson plans using these books in both blog post and PDF format so you may download them for free or pin the blog post to a pinterest board. If you would like me to review a children’s book please do contact me via my contact page.

Here are some more book reviews of a similar theme:
Children’s fictional novel: The Girl of Ink & Stars
Review of three Beautiful Children’s Books
Book Review on the children’s picture book ABC Dream by Kim Krans
Book Haul on Art Therapy Books
Book Haul on more Art Therapy Books

Here is my READ Blog Category where you can read all my book reviews if you wish.

The Yoga Hub Festival

the yoga hub festival
A wonderful Yoga Festival called ‘ The Yoga Hub’ will be happening in Newquay this September over one weekend. So many amazing teachers will be offering great workshops in numerous styles of yoga from acro-yoga, to ‘Hippie Goddess Yoga’ to Ashtanga and Yin, Restorative, Shamanic yoga and much more. Other workshops include meditation, kirtan, sound healing, wellbeing talks about food and nutrition, a silent yoga disco, massage therapy and I’ll be teaching and performing Belly Dance on the Saturday evening!

A few good friends of mine are also involved in this festival. Jo, who ran the Yoga Loft (and my amazing yoga teacher) will be teaching Acro-Yoga, Jodie who taught the yoga & belly dance workshop with me will be offering massage therapy and another friend, whom I have not seen in years will be selling her eco-friendly, biodegradable glitter at one of the stalls.

This festival is for everyone, whether you are new to yoga or an advanced practitioner it’s a great day out or weekend away just to play, learn and enjoy being in a very lovely place with lovely people.

This is the first festival I have been asked to teach at so I feel honoured and slightly nervous. I’ve performed at numerous festivals around the UK since my mid 20’s so this is a wonderful opportunity to evolve from performer to teacher now that I am 31. I feel ready to take my teaching service out into the world and I hope by next summer I will be fully booked to teach kids yoga and belly dance at festivals up and down the country and perhaps at international retreats one day, who knows?

This is going to be such a brilliant festival to end the summer with and it’s also a lovely thing for me to be involved in just before my birthday coming up in early October.
If you think this is something of interest to you check out the website where you can view the schedule, camping/glamping options and purchase your ticket! I am Super excited for this!
Click on the link here: Yoga Hub Fest

How I chose my first Yoga Mat

yoga mat research
It was my partner who actually chose my first yoga mat, he’s pretty amazing at researching good deals on high quality brands and he knew I wanted a yoga mat to call my own so that I may begin my yoga journey from student to teacher.
I had dabbled in yoga since I was 19 and in my mid 20’s I was beginning to be serious about it, alongside fitness and holistic health; coupled with a sudden career change I decided there and then at age 26 I wasn’t going to chase work experience centered around Art Therapy anymore because I was tired of rejection after rejection after rejection and I knew this rejection was more the universe telling me this was the wrong path and it was trying to steer me on the right road, so I stood proud and mighty and said “I want to be a community art tutor and a belly dance and yoga teacher! I want to teach holistic things!” My Mum said “I think that’s a fantastic idea”, others said “Are you mad?”, Jon was pretty neutral and said “Well if that’s what you want, I’ll help you buy your first mat on the condition you show up and work your butt off in yoga class.” This first mat was a Christmas present to start yoga classes in the New Year (How Original of me, ha!)

I am now 31 with bundles of knowledge in health, wellbeing and fitness, I’m a proud kids and (soon to be) teens yoga teacher and I still practice with this first yoga mat purchased 6 years ago.

finding the right yoga mat

yoga in the garden
So what was Jon looking for when buying a Yoga mat for me? He wanted something that is a great starter mat for beginners, something of a reasonable price- just in case yoga doesn’t end up being a part of my life and the mat is shoved in a dark corner of the basement to be forgotten- there is no point in spending obscene amounts of money on something you are just starting out in, unless you are absolutely certain you are going to stick with it. And the colour was important too because he knows I dislike the pink tones and wouldn’t like anything too girly.

The Tree of Life Yoga mat by Gaiam ticked all the boxes. It’s a wonderful beginner mat, non slip, plenty of cushioning for knees and wrists not used to stretching on floor surfaces, there is no chemical smell, the texture is very grippy making it easier for the yogi to transition from one move to another with ease and at about £20 on amazon it’s a bargain price for anyone wanting to give yoga a try, if you are on a budget or for those who want to start up a gentle home practice, it’s also great for newbie teachers who again need to buy equipment on a budget to start up their business. The Gaiam tree of life yoga mat has a very pretty design on it, thus would make any church hall, community centre or old office space look and feel more aesthetically pleasing to your students walking in the room for the first time.

using a yoga wheel

Veda Tantra yoga wheel
I have been practicing yoga now for almost 6 years, attending classes in Hatha, Vinyasa, Hot, Yin, Budokon, restorative and Ashtanga. I feel I am now ready to research a more professional mat that helps me advance in my practice. The Gaiam mat is wonderful and I want to buy more, perhaps maybe 7 more for future classes and students, but now as a kids and young adults teacher (with aspirations to do a 200hr yoga teacher training) I want something that helps me have better alignment, is eco-friendly and gives me extra support as I gain confidence in arm balances and inversions, but I am not sure where to start?

I discovered this brilliant reviews company who published an article recently about the 10 overall best yoga mats they highly recommend. Written by a yoga instructor, the article discusses a wonderful array of yoga mats in depth. Drawing from previous experience, many years teaching and over 50 hours analyzing yoga mats and their reviews from students and teachers alike, this article gives an extensive review that helps us yogis choose the right yoga mat for our personal practice from what is the best eco-friendly, best grip, most durable, best budget beginner mat to most low maintenance and best non-slip mat. This review offers much variety to help you ponder what is best for you and from reading it, I feel that the Lifeforme Mat is going to be next mat because for me as a dyslexic I value the alignment markers etched directly on it’s surface and it helps that it is non-slip and eco-friendly.
If you wish to read the full article click here: Best Yoga Mat on Reviews.com

downward facing dog, yoga outside
As stated in the review article, your yoga mat is something you invest in, it’s going to be your buddy in class and at home and it is advised you do a bit of research first. Take your time though, ask around, ask your teacher and play with a few different styles before you make a purchase. I adore my Gaiam tree of life mat, it’s been a brilliant companion to my practice when I first started out and I’ll still keep it for when I teach my own classes but I am ready to buy something a little more professional as I feel its going to really help me advance in my practice- especially since I feel like I am ready to try more challenging asanas like arm balances and inversions. My birthday is coming up this October, I might buy my new mat as a birthday gift to myself very soon!

“When a yoga mat feels just right for you, it can make all the difference in your practice.”-Reviews.com

yoga with your dog