How to self-publish a yoga book
Self-publishing for yoga teachers: how lockdown made this yoga teacher give up her reliance on books — and write her own. Maria Oliver tells the story of how she broke out of her comfort zone to self-publish her own illustrated book of relaxations for children
Yoga teachers and students love books. Indian texts, meditations, poems and stories… they give us inspiration that we can share with students, particularly during relaxation at the end of a class.
When lockdown was imposed in March 2020, I moved all of my classes online for the first time, recorded my first class videos and learned to run relaxation sessions without relying on my books. To film myself reading aloud from books, I would need to get permission from each publishing house. I was trying to work and home school my two children and couldn’t face the additional hassle. It seemed easier to just improvise my own visualisations in class.
Meanwhile, each day my children and I took our permitted walks from home. We visited local woods and fields and watched spring become summer. Later on, we were allowed to expand our horizons and go on holiday in the UK.
Inspiration & visualisation
I used our local walks and my favourite places as inspiration for my visualisations.
Sitting under a tree in the rain, lying on the back of a Pegasus as it soars over snow-topped mountains glowing purple in the sunset, floating on the back of a surfboard as you slide up and down waves in time with your breathing, shrinking into the grass in a back garden and retreating from the craziness of the world…each visualisation was designed to bring people home to their senses, observe their breathing, and slow down their thoughts.
Then I had the wild notion of publishing them.
With all the craziness going on, why not share my relaxation scripts in the hope that they could help people through it?
Because I was missing teaching yoga to children, I decided I would write my relaxations with a young audience in mind.
There has been concern about children’s mental health in the last year, due to missing out on socialising with their peers, lack of normal routines and the pressure of keeping up with schoolwork at home.
I hoped that my book would help children and their parents and carers to manage their anxieties and feelings.
Fast forward to autumn 2020, and somehow I had self-published my book ‘Red Kites, Apples and Blood Cells’ in paperback, audiobook and ebook formats.
I worked with two fabulous illustrators, Ben and Steph Grandis, who took my words and created a magical set of illustrations, some of which made me cry when I first saw them.
We worked hard to make sure that the children illustrated were from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and also represented children with disabilities, so that all could look at the book and say: “There’s someone like me.”
Sound Engineer Orry Henderson recorded me reading my relaxations and playing my piano compositions, added sound effects and turned it all into a beautifully-edited audiobook.
Feedback has been phenomenal. Parents and carers have contacted me to say how reading one or two relaxing stories a night has transformed their child’s bedtime routine. Or that reading a story together has helped calm a child who is afraid of going to bed, or is distressed because they feel unwell.
And of course I am still reading the stories during relaxation in my yoga classes – and in my class videos, because I don’t need permission to read from my own book!
‘Red Kites, Apples and Blood Cells’ by Maria Oliver is available in all formats from Amazon, in audiobook format on iTunes, and paperback copies can also be purchased from: boxmooryoga.co.uk/shop
Ben and Steph Grandis’s prints can be ordered at: homewithharper.com
Find sound engineer Orry Henderson at: theatresound.net