A cat who lives in a Hawaiian ashram demonstrates yoga poses in this picture book.
Bindi is a stray calico cat that spends one of her nine lives at an ashram after being adopted by Ramakrishna, who lives there. Though deemed scrawny and ugly at first, the cat blossoms at her new home, and seven years later she’s purred her way firmly into the heart of her new owner and become an integral part of the ashram community. Life at the ashram includes seva, or unselfish service to others, a duty Bindi fulfills by teaching a group of diverse students her own style of kitty yoga (“Sometimes we have classes with all Japanese students, so I’ve learned to speak Japanese! It’s so wonderful to know a foreign language!”). Bindi also inspires her owner to overcome obstacles, such as figuring out how to get down from the branches of the ashram’s bodhi tree when he becomes stuck. As Bindi narrates her story, she includes observations inspired by Buddhist principles, such as, when people “meditate they find that god exists right inside of them,” and “even though we all look different on the outside, we are all the same inside.” At the end of the story, the cat explains how to perform a basic mindfulness/meditation technique that focuses on deep breathing and mentally expressing gratitude for positive people and influences. In this engaging book, Michaels (Growing Old with Grace, 2015) builds a charming tale for children around Buddhist ideas and practices. Illustrator Porter’s (The Puzalings and the Puzville Pollution, 2016) artwork enhances the story with lush Hawaiian flowers and cheerful ashram scenes, rendered in warm hues. The underlying philosophy expressed in this colorful book may be too much for parents who’re merely looking for yoga instruction geared to children, but it never gets too heavy. Bindi may even inspire kids to get on the floor and try a few poses—especially Cat-Cow.
A quirky and bright introduction to meditation and Buddhism and an appealing addition to the subgenre of books on children’s yoga practice.