“When I became pregnant with my second child, I immediately noticed a difference in my mental and physical health,” says SonJoria Sydnor. “I thought it would get better after she was born, but it didn’t.”
Searching for a way to manage post-partum depression led SonJoria to try yoga, as a way to make time to breathe and take care of emotional as well as physical well-being. Once she started making a habit of practicing, she noticed her children were eager to join her on the mat.
As the family began practicing yoga together, SonJoria started buying books to share with her children. It wasn’t long before they noticed that it was hard to find any books with Black children striking a pose on the pages.
“There were a lot of books out there that showed kids of color, but we couldn’t directly identify whether they were Black. I wanted to make sure that my kids knew that Black kids do do yoga,” she shares. Even rarer was finding a book with a Black family doing yoga together. SonJoria joked with her son that maybe they’d just have to write their own book.
What she didn’t expect was for her son to get so excited about the idea of writing their own book. At that point, there was no turning back, even if SonJoria had never written a book before.
“I am just a mother who loves people, who loves children, and I’m an educator as well,” SonJoria laughs. “I’ve worked with children almost all my life, and […] if my family has a need, I try to cater to that need, and I notice that it’s probably a need that other moms, other families share.”
Our Family’s Doing Yoga is a self-published title scheduled to release in August 2020. Pre-sales are slated to launch in July.
Check out the Cover Reveal during International Day of Yoga, plus a short family yoga practice led by SonJoria.
This isn’t the first time SonJoria has noticed a lack of representation and taken action to pave the way for Black family health and wellness. In 2015, she co-founded I Am: Breastfeeding, a collective to support Black mothers in their breastfeeding experience. Not long after, she started @BlackKidsDoYoga on Instagram as a way to show her family of Black kids doing yoga. She says it was nearly impossible to find photos of Black kids on the mat online when she started the page, and now it’s starting to become easier to find as she scrolls through her feed.
“I just hope that one day, when I open my newsfeed, it’s just full of Black kids doing yoga.”
Meet Jauron and SonJaia, SonJoria’s two eldest yogis. Plus, cameo by the youngest yogi, Sonaija.
For parents who want to include their children in a yoga practice, SonJoria has this advice:
“Any yoga teacher that has children will tell you that their kids don’t do yoga when they’re asked. They have to be tricky and make it a game, then the kids will do yoga.”
Follow SonJoria on Instagram @sydnorvillebooks for updates about Our Family’s Doing Yoga, @blackkidsdoyoga for inspiration and images of Black kids practicing yoga, @i.am.breastfeeding for St. Louis-area breastfeeding support. I Am: Breastfeeding also hosts a regular diaper and hygiene pantry in the greater St. Louis-area.
Want to learn more? Check out SonJoria’s chat with The Kids Yoga Podcast, and another family yoga class with the whole Sydnor family here: