yogarillaToday nearly one in three children are overweight, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, emphasizing the importance of getting kids moving and active. It’s one of the reasons First Lady Michelle Obama launched her Let’s Move campaign and also a good reason to take a look at our picks for physical and active toys in our newly launched 2013 Spring & Summer Toy Insider.

As a registered yoga teacher, I’m a big advocate for the benefits kids can receive by practicing yogic postures, exercises, and breathing. Yoga for kids is incredibly popular, with whole yoga studios, such as New York City’s Yogi Beans and Karma Kids, offering an array of kids’ classes. Thankfully, you don’t have to be in NYC or have a trained yoga teacher on hand in order to practice. Super Duper Publications has released its Yogarilla Exercises and Activities, a set of 55 flash cards featuring traditional and original yoga poses taught by an incredibly agile and funny gorilla, OTis.

According to master yoga teacher Stephanie Adams, who developed one of the first kids’ yoga teacher trainings in the country, children enter the world as natural yogis—they have naturally pliable joints and flexible muscles. “Yoga encourages kids to explore their natural flexibility and to become stronger through natural and functional physical movement using their own body weight,” she says.

Yogarilla exercises will help kids to build strength and fitness, hone their balance, increase range of motion, develop fine motor skills, build body awareness, and even develop language skills. It’s a holistic approach to getting active.

The Yogarilla cards feature 55 traditional and original yoga poses sorted by starting position and color-coded for easy identification. It includes 10 standing, 10 seated, 10 prone, 10 supine, and 10 hands-and-knees poses, along with three partner poses and two breathing exercises. Kids will love the creative names for the traditional poses. Instead of complicated Sanskrit names like Natarajasana or Virabhadrasana, kids get fun names like Dancer, or Surfer, or Flat Flamingo.

OTis, who acts as kids’ guide to yoga, gives full directions on getting into poses safely, along with additional challenges if kids are mastering poses quickly, or adaptations for kids with special needs or just needing a little extra help.

The cards, which come in a handy carrying case, also feature activities and suggestions for mixing and matching cards to create a full practice. Teachers, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and even parents will like some of the practice suggestions to help kids develop skills, such as rhythm, interpersonal skills, verbal skills, and vocabulary. Yogarilla is appropriate for kids 3 and up.

Check out our listing of Yogarilla, along with other active toys, in our Spring & Summer Toy Insider.

For more commentary from Loren, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!