Celebrate the Gift of Life on Mother’s Day

Who else on earth is able to bring forth new life? Who else on earth knows the joys and difficulties of a new life forming within their own? Who else, but a mother?

On this Mother’s Day I want to share with you a passage from The Rumi CollectionSomething about it just speaks of the immense mystery and beauty of the formation of human life.

The Embryo

When the time comes for the embryo
to receive the spirit of life,
at that time the sun begins to help.
This embryo is brought into movement,
for the sun quickens it with spirit.
From the other stars this embryo received only an impression,
until the sun shone upon it.
How did it become connected
with the shining sun
in the womb?
By ways hidden from our senses:
the way whereby gold is nourished,
the way a common stone becomes a garnet
and the ruby red,
the way fruit is ripened,
and the way courage comes
to one distraught
with fear.

Today we honor the divine power of the female form.

Namaste

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Instagram Art by buttafly_art

Instagram Art by buttafly_art

A Mindful Approach to Chronic Pain and Illness

We have the great honor and great privilege of being human. However being that we are only human, we must come to terms with our own mortality and our own limitations. We must treat ourselves with love, respect, care, compassion, and grace, even when faced with aspects of ourselves that are difficult to appreciate.

When there is something that is causing us pain or discomfort, or if something is limiting us in any way, it is only natural to want to find an immediate solution. While some problems may be easily fixed, unfortunately for others, there is simply no quick fix and in some cases, no fix at all.

This may sound disheartening and this may sound dismal or hopeless, but just because there may be no available solution, does not mean that the only option is to suffer. This concept proves especially beneficial and pertinent to those who experience chronic pain or suffer from chronic illness.

We all deserve to feel our best and to function as the best version of ourselves. And to function as the best version of ourselves, sometimes the hardest thing to do is to accept ourselves as we are and to not hold ourselves to unreasonable expectations or demands. We are after all only human.

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We must view ourselves as perfectly imperfect and remain free from judgment. Don’t push, don’t force, don’t demand change. Instead, acknowledge, appreciate, and accept.

Living with chronic pain or illness can seem like a life of inescapable suffering, a burden too heavy to carry, and completely intolerable. But you don’t have to live in this negative frame of mind.

While a mindful approach to chronic pain and illness is not a cure, it can be a maintenance tool that can drastically enhance your quality of life.

As  a sufferer of migraines and endometriosis, I have found myself all too often thinking things like,  I can’t do this, I can’t live like this, this will never end, I will always be in pain, this is the worst pain I have ever experienced, I don’t want to live like this anymore….

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What happens when we get caught in these negative thought patterns is that we begin to fixate of what is wrong, we begin to panic, and our mind begins to suffer along with the body rather than guiding the body through the suffering.

Negative thinking is hard to overcome but if we can begin to train the mind to be a place free of judgement, to be a calm center for control, and to be a rational zone for positivity, we can greatly decrease the amount of physical suffering we endure.

The first step is to simply breathe. By oxygenating the blood, we flood the body with endorphins, which naturally help to decrease the amount stress and pain we experience.

Breathe

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Inhale…. Exhale….Inhale ….Exhale. To calm the mind and stop your thoughts from racing say this to yourself as you allow deep breaths to fill the body.

Put a count to your breath, 3 counts in and 3 counts out.

Imagine inhaling peace, calm, comfort, and acceptance… Exhale pain, negativity, stress, and anxiety.

 

Once we begin to control the breath and use it to our advantage we can then begin to meditate on something more positive. Find the good around you and let go of those things that you cannot control.

Meditate

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Call to mind something for which you are grateful today.

Recall a treasured memory.

Imagine a picturesque or soothing scene.

Find something beautiful that you have taken for granted (something in nature, something in your own home)

What is something that you have done that you are proud of?

What defines you? Truly defines you? Who are you, for you are surly more than your pain, your illness, or your disability?

 

If you are having trouble calming the mind and body with breath or positive thought, try a beneficial distraction. When we approach ‘distraction’ in a mindful way, we are not telling ourselves we are not allowed to feel a certain way, we are simply giving our self the opportunity to consciously turn our attention to something more beneficial.

Mindfully Distract

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Go for a walk. Actively look for the beauty and peace that surrounds you in nature.

Call a friend.

Read a book.

Be creative.

 

While we might not be able to fully cure our chronic pain or illness, there are often various things we find that can help ease the symptoms or severity. Find what works for you. Maybe it’s mild exercise. Perhaps yoga or stretches help ease pain and discomfort. Maybe a massage, or a warm bath prove beneficial. Perhaps giving yourself extra time to rest or making certain dietary or lifestyle changes can help in some way. The key is to actively seek out any triggers that you may be aware of, and then explore different methods of alleviating the pain or discomfort as best you can.

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Just because we live with chronic pain or illness, does not mean that we must allow it to control us. We are beautiful and worthy and when we approach our limitations with compassion, we can achieve a better quality of life and overall wellbeing.

 

 

 

Do You Sit Too Long?

Many working parents find it difficult to find time in the day to exercise or practice self-care. For those who work office jobs, this often means falling into the trap of sitting more often than they would like, limiting physical activity  and potentially leading to chronic aches and pains. If you sit at a desk the majority of the day, chances are you suffer from neck and back pain. This video features exercises that can be done right from your desk! It also features a short sequence designed to restore the body and mind at the end of a long work day.

Sensory Play For Kids!

Children learn through play. Offering engaging and stimulating sensory play opportunities engages the mind and body for an immersive play experience.

Below are some simple enjoyable activities to keep your little ones learning and exploring for hours! Looking for great ideas for your next play date? Look no further!

 

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Glow sticks are always a crowd pleaser and never fail to delight! Practice making letters, numbers, and shapes!
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Get the fish back in their bowl! Work on fine motor skills with Zoo Sticks. See purchase links at the end of this post!
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Help the frogs hop into their pond. Any opportunity to play with water is exciting for young minds. See how much pressure it takes to hop these tiny frogs in their pond!
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Have children practice their own frog hops. Then place hula hoops or obstacle rings in a line and have children practice large motor skills by hopping along the lily pads.
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Encourage creative movement with scarves and dance ribbons (see purchase links below). Experiment using different types of music. Find music with different beats, and instruments. Use music with different tempos. Maybe even find music from different cultures. Talk about how the music makes you feel and how it makes you want to move.
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Set up a meditation station with yoga mats, blankets, and blocks, or bolsters. Find a children’s yoga poster or printable sequence like the one posted below. Provide yoga books that are easy for children to follow along to. Giving children opportunities to relax and reset is just as important as giving them opportunities to explore!
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There are many affordable options for in home ball pits and tunnels. Create your own obstacle courses and secret hideouts and watch your children’s imagination flourish!
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Kinetic sand is an all time favorite sensory activity. Not only can you build amazing creations, but unlike regular play sand, it is a breeze to clean up!

Amazon is a great resource for sensory materials.

Check Here for yoga books

Here for a printable Yoga Sequence

Here for Zoo Sticks

Here for jumping frogs

Here for Ball Pits

Have fun and enjoy! I would love to hear your ideas for more sensory play opportunities.

Called to Love and Called to Lead

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There is no shortage of negativity in this world, but there is also an abundance of good kindhearted people.

We are not called to judge, we are called to love…

We are not called to correct the wrongdoings of others, but to instead lead by example…

We are not called to a life of passive indifference, but to live a life of passionate action…

Surrender yourself to a life of love, peace, and acceptance; and be sure that the only time you cast your eyes downward on another human being is to help them rise when they have fallen.

The Importance of Yoga for Children

Life is busy. As adults this is quite obvious. We spend our days rushing from destination to destination. The work/life balance is a tough one to maintain. Adults however are not the only ones who feel the stress and strain of a packed schedule. Children are just as susceptible to the negative effects of being stretched too thin.

It is is imperative that children be given the time and tools they need to decompress and refresh their minds and bodies.

My favorite thing about being a yoga teacher is the ability to connect with children. I am very much a child at heart and I love the exuberance and innocence often displayed by young minds. They are receptive, eager, inquisitive, creative and oh so funny! This photo is one that will be featured in my upcoming children’s book. My yoga kids light up my soul and bring such amazing energy to my studio space.

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I recently read this excerpt in an article in yoga journal I thought it was so fitting and a beautiful way of describing the creative aspect of children’s yoga. “When yogis developed the asanas many thousands of years ago, they still lived close to the natural world and used animals and plants for inspiration—the sting of a scorpion, the grace of a swan, the grounded stature of a tree. When children imitate the movements and sounds of nature, they have a chance to get inside another being and imagine taking on its qualities. When they assume the pose of the lion (Simhasana) for example, they experience not only the power and behavior of the lion, but also their own sense of power: when to be aggressive, when to retreat. The physical movements introduce kids to yoga’s true meaning: union, expression, and honor for oneself and one’s part in the delicate web of life.”

If there are kids classes near you, I encourage you to check them out. If not, just get creative at home or use our Youtube videos for inspiration!

Happy Posing!

Don’t get Mad … Just ROAR!

Children get angry… but then again so do adults. The difference between children and adults (well most adults anyway) is that most of us have acquired ways of dealing with our anger that are more socially appropriate than yelling, screaming, and directing our anger towards others.

Anger is not bad, no emotions should be seen in a negative manner. All emotions are valid and part of what make us human. Our emotions are how we process the world around us. They help us to express ourselves. Emotions are a vital part of our human existence and all emotions should be valued and respected, especially during childhood.

That being said, it is important for us as adults to help the children in our care to not only identify and process the emotions they are feeling, but also guide them towards appropriate ways of managing theses emotions.

Let children feel what they feel and guide them gently when necessary.

Here is a fun activity for helping children work through feelings of anger.

Design a lion mask. We made ours with a paper plate, strips of paper, markers, and a wooden craft stick.

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How to Practice Lion’s Breath

Whenever harsh emotions arise, offer lion’s breath to your child. Explain that this type of breath can help push out the overwhelming emotions of anger, fear, anxiety, or frustration.

Have your child sit up on their knees. Sitting back on the heels.

Invite them to think about what they are feeling and why they are feeling that way.

Offer them the opportunity to place their hands on their thighs, close their eyes, and take a big breath in.

As they breath out, invite them to bring their hands up by their face making lion claws and let out a large ROAR!!!!!!! As they roar show them how to stick out their tongue at the same time they breathe out their big fierce lion roar.

Explain that this helps to get rid of those overwhelming emotions and after a few tries, I’m sure they will have a smile on their face. A little bit of silly goes a really long way.

Kids Matter has some exceptional advice for how to guide children through emotional learning. “Parents and caregivers have an important role to play in supporting children’s emotional development. They do this through responding effectively to children’s emotions, through providing examples of how they manage feelings, and through talking with children about feelings and how to manage them.”

 

Happy Roaring!

Conquer the Day with a Morning Meditation

Getting up and getting moving can be the most difficult part of our day. Especially for those of us with young children. A little bit of mindful movement and a bit of positive thinking can help get you going and set the path for a successful and fulfilling day.

Enjoy this short 6 minute moving meditation. Perfect for families and kids or anyone who just needs a little morning boost!

Wishing you a beautiful day!

-Jillian