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Body & Mind Little Souls

Yoga with Baby

October 27, 2015

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Since becoming a new mom I have also become more entrenched in yoga then ever before, because I have been figuring out how to incorporate Wyatt into my practice, and it’s something fun we can do together. After becoming a certified yoga instructor this summer, I decided to blog about doing yoga with your little ones.  This first series includes ways you can include your baby into you practice.

sun salutations with baby

Flowing in sun salutations is actually fairly easy with a baby. Rise up together in mountain and slowly roll vertebrate by vertebrate down into your forward fold. Lay your baby down or let them sit up to finish your salutation. Have fun play and repeat as much as you wish.

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(I forgot to add chair pose, another great pose to do together)

Body & Mind Inspiration

Yoga Teacher Training with Baby Wyatt

September 15, 2015

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Last month I was able to complete the extremely rewarding experience of becoming a certified yoga teacher, which I didn’t anticipate happening until my baby boy, Wyatt Grey, was much older and able to spend more time without me. However, by following my passions, and the fruition of a new friendship, I was able to finish my first yoga teacher training with Baby Wyatt on the yoga mat next to me. This is my story about the fostering of positive relationships and intentions, and how dreams can come true when you least expect it.

How I Fell In Love with Yoga

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been active and into fitness, constantly exploring my outdoor environment, climbing trees, riding horses, skiing, and doing sit-ups and pull-ups just to test my strength. In junior high I went to a few yoga classes at a gym with my mom and I was immediately hooked; I loved the slow-paced workout that pushed me physically and challenged my balance and flexibility, all while clearing my head. I started working at that gym during the summers, making healthy food and drinks at the snack bar and signing people up for memberships, and I got free classes. I had just started running cross country, and doing yoga right after a run is the perfect paring. My tight runner legs stretched instantly, and I felt energized, beautiful and whole for the rest of the day. I felt the internal power, strength and light within. When I moved to L.A. I continued attending new and exciting yoga classes to relax from the hustle and bustle of the city and feel better about myself and the world.

I always thought I’d really love to teach yoga. During my cross country years in high school I was never an excellent runner because I didn’t have the passion to push myself to my full potential. However, my team loved me and I was always sent to the state finals, not for running, but for my positive energy. I was the motivational coach that massaged everyones calves on bus and cheered them on during their race. This positive energy has continued within me for the last decade, coaching others informally about positivity and gratitude. I knew that yoga would be a wonderful way I could continue to share and broaden my light with others, as well as share my passion for strength, flexibility, and balance.

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My Life and Teacher Training Aligning

While yoga teacher training was always something I really wanted to do, it seemed more like an idea for the future. The time and money never lined up, so I continued to take classes and grow my home practice. I kept doing yoga throughout my pregnancy and started back up as soon as I was physically able after Wyatt was born, sometimes incorporating him into my practice.

When I moved back to my hometown I met an incredible woman that made many of my dreams align. Sariah had moved to our small mountain town with her family while I was living in California, so when I returned home I was surprised to find and meet a soul that shared so many of the same passions. Sariah is a dancer, yoga teacher, a Crossfit coach, and she also happened to have silks in the Crossfit training gym. The minute I found out that she had silks to play on, I was there. I was so happy to have aerial back in my life.  I had been doing aerial training at Cirque School L.A., but when I moved back to Pagosa I thought that those aerial days where behind me until I could afford to get my own equipment and train at home.

I started going to Sariah’s yoga class on Sundays with Wyatt and then we would play on the silks after. I soon got to know Sariah even more and felt so blessed to have her in my life. At the start of summer she told me that she wanted to teach a yoga teacher training course. I immediately told her I was in. I was probably the first one to sign up, and a few months down the road, Sariah’s first yoga teacher training began. Class was held at her private yoga studio, SE School of Movement, nestled away in the mountains at her house.

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The Experience

There were four of us in the class, plus Wyatt.  I apprehensively asked Sariah if it was alright to bring Wyatt, since that would be the only way I’d be able to attend the training. Without hesitation she said yes, sure that it would benefit everyone.  So, Wyatt Grey and I spent a whole week together doing poses, meditating, studying, breathing, and playing. It was a wonderful adventure, both in the studio and at home doing “homework”. We all practiced teaching each other, studying anatomy, learning acro yoga, going on fun nature walks, and teaching yoga on the paddle boards.

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Yoga Teacher Training with a Baby

The whole class warmed up to Wyatt fast. The rest of our new little yogi community would take turns holding him and entertaining him when I wasn’t able to. When Wyatt had to sleep I put him down and he would sleep on the floor, cuddled up during class. I also got to practice teaching with Wyatt, showing the rest of the class how I incorporate him into my practice. Yoga teacher training was great with Wyatt and it will be cool to tell him later in life that he finished his first teacher training at 7 months!

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Whats next

My Love and I are on the road for a month collecting new vintage for Ghost Rabbits, tattooing, and seeing family and friends.  I plan to organize a few yoga flow classes that I want to teach and practice with everyone while we’re on the road. Eventually, I will do donation-based classes at home in Pagosa and on the road.  I also want to do a yoga-with-baby class and blog post series soon— stay tuned, it will be fun!

Body & Mind Little Souls

Home Rhythms

September 8, 2015

Healthy Home Rhythms

We are creatures of rhythm. From the moment we are born we are ruled by the rhythm of the seasons, the tides, the days, the heart. Sometimes it feels right to just wing it and take life as it comes, but the practice of living life in rhythmic waves helps reduce stress, provides security, promotes productivity, and supports a tidy, cozy home.

I already had a sense that some sort of daily structure would make me more present-minded, but I lacked the training to create a functional daily routine. Then, this summer I took Kerry Ingram’s online Healthy Home Rhythms course, which offered the perfect amount of guidance to create a framework for my family’s days. Different from typical routines, home rhythms are effective because they are balanced energetically, diverse, and flexible.

After completing all the activities in Kerry’s course and seeing it positively affect my life, I began researching home rhythms more to better understand their effectiveness (nerd alert). Kerry has a background in early Waldorf education, so it wasn’t surprising that all of the sources I found online related to home rhythms were based on Rudolf Steiner’s philosophies about human development. Here’s the rundown:

Home Rhythms

Why Rhythm

Children and adults alike handle changes best if its expected and occurs amidst a familiar routine. Predictable routines allow children to feel safe and to develop a sense of mastery in handling their lives; as this sense of mastery is strengthened, they can tackle larger changes. Rhythms are not strict, they simply act as a compass. They are an intentional flow to your days and weeks, and if the rhythm is broken for a spontaneous event, the routine acts as a baseline to comfortably return to the direction and continuous productivity of the day.

In-breath, Out-breath

Rhythm is different than a routine or schedule. Adhering to a rhythm involves being mindful of the breath: breathing in the day and out the day. When intervals of energy exertion are not broken up with at least brief periods of turning inward, it oftentimes results in physical and mental exhaustion. The inhales are times of calmness and reflection, and the exhales are times of interaction with the outside world. For example, you may share an intimate breakfast (inhale), then go outside for a hike (exhale), then come inside to wash hands and clean up (inhale), followed by emptying your email inbox while the kids entertain themselves (exhale).

Daily and Weekly Rhythms

Daily rhythms offer flexible guidelines for greater mindfulness during each activity, which is vital when it comes to offering your children quality time, or a clear head for sinking into creative projects. Children also feel a sense of ease when they know what activities they can expect throughout the day.

Weekly rhythms provide structure for making and balancing time to commit to various aspects of your life. Furthermore, the repetition of the same weekly activities promotes excitement and appreciation for what makes each day of the week special.

Seasonal Rhythm

Family traditions that mark the seasons are a great way to celebrate the change that can be anticipated within the home rhythm. Young children thrive on anticipation of special days, and traditions offer a concrete way to interact with the cycles of the otherwise abstract calendar year. To help foster the excitement and appreciation of mother nature’s rhythm take lots of walks outside to the same places throughout the year and plan holidays and traditions together. Try to celebrate each season with at least one tradition.

Transitions

For both adults and children, allowing sufficient transition time reduces stress for everyone involved. Bedtime, cleanup, coming to the dinner table, or getting out the door don’t have to be times of high-energy and potential trouble. Think through all the steps that need to happen between activities and do them in the same order every time. Your children will begin to memorize the rhythm, and you will begin to realize how long it actually takes to transition. Usually the cause of perpetual lateness is the lack of allocated time for transitioning between activities.

Home Rhythms

Our Summer Rhythm

Daily Routine

  • Mom-time (usually starts at 5:30am): yoga or meditation, tea, work
  • Kids wake up, wash up & get dressed
  • Make breakfast & prep for dinner (if necessary) while kids play by themselves or help cook
  • Breakfast (alternates between pancakes or french toast, smoothie with hot cereal, and eggs with toast)
  • Home care while children join in or not
  • Baby nap & project: art, gardening, music, etcetera
  • Lunch & clean up
  • Errands, or free play while I catch up on emails
  • Baby nap & project: art, gardening, music, etcetera
  • Dinner & clean up
  • Bedtime routine: bath, stories, gratitude, song
  • Sleep

Weekly Routine

Each day I allocate a chunk of time in the morning to work alongside my children, a chunk of time to take care of the house, and I stick to a weekly cycle of dinner themes to make meal planning easier. My eldest daughter knows that tacos will likely be the dinner the evening after Stir Fry Night, so she eats her veggies and rice willingly as she anticipates the next evening. She also likes knowing that on Family Day she gets to help roll out crust for quiche.

Weekly Waldorf rhythms for children include watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, gardening, bread-making, and festival preparations. As a creative and a mother, my weekly rhythm involves art-making (painting, printmaking, drawing, collage, usually done alongside my daughter), baking, gardening, and playing music. I also rotate my “work” time during the mornings between graphic work, art, blogging, and social media, but I didn’t share that on our schedule below. Now that Amelie has started school, our rhythm will be changing, but here’s how it’s been for the past month:

  • Monday: Art, Floors, Stir fry
  • Tuesday: Garden,Groceries, Mexican
  • Wednesday: Walk with Grandpa Bill, Laundry, Leftovers
  • Thursday: Art, Bathrooms, Italian
  • Friday: Music, Floors, Meat & veggies
  • Saturday: Family time, Bedrooms & Studio, Quiche & salad
  • Sunday: Baking, Laundry, Crock pot roast

I would highly suggest taking Kerry’s Healthy Home Rhythms course because it offers an easy-to-follow step-by-step approach to creating your own system. She provides beautiful seasonal rhythm and meal planning wheels designed by illustrator Kathryn Cole that are refreshing, unique approaches to weekly schedules.  I’m a big advocate for print materials that incite joy in you so that you’re more likely to continue using your products. Poorly designed materials create subconscious feelings of unease and distress.

Does your family have a routine or home rhythm? If so, how has it affected your life? What are some tips that could make a family rhythm stronger and more effective?

Home Rhythms

** Note: This post was a self-directed review and summary of home rhythms, inspired by Kerry Ingram’s online course, and supported by additional research into the Waldorf method of using rhythmic routines in the classroom. All opinions are genuine and solely my own.

Body & Mind Meditations

Materialism & Happiness

August 23, 2015

On keeping only the things that bring you happiness

My sister recently mailed me Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and it’s got me all worked up. It really is magic. Being a woo woo junkie, I am completely sold on KonMari (Marie Kondo’s tidying method) because the entire act of minimizing and organizing is solely based on contentment and only holding on to the things that spark joy. If we are surrounded by things that trigger any other feeling than joy, we are creating distraction and noise that we subconsciously try to avoid or tune out, disrupting our full potential for happiness and productivity. KonMari is not just a method for organizing your crap, it’s a method for clearing your space of things that no longer serve you to make room for beauty, clarity, and happiness.

On keeping only the things that bring you happiness

The KonMari method suggests that you start your purging of the non-joyful in your closet. So I pulled out my four 20-gallon storage totes and everything in my closet and began asking each garment, “do you spark joy?”

The most revealing part for me was going through my stockpile of vintage dresses. Half of them were my mother’s 40s frocks that she got from a mentor in her early 20s. When I held up those dresses a sort of resentment arose. My mom couldn’t fit into those dresses anymore, and I was certain that no one else would love them as much as I did, so I had to hold on to them or else I would be the cause of their death. As for the rest of my vintage, they all reminded me of a time when I was a more naive, carefree, and sassy girl who spent hours getting ready in the morning, and if I were to let go of them, I might lose that part of me.

Then there were other garments that I’d worn SO much at one time that I couldn’t let them go because I owed my life to them. And there were pieces that I’d only be able to wear if I lost 20 pounds (never gonna happen). And there were pieces that I spent way too much money on to discard. With items that were bringing up feelings of guilt, false hope, sad nostalgia, or resentment towards having to store them, I had to let them go. After going through each and every item in my closet, including all my socks and scarfs, I was left with an incredibly condensed selection of things that spoke joy to me, all organized by color and comfortably hanging or folded happily. Outside my closet door sat 6 garbage bags full of returns to my mother, vintage for Drie, consignment, donations, and just plain ole trash.

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On keeping only the things that bring you happiness

Given my tendencies in relation to laundry, the pictures above and below make me super duper proud. Usually I wash my family’s clothes and then bunch them up in numerous baskets for a couple days before I decide it’s time to tackle folding. Yet, for the past 3 weeks I’ve been so excited (OCD excited) to put everyone’s clothes away that I fold the day of the washing, and my closet & drawers have looked like this since I finished KonMari-ing the closets!

On keeping only the things that bring you happiness

Of course, there is more that fills your house than clothing. There is artwork, furniture, appliances, knick knacks, dishes, blankets, towels, etc. If you take a moment to think about each item you own, to see what role each one has filled or continues to fill in you life, it’s easier to determine if those things are still working for you. Sometimes they are not just the beautiful or sentimental things. There are objects that don’t bring obvious joy, but they offer it up discretely by making your life easier. For example, my big, ugly dehydrator makes me happy, as does my ghetto $15 hair dryer.

Identifying Joyful Things

Clothing

It shouldn’t matter if an item is out of style or if you haven’t worn it in a year. As long as seeing it and holding it still sparks joy, let yourself be affected by it and keep it!

Photos

Most of us keep photos and other mementos to remind us of happy memories. However, if you haven’t purged your photos before, chances are that many of them spark sadness and regret. To allow space for more light and love, release those that are joyless.

Gifts

Gifts are meant to serve a purpose, and they serve that purpose the moment they are given. Do not keep a gift to avoid feeling guilty for discarding it— nobody wants their recipient of a gift to feel that way. If a gift no longer sparks joy, thank it for serving its purpose of demonstrating love. Then let it go. Relief will follow.

Furniture

After purging of the things that no longer trigger joy within you, you’ll have less to store and you can begin to look at your furniture and see what large items are stagnant downers. You may be left with abundant floor space for a happy-dance.

Once you are left with only the things that bring you joy, you will become more mindful of the things you buy as well. By being grateful for all the things you are surrounded by, gratitude swells into all areas of your life.

Happiness-generating Objects

Plants

Research has shown that the presence of plants leads to reduced stress and anxiety, increased feelings of calm, a marked improvement in mood and self-esteem and increased feelings of optimism and control. Many of them help clean the air your breathe.

Moving objects

According to Feng Shui principles, mobiles, water fountains or wind chimes increase the positive flow of energy, therefore increasing joy.

Dim lights & candles 

Dim lighting helps maintain a calming environment. Fairy lights create a balance between the light and dark areas of your home, while candles invoke the energy of purification in Feng Shui.

A Himalayan salt lamp

It is said that the miners in the Himalayan salt mines are the happiest miners on the planet because Himalayan salt emits negative ions into the air. When negative ions pair with overly abundant positive ions they help cleanse the air and the flow of oxygen to the brain is increased. Negative ions are great for your mind, body, and soul.

Nature

There is an innate human need to connect with nature. Tree branches, feathers, rocks help bring a sense of peace into the home.

KonMari Method

When objects surround you that bring up guilt, remorse, feelings of wanting a different body, feelings of failure, those objects do not serve you. They make you dwell in the past, or hope for the future. They do not encourage the practice of living in the present. Be mindful and confront these objects that do not bring joy, and let them go.

Body & Mind Productivity

Choosing Your Own Story

July 13, 2015

On re-writing your stories to better serve you

My mother often questions why her children are so lazy. She’s done this my whole life, and it’s quite understandable. My mom has a fierce amount of energy and accomplishes more in a given day than anyone I’ve ever met. Have you heard about how the average worker is only productive for 3 hours per day? Well, that’s not my mom. She’s productive for about 16 hours per day. So, when she compares her children to herself, of course we’re slow!

I can’t say for sure that my mom’s claims have had a huge impact on my life, but a study done in the late 60s demonstrated how labels can have profound effects on people. Basically, scientists Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson told a some teachers at the beginning of the school year that a few of their students could be expected to have an intellectual boom within the year, even though they were really just average students. But when the students were given IQ tests at the end of the year their scores were significantly higher than the rest of the class. The teachers had unconsciously encouraged their “special” students to excel, spent more time with them, and were enthusiastic about teaching them. With the extra attention, the students felt more capable and intelligent, and performed accordingly. A simple story had a great impact.

I’ve always accepted my mom’s statements as truth: I’m slow and inefficient! I was satisfied with fulfilling her story, because no one expected more of me, and I didn’t need to risk suffering if the world didn’t like what I was producing. However, after recently taking inventory of my life accomplishments, I noticed that I’ve done too much cool shit for a lazy person. After realizing that my mom has really just been telling me stories, a great weight was lifted off my shoulders; I felt productive and able. Inspired by a friend, I then began looking inward to see what other stories was I believing, whether from someone else’s projection, or from comparison to other people. I wrote a list.

On re-writing your stories to better serve you

The ego makes judgements because it thinks those stories will protect. For example, “I’m a terrible writer,” translates into, “as long as I don’t show the world my writings then I will never feel the pain of ridicule.” How does that story serve us? If we were to live without those judgements then our lives would fill with experiences. By rejecting these stories of the ego we enter a fruitful state of vulnerability. Ask yourself, how will your vessel be filled if you don’t place it out in the rain?

The Task

  1. Write down a list of all the stories you tell yourself.
  2. Read the list and smile.
    Seeing your list of stories allows you to step back and see yourself as an individual — a friend. If a friend were to tell you these stories about theirself, they would likely blush, and you would give them a smile and a hug, and tell them that they have nothing to worry about: they are perfect just the way they are.
  3. While reading through your list put a line through the stories that aren’t true. If any are left uncrossed, reread them to see how those stories serve you.  “I’m creative”. Cool. Awesome. Yep. “I’m intelligent”. Yeah, got it. What does any of this mean anyway? Why does the ego even need this sort of validation? Aren’t we enough, just as we are, in the present, without any descriptive words?
  4. Take your list and light that bitch on fire.

Stories are just stories, positive or negative. When you label yourself with adjectives and nouns you are placing yourself in a box. All you need to know is that life is always changing, you are always changing, you are always doing the best that you can at any given moment, and who you are at this very moment is enough.

When we let go of these stories we are able to drop into the moment and experience the sensations of being — our ego drifts away and any worries, doubts, or pretenses dissipate. The present moment has no story. Of course, we can’t stay in this place, but it’s nice to practice visiting.

Body & Mind

Infusing Kombucha

July 9, 2015

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As of late, I’ve become kombucha-brewing junkie.  I’d tried brewing it last year, but it never stuck because I wasn’t that in love with the taste.  But then my friend let me try some of her blueberry-infused brew a few months ago, I went home with a scuby, and have been an avid fermented-mushroom-drinker since.

About Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea made with sugar, black tea, a kombucha starter culture, and some left-over tea from a previous batch.  It’s usually fermented for 5-14 days, and ends up tasting like sweet, mild vinegar (more vinegary with time).  This is a great site to find out all you need to know about making your own kombucha.  Here’s a really great PDF with directions for brewing your own.

The list of benefits you get from drinking kombucha is unbelievably long. It’s a detoxifier (so drink lots of water too), aids in digestion and gut health, boosts your immune system, and helps prevent arthritis and migraines among [soo] many other things.

Flavoring Kombucha

After the fermentation process, remove the culture and set it aside with about a cup of the pure, untainted batch.  I usually start brewing my new batch of tea while I’m working on flavoring the most recent batch.  Most people flavor their kombucha with juice, but I prefer chopping up fresh fruit and ginger. The carbonation-producing yeasts thrive in oxygen-free environment, so when you add fruit and tighten the container cap, the carbonation increases.

1. Pour the freshly fermented kombucha into your clean individual glass kombucha bottles until they’re about 80% full.

2. Fill the rest of the bottle with either fruit juice or freshly chopped fruit.  Frozen fruit also works.  Be sure to leave about a quarter-inch of headspace.

It’s commonly suggested to let the flavor-infused kombucha to sit and ferment for another 48 hours, but I prefer to just stick them all in the fridge right away.  After only a day in the fridge the kombucha pulls out the flavors in the fruit, yet the fruit remains delicious as well.  I usually drink my infused kombucha within two weeks, although it starts getting a little more sour after about a week.

What to flavor with:

  • Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
  • Frozen fruit
  • Fruit juice
  • Dried fruit : use half of what you would fresh
  • Organic flavor extracts (vanila, almond, lemon, etc): use 1/8 tsp for each cup
  • Ginger & honey: either make a mixture with some of the fresh kombucha, grated ginger, and honey; or plop a few chunks of ginger in each container with a drop of honey.