Articles and thoughts on yoga and healthy living
|Posted by twisted Tree Yoga on February 7, 2014 at 12:50 AM||comments (0)|
Join me as I take the slow down challenge. Each day I will post a new blog entry about slowing down and enjoying life to its fullest.
Welcome to Day 1 of the Slown Down Challenge. Today, we're focusing on the habit of noticing...
When we live such frantic lives, we can end up moving from one thing to the next without really concentrating on anything in particular.
We can hit the fast-forward button on life and not stop until the end. Which isn't much of a life at all.
Life is not a race. It's a walk around the block, a casual stroll through the park, a deep abiding in where you are right now. Anything else is a facsimile, a farce, some cruel distraction from what's most important.
It took the birth of my son to help me to stop and smell the roses, as they say. The introduction of a new life into our family made me realize how much I was missing.
When Aiden was first born, sometimes I would go on a short trip for work and when I would return, my son was a different boy. I had missed a lot.
As a new parent, I began to understand that cliche everyone tells you is actually true: it all goes so fast. But I don't want this experience of raising a child to race by; I want it to drag on, deliberately and definitively.
I want to enjoy being a dad. Because I'm not waiting for this to be done; I'm not biding my time until the "good stuff" comes. This is it: the very best stuff life has to offer.
The reality is, this is true for all of us, wherever we are. Right now is the only time you will ever have. So it has to be the best - because it's all you get. Better make the most of it.
Take time today to notice the things that other people are overlooking (tweet that ). Find a way to interrupt your busy schedule and enjoy what's right in front of you.
Spend at least 15 minutes going for a walk - around the block, around the yard, or even around the office. As you do so, try the following:
Look around (if you're the praying type, ask for eyes to see).
Take note of whatever catches your eye; concentrate on it.
When you get back, write down what you saw.
As you go through your day, revisit your list. Remember what you noticed and say a quick thank-you for each item.
This is a simple but powerful exercise to help you not only slow down but appreciate the things we so often miss or ignore. For example:
the way sunlight refracts through a glass of water on the kitchen counter
the squishy sound dew on grass makes when you trudge through it
the cute face your kid makes just before he smacks you right in the face (I'm speaking from personal experience)
These are not distractions from life; they are life itself. Let's not forget or rush through them on our way to the next big accomplishment.
Because in the end, these moments are all we have.
Source: Jeff Goins http://goinswriter.com/slow-down/
|Posted by twisted Tree Yoga on January 31, 2014 at 12:45 AM||comments (0)|
A beautiful post on the bonds that happen during baby yoga. Discovering your baby's moments and cues with a nurturing and loving yoga practice.
Baby Yoga http://meghannfoster.com/baby-yoga/
Today is my son’s 11 month birthday! And just like with my other 4 children, I keep wondering where the time went. I can’t believe almost a year has passed since we brought him home from the hospital.
I’ve been reflecting on the last (almost) year with my precious little boy, and one of my favorite aspects of his babyhood has been attending baby yoga classes with him. We’ve been attending since he was six weeks old and I look forward to his classes every week. I’ve had a lot of people ask “Baby yoga? How can babies do yoga?’ As it turns out, baby yoga isn’t very different from adult yoga.
First and foremost, it goes without saying that baby yoga is a really fun way to spend time with your child and encourage their natural desire for movement. We take our classes at Sweet Feet Yoga, and our instructor Dana is fabulous. Like all forms of yoga, baby yoga is a process that involves much more than little ones performing yoga poses. (I’ll cover that in a moment.)
In a typical baby yoga class, we spend a lot of time massaging and cuddling our babies. We bounce, dance, and sing songs about different body parts. It may look like any other fun parent-child class, but there’s so much more happening beneath the surface. The bouncing and swaying motions develop the child’s vestibular system. Many of the exercises involve crossing the midline of the child’s body, which in turn promotes the cooperation & communication of both hemispheres of the brain. Songs such as the “Yogi Yogi” (sung to the tune of the “Hokey Pokey”) promote body awareness through identification and movement.
And yes, as a matter of fact, babies DO perform yoga poses! They do many of them spontaneously over the course of their physical development. One of the most common “poses” babies perform is Cobra as they learn to hold their heads up while lying on their tummies. When my son was learning to stand he was always in Downward Dog. When he was learning to roll, he would catch his big toes and end up in Happy Baby. And we do “practice” these poses in baby yoga classes by offering tummy time and allowing the kids to move freely through the space.
One of the most important aspect of baby yoga has nothing to do with movement. It’s being in the present moment with your little bundle, tuning into their needs, giving them your undivided attention. Sound familiar? It’s about learning how they respond to touch and movement. After a few sessions, you develop a strong awareness of your child’s physical and emotional cues. You figure out which parts of class they love and which parts of class they are not as fond of. You gain a better understanding of your little one, and the end result is a calmer, happier parent-child relationship.
Even though this last (almost) year has flown by with my son, I realize I have learned some priceless lessons from my little boy. I’ve learned to practice of art of slowing down and enjoying each moment with him. I’ve often felt that he has helped hone my ability to stay in the here and now. I’ve become more compassionate and more patient with his older siblings. I’ve learned to let go of things like our messy house, I’ve learned to take one day at a time and meet each day with a profound sense of gratitude.
This is the true magic of baby yoga. And it’s an amazing, joyful practice.
|Posted by twisted Tree Yoga on January 2, 2014 at 1:25 PM||comments (0)|
Keep your back happy and healthy as you shovel! Try these yoga poses before and after you shovel and stay safe!
Nameste- Twisted Tree Yoga
Marjaryasana and Bitilasana: Cat-Cow Pose
On your hands and knees with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees below your hips in a table top position with neutral spine, exhale and round your spine toward the ceiling as you release your head and neck down. From cat pose, move slowly and smoothly through neutral spine and into cow pose as you inhale and lift your sit bones and chest toward the ceiling and sink your belly to the floor. Repeat the flowing movement for a gentle warm-up to the spine and overall back.
Salambhasana: Locust Pose
Although the locust might not necessarily look like one of the most impressive back-bends out there, it's a great strengthener for the back and torso that can also increase spinal flexibility. Lie on your belly with your arms down along your sides and palms up. On an exhale, lift your head, neck, shoulders, and legs up and away from the floor to rest on your lower ribs, belly, and pelvis. Look forward without crunching the neck, and firm your muscles as you lengthen your legs to create space in the spine. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute and lower gently toward the floor.
Jathara Parivatasa: Supine Twist
This lying twist is a great way to realign and lengthen the spine. Lying on your back, bring your arms out to the sides, palms down, in a T position. Bend your knees to your chest, and on an exhale, drop both knees down to the left side and up toward the left arm to twist the lower back. Turn your neck to look at your right fingers. Settle gently into the twist and continue to breath. To release, come back to neutral spine on an inhale.
Balasana: Child's Pose
Kneeling on the floor with big toes together, separate your knees to hip width. Exhale, and lower your torso down between your knees to release your shoulders across the floor. Lay your hands down alongside your body, and then lengthen your tailbone away from the pelvis as you lift the back of your skull away from your neck. Child's Pose is a fantastic restorative pose that can stretch the back and side muscles while providing support and stability for the spinal column.
|Posted by twisted Tree Yoga on November 21, 2013 at 3:10 PM||comments (0)|
Great, tasty, healthy and helps new moms who are breastfeeding! These delcious oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are made with chickpeas instead of flour so they are gluten-free and can be made vegan by substituing carob chips for the chocolate chips. Oatmeal and chocolate, yum!, can help improve milk production for breastfeeding and it helps that these are healthy too!
You will need:
1 can of organic chickpeas drained (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (try carob chips too to make vegan)
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/8 tsp salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla (honey and molasses work well also)
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar in the raw
1/2 cup organic nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut butter is my personal favorite!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
This is the basic batter recipe but have fun throwing in whatever you’d like to get creative and make them your own! Dried cranberries, crushed pistachios, golden raisins, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds and crushed dried banana chips are just a few of my personal suggestions.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and add all of ingredients, except chocolate chips and oats, into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
Now, stir in your chocolate chips, oats or other added whole ingredients.
Scoop out 1 inch balls—if baking them I suggest pressing them down a bit when you place them on the pan, since they don’t flatten out during the cooking process. If enjoy raw, feel free to leave them in bite size dough balls.
Bake 15-20 minutes, allow to cool and eat away. Eat away!
|Posted by twisted Tree Yoga on August 28, 2013 at 11:30 AM||comments (0)|
Practicing Yoga with Kids
Practicing yoga with the family can be a fun, silly and a bonding experience for everyone. A family yoga class encourages families to bond through stories, games, partner poses and relaxation. Yoga with your kids can start at any age and is a wonderful way to get physically active with your children. Your approach to sharing yoga with the your kids changes as they grow from newborns all the way to teens.
Newborn to 12 months
The addition of a new baby to the family is a beautiful and exciting time. With it brings changes and adjustments to our new lives. Yoga allows us to find a time to slow down and concentrate on this deep bond we have with your baby. Becoming more in-touch with our own instincts on how to care of your child and ourselves. From the moment our child is born we start to learn their body language and how that relates to what they need; yoga is another tool to help us tune into the cues our babies give us. During times of exhaustion, yoga is not the first thing that we think of but the restorative power of yoga could be just what we need. While you do a few basic stretching place your baby on their back or belly and try child’s pose, down dog and standing forward fold. Use blankets and pillows in poses to support your body especially if it’s close to after delivery.
12 months - 3 years old
This age is full of non-stop energy and exploration. Our children grow more confident in engaging in their environment and a yoga practice can help them discover their bodies. Yoga at this age can incorporate props and stories to engage your child throughout the practice. Having your child practice with their favorite stuffed animal can be a great way to encourage your child to try out new poses. A fun way to use their stuffed animals is for deep belly breathing. Have them lay on their back and place their animal on their belly, allowing them to learn how to breathe into their belly. Then they can watch as their stuffed animals rises and falls with their breath.
3 – 6 years old
Children are more aware of their body but are still building their understanding of how their body moves and yoga helps them develop more awareness. Engaging children with stories and books is a wonderful way to practice yoga. Allowing yoga poses to become animals that make noise and giggle can be very engaging. Encourage your child to make sounds of the animals that they are acting out allows them to become aware of their breath. A wonderful book that can be used for yoga at home is “Duck on a Bike” by David Shannon; kids can act out animal poses and make up their own.
Many children at this age love to spin and bounce no matter where they are, there is a very good reason to encourage them to make these movements. Spinning and bouncing helps them integrate their body, gain balance and understand where they are in space (where their body stops and starts). Grab a yoga ball to bounce on and some ribbon to spin with and let the fun begin!
6-9 years old
Kids are developing their muscles and growing fast and they love the challenge of new yoga poses! They are gaining independence and are ready to try new things with their peers separate from their parents. Teaching your child to listen to their bodies is an important skill to gain, to help them stay healthy as they grow. Try some sun salutations at home! Add in animal noises for monkey pose, cobra and down dog and let them be as silly as they like. Sun Salutations help children gain strength and confidence in their bodies and help them stay fit and healthy.
9-12 years old
As our children turn into teenagers emotions and the influence of friends become stronger. Learning to listen to themselves and what is right for them versus what they think others will think of them is an important skill to foster. This involves emotional intelligence, and learning tools to help them identify and process their emotions, along with recognizing that their emotions are genuine and important to understand. Helping them develop a yoga practice either at home or at a studio is important while incorporating a mindfulness practice. See the blog post “Nurturing their Hearts: Mindfulness with Children”.
The most important thing is to have fun with your child and the yoga practice, whether it’s in the home or at the yoga studio. Let your child lead the way and let the love of yoga blossom!
Namasté Stacy Cushenbery
|Posted by twisted Tree Yoga on July 26, 2013 at 2:20 PM||comments (0)|
Nurturing their hearts: Mindfulness with children
Whether you are a parent, grandparent or teacher encouraging mindfulness with the children in our lives is a valuable gift to give. We know as adults that the more relaxed our lives are the better we feel emotional and physically. The same is true for children, many times they experience stress, anxiety and fear just like the adults in their lives. Mindfulness practice gives them the tools to help coup with many of the issues that they are facing every day, within the support of their loving family.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the ability to understand our emotions, body awareness and cognitive understanding. It relates to how we feel and act towards ourselves, and those around us. Having the ability to be mindful helps children understand social situations, family dynamics and their own personal feelings. Mindfulness allows children to identify their emotions and how they feel both physically and mentally. This leads them to better understand why they are feeling a certain way, giving them the power to be in control of their emotions and actions.
What are the benefits to mindfulness?
The greatest benefit of mindfulness is its ability to reduce stress, anxiety, fear and emotional confusion. When we practice mindfulness we have a greater compassion for ourselves which allows us to be more compassionate to those around us. When children feel in control of their minds and body they can better deal with tasks; executive functioning. Executive functioning allows us to organize tasks, manage time, make decisions and set priorities. The more mindful a child is, the more the ability to accomplish what is needed and also set their own goals.
How to practice mindfulness with children?
As adults we have the special role of helping nurture our children and giving them the opportunities to discover that their own mindfulness already exists. One of the simplest ways is to demonstrate mindfulness is in our own lives, showing them the skills that are needed.
Example: Slowing down and stopping when things become rushed or stressful and finding a space to take a few slow deep breathes. Asking your child to join in for 5 deep breathes and descripting how you feel after those breathes versus how you felt before.
Being able to identify when your child feels stressed, anxious or/and fearful can help you offer them guidance. When you notice those moments asking them how they are feeling, associating a feeling with a color. “I am feeling blue/red/green/purple etc.” and what they color means to them. Also helping them notice where they feel their emotions in their body, in their legs, arms etc. Once they can identify their emotions we can help them manage those feelings.
Examples of mindfulness practice
Relaxing Story: Guided Visualization
Develop or read a story that is comforting for your child when they are feeling overwhelmed, before bedtime or for those quiet moments during the day. A guided visualization allows children to relax, use their imagination and process how they feel.
This one is great right before bedtime to help relax! We will start at the toes and go through all the body parts till we come to the top of the head. “Find a comfortable spot to lay down, maybe you have your favorite blanket or toy with you. You start to close your eyes and feel safe and comfortable. Take a few deep breathes and notice how your body feels. Send all your thoughts to your toes squeeze your toes tight and then gentle release, feel them relax. Send your thoughts to your feet, squeeze them and then gentle relax. Send your thoughts to your legs squeeze and relax. (Continuing as you work your way up squeezing the tummy, back, shoulders, stretching fingers, squeezing hands, arms and finally all the muscles of the face). Now squeeze your whole body nice and tight and let go and relax all your muscles.”
The next time you visit the park, beach, forest take time to collect a few small stones or shells that your child really enjoys feeling. You only need a few, maybe 4. Take the time to describe what you each like about the items that you collected, how they feel and look. Associate different feeling with those items; ‘this one makes me feel relaxed’, ‘this one makes me feel peaceful’, ‘this one makes me feel excited’. Drawing and writing down these thoughts can be helpful to revisit later.
Take those found items home and find a special space for them where your child an easily find them, a special box or small pouch they decorated. When they are feeling stressed, anxious, fearful or/and overwhelmed encourage them to bring out their special items and revisit how each item looks and feels. Including their drawings and writing with the pebbles will help them connect to those different emotions when they are feeling overwhelmed.
|Posted by twisted Tree Yoga on February 11, 2013 at 11:15 AM||comments (1)|
All of us with a yoga practice have had the experience of being sick and sadly missing our yoga classes for mutliple days if not longer. Should we avoid yoga while be are sick or continue practicing?
Bringing our yoga practice into your home is a wonderful way to practice while you are sick. A few things to keep in mind while practicing when you are sick.
1. Listen to your body! If your body needs to rest, honor that. If your body needs some movement start with a short practice and take it slow. Choice poses that help restore your body, restorative and gentle yoga are a wonderful option.
2. Warm up. Don't rush your body into deep poses, instead take things slowly and give your body enough time to warm up.
3. Become aware of your breath. When we are sick breathing can become a challenge, take your time and breath slowly and deeply. If breathing is difficult, let your yoga practice wait till another day.
4. Use props and be supported. Use props such as blankets, bolsters and blocks to support yourself in the poses and help your body feeling open up in each pose. Take time is expand the chest and open the heart.
Take care of your body and your mind and feel better!
Check out this video for a wonderful sick day yoga class!
|Posted by twisted Tree Yoga on December 20, 2012 at 12:15 AM||comments (0)|
As the holiday breaks start in our community, enjoy yoga with your kids! Kids benefit from a yoga practice by physical actvity but so much more. Having the opportunity to practice yoga allows kids to learn body awareness, sensory integration, builds self-esteem, fosters creativity and reduces stress and anxiety. Enjoying yoga with your kids is a bonding experience and demonstrates healthy habits for a life of good health!
Here are a few books that you can find at the Des Plaines Public Library that are great for kids and parents to try yoga together!
Peaceful Piggy by. Kerry Lee MacLean
Stretch by. Doreen Cronin
Other great books
Tiger Tiger is it True? By. Byron Katie & Hans Wilhelm. A wonderful book full of lessons about the power of our thoughts and emotions.
|Posted by twisted Tree Yoga on November 29, 2012 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
Starting to bring our yoga practice from the studio into our homes can be a challenging change, but once you find the space for your practice the benefits are endless. Starting simply with bringing your yoga practice home is key, dedicating 10 minutes to practice not worring about how the practice looks but more about how it feels.
Finding a small area that is dedicated to yoga can be helpful in reminding you every day to practice. Let the practice be fun and carefree and the rest will follow. Here is a short sample yoga practice to try at home.
10 Minute Yoga Practice
Breathing: Taking a few slow and steady breathes, filling the belly and releasing. Just noticing how you feel today.
Warm up: cow pose: belly releasing to floor & looking up towards the ceiling, cat pose: back up, releasing the head down, downward facing dog: hips high, liftisng through the shoulders, child's pose (wide kneed) releasing the hips. Repeat as many times as you like, opening up the lower back.
Forward fold: Breathing in relax the shoulders and breathing out folding forward. Balancing eveningly on your feet, bending one knee at a time. Doing 3 rounds of foward folds.
Transition to sitting on the mat
Wide legged forward fold: Placing heels on the mat and breathing in lengthening and breathing out folding forward. Gently finding your breath.
Breathing: Taking a few slow and steady breaths, filling the belly and releasing. Just noticing how you feel after the little practice.
Twisted Tree Yoga offers classes that brings yoga to all members of the community. Classes designed for adults new to yoga, experienced yoga students, children and families. Our studio allows people to learn yoga in a noncompetitive atmosphere with attention paid to developing the full yogic experience.