Articles and thoughts on yoga and healthy living
|Posted by Stacy Cushenbery 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 Stacy Cushenbery 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 Stacy Cushenbery 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 Stacy Cushenbery 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 Stacy Cushenbery 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 Stacy Cushenbery 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.
|Posted by Stacy Cushenbery on October 10, 2012 at 1:25 PM||comments (0)|
We are happy to offer Prenatal Yoga starting this October. There are so many benefits to having a yoga practice during pregnancy, even if its your first yoga class.
Prenatal Yoga helps in a variety of ways.
1. Breath: Practicing our breathing can help with stress and increase relaxation but also with delivery. Each class practices different types of breathing techniques in the class to help guide mothers to be.
2. The Hips: During pregnacy our muscles become more flexible to help to carry the baby and also for delivery. During our yoga classes we will work on hip flexibility which will give mothers a more comfortable pregnancy.
3. The Feet- Creating movement and flexibility in the feet will help relieve pain, swelling and improve circulation.
4. Posture- Working poses for the spine will help strengthen and allow the spine to hold a more natural curve helping to relieve pain.
5. Pelvic Floor- The pelvic floor carries a hammock of muscles which support the baby and help with child birth. Working those muscles through strenghtening and relaxing will help for a less painful pregnancy and aid in childbirth.
Join us for our Prenatal Yoga classes and discover the benefits for yourself!
|Posted by Stacy Cushenbery on October 1, 2012 at 11:45 AM||comments (0)|
Now that fall is here it can be a challenge to slow down and listen to what our bodies need. Even if you don't have a meditation practice learning to slow down in your daily life is a wonderful skill to practice. By slowing down in our daily life to pause and take in the present moments of joy can be observed, those moments that we normally overlook and rush by. Likewise slowing down in our yoga practice helps us become more intune to where our bodies are and allow us to find beauty in each pose. Take an opportunity this week to slow down and enjoy the slow life!
|Posted by Stacy Cushenbery on September 28, 2012 at 12:05 AM||comments (0)|
I wanted to share with you one of my favorite mudras, the Lotus Mudra. Mudras lock and guide energy flow through specific hand positions. Mudras are combined with breathing and thought. This mudra is tied to the heart and is a wonderful mudra for heart opening and bringing love into our actions. Spending a new moments each day with this mudra is a beneficial practice for anyone.
With the base of the palms together, touch the thumbs together and then the little fingers together. Invite the other three fingers to open as wide as possible, like a lotus flower opening. Place the hands in front of the heart with the thumbs facing toward the chest.
"The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless & free your action will be" -Dalai Lama XIV
Twisted Tree Yoga offers classes that bring 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.