Children as Generous Gift Givers

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Gift givers (like Santa) feel connected by the act of giving and/or receiving gifts. Of the 5 love languages, which also include words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch, these people put “presents” at the top of the list.

In yoga, generosity, where we share freely, is the opposite of taking (Asteya). A generous person sees life through abundance instead of scarcity.

How do I encourage my child to be more giving?

Help your children practice becoming an enthusiastic giver on their own by modeling generosity and kindness to others. Notice when you see others being generous. When it’s time to give a gift, have your child help select, wrap, and give the gift.

When is the best age for my child to give gifts?

While 3-year-olds showed difficulty giving a gift to another, research shows that children begin to understand how to be thoughtful in gift-giving around age 4. (Flavell et al.,1968)

What are the best gifts for children to give? Something from their heart. A handmade card or work of art is the best gift for young children to give. Older children can learn to ask the receiver for a wish list and fulfill an item on it within their budget.

If you are giving gifts to children, consider the five gift rule:

  1. something they want
  2. something they need
  3. something to wear
  4. something to read
  5. something they didn't know they wanted

Enjoy this gift giving time of year with a mindful approach to being generous with your time and energy. Consider giving memorable experiences like family yoga or Warrior training because it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

“Still feeling inspired by our private family yoga session this morning. Thank you!" - Louise L, SF


Cherish the Holiday Magic

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The day after Thanksgiving marks the “official” beginning of the holiday season. The sight of sparkly lights and decorations, the sounds of seasonal music, and the smells and tastes of festive foods can create different feelings for us all—from downright dread to utmost delight.

I’m considering how our family will navigate the holidays this year—what matters (time together), and what doesn’t (appearances and material things). We can only control ourselves: how we meet the moment, and our level of presence through it all.

Here are 3 ways to make this season magical:

Manage your mindset - Go from toxic positivity to healthy optimism. Be genuine, authentic and real. Call it like you see it, but from the “glass is full” perspective. Give the benefit of the doubt and question the other when you’re not sure what they meant or if what they said or did landed badly. “Tell me more…” is always a good way to get more clarity.

Champion your choice - Say no thank you and disengage when you need time for you. Walk away. Take a double inhale with a long exhale because it’s the fastest way to calm the nervous system. Go to the bathroom like you did when you were a kid if your stomach hurt. Then come back with a voice or let it go. Ask yourself, “What is the next right action?”

Cherish the Magic- Love at full throttle: your partner, your kids, your brothers and sisters, your friends. Keep them close and love ‘em up! Savor the small moments and the big ones. Abandon the past and the future for the present moment. Indulge in goodness. So this holiday season notice, appreciate, and look for the goodness in others. Something as simple as a smile in your eyes, kindness in your voice, or patience in your posture — each of these little things can work magic.

P.S. Two tips for giving gifts: 1. give them what they asked for 2. give experiences (like yoga) vs. things. Enjoy!

3 Easy Ways to Practice Gratitude

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Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. - THICH NHAT HANH

It’s the time of year when we’re encouraged to express (or at least think about) gratitude. The feeling of appreciation by a recipient of another's kindness can be an “affective trait” (one's overall tendency to have a grateful disposition) an emotion (a more temporary feeling of gratitude that one may feel after receiving a gift or a favor from another) or a mood (daily fluctuations in overall gratitude).

Being grateful every day — not just at Thanksgiving — is better for your health. Studies show regular gratitude practice yields these benefits:

  • Mental health: thankfulness leads to lower levels of stress, depression, and anxiety
  • Physical health: fewer aches and pains and generally feeling healthier than those who don’t practice gratitude
  • Better sleep: Positive thoughts before bed can lead to a more restful sleep
  • Stronger relationships: appreciation helps you and those around you feel better
  • Career satisfaction: better professional cohesion and performance
  • Builds resilience: transforms negativity and emotional setbacks

It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to practice gratitude. Here’s how:

  1. Notice good things, look for them, appreciate them
  2. Savor, absorb, and really pay attention to those good things - hold them tight
  3. Express your gratitude to yourself, write it down, or thank someone

Make a list of 7 things every day before bed. Good things! Then track how you feel over time. Let me know how it goes. And get warrior training to wiggle your toes.


3 Ways to Handle Holiday Boundaries

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It’s always family fun at the holidays, right? In fact, it can be very stressful. Managing family dynamics (aka: power struggles) during the holidays is not usually on anyone’s wish list.

Here are 3 ways (I learned in yoga) to make it easier:

1. Set an intention. Just like we do at the beginning of a yoga class, get clear on what is most important for the event. What do you want from the day? Prepare yourself and your children by setting expectations and plan ahead for predictable situations to minimize stress. Communicate clearly so family members understand your goals.

2. What can you control? Only you. Your responses (not your reactions) to what others say or do. The power is in the pause. “What do you mean by ….” is one of my favorite responses, or “Tell me more about … I’m curious about your perspective.” Become an observer without judgment like we do in yoga. Simply notice what is happening inside and around us.

3. Let it go. Just like the leaves on the trees, let them fall. Release some of the pressure and acknowledge that it may not all go as you planned. Ask yourself, will this matter in 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, 5 months or 5 years? Keep your composure (also learned in yoga), call out unwanted behavior kindly or remove yourself from the situation to get calm.

Remember people who don’t respect you all year long will not suddenly respect you at a holiday. Be mindful and practice setting boundaries - especially with grandparents. Helping others can also shift attention toward what matters most during the holidays. Donate to our annual diaper drive from November 17 to December 16 benefiting Homeless Prenatal Program.

5 Words To Start Your Day

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Good morning, I love you. What’s the best way to start the day?

Self-love. Because if you don’t love you, no one else will love you either.

It’s never too late to re-wire your brain for deep calm, contentment and clarity. This book, by my friend, Shauna, offers both the science and practice of how self-kindness leads to fulfillment and joy. The simple practice of putting your hand on your heart first thing in the morning and saying, “I love you" can change everything.

I gave Good Morning, I Love You to my daughter when she left for college because I wasn’t there to say it to her when she woke up. Now, she does that herself. I also love it when she sends me a surprise text: Good morning, I love you. As a mother, nothing warms my heart more.

Now, Shauna has written, Good Morning, I love you, Violet! A children’s book to cultivate the same self-love at a young age. This practice is not easily adopted by our protagonist. I recommend you read it to see how she breaks through the resistance and what happens when she does.

These two books for parents and children are essentials on the book shelf this holiday season and beyond.

Learn all sorts of useful tips about Yoga for Kids!