Eat all the cookies - moderation

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Brahmacharya yama is the principle of moderation in yoga. I’ve lived my life by it. I’m not one for extremes. In my experience, they require too much energy to regulate. The highest highs must come down, the lowest lows must come up. For me, steady upward is best. I discovered that in college.

I sent my daughter her favorite ginger cookies in a college care package. She called to say thank me and shared she felt guilty for eating them all — in one sitting (not really all of them, but more than her typical amount.) My response was, “Sometimes you need to eat all the cookies.” My intention was to say don’t deprave yourself of enjoyment.

Because with over-consumption of anything — food, alcohol or shopping an equal and opposite dynamic pulls towards various modes of deprivation and restriction.

More is not always better. There is a point of diminishing returns: proportionally smaller benefits (or even destructive outcomes) derived from something as more is invested in it. This includes anything we go EXTRA on, even exercise or work. Sometimes less is more and it enables us to savor the item or the moment.

Everything in moderation — including moderation! This irony means sometimes you need to eat all the cookies, or have none. But mostly, you get to enjoy them like Goldilocks getting it “just right.”

The Yoga Sutra describes five different yamas, including ashimsa (non-violence), asteya (non-stealing), satya (truthfulness), aparigraha (non-possessiveness), and brahmacharya (moderation).

Winter solstice yoga at home

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During this season of bright lights and holiday festivities, it can be hard to remember that we are simultaneously entering the darkest time of the year. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year with the longest night. The season’s themes are reflection, rest and renewal.

Family, friends, decorating, gifting and parties, can bring us great joy! They also create loaded to-do-lists, sensory stimulation and overwhelm — especially for mothers. This depletes our immune system. Taking time to pause, unplug and choose activities that nourish the soul is a tall order this time of year.

Yoga practice at home (with or without the kids) brings a sweet balance between holiday lights and introspective dimness.

Maintaining this balance takes discipline and self-love. That’s what a yoga lifestyle is about...Not to escape from the world, but a set of proven practices to fine-tune our presence in the world. When we make that difference inwardly, we make a difference outwardly. Building a regular practice becomes your secret serenity to recharge and start again. And again.

In continued turbulent times the wonderful holidays remind us of how blessed we are to enjoy comforts we often take for granted. Let us lift humanity and become something better. Opening our hearts to love one another and to diminish the fear that creates separation and suffering. Let’s begin this in our homes now — and always.

P.S. There’s still time to donate to the diaper drive benefiting Homeless Prenatal Program. You may also want to bring yoga into your home with private classes and Warrior training.


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.


Learn all sorts of useful tips about Yoga for Kids!