Yoga and Valentine's Day

This week, we started a series of yoga at a new studio. We opened the doors and windows, turned on the air purifiers, everyone wore masks, and while that was not ideal, it was glorious to be together. The energy was phenomenal!

Many had not done yoga in over 2 years since the beginning of the pandemic. They came anyway. Yoga always meets you where you are at. A few came twice in the same week! One said, “I’ve been doing yoga everyday with a video; WOW is this different!” Another said,"I loved today! Such good energy. Loved the space, the people and the music.”

Yoga feels different in different spaces. After 2 years teaching outdoors and online, I’ve found that the environment matters. The container matters. One student preferred outdoors, she felt confined inside. Our theme was creating space. Ultimately, the idea of yoga is to create space in your body, in your mind, and in your heart. Yoga helps us clear the clutter inside ourselves so we can create more space in our lives for what matters most.

Especially as we approach Valentine's Day, for me, that’s love. More love please. I love teaching in this new studio. I love creating space for yoga and what it offers me no matter what’s going on in my world. I’m finding there is space to enjoy yoga live online, outdoors and in-studio. Each has something different to offer and experience. What they all have in common is: showing up. It's getting yourself on that mat, in whatever way you can, to create the space you need for what you want most in life. What is that for you?

Building Resilience for Kids

We’re in a surge. As Omicron roars on, families are forced to endure the ongoing challenges associated with an unending pandemic. We keep hearing the word, resilience.

The concept of resilience is the ability to engage with a challenge and emerge with a measure of success. It’s a psychological principle blending optimism, flexibility, problem-solving and motivation. It’s what you got through determination - beating a better team or earning a better grade than what you prepared for. It’s your bounce-back factor when times get tough.

“Resilient people not only bounce back, but also thrive in the best of times.” said Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician and the author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’s book “Building Resilience in Children and Teens.”

Never has resilience been more important. So how do we foster it? One way is through yoga. What we learn on the mat translates to life off the mat.

  • Start with support. Stability matters. No one can take risks if they don’t feel safe. Love your kids no matter what.
  • Be flexible. If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s adapt and adapt quickly!
  • Regulate your emotions. They can’t be stable if you’re not stable. Show them how.
  • Balance your energy. Your kids learn from how you handle situations.
  • Keep it simple. Small moments build big muscles for overcoming frustration and disappointments. Allow kids to feel their feelings and recover.
  • Stretch! Get outside of your comfort zone. Resiliency is about balancing success and failure. It’s doing things you’re not sure you can do.

With a safe foundation and challenges that build endurance, we can thrive. If we can’t roll with the punches, life will be very hard.

New Year Resolutions for Kids

We’re letting go of 2021 and opening up to 2022. I find endings and beginning are an ongoing theme working with kids of all ages.

How can we create a healthy cycle of transitioning from the end of an experience to the beginning of another? We suggest the exercise of reflections and intentions. It’s an easy and fun way to remind ourselves what’s happened and to decide what we want to have happen going forward.

“No amount of regret changes the past. No amount of anxiety changes the future. Any amount of gratitude changes the present.” ANN VOSKAMP

Reflections - look backward

1. Ask your child what they remember most about the year past. It’s helpful to use holidays or special events as reminders.

2. Draw or write down their favorite experiences. Then, celebrate them again to validate the positive feelings they had. If difficult memories arise, lean into those feelings too. Sometimes we can look back and laugh about a difficult moment. Sometimes we may still have challenging feelings to process. Help your child feel safe to express their emotions…always better out than in!

3. Answer the question: What am I leaving behind in 2021? This prompts us to think about what is not working anymore and to let it go.

Intentions - look forward

1. Talk to your child about their hopes and dreams for the year ahead. What do they want most? You may have plans for a family trip they can look forward to. Entertain all ideas no matter how impractical. This should be wild and fun!

2. Draw or write down what they want most. Intentions are different than goals. Goals have a specific outcome. An intention is an idea of what you want to experience. For example: I intent to be kind. My goal is to share with my sibling.

3. Answer the question: What am I looking forward to in 2022? Create something new and keep doing what is working well.

Have fun with this annual exercise. Happy New Year to your family! XOM

Yoga for Gen Z

Who’s really feeling the effects of the pandemic…

Gen Z is struggling to cope the most. School, dating and careers are being derailed by the pandemic. Maintaining friendships has been especially difficult with lack of in-person engagement. It’s both personal and collective trauma.

Almost half of Gen Zers (46%) say they've experienced stress during COVID-19 – compared to around one-third of millennials and Gen X. Sixty-four percent (64%) of people with a mental illness say the holidays make their conditions worse. Bah-hum-bug. So about the stress…Prior to the pandemic, almost one out of five (1 of 5) adults lived with a mental health disorder, but in the last year, nearly two of five (2 of 5) adults reported experiencing anxiety or depressive disorder according to a National Alliance on Mental Illness study. The short-term and unknown long-term effects of the pandemic, have induced trauma for all ages.

Yoga teachers need to be educated for trauma-sensitive practices like these:

  1. Language awareness - avoid phrases that include words like legs, bum and rear. Instead, instruct placement of hands, feet, and hips.
  2. Body placement - avoid physical contact with students. Instead, show them visually and guide them verbally how to get in and out of poses.
  3. Yoga is a choice and a privilege - never force a student to participate in yoga. Instead, invite students to join you, or to observe. If they are in the room, they are learning.

Be mindful of who’s showing up to yoga and talk to them openly about how they are feeling.Yoga unites body, mind and heart. That alone can help elevate the energy for kids and all they are experiencing.

Happy Holiday Health

Holidays bring their own energy. It’s a blend of excitement and joy often with overwhelm and even dread. To Do Lists are long and much falls on moms. Moms who are still navigating an ongoing pandemic with new variants emerging.

The pandemic affects people's mental health. More than 40% of Americans admitted to feeling depressed. Physicians are calling the mental health crisis among kids a national emergency. Young girls and children of color are particularly at risk. 

While holidays bring a brighter spirit, here are some resources just in case it doesn’t feel that way for someone close to you:

  1. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential support for people in distress.
  2. The Child Mind Institute provides clinical care and supports community programs.
  3. Yoga brings helping hearts for people who are struggling together. 

Breathing, moving and resting for as few as 10 minutes is recommended to diminish the demands of the season. While the holidays may come and go, the pandemic lingers on, and its effects have impact for years to come. One thing you can do is show up with heart and help for parents and kids who are suffering. 

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