Friday, November 21, 2014

A Moment To Step Outside

It was a Wednesday after an unseasonably cold wintry November week. Just 30-seconds off the bus after school and I can already tell my son is "off". My normally steady first-grader is a baggage of emotions -- from teary-eyed to grumpy tyrant. He is distraught to the point of tears that the weather has warmed up just enough to melt most of the snow. He doesn't want to go to violin tonight. He demands to play video games knowing full well they are not allowed after school. He just wants to be grumpy.

With my mother's-eye-crystal-ball I drive back home envisioning all the drama of wills and emotions that will play out once we get inside and collide with the other members of the family. It does not look good for anyone.

I park the car at home and jump out the car. I feel bad for him. I give him a big squeeze hoping he can feel my mother's love all the way through our thick winter gear. "I know what you need!" I say. "Let's go on an adventure!" So we drop our bags in the door, then set off, snow pants swooshing, into the back yard.

But we didn't play in the hilly grass backyard as usual. We went back, way back to the deep steep forested gorge the kids aren't usually allowed to go near.

Climbed down into the gorge. The greenery in the background
are the trees in our front yard.

We spent the next 20 or 30 minutes sliding down and climbing up icy muddy banks. I let him lead and take risks. After so many days of deep freeze, it felt wonderful to get out in fresh air and use our bodies in ways that challenged our balance, coordination and muscles.

It is such a healing power that nature has when you allow yourself to be swallowed up by it. I breathed in mother nature's hug as we stood there looking up at the sky full over with bare bone branch trees. I am in awe at how utterly tall the trees are, the tulip poplars and sycamore trees have to be over a hundred years old. It is so nice to set aside personal worries and be tiny and insignificant for a moment. Then at the same time open up to something bigger.

A strange flash of reality hits that sends me texting my husband to please put the dish in the oven at 350 degrees. Blamb, I am back in the year 2014.

Can you make out our house through the trees?

I find it odd that I have waited until this very moment to explore our backyard gorge with my son, and introduce to him the immense power it holds. We've lived here for over four years. Perhaps I waiting for him to be strong enough. Perhaps I was waiting for the right moment.

Both of us arrived home red-cheeked and feeling much more centered and peaceful. We had a nice dinner than headed to violin practice as usual, without any more fuss.

On this month that I have personally dedicated to deepen my gratefulness in my daily life and in my teachings, I can't help but to be grateful for little moments like these where I can walk into my backyard and find peace, humility, health and connection. I can't help but to think of all the children living in cities that may never experience the feeling of transcendence while in nature. Or all the children who regularly ignore their backyard in lieu of video games.

Today I am also grateful of the opportunity to be clear-headed enough to see what my son needed when he got home, and am so thankful of our connection and relationship built on love and trust. I know things change and change and change. So I am thankful for this moment. Now.

The Domestic Yogi

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Just Staying Put

Nothing like being a parent and making tough choices. Often I find myself striving for balance, but feeling like I am left short-handing someone or something, usually myself.

Sunday morning was no exception. I really *really* wanted to do something for myself. Something that was important to me. Something I had been looking forward to for weeks. Something profound.

But instead, my two little ones charmed me into lounging on the couch all morning. We did a lot of cuddling and chatting like this:

We giggled, chatted, and played. Calm at first then more wiggly. Then I caught up on some reading while soaking in the sweet sounds of their imaginative play together. Then a little more of this:

and this...

Then my husband quietly got lunch ready while I watched him from the couch. Then we enjoyed a nice unhurried lunch together. Rare moments these days in lives that seem too much like passing sailboats.

Ahh, a lazy Sunday morning after a busy week. I hadn't seen the kids in the last day and a half, except a couple hours at my son's birthday party.

So even though I had been looking forward to doing something spiritually important to me, and investing in the strengthening of my spiritual future, it would just happen that hanging out in the same room as my family, just cuddling and lounging all morning was in fact, just what we all needed.

Maybe it took a little mom guilt to make me stay. Maybe it was a bit of laziness. But we all got what we needed I do believe.

It always amazes me what a little unstructured time, mixed with very close proximity (for my family that means lots of snuggles) can do for our mind, body and spirit.

The Domestic Yogi

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Kissing Hand

Finally broke down and bought our own copy of The Kissing Hand because it is the sweetest kids book!

"Sometimes it's just as hard for us to leave our children in a new situation as it is for them. How comforting for both parent and child to know that the love and reassurance to face such separations can be as close as the palm of our hands!"

It's perfect for this time of year as we prepare kids to go off into the world.

Now, find your child, give them a squeeze and enjoy this book together.

The Domestic Yogi

Monday, August 25, 2014

How Yoga Lights Up My 3-Year-Old

See that baby in the banner picture at the top of my blog. She is growing up! I am so happy to share with you that she also loves yoga! Loves it!

She has been coming with me to toddler yoga for a year-and-a-half and is always right there beside me singing, chanting and doing the poses. I love that we can share this practice together.

Things change fast, so who knows, maybe she will be ambivalent about it next month. But for now, I thought I would share with you her kid yoga debut. This is my daughter, age three, showing me her "yoga routine".

What I adore most about this video is the pure love and joy that radiates from her. 

Note: The jumping sequence at the end is part of my kids yoga classes where we grab our "monkey minds" and bring them back into our bodies "home".

Here is a short video clip of us practicing together about a week later. You will see she finally is able to kick up to headstand after much practice all week!

As you can see, even young kids are able to use yoga to connect to their own inner strength, balance, and spirit! So go have some fun doing yoga. 

Try a little "grab the monkey, grab the monkey, grab the monkey, bring him back hoooome!"

The Domestic Yogi

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How To Help Your Child Transition Home After School

I've been thinking about the best thing I could do for my child when he gets home from school each day to help him relax, unwind and settle back into his center. It's a long day away from home (8am to 4:30pm) with a whole lot of listening, sitting still and doing what you are told. That is a whole lot of external influence. All that with only 20 minutes recess a day!

I found the perfect thing.

Do you Grey's Anatomy geeks remember that episode when the surgeon with Asperger Syndrome, Dr. Dixon, looses it and explains in a clinical way that she needs intense pressure on as much body surface as possible to help calm her nervous system. See pic below.

Did you know that a they use a similar principal to calm animals down when leading them to slaughter thanks to Dr. Temple Grandin, a female scientist who also has autism.

So now when my boy comes home from school I spend a moment snuggling with him on the couch, giving him a nice strong snuggle with as much body surface as he will let me. It goes on a tad long, 20 seconds to a minute. Surely something that only a parent could get away with. But most days he lets me. And it does seem to help. And heck, it's good for me! It's nice to have an outlet to fuel all my missing-my-boy-afraid-the-world-will-hurt-my-son-angst.

Other days, he is cheeky, so I pick him up like a baby, hold him to me as tight as I can, and sing Rock-a-Bye-Baby". He thinks it is hilarious! Laughter is good medicine too.

Plus afterwards it is nice to just see what bubbles up from him. I like to think he may be more open afterwards to sharing something troubling him. Or something happy! Most times he is ready to move on and just get to playing.

Try it out on your lovies, and tell me if it helps!

I remember growing up that my mom always greeted me warmly the minute I walked through the door when I got home from school. If she wasn't right there, she would yell down 'hello' and that she would be right there. And she always came down. This always made me feel important. And loved. And secure. She would stop what she was doing and look at me, connect with me, give me her 100% attention. I may of not said much. I may of been too pooped. I may of felt invisible all day in my early years. I may of been dealing with a lot of dramas, in my later years. But her being there certainly helped.

So when your kids come home, take a moment to connect and see them for who they are. Give them a tight squeeze. Who knows, maybe they will grow up and write a really cool blog post about it!

The Domestic Yogi

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

KG Wrap Up

Recess, lunch and PE. These were his favorite parts in KG. And Chess Club. I have no idea why Chess Club would be the highlight of the year, but it is for him. But I know there is other magic working wonders there in KG, cuz the kid has become a real reading whizz. But he doesn't care about that. Nope, he wants to ask endless questions about the mysteries of math to anyone whom might know, like stuff they do in THIRD GRADE because practicing KG math isn't quite as alluring, plus it just takes too long to do the worksheet.

He can finally write sentences with spaces. These sentences may end in a big bowlingball-esq period, or with an added line on top to make an exclamation mark or two!!! But hey, I can finally decipher them into modern English, like rilly rilly i can. Speaking of which, why did no one tell me you needed to take a mini-course on translating your kindergartener's sentences? Thank-goodness we are past the first semester where even he couldn't translate his own work.

I am very proud to report he only used the word "butt" (correctly spelled) in one piece of schoolwork (that I know of) this year. Strangely, he seemed shocked that was in there, and claimed to not remember writing that. Hmm.

And I'm happy he stuck things out that didn't come so easy. Like his drawings. They are becoming a little more, uh, realistic. I mean, if he really tries. I can usually figure it out. Especially if he sticks to his basics, house, tree, fish, cat, happy stick people, or stick figures with frowny faces and weapons battling each other. But that doesn't stop him from loving art class. He loves art! Wouldn't you know it. The year he leaves me full time he discovered how much fun crafts are. Nope. No offence taken.

See picture above of another new thing he loves, basketball! So much so he wants to be a basketball player when he grows up!

More than any piece of paper my son brought home all year, what makes me the happiest is that after completing his first full-time year of school, his love of learning is higher than ever. That and all the big smiles, waves and excited shouts we heard from all the KG classes today as we walked into the lunch room late.

He is a far cry from his mother whom was doomed by her kindergarten teacher to "have real problems in life" for being so painfully shy. Well, thank goodness there is now social media, and more encouraging teachers!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I am Loving This Winter!

Okay, slap me. I know. It's been a crazy cold, snowy, pent-up, nearly every school day is a late-start or cancelled sort-of-month for me too.

Our backyard winter wonderland

But with the snow and ice and cold brings cozy warm moments snuggled up inside with family. The other three seasons for us are just so chalked full with living life to its fullest, most of which is outside of the house.

At the beginning of this year, I was feeling run ragged after being too externally focused for so long by working too many part-time jobs (that I love), while trying to be all I can be for others. So while the sun seems to be taking a hiatus this winter, I decided I was going to be very focused on cultivating my own inner light.

Focusing on reconnecting with my own inner light has been the best thing I could of done for me and my family this winter. 

I know its helped my attitude to stay positive the last dreary month. I have been genuinely loving and embracing the slowing down and the quietness outside. I am loving the time to bond with my kids, get imaginative, get creative and focused on activities. This time of year, my kids always seem to surprise me with how well they get into their own little play zones, and get so creative.

My kids also drive me batty at times. Don't get me wrong.

Laying in the snow

To cultivate my inner light, this last month I have been focusing on getting daily time to myself for meditation, pranayama, yoga or self-reflecting. Along side with a daily physical outlet. Each are so important to me to keep myself in balance.

Journaling has always been a wonderful way for me to know myself more fully, and to connect to my creative side. I mostly stopped when I become a mother. Its nice to go back to this practice. It's so magical how getting my feelings onto paper helps me to heal, process and hopefully move on.

I finally felt strong enough to kick up the physical side a notch. On top of my usual yoga teaching and home practice, I added a bit of cardio, weights, and a 2-3 hot yoga classes a week. The hot yoga especially has helped to get my mental focus, and inner fire back. Welcome home pitta, my old friend. I have been so vatta for too long.

I discovered a few gems this month.

*  A daily "good habit" is easier to maintain than the sporadic habit.

* Good habits overall make you feel good and motivate you to keep going.

* Daily practice doesn't always feel good in the moment.

Most people's image of meditation or yoga is one of total serenity. But to just warn you. The raw truth to the matter is this:

Daily practice can be ugly. Downright ugly.

It can be so hard on you physically and emotionally. It can be heart-wrenching and body breaking. Daily practice can make you feel like a God or Goddess. It may make your feel like your highest self. Other days, it a sad, sloppy pathetic mess. It can be downright impossible or utterly uncomfortable. But change, strength, compassion are a few gifts that can come from letting yourself be open, real and aware.

My health is an ongoing "healing project". It isn't a straight line up. It is jagged, but at least it is up. I keep varying supplements, remedies, cleanses, diet and physical outlets. I've said it before, and I will say it again, my health issues have made me accountable for some lazy habits I picked up, and for that I am thankful.

Looks like February will be another long wintry month. So I hope I can continue to stock the inner fires to keep my mind and body healthy.