You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2009.
A feature story about kids yoga was written in the January/February addition of the Rochester Magazine. I am featured along with a couple of other studios. New classes at Breathe are starting soon after the New Year. Read all about them in the article!
The job of being a parent is so much harder than one imagines before being entrenched in this life changing role. I am so grateful for being a parent and know that I would not be the person that I am today without the lessons that my children teach me and the love that we share.
When it comes to parenting, setting boundaries is just one of many job requirements. It seems easy to create those parameters but the job of enforcing consequences for rule breaking is so much harder to conquer.
A popular parenting book that addresses the issue of discipline is “1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12″ by Thomas Phelan. I found that the advice this book offers helps me to separate myself from the guilt and doubt that sometimes tag along with disciplining. The book recommends that the parent verbalizes to the child that he/she gets three chances to change the behavior that needs to stop. If the behavior does not stop, then the consequence is a time out or pre-determined punishment. This approach does not allow for negotiating or whining. When your young one is counted to three the consequence occurs. 1-2-3-Punishment! The very simple parameters do not allow for any lingering feelings of doubt to creep along. Parental self-doubt can lead parents to ignore the rule breaking behavior and to resist enforcing a punishment which, in the long run, make matters worse.
The blog Smart Classroom Management recently posted an article called “Why You Shouldn’t Care If Your Students Misbehave” that made a lot of sense to me as a parent. You predetermine the consequences and parameters and then without investing yourself in the situation you follow through and continue on. It’s all about that word consistency that everyone associates with parenting success. Without any feelings of attachment to the situation at hand, the more likely you are able to be consistent in your disciplining.
In the book I mentioned in a recent post called “How To Behave So Your Children Behave Too!”, the author writes a story about how every morning a parent asks his child to wash his hands before eating. Every morning his child gets up and goes to wash after being told to do so. The parent asks his child why he just doesn’t wash before sitting down—why must he wait to be told. The child answers “because once you forgot to remind me!” It’s all about consistency which comes down to removing those thoughts that interfere with being consistent. For me, those thoughts begin with a dialogue that I have with myself about whether or not I am being fair, whether I want to deal with the crying or whining that my discipline will create or whether I want to stop what I’m doing to deal with the problem.
Two yoga tactics for helping to separate oneself from the thoughts that creep into one’s head during times of frustration as a parent or teacher are below:
- Focusing on one’s breath. This is similar to counting to 10. A belly full of air does wonders to dissipate any feelings of tension.
- Following the yogic principle of non-judgment is very helpful in keeping one’s head in trying situations.
I found this explanation of non-judgment skills on the Wellsphere website. The gist of it is:
- Observe without judging.
- Review the facts only.
- Don’t allow adjectives to enter the picture.
- Remove your opinion.
- Accept the negative situation without judging it.
Being a parent is rewarding in so many ways—it’s a journey that leads to many unforeseen paths. Frustration is inevitable, but using breath and keeping a non-judgmental perspective will help guide your family through some of those bumpy roads.
I was at a yoga class recently and heard this great story.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
I love the idea of this legend. What you expose yourself to, what you read, watch, choose to think about and choose to react to will shape your perspective and life. Surround yourself with positive people and things that bring you peace and joy and you will exude positivity, peace and joy. If you focus on the negative that bombards us daily in the papers, news and tv programing, if you choose to dwell on what you don’t have, haven’t done, could have been, then gloom and cynicism will begin to taint your experience and life journey.
I decided to try something new in my house. I had been feeling a bit disheartened by my children’s relationship with each other. The sibling rivalry seemed to be escalating and my tactics were failing. I recently read a great parenting book called “How To Behave So Your Children Will Too” by Sal Severe Ph.D. The book suggests what many books advise which is to reward the type of behavior that you want to see. What I liked in this book is that Dr. Severe lists incentives to use for children of different ages.
My husband was traveling on business last week and I really wanted a peaceful house while doing the solo parenting gig. I bought two cheap gumball machines from Rite Aid and took out all the gum. I told the kids that whenever I see them treating each other kindly or doing a random act of kindness for someone that I would put a gumball in their dispenser. At the end of the week, if they had 15 gumballs, I would let them pick from a grab bag of little incentive coupons. The incentive coupons were for staying up a little later, playing a board game, picking a restaurant out for the family to go to over the weekend or picking a family movie to watch over the weekend. I kept the incentives family based and non-food based. I have to say that we had a GREAT week. The kids did not make it to 15 and if they still don’t this week, I will rethink my target. But the relationship between my son and daughter is changing.
While I am feeding their caring, nurturing, empathizing and loving wolf, they are happily chomping away at their bubblegum. The flavor of the gum may only last 20 minutes, but I’m hoping that the taste for family peace, harmony and love takes hold and lasts their whole lives…
The lucky winner of our first contest is Gaileee. Thank you so much for participating. I will contact you for your mailing address and send out your dvd.
My newest addition to my cold fighting arsenal is the essential oil Thieves. I add it to water in a spray bottle to disinfect my house and I use it topically on my throat with a little olive oil. I was told to add a drop to hot water for a nice elixir but haven’t tried that yet.
I will be looking into the grapefruit seed extract too. Thanks for the ideas. Stay healthy and have a wonderful holiday!
I have been battling yet another cold. I realize that teaching kids does come with the added bonus of germ contact, however, being active, using hand sanitizer religiously, eating healthily and getting good sleep should be helping my body fight these buggers. What’s going on!!
Here is a list of some things that I have incorporated into my newest staying healthy initiative:
1. I love this yoga sequence that I found last year in Yoga Journal called “Immunity Boost“. My plan is to wake up and start my day with some immune boosting yoga.
2. I have started using this great product called Amazing Grass Superfood. It is a powder that contains an amazing (hence the name) amount of vegetables and fruits. Each packet serving is the equivalent of 3 servings of fruits and vegetables.
Here is a list of ingredients in the chocolate powder: organic wheat grass, organic barley grass, organic alfalfa, asparagus, lima beans, green peas, kale, kiwi, organic spinach, organic broccoli, brussle sprouts, green beans, zucchini, apricots, organic carrots, mangoes, pineapple, sweet potatoes, tangerines, yellow squash, pomegranates, raspberries, guavas, cranberries, red cabbage, cherries, tomatoes, beets, plums, purple grapes, blueberries, organic oat fiber, organic soy milk powder (organic soy beants, organic cane juice), organic cocoa, FOS (from chicory root), butch cocoa, natural vanilla, apple pectin fiber, carrageenan, sea salt, silicon dioxide (anti-caking).
I blend my packet with bananas and chocolate milk. Yummy! My six-year-old loved it. I feel healthier just writing about the drink!
3. Regular exercise can help your body fight the negative effects of stress on the immune system. There is even research that says that exercising with a cold will due no harm and actually might make you feel better. I love being active and generally do some form of exercise everyday. Now that it is winter I’ll be heading outdoors for some snowshoeing and skiing—getting some vitamin D and fresh oxygen in my body.
4. Research proves that lack of sleep will breakdown your immune system making one susceptible to illness. I am a morning person. My husband is a night owl. I do TRY (not always successfully…) to stay up to have time with my man after the kids are in bed. When I feel myself losing ground on the cold front, I head to bed earlier to help my body rest.
5. I am around essential oils a lot being a yoga teacher and often find the different aromas very soothing. Try bergamot, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, myrrh, rosemary, tea tree, and thyme to help aid the immune system. I love the company Natropatch of Vermont. They make patches of essential oils that you wear for energy, sleep help, aches and pain, PMS and stress release. I recently used the stress release patch on a 7 hour family car trip and must claim that I was very relaxed throughout. The eucalyptus patch is specific for repairing and healing one’s body from colds and coughs.
I wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday season. In honor of the holidays, I would like to announce Karma Spot’s first ever contest…
I would love to hear what you do to keep healthy during the Winter months. Write a comment to enter yourself to win an Ana Brett Kundalini Yoga video. The randomly picked winner will be announced next Sunday the 20th of December.
I have 7 new classes beginning at Breathe in the Village of Pittsford starting January 11th. Register by calling Breathe at 585-248-9070 or stopping by the studio at 17-19 South Main Street.
My Breathe class schedule will be:
12-1pm Mom & Baby Yoga
11:30-12 Storybook Yoga for toddlers through Pre-K
1:15-2pm Pre-K Yoga
10-10:45am Pre-K Yoga
11:00 – 12:00 Mom & Baby
11:30-12:15 Yoga Tikes (5-7 yrs)
12:30-1:15 Yoga Kids (8-11 yrs)
I will also be available for birthday parties from 12:15-1:45 on Saturdays and from 1:30-3pm on Sundays.
Download the flier here.
My sister forwarded this piece that author Anna Quindlen wrote awhile back. I had read it once before but it always seems relevant and fresh. It was a gift for me today as I had one of those parenting days… driving back and forth to play dates, drum lessons, religious school and then onward home to deal with dinner and the never-ending “do your homework” struggle. All of that is standard operating procedure as a parent, of course, but there were moments today when I felt truly lost and ultimately drained. So here is the gift that arrived today in my email box. Enjoy. Read. Breathe.
Piece by Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author:
All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief.
I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults,
two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the
same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with
me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make
me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel
and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like.
Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move
food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I
bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is
buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the
unreliable haze of the past.
Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now.
Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling
rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education,
have all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild
Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that
if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those
books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught
me, and the well-meaning relations –what they taught me, was that
they couldn’t really teach me very much at all.
Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then
becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it
is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to
positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice
and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.
When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on
his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time
my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of
research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this
ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually
you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow.
I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton’s wonderful
books on child development, in which he describes three different
sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a
sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there
something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong
with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically
challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China . Next year he
goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.
Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes
were made. They have all been enshrined in the, ‘Remember-When-
Mom-Did Hall of Fame.’ The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad
language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The
times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover.
The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out
of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded,
‘What did you get wrong?’. (She insisted I include that.) The time I
ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through speaker and then drove
away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I
include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the
first two seasons. What was I thinking?
But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while
doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly
clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There
is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt
in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I
wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how
they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I
had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner,
bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and
the getting it done a little less.
Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and
what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought
someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now
I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they
demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books
said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was
sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up
with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more
than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That’s what the books
never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts.
It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.
Get out the tissues…
Although this video is about a human/dog relationship, it really spoke loudly to me as a parent and teacher. It is easy to see ourselves in our children. Our children may look like us and have similar skill sets or traits that we passed along. It is easy to wrap our hopes and dreams around our children. It is easy to push them into doing activities because we enjoyed them as children or perhaps because we never had the chance and our children can fulfill that lost dream.
This trainer was astute. She had hopes for her puppy. She had dreams that it would accomplish a certain goal. She was also able to acknowledge when to stop pushing and she was able to focus instead on her dog’s strengths. This dog changed a life because its owner was able to put aside her vision and direct her dog to something it could do well.
I loved this quote from the video:
“When I let go of who I wanted her to be,
and just let her “be”, she completely flourished.
[and] I reveled in knowing she’s perfect
just the way she is!”
If all children had someone helping them find their strengths, directing them toward activities and classes and careers that utilized those strengths wouldn’t we have a lot more happiness in the world.
A new session has begun and I found myself with first class jitters yesterday although I have been teaching for a while. Each group brings a different dynamic to the class. If I have a lot of returning students, I feel obligated to shake things up and not repeat too many ideas from my past lessons. Then a little voice in my head asks how can they get bored with repeating some games or yoga warm ups when most of them probably can sit and watch reruns of Phineas and Ferb for days on end!
There seems to be a predictable pattern to the dynamics in my classes. If there are a lot of siblings, class is a bit more energetic. The class will require some extra focus on classroom management. I find that if there are a lot of friends in the class that this usually also creates more distraction and less focus. Yesterday’s class had me chanting “If I say yoga, you say class… Yoga…the class shouts class, Yoga… class, yoga, yoga,yoga… class, class, class!” This is a very effective way to get the class to focus back on me and it is fun for them to do. You mix up how you say your part and can make it very silly. I have used tree and pose and nama and ste.
As a teacher, one must be able to reevaluate class plans and make quick adjustments. My 5-7 group yesterday had three boys and 10 girls. We had siblings and we had good friends and the class was a bit rowdy. I had planned to play the game Mirror, Mirror that my fellow yoga blogger, Donna Freeman at yogainmyschool.com mentioned recently but with this age group I find that the boys do not like partnering up with girls. I decided to switch to my favorite standby game Yoga Toes instead. In Yoga Toes, I throw out a big bucket of pom poms around the room and the kids have to use their toes to pick them up and put them on their mats. I sometimes have them drop them into cups. The kids count their pom poms and remember the number and then try to get more the next time. This game miraculously quiets everyone down… even the rowdiest of classes. It requires being very present which is a skill that the Mirror, Mirror game also helps develop.
My older group of 11-18 year olds had a lot of repeats but enough new students that we started with the Name/Pose game where each person says their name and then picks a pose. The whole group then does that pose. We continue to the next person and the group does that pose and then repeats the pose that came before it. We end up doing a flowing sequence and learning each others names. Yesterday we added a new idea to this game. After someone picked a pose we talked about the flow and transitions between the poses and if there was a break in the flow. The class decided where the person should move to make the sequence flow more fluidly. It was great fun moving people around and trying the vinyasa out again feeling the differences between smooth transitions and ones that feel out of sequence.
I’d love to hear how you begin a new session, if you ever get the butterflies and your thoughts about class dynamics.