July 2011

Coming Back

July 28, 2011






I really never meant to be gone from this space for so long. I was just taking a few days to finish up a project, to get everything completed so that I could return to our normal rhythm, but days turned into weeks, and here I am wondering where the time went.

I have been working on a special project that I am excited to share with you in the coming months, and besides the three little ones, it has taken up most of my summer time fun. One of the best parts of the project is that there has been lots and lots of cooking involved, and many recipes developed.

One of our favorites has become a simple herbal popcorn that is fast, easy and perfect for summer movie or star watching. The popcorn can be made with any herb combination that sounds good, and then topped off with a spice/salt blend. It is a bit addicting, and I make a large amount just to have a bit left the next day with my lunch or a snack.

Herbed Popcorn

15 cups of popped popcorn
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
Kosher salt

Melt the butter and remove from heat. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and drizzle over the popcorn. Toss gently to incorporate and serve.

I wish you all a beautiful weekend (how is is August already??) and I will be back in this space on Monday.


Take a Breath

July 19, 2011

 As a student of yoga, breath is a fundamental part of the practice. As a mother of three, breath is paramount.

I first came to my yoga mat with the idea that achieving the most difficult of poses was the end goal, but I was amazed to learn that it is the linking of breath to movement that advances one’s practice. What a powerful gift to discover that my body and breath could move in time, and that when they did the possibilities for physical and spiritual growth were endless. As I stand in a difficult position, it is not my muscles alone that keep me there. As my body stretches to it’s maximum potential and opens up fully, it is not my bones and joints simply giving way. It is my breath that sustains me, that holds me up, that opens me fully.

Stepping off my mat, I realized that there is no difference between a difficult pose, and a difficult life situation, both require a deep breath to get me through.

As mothers, we first become linked to our children through the amazing power of the breath in birth. The inhalation that fills us up energetically and holds all of our power and potential, and the exhalation that forces us to release control and trust in ourselves and the divine universe surrounding us.

As we grow as mothers, and our children grow into their own, the power of the breath still holds. Children reveal so much about themselves by their breathing, it tells everything that we need to know about them. The shallow breath that we hear when they are tense, fearful or overly excited, the deep long breaths after a challenge has been met, and the beautiful rhythmic breathing of a deep sleep. It is a key into their world that we simply can not overlook.

One of the questions that I get asked most often is how I create rhythm in my home. I have struggled with this question because I am not sure that there could ever be an honest answer. My rhythm has to look different from any one else’s if I am going to honor where my children are in this moment. There is no great formula for creating rhythm, all that we can come back to is the breath. Follow our children’s breath, and rhythm will naturally occur.

The in breath, the out breath, and the silence between them.

Our breath helps us process our world, and gives us a sense of what is going on around us. When we help children find their own natural cycle of breathing, we help them to gain a better sense of themselves, and their place in the world. Thus creating their own rhythm.

The in breath is where expansion occurs, where we are open and receptive to those things that give us growth. Take a deep breath, and we draw in what we need to move forward.

The exhalation is where we let go and surrender, allowing our body to get rid of our excess, of all that we do not need.

The silence between them is the pause where we find the balance. It is so quick that we almost never notice it, but it is the essential part of any transition.

When I look at my children, I realize that there are two parts to creating their rhythm. The first is to try and balance their breath through their activities. Making sure that if they take an inhale, if they do something that is active and fast paced, that they have ample time to exhale as well. To let go of the excitement, and to allow their body and their mind get rid of the excess.

The other aspect to being able to truly honor their rhythm is to teach them how to just breathe. That seems weird to say. I mean, we are actually supposed to come hard wired with this information, it should not be something that we need instruction on. Yet in today’s fast paced world, the sensory overload and the frenetic pace of life can deeply disconnect us from the normal processes that we need to function properly. They take us away from the present moment, from our breath, and from the natural rhythms that keep us balanced.

I would like to think that I first taught my boys how to breathe when they joined me on the yoga mat in the mornings as babes, wiggling around through my practice. More likely, they were much older and experiencing their first set of crisis. For Jacob I think that it came when the sweet little thing had to have multiple blood draws as he was being diagnosed with celiac disease. Teaching him that the pain would be better if he took a deep breath, gathering the strength that he needed to deal with what was coming, and then to blow out all his fear and anxiety. I remember being surprised that it worked, that something shifted and he did not look at the situation in the same way.

Teaching a child the simple act of taking an equally long inhale and exhale, with the smallest of pauses in-between, shows them that they have the ability to balance their emotions, and to control their reactions. I tried to teach my kids actual methods of complex breathing that I learned as an adult yoga teacher. That, of course,  proved silly and fruitless. All that I needed to do was sit them a few times a day and quietly be with them as they counted to 7 on the inhale, and 7 on the exhale. After a while, they stopped counting out load, and now all I need to do is to say “take a deep breath” for them to know what they need.

I can create a schedule, map out our day, and plan ahead, but if I want anything to be successful, then I have to think of our day as a balanced breath. It takes a little bit of practice, but coming back to the breath never fails me, and for that I am so very grateful.