A cup full of love…for me

 

Last week the parenting gods battered me (I’m sure I’m not the only one!)… But how do you take care of yourself, like ‘they’ tell you to, when you just don’t have the time?
On this day I didn’t even have the time to get to yoga, so I found a quicker way to give myself love.

I came across this tahini/date/pear smoothie (thanks Janella Purcell).
IMG_9619[1]
Whilst I don’t feel the need for ’emotional eating’, I figured this would be a nutritious and filling snack AND would give me an opportunity to be mindful, taking the time to make myself something I wouldn’t normally, along with the cinnamon sprinkle on top!  I didn’t even multitask.

By slowing down to make this smoothie, knowing it wouldn’t take THAT long out of my day, I’ve given myself a little bit back.  Cinnamon and a warm drink didn’t go astray either.

I’d love to know the small things you do for yourself as a parent, even when you don’t have the time!


Let the children show you how yoga is done!

IMG_8950[1]

Despite being more of a physical exercise for adults, yoga for children possibly has more benefits for their brain and mind.  Let’s first look at the benefits of introducing yoga to your little ones.  What’s in it for them?

No age is too young to start!

No age is too young to start!

Yoga connects the body, mind and spirit.  Children are very in touch with their intuition at a young age however, our early education system promotes a focus on the child’s ‘mental body’.  Children are prompted to learn literacy and numeracy from a young age.  Shifting their attention to these cognitive tasks, draws attention away from important right brain development which is responsible for creativity and imagination.  It is also the reason that many of us as adults have lost our ability to use our intuition, creative skills and the ability to just ‘feel’.  Yoga helps children to access their ‘spiritual body’, to be creative, to use their ‘gut instinct’ and their senses, by paying attention to their breathing, body and surrounding environment.

yoga's finished...time to listen to the sounds around us

yoga’s finished…time to listen to the sounds around us

Yoga promotes increased focus and attention.  It provides your child with a useful toolkit of self-calming strategies, particularly teaching how to breathe and relax.  It is also a useful strategy to promote mindfulness.  See more about mindfulness here.

Yoga teaches your child about body awareness.  Brain development occurs very quickly when a child has to work out where their body is in space.  How do they move their body to get into THAT pose?  And from cobra pose on their tummy, to downward dog on their hands and feet, to baby pose on their back?  Body awareness is also developed when talking about the different body parts and explaining where to put each.  This might be ‘put your hand down next to your foot’ or ‘now turn your shoulder up to the sky’.

my feet where? hands where?

my feet where? hands where?

Yoga promotes respecting the environment, and others.  Yoga is done cooperatively together, not competing against other children.  It is ideally performed outside where children can take notice of the environment (the wind, the trees, the wildlife, the weather), whilst they are doing yoga.

IMG_8961[1]

And of course strength and balance comes with yoga.  Kids are just maintaining flexibility!

So what happens in Kid’s Yoga?

First things first, you’ll need to keep your child’s attention, so it must be FUN.  Kid’s Yoga not only means body poses, but also learning about breathing, body awareness and their surroundings.  Giselle Shardlow has created enticing Kids Yoga Stories to motivate children to practice yoga.*

Just one of the many titles from Giselle Shardlow!

Just one of the many titles from Giselle Shardlow!

ooh they saw a ‘monkey’!

 

Being like a tree... and not thinking about it too much!

Being like a tree… and not thinking about it too much!

They feature adventure-style stories which feature a character who not only cares for the environment but also stops to do a yoga pose or two on each page of the story.  This gives children something visual to go by but also a theme to help them visualise the pose they are attempting.  So when your child goes on a jungle adventure, they might end up doing ‘cat’ pose for a jaguar or if they went on a beach trip, they would end up doing ‘warrior’ pose for ‘surfing’.

Being a butterfly in the jungle

Being a butterfly in the jungle

This is how Kids Yoga sessions compare with an adult’s session.

1. Set up – yes a yoga towel or mat + a drink bottle is still ideal.  A Kids Yoga Story really does hold their attention however you could certainly attempt your own stories once you are familiar with some of the poses.  Or go online for some inspiration too.  We love to do yoga outdoors so we can be with nature and notice the environment with all of our senses, but inside is good if the weather isn’t great!

'Sailing' at the 'beach'... with Master 2 spectator

‘Sailing’ at the ‘beach’… with Master 2 spectator

2. Music – no, you don’t have to stick with any particular type of music.  Whatever gets your children inspired in the theme is a great choice.  But do think outside the box.  The Wiggles Beach Party songs might be a first pick, but could also be distracting.  The Beach Boys is a different alternative.  You could even create a playlist of all of the songs that relate to say ‘the jungle’.  Or you could just put on ‘rainforest’ songs or classical music.  OR you could just go with the sounds around you.

3. Preparation – not so much on body and breathing, but of the story and theme.  Taking the time to discuss what you might expect to see on your adventure gets children into the theme even more so and excited to look at the book.  Don’t forget to remind your children about their surroundings and to use their senses.

4. Structure – this one does go out the window with kids! But the great thing is, sometimes the children will show you how they like their yoga sessions to flow.  And as long as they are still enjoying yoga and receiving any of the benefits listed above, you can let go of following the story exactly or doing the pose so precisely.  Let your children show you how kid’s yoga is done!

Fun wins over precision

Fun wins over precision

5. Taking time – there is no rush with kid’s yoga.  If the kids stop to go and grab a stick for a prop or if they decide they would like to enjoy their rest and watch the clouds for longer at the end, that is what happens.  As long as you are enthusiastic and accepting of their ideas, they will run the session in their own way!

taking the time on his own..

taking the time on his own..

6. Post-yoga activities – the list is endless of what you could carry onto.  Morning tea on the towels noticing the trees or clouds or birds is a great way to stay ‘mindful’ and relaxed.  Other activities could be continuing the yoga theme (such as ‘the beach’) and exercising the right brain with some painting, drawing or playdough modelling.  Make use of the towels in summer and let the kids have fun blowing bubbles in cups with straws until their hearts are content!  Blowing involves breathing and the diaphragm which promotes further relaxation.  Alternatively, you could think about a theme for the next yoga session.

For those interested in one of the Kids Yoga Stories to get them started, here is the website http://www.kidsyogastories.com/.

Otherwise, take a towel outside and see what moves your children might come up with!  You might be surprised as to how much they enjoy it  🙂 Heidi

* This is not a paid presentation but an endorsement of a really great set of books 🙂

Control, guilt, shame, anger

Speaking from first hand experience, it is much easier to work on yourself staying ‘cool’ when your kids try to steal your calm than trying to pick up the pieces, for your kids and you!

So how do you do this?
– Being ‘mindful’ is one way (link in comments to post about mindfulness).
– Dealing with your own emotions is another. Anger, control, guilt and shame, amongst other emotions, can all stem from not receiving enough love when we grew up, (even when we thought we did) OR particular events. This all affects how we respond to our own children when we get our ‘calm’ taken from us.

IMG_9180[1]

It will always be easier to deal with any type of tantrum or emotional turmoil your child can throw at you, when you are not holding onto negativity from your own past.

How do you let go of this?
In a simple answer, getting to the source of your anger or your controlling issues or whatever it is AND THEN expressing it, will release that energy. You can express emotions through screaming (in an appropriate place!), writing it out, crying or even moving (say yoga poses).


Once you have released your what’s holding you back from the past, you will be amazed at the patience, understanding and calm you can have with your own kids. Then it just involves being mindful, to keep on top of your emotions.

Let me know if you want more information on this! 🙂  Heidi

Are you a mindful parent?

[Looking after yourself as a parent]  Do you find you’ve sometimes driven somewhere and don’t remember actually driving there?  Or end up ruminating on past events whilst doing the chores?  Do you spend more time planning the shopping list and weekend’s tasks in your mind than the time it takes you to actually just get in there and get it done?  Does your mind end up in a different place whilst reading the kids a book?  Read on to find out more about how to step out of your mind and into your life, and your important role as a parent!

What is mindfulness?

Whilst this term has many different meanings and people from all walks of life will practice it differently according to their circumstances, here are some ideas of how I, as a parent, have understood ‘mindfulness’.

Mindfulness means:

  • training your mind to be concerned only with the present moment
  • finding ways to turn your ‘monkey mind’ off, the one that keeps dragging your mind to chattering, negative or ruminating thoughts
  • judging thoughts and gossip about others no longer have a place in your mind
  • only being concerned with your own self and not the worries of others (whilst parenting does bring a sense of responsibility, we can also allow our children to live their own lives)
  • dealing with any task at the time and not spending extra energy planning for it ahead of time
  • like yoga, mindfulness is a ‘practice‘, so you are always learning to get better at it!

Don’t forget you can take a peep into the past or future when needed, but the main aim of mindfulness is to avoid getting distracted by anything that isn’t in the present.

The benefits of mindfulness

  • it can be used as a wonderful stress-relief tool for personal or parenting issues
  • it helps us to improve the sharpness and clarity of our mind and in turn improves our memory
  • this sharpness helps us to stay on track in our busy days and become more efficient…at everything!
  • it helps us to notice how we react to our children, particularly in trying times
  • it allows us to slow down and take the time to appreciate our children (and our life)
  • it can be done discretely anywhere, anytime
  • principles can be taught to your children to help increase their confidence and resiliency

How do I become mindful?

The most difficult part is catching your mind when it is not in the present or playing up.  Whether your mind is stuck on past events, judging others,  worrying about things to come or just plain chattering away, the first step is to recognise when you are doing this.  Yes, this does account for the majority of people’s thoughts!  You might spend a week just naming any thoughts, be it judging, ruminating, worrying or chatter and planning.

As suggested in the book The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris, take the time to sit back and allow your mind to let any thoughts come in.  As they float in, acknowledge them and let them float straight back out….then sit and wait for any others to come along…and do the same.  It is to demonstrate that you don’t have to ‘entertain’ any of these thoughts and will get your mind accustomed to ‘letting things go’.

Now let’s think of some thoughts that you will want to stop in their tracks!

  • getting annoyed by your husband’s dirty washing on the floor – talk to him about it later, but move on
  • planning what you will say to your annoying brother on the car ride there – with a clear mind, you will say it better at the time
  • ‘I can’t believe she just did that!!’ after your child poured water over the couch – you have dealt with it and know better for next time, move on
  • worrying about how you will deal with the evening witching hour whilst your husband is away – with a clear mind, you will deal with it better at the time
  • remembering how your life used to be pre-kids – give it a quick acknowledgement and come back to what you have right now..

So once you have identified a thought that isn’t in the present, how can you stop it…and where do you send your mind to then?  Below are some strategies on stepping out of your mind and into living life and being a parent.

  • Breathe! Place your hand on your belly and ensure you push it out as you inhale, pull it in as you exhale.  No shoulder breathing!
  • Take notice of your surroundings, your present moment.  What can you see around you?  The traffic lights? The clothes line? The trees? Your children? What can you smell? What can you hear?  This is the time to take the attitude of gratitude, which helps to move away from the negative monkey mind!
notice the small things

notice the small things

  • Breathe.  Check in.  Are you still breathing deeply with your belly and not your shoulders?
  • Feel your feet on the ground.  It can help to sit or stand up straight which brings your mind to attention and helps you to breathe with your diaphragm better too.
  • Now you might consider your feelings and thoughts.  What were those thoughts in your mind? Were they just cluttering your mind?  Did you have feelings attached to those thoughts?  It can be useful to identify any feelings you may need to deal with (that’s when you turn to the book The Happiness Trap for information on how to do this).
  • Next you might consider if your body was reflecting these thoughts and feelings.  Did you feel tension, strain or pain anywhere?  Did you feel any heaviness?  How were you breathing as you caught yourself?

How else can I help my mind?

Sometimes our children can bring on the thoughts, the planning ahead or the tension.  But they can also be the solution!

  • With an attitude of gratitude, take the time to notice your child’s eyelashes, their hair or the way they smile.  Does this calm you?

Other practices dedicated to focussing on stepping out of the mind are:

  • yoga
  • meditation
  • tai chi
  • reading books (have a look for Dr Russ Harris and Dan Spiegel)

Did you know most people can only stay focussed from six to ten seconds and then become distracted?  So you will need to really remind yourself to be present, regularly throughout the day.  You can set an alarm or put up a few post-its, ‘be present!’, ‘breathe’ around the house.  There are even mindfulness apps out there.  Before you know it, your mind will be clearer, your days will be easier and you will enjoy being a parent even more.  It’s never too early or late to start!

Taking the time to be myself…and a parent

Is there anything you would change about the way you parent? Is there something you wish to do for yourself that would make you an even better parent? It’s not too late to make changes!
In the name of inspiring others to LIVE LIFE in order to help your kids LIVE LIFE, I’m putting myself out there & sharing the piece of paper I went to town on with (hopefully) all of the things that matter to me PLUS 2014 ‘goals’ & ‘aspirations’ (I feel these terms mean business more than ‘new year’s resolutions’).
this is me on paper! what will the kids think?

this is me on paper! what will the kids think?

I’ve never done this before & have been surprised with the clarity it’s given me of what I aim to be, grow towards and model for my kids. It’s also helped to talk about this TOGETHER with my husband to increase unity, motivation and direction.
And of course, in good time, I’ll slowly be working away at defining each of the words in age-appropriate language to the kids & reminding them of how I am achieving these goals.

Will you take a piece of paper and an hour out of your schedule to write down what will matter to you in 2014? 🙂 Heidi

Looking after yourself as a parent

Well I have been quiet over the last few days, changing my life at an ‘Energetic Anatomy of a Yogi’ workshop. Paul and Jaylee the presenters have AMAZING knowledge, both have been initiated into the lineage of the Tibetan Master Lama and Grand Master of Tao and also have a background in psychology, hypnosis, stress management and of course Bikram Yoga.
They have mapped out where emotion can get ‘blocked’ (or expressed and released) in the body. I feel that so many of their points can relate to parenthood and may also help you out as a parent to learn about yourself and thus help out your children in their emotional development.

So look out for my upcoming posts relating to emotions and the body! On the flipside, I have committed to less ‘materialism’ and technology in my life, so I will be cutting back a little bit on this blog, but will still give it just as much love!

So, have you ever considered the FOUR bodies we have – our physical body, our emotional body, our mental body and our spiritual body. We can exercise our physical body through many forms, our mental body through study/reading etc, our spiritual body through whichever form we take, but how easy is it to go out and exercise our emotional body?….

Sometimes it’s good to let go of the mental chatter or the ‘doing’ with our physical body and let our emotional body (our heart) make decisions.

This is one point that I will be sure to explain to my boys and of course talk about emotions as much as possible to help them to exercise their ’emotional body’.

I’m sure many of us have grown up not really knowing what it is like to exercise our ’emotional body’??

But as the presenters of the workshop I attended stated – emotions are energy in motion. Just like water needs to flow, or it will stagnate and breed disease, emotions need to flow too…..