March Rolls in Like a Lion…

Oh the month of March! As a child growing up on the east coast, I remember this being the longest month, right in between the excitement of the winter holidays and the promise of a bright spring season ahead. As a teenager, I would dye my hair during this month to offset the teen boredom I was facing (remember Manic Panic!!). Now, as an adult & Mama, the month feels like it’s already flying by. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by children who remind me to be present, to enjoy this moment, and that yes, March has 31 long, beautiful days! This month also reminds me of the phrase, “March rolls in like a lion, and out like a lamb.”

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In like a lion and out like a lamb…sounds like our yoga practice! For children, we jump, sing, sometimes cartwheel to our mat. I’m overjoyed to hear tales of the day, exciting family & school news, and songs that get stuck in our brains (what does the fox say?!). As adults, we often come to our mats with our To-Do lists, our anxieties, our hunger (I can’t wait for a giant sandwich after savasana!), or whatever is on our minds. And Out like a lamb…children transition from “silly” to “calm.” Adults connect within. Sweet, sweet savasana…ready and centered for the rest of our day.

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Yogi Playground is so excited this month as I continue to TRUST the universe, MOVE with the ebb & flow, EXPRESS GRATITUDE for my life, and ENJOY the ride. Here’s what’s happening in our YP world, friends…

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:: You may have noticed a lil’ name transition here…I’m still and always will be me! With extreme gratitude for my community, friends, & business relations over the past year, I come back to my foundation…Yogi Playground…my highest self. I’m excited to grow and share with you the journey and the offerings YP will be bringing this year! Stay tuned ~

:: New Classes! Our March Schedule is below…Please let me know if you are interested in trying or registering for any of our classes…Yoga is better when we do it together!

Tuesdays 1:00-1:45pm Beach Yoga in Solana Beach (this is a small outdoor group class, but open to children ages 4-7 who are interested…we practice on the grass & on the beach.)

Wednesdays 9:15-10am Platypus Kids in Encinitas…ages 1.5-4 years caregiver & me, monthly registration. Register in advance (you can still sign up for March and be prorated) here!

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Thursdays 10:15-11am SoulShine Yoga in San Elijo Hills…4-5 years. Holy shmoly this is a fantastic new studio! And your first week of unlimited classes is only $10. Class is limited to 12 students, it’s recommended you sign up in advance on the site.

Thursdays 11-11:45am SoulShine Yoga in San Elijo Hills…ages 1.5-3 years caregiver & me.

Fridays 10-10:30am The Learning Tree Preschool in Cardiff (beginning in April).

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:: Spring Themes! Oh how I love spring, such a time of renewal & cleansing. As Yogi Playground flows with the seasons we tap into how the earth is changing around us. How are our senses telling us that the season is changing? We’re also approaching Earth Day! Stay tuned for fun Earth Day events with Yogi Playground.

:: Girl Scouts! Did you know one of my favorite things to do is bring yoga to Girl Scout & Daisy troops? Seriously. I LOVE the opportunity to connect with so many strong, intuitive young ladies. Themes from past events include The True Meaning of Friendship, Self-Respect, Self-Care, Healthy Lifestyle Choices. Let me know what you are thinking for your troop!

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:: Please do follow me on facebook & instagram as dancrb!

Happy MARCH dear friends of Yogi Playground! Thank you for the opportunity to practice yoga with your children. Wishing you and your families sweet moments of quiet connection and peace. Sending you deep gratitude and light always >>>

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Namaste! Love, Beth

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Summah Summah SummahTIME!

Oh dear friends some time has certainly passed since I’ve written to you. Thank you for your patience & continued support. The last year has been a time of transition, excitement, and an extreme practice of patience and trust. I’m so happy to say that we are settling in to our new home here in Encinitas, one with nourishing gardens, a more intimate space for my family, and surrounded by the sounds of a sweet rooster and chickens. I continue to give thanks daily for this life, and in doing so have found an even deeper connection to my practice. I am Home.

The summer kicked off with friends at our Summer Solstice Celebration at Mandala Daydreams in Leucadia! My inspired partner Steph Zito, of Ripple Effect Yoga & Wellness, and I are still soaking in the afterglow of such a beautiful morning with the families. We are now in planning stages for our Autumn Equinox Celebration in September….stay tuned!

Please enjoy photos of the Celebration by Mark Zito.

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Many Blessings to you & your family, always. Together we experience this life, let us move gracefully, with compassion, love, and deep connection. Namaste.

Bringing Yoga Home

Happy 2013 Friends! I read that the coming year “holds the vibration of home and family.” In this spirit, I’m often asked by parents and friends, how do we bring yoga and meditation into our family lives? As a new year’s gift to all of us, here are some thoughts on creating a yogic rhythm in your home for the whole family.
But what does this mean to bring “yoga” in? For some who are familiar and have our own home practice,  we seek to incorporate our children into our routine. This could be as simple as pulling out two mats and inviting your child to “do some poses” with you, or meditate with you on occasion (while also allowing and finding time for our own private practice!). For others who are not so familiar, this is a learning process together. How beautiful! And what a valuable lesson for our children to learn we don’t know everything…yet!

Yoga as a whole includes poses (asanas), wellness, nutrition, peaceful well being, spirituality, connection to nature and planet, and the potential for truly meaningful time together being fully present…the best gift we can give. So let’s all put our smart phones and tablets aside and start to dive deeper…..

:: First, as we do with all yoga practices, we establish an intention. Why are you interested in bringing yoga into your home? Take a look at your family “portrait,” your rhythm. What do you wish for your home? What works for you? Where can we shed some light or focus? What does it mean to bring yoga into your family? For some, this means a morning yoga practice, others meditation, for some a moment of absolute harmony, togetherness.

:: Please don’t give the process too much power. YOGA. The word, for some, is so natural. For many, so so daunting. Images pop up of 2 hour daily practices, standing on our heads with our legs wrapped like a pretzel while chanting strange vowel sounds. Let’s just toss, for the moment, the idea that it must be so regimented. This is not yoga bootcamp (there are classes for that if you are interested). If the idea of yoga is so daunting, we just won’t make it happen. Remember, it’s about our children and family. Let’s make it fun, natural, sometimes chaotic, and silly. Again, let it all evolve naturally.

:: But how do we know what to do? Videos are a great tool! And ooh child, there are some wonderful ones out there. Again, if videos aren’t your flow and you want something with less instruction, we enjoy following books together to learn and develop poses. At night, my son has taken to pulling out Babar’s Yoga Book, along with his mat, and stretching a bit before he settles in. Books are a wonderful tool to open the imagination, follow without fear of doing it “wrong,” and to expand on the stories with the poses.

(see some links below)

:: Meditation is a whole other blog post! If you have a practice again let your child sit with you for a moment, or repeat “Peace Begins with Me.” Breathe in Peace, breathe out love. Afterwards, play some music and draw together.

OK, but how are we supposed to get into the groove of all this? With school, sports, meals, carpooling, homework, oh my! It’s important to remember that small steps go a long way over time. Begin with simple things, not all at once, little by little. Here are some suggestions for placing one yogi toe in front of the other….

1. Establish a quiet space in your home. This is where you will stretch together, perhaps meditate together. Nothing fancy needs to be placed here. Perhaps just your mat, a wonderful reminder to practice!

2. Consider incorporating some small changes to your routine, in hopes of bringing more peace and harmony into your home. For example, make your bed, eat a meal together, ask questions, listen. What about our days was good/bad/happy/sad/silly?

3. Try creating one small change in your routine. Perhaps, for example, when you child wakes up, you practice one sun salutation. Or after homework, before dinner, you stretch together for 5 minutes. Before bed, you read through a book together to get your yoga. Maybe this happens only once a week, maybe every day. A little yoga is better than no yoga (at least in my world)!

A few more thoughts to ponder…

:: Have fun and be creative.

:: Let your child lead once in a while. Twisted upside down piggie pose? Sure! Let’s give it a try!

:: Sunrise and sunset are special, serene times of the day. Sunrise is hard to capture in our home, but try to get outside for the sunset when you can.

:: Dance, be silly…after dinner dance parties!

:: Play more music.

Most importantly, do what feels right for your family. I’d love to hear some more ways you bring yoga into your family’s life. Please do share! And Namaste dear friends…

Yogi Beth

Resources (Please note this is an ongoing list. Feel free to add your personal favorites in the comments!)
Videos
Books

Yoga in the Schools, Let’s Talk….

I’ve been meditating on writing this blog post for a while, and today, during an intense morning yoga practice, it all came to me, and well…here ‘tis.

Having just moved to our sweet new town of Encinitas, I would be remiss not to talk about the controversy and impending lawsuit surrounding yoga in the public elementary schools here in town. It seems quite ugly, pinning parents against the school administration against yogis, all the while portraying children’s yoga in a negative light. So I channel my old friend Winnie and think, “oh bother.”

I don’t wish to review the controversy here in this space.  And I want to take caution as I write this, especially since I do not know all the facts and I am the “new kid on the block” so to speak. Rather, I will write from my heart, experience, passion, and observations.

Yoga comes in many forms (Hatha, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Iyengar, to name a few).  Each of these practices stems from a certain set of beliefs, of traditions, and are practiced in different ways. As an adult, I enjoy mixing up my practice – chanting, “keeping up” in Kundalini, and the moving meditation of a good vinyasa flow class. For me, I find connection to a Higher Source. My intentions become clear. I am inspired to take better care of myself and my family, to eat healthier, and am reminded to be patient, compassionate, mindful, and grounded.

For me, a children’s yoga program (in particular a preschool program in the case of Yogi Playground) is a heart based program, rather than spiritually based. That is, a program in which children learn and explore that their actions, choices, and wellness begins at the heart. What we do affects others. It is our responsibility to take care of ourselves and the world around us. A children’s yoga program connects one to nature, follows the seasons, fosters self-esteem, teaches balance and coordination, and teaches us how to be still, how to breathe.

So Why Should Children Practice Yoga? Oh goodness, why shouldn’t children practice yoga?! Yoga, or we can call it Wellness, is a way of life, on and off the mat. Yoga improves concentration, focus, and balance. It promotes healthy choices, and greener choices for the environment. It’s living mindfully and presently, promoting positive self esteem and body image, body awareness, and impulse control. Children who practice yoga fare better academically as they have better concentration and focus. It builds a sense of community. And it empowers with the tools to make healthy choices, and to manage childhood stress and emotions through the breath.

 All this is done through story, games, song, and movement. We stretch like animals, we emulate the natural world, standing grounded as a tree or tall as a mountain. Sometimes we stray from our mats for a fun game of Yogi Yogi Dog. We use crazy amounts of props. We laugh. We talk. We dance.

In my classes we put our hands on our hearts and say “Home,” representing that we can always return to the safe, comfortable place in our hearts. We may repeat, “Peace Begins With Me.” We say Namaste, as a way to thank each other for a great class. If one parent expressed concern over any of these practices, I would modify immediately as it’s my passion to bring yoga to children, to build a positive, strong yoga foundation for our preschoolers. In no way do I want to jeapordize this opportunity by making parents uncomfortable.

Children’s yoga brought into public school should not include Hinduism, chanting, prayer, spirituality, or discussion of the divine in any form. My training, through MiniYogis, reinforces this idea of keeping these aspects out of our programs. There is room for this, of course, in a private class if the parents or caretakers ask for it.

 The reality is that teaching children is very different from teaching adults. And what’s more is that parents are trusting us with their children’s education. This is a grand responsibility! Most of my classes last school year were in the schools, preschool and a private first grade. As a parent myself, I do not want religious ideals imposed upon my children, particularly in the school setting. I can certainly empathize with the parents in the Encinitas public school district. I have heard (via parents) that the program, funded by one foundation and employing only teachers trained by the foundation, did introduce some fundamentals of ashtanga yoga, as well as postures. I’m curious to know exactly what was being offered. What were the elements of the program? After parents expressed concern, the principal stated that all aspects of Hinduism and devotion were taken out of the practice. Whether this happened before or after concern was expressed is unclear to me. I’m wondering if the program was presented in full to the parents prior to it’s inception. Was there a  frank, open conversation, to demystify children’s yoga, to clarify that it is not a religious practice, nor would it include any devotional aspects?  This would have helped set a positive foundation between the school, yogis, and parents. After all, yoga means union.

Children’s yoga is growing and I am so excited to be part of the progression. My sincere hope is that the Encinitas school district and the parents can find common ground, and that ultimately, perhaps with a change in the program and a better understanding of yoga for kids, yoga will continue as part of the school day for these children. At the end of the day, yoga is only positive, promoting and cultivating healthy lifestyle choices through creative movement, song, fun, and games.

Thank you for taking the time to hear my thoughts on all this. As a member of the Encinitas community, I will do my part to promote open dialogue among parents and educators. I would love to hear your thoughts as well. Please do share. And as always, dear friends, Peace and Namaste.

*Please note I do not take photos during my classroom sessions, out of respect for our special circle time together.

Yogi Playground in Encinitas!


Wow, my dear yogi friends. So much has been happening since my last post. The most exciting of news is that Yogi Playground is now living in Encinitas, California, very close to San Diego!

After we sold our home, my family enjoyed some very much needed rest and together time in Encinitas. The magic here pulled us in, literally and figuratively. And it became clear that we needed a quality of life change. And the time is Now!

The transition has been a bit of a challenge, but once again I am the Mother Bird and I’m happy to report that my nest is thriving and over the moon giddy in our new town.

We continue to hold a lot of Love for Los Angeles, and I’ll be travelling back once every month for work, and to visit with my dear tribe.

What does Encinitas hold for Yogi Playground? We will see! For now, I’m fully present for my boys, taking many yoga classes around town for myself, and meditating by the ocean.

I do hope this post finds you all thriving, giddy, and embracing all life’s transitions….listening to your inner guiding voice, your intuition.

Namaste Dear Friends….
YogiBeth

Friday’s Blessings…

Today I am thankful for

:: Breakfast with my sons. After a challenging morning preparing for another open house, my oldest son did not want to go to school. I debated keeping him home, but I knew he would have more fun at school once he got there. So instead I surprised him with breakfast at Fix in Echo Park. A little sweetness and Mama Love goes a long way. He declared, “I’m ready for school now Mama.”

:: Our Daycation with friends in Laguna Beach! What a wonderful way to spend a Wednesday, swimming and playing with friends above the world.

:: My meditation practice.

:: Our collective health.

:: My new Hoberman Sphere which I found for $3 at The Awesome Playground in Highland Park! Not only have I been using it in my classes, but I’ve stumbled upon both my boys taking deep inhales/exhales throughout the day. What a wonderful visual for breath. Time In, indeed.

:: My 5 year old son…5! He just celebrated his birthday last week, and I’m in awe of how sensitive, inquisitive, creative, and full of heart he is. Shine on Sweet Boy.

:: My almost 2 year old son! Such an independent spirit indeed. Lately our favorite outing is taking walks around the block, well actually I walk and he “drives” his ride-on truck. I smile from the inside out as I listen to him sing and drive. We culminate our walks with swinging and kisses in the backyard. His Light radiates, my beautiful angel.

:: My foundation. Yes, the foundation that we just spent sooo much money to fix and firm. But more so, the foundation I have with my husband, my partner. Throughout this whole process of selling and fixing and spending….oh my….we’ve remained solid, strong, a team. No matter how stressful life gets, we always manage to spend the evenings cuddled together with a glass of wine and a good laugh.

:: My son’s preschool. Lately they’ve been snacking on their harvest of snap peas, lettuce, and grapes, washing it all down with homemade lemonade. I couldn’t be happier with the lessons learned.

:: Friends. True friends. Nothing sweeter.

So many more Blessings I have in this life. These are just a few on which I’m vibing at this moment. Please do share your Blessings here or in your own space. Perhaps just  a moment of reflection.

*Namaste*

 

Checking In….

Hello Dear Yogi Playground Friends & Family,

Just taking a moment to check in and say Hello! My Yogi Playground school classes and privates have culminated, and I’m now taking time to be fully present for my 2 young boys. My days are spent playing Transformers, filling water buckets to “paint” the driveway, and basking in spontaneous dance parties and cuddles. Ahhh…Summer Lovin’.

My family is also in the midst of a major life transition as we are selling our Silver Lake home and moving westside to support my husband’s new, exciting partnership at a design house in Santa Monica. I’ve been an eastside gal for 8 years now, living in Echo Park and Silver Lake, but evolution is vital and a GOOD thing, as I keep reminding myself.

While we deal with the chaos of showing our home (read: Keep it tidy with 2 kids!), looking for a new dwelling, dreaming of a beach side life, signing paperwork upon paperwork, and discussing emotions attributed to such change, I’m reminding myself to remain grounded and true. I am the Mama Bird of this house and it’s my responsibility to tend to my nest. No matter what wild changes may come, it’s most important that my children know home is within the 4 of us. Our family is home.

It’s been most insightful and heartwarming to talk with my (gasp) almost 5 year old about the move. When the “For Sale” sign was erected in the front yard, he cried to me, as I cried inside, and he said, “What if people buy the house and we still live here? There’s no room for them!” Ah, these babes of ours. After it became clear that new people will not be moving in with us, we talked about the nature of the house. How we spent the last 3 years repairing the house, tending to the orchard, growing a garden, filling it with Love and Light as only we could. Now it is time to pass it on to another family, so they can fill it with their own dreams, grow their own life. He said he knew the house would keep smiling.

And now, as we revel in our potato and lime harvest, we play more in the backyard. We stir up more limeade, and we leave our silent wishes with the bees and butterflies.

As Yogi Playground moves west, I will be taking a short hiatus from teaching weekly classes as I focus on my family. In autumn, I plan to begin my Seasonal Celebrations for children and families. I’ll also keep you updated on new class developments and exciting projects underway! In the meantime, remember to Breathe, continue to Love, and Savor the Cuddles in all your homes…

Namaste Dear Friends….

YogiBeth

 

It’s Earth Month!

It’s a funny thing, planning “Earth Month” themes for children’s yoga classes. After all, Yoga is Earth – Respect for Mother Earth, all creatures, ourselves, one another. Yoga is Breath – Breath from the trees, clean air. Yoga is “living simply so others may live.” Throughout the year, these are the ideas on which we meditate and practice. This month we celebrate and honor Mother Earth.

With a return from Spring Break, my classes this week centered around planting, growth, and breath. We begin with soil and seeds, and we breath and we grow! In my preschool classes we planted magical flower gardens. In my first grade class we “took a walk in the rain.” In all classes we experimented again with our breath using pinwheels. We found that when we breathe deep from our bellies our breaths are longer and one student remarked that she felt “stronger.”

Throughout the month my main focus will be to cultivate and encourage an understanding and love for the outdoors. Happy Earth Month Yogi Playground Families & Friends!

Namaste.

Peaceful Pause

 

Lately, I’ve been

Melting into slumber and cozying up in our new quilt, crafted with love by my Gram Ginny’s 91 year old hands, adorning our family bed.

Remembering fondly how fun and imaginative cardboard boxes can be for a child and brother, particularly one so large it carried a quilt!

Measuring slow, steady breaths and reminding myself that everything does not need to happen at this moment.

Listening to detailed adventures of a Transformer named Furno and his friend The Magnetic Superhero.

Embracing the Spirit of my home and family in all our chaotic, messy, loud splendor!

Shifting the energy of our home, cleaning up corners and forgotten spaces as we begin to spend more of our time indoors during these cold months. And Transitioning our home from Autumn to Winter, putting away the leaves and gourds, glittering the pinecones and Christmas crafting.

Giggling as my 4 year old wakes me every morning, pleading to open a new door on our Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar.

Connecting within, as so much energy is expended out during this month, and remembering to enjoy the pauses.

Creating holiday class ideas, snowflakes and poses…no two are alike.

Smiling as I discover my 1 year old’s love for music and movement, evidenced by his enthusiasm and grace during our music classes.

Missing family and friends back east, and Sending healing energy and blessings.

Holding hugs longer.

Dusting off my “big girl” boots in anticipation of a busy social month for this gal!

Channeling Star Wars Jedi use of The Force as I prepare class ideas for my spirited yogis.

Chanting All Is As It Should Be.

Namaste.