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Feb 18 2014

How to Explain to a 6-Year-Old that Exercise Can “Hurt So Good”

By at 12:04 pm

explaining the pain of yoga to a child

We were at family yoga at the YMCA when Ronia started complaining that her thigh hurt. The yoga teacher, an infinitely patient soul with a hilariously incongruent voice that sounds like she’s been smoking a pack a day since 1975, had us in a mildly challenging pose, and Ronia, along with two other kids in the class, suddenly piped up that it hurt. The complaint came back three more times during the course of the 45-minute class. Each time we stopped and did a brief examination, her leg appeared to be fine. I wondered if she had pulled a muscle, or had a bruise somewhere that we couldn’t see.

The class moved on, and eventually we came to inversions i.e. going upside down. This is my favorite part of any yoga class, and Ronia’s, too. She loves headstands, and often practices them at home. When I showed her how to get in a handstand she was a little trepidatious, but with a quick spot she was up against the wall in a nice strong handstand. After a moment she came down, and then she said, “Ow! My shoulder really hurts!” Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 16 2013

Interviews with Interesting Jews: Jessica Berger Gross, Author of enLIGHTened

By at 12:16 pm

jessica berger grossMotherhood isn’t easy, and I’m always looking for inspiration from other mothers. I recently read the book enLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle-Pointer by Jessica Berger Gross. I really appreciated Jessica’s honest, compassionate writing about her experiences, and I was thrilled when she agreed to be interviewed for Kveller.

I loved this book. There aren’t many moms out there who talk about weight struggles so authentically. Your book is about how yoga changed your life, and it was really inspirational to me. Can you talk more about how you came to yoga, and the role it has played in your life?

First of all, it makes me so happy to hear you had this response to my book. I have to admit I was reluctant at first to write about my struggles with weight. It’s not exactly something we want to shout about from the rooftops. The truth is that my weight was a symptom of much deeper problems and getting to the root of them was a life changer. It’s not about conforming to a certain beauty ideal, but rather about how to get clear-headed and healthy. Making this change helped change so much else in my life. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 19 2013

Self-Care is Easier Said Than Done

By at 9:43 am

yoga poseSelf-care is, theoretically, an important part of parenting. I say theoretically because even though the blogs and parenting books all attest to the importance of taking time for ourselves, it never really seems as though they mean it.

My favorite example is “sleep when the baby sleeps.” Great idea. I’ll just go right ahead and instantly shut my brain and body off for 20-40 minutes every three hours, and that will absolutely replenish my exhausted soul. If the authors were serious about self-care, they would say, “Give the baby to someone else, with strict instructions that they aren’t to bother you for at least three hours unless the child has a fever over 102 or is bleeding out of both ears.” Yet they never do. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 14 2013

News Roundup: Yoga at School & Creative Bribery

By at 3:59 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

- Some parents whose kids have yoga programs at school are pulling their kids out of those classes because they don’t want their children to become Hindus. (NPR)

- You’ve probably been told not to bribe your kid, but you probably do it anyway. Is creative bribery the answer? (NY Times)

- Jessica Grose offers a new plan for maternity leave. Give more of it (duh) and allow parents to take it anytime during the first year of the child’s life. (Slate)

- A surprising number of families are trying complementary and alternative medicine on their kids’ medical conditions before taking the children to a doctor, and many aren’t telling the doctors about the other treatments they’re trying. Not shockingly, this is not a good way of doing things. (TIME)

Jan 3 2013

Interviews with Interesting Jews: Priscilla Warner

By at 2:05 pm

priscilla warnerPriscilla Warner co-authored the New York Times bestselling memoir The Faith Club, and more recently, she wrote Learning to Breathe: My Year Long Quest to Bring Calm to My Life. She was kind enough to share a bit of her journey with us, including her experience with meditation and Jewish mysticism and her reflections on parenthood.

Learning to Breathe is about your journey “from panic to peace.” You began with meditation. Can you tell us a little bit about why you chose to start there?

For years, I’d been reading about Tibetan monks who meditated so effectively that neuroscientists were studying their brains. I felt that my overactive central nervous system was totally out of whack, but these men seemed to have figured out how to put their anxiety to rest. One monk in particular, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, had battled panic attacks as a child, so I signed up for one of his semi-silent retreats. He became my first meditation teacher. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 30 2012

Why Am I at War with My Post-Baby Body?

By at 6:03 am

mom and baby yogaIn baby and me yoga class, the instructor asks that we each introduce ourselves, our babies, and then share how we’re feeling today, both physically and emotionally. A small but lovely gesture–she wants to help us create a community of new mamas.

Yet, as we go around the room, I realize that the thread running through each introduction is self-criticism. Moms with babies as young as 6 weeks are embarrassed to explain why they haven’t yet been able to tighten their abdominal muscles, saying, “I want to better access my core but with everything going on in my life, remembering to hold in my abs is a constant battle.” Read the rest of this entry →

May 4 2012

Week 25: I Am Not a Yoga Goddess

By at 2:02 pm

prenatal yoga classAmong the many things I’ve been learning about my temperament and my body from being pregnant, I’ve discovered that I enjoy yoga. I always knew in theory that yoga was challenging and rewarding, but in practice the classes made me sleepy and at the end I always felt like that hour would have been better spent working up a sweat on a run. But now running doesn’t make me feel very good or accomplished, just crampy and stressed that I may have deprived my future child of oxygen or proper blood flow. So… yoga. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 26 2011

Jewish, Yogi, Doula

By at 11:16 am

I grew up in a fairly complicated and very secular latchkey home with Hanukkah bushes, Chinese take-out, and a sick mama.

My mom passed away a couple of months before the Twin Towers fell, when I was 23. Around this time I started practicing vinyasa yoga in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. I got dumped just days before both of my roommates moved out to live with their boyfriends. Yoga helped me feel calmer and healthier, and allowed me to sit with my various sadnesses. It was different from anything I grew up with.

As I continued my search for meaning, I figured I should check my own Jewish background. Though familiar, I didn’t know an Aleinu from an Aleph. I also thought something about Israelis reminded me of what I found edgy and compelling in 90s era hip hop, so I decided to learn a little Hebrew and went on Birthright (a free trip to Israel for 18 to 26-year-olds). I said the Mourner’s Kaddish for my mom the year after she passed, and it served as a mantra that brought change in my life.

I was working in music marketing when I met my husband Jonah on Jdate. When he showed up I thought, “this guy is wearing a kippah, he’s way too religious for me, he’s moving to DC in a few months, and he really doesn’t seem like one-night-stand material.”

And then I got past all that and was present. We both loved hip hop, and comedy, and spirituality (admittedly in a sort of distance-learning way).

People ask if I got more religious because of my husband.  I think we wouldn’t have connected if I wasn’t already interested. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 12 2011

Maybe It’s Time To Stop Stressing Out Your Kids

By at 10:15 am

Calm, cool, and relaxed are not the words usually used to describe parents.

Batya Sherizen, our resident baby sleep coach, just published an article on Kveller about stressing out your baby. As a sleep consultant, she tries to help all sorts of parents help their children to fall asleep. But if the parent is too tense, it doesn’t always work. Batya writes,

This mom, for example, was fully committed to the program we outlined, but she was just too anxious to allow her baby to respond naturally. Her intense frustration rubbed off on her baby, hampering the learning process.

It made me wonder–what else do we do that stresses out our kids? When my daughter purposefully threw her toys on the floor today, over and over again, until I gave her a time-out (and another and another), did she sense the stress in my voice? (Probably.) But what can I do to lessen that stress? How can I calm myself so I can calm her?

Batya suggests yoga, deep breathing, or even meditations on your mp3 player. My mom would recommend acupuncture. Personally, I’m a fan of massage (though I get them way too infrequently).

What do you do to lessen your stress level so you can stay calm around your kids?

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