Shift Con in New Orleans

Coming up in December, I will be heading to NOLA to participate in ShiftCon!

ShiftCon is an Eco-Wellness Influencer conference. If you are a blogger who cares about organic food, wellness, exercise, and the environment, than this is the perfect place for you to meet other like minded people!

In addition to just meeting other bloggers and influencers who care deeply about health and wellness, you will also get to get to know the brands that share the same ideals. There will be a huge variety of organic, clean, healthy living brands to experience and share.  Oh, and yoga and running events, of course. 

Check out a peek into ShiftCon here:

http://shiftconmedia.com

 

So, are you in? Sign up today with my code VMIRACLEMAMA for $50 off your ticket.

See ya there!

 

4 ways to Teach a Calm, Confident Yoga Class, Even when You are Nervous (Published at Yogi Times)

What, yoga teachers get nervous? You mean they aren’t always tranquil, floaty gurus? Of course they do! I have never met a yoga teacher who doesn't occasionally get nervous teaching. When you care so deeply about your profession, and care so deeply about the lives that you touch in your classes, it is totally normal to occasionally have some performance anxiety. And we all have different triggers that can set this teaching anxiety off. I have taught classes for over 100 people, outside, inside, both private lessons and at small studios… and surprisingly the smaller classes are the ones that give me a bit more anxiety. After teaching over the past few years, I have a few things that help me get over these nerves, so that I can teach from a place of clarity and confidence.

1. Keep It Simple

 

If you know you are going to be teaching at a new studio, or maybe taking on a new class, this is not the time to try out a brand new transition, poses you don't usually teach or a new playlist. When you know you may already be feeling anxious, go with a flow that you know well and that you feel in your body. Hopefully, even one that you have practiced a few times yourself. Even if the class seems simple to you as a teacher, it is most likely a great fit for your students.

 

2. Breathe With Them

 

In the beginning of class, as your students get settled in their comfortable easy seats, don't walk around the room, or fuss with props and lights. Instead, sit down with them! Take this time to ground yourself. Dive into the energy of the room, and take those beginning breaths with them. Not only will this connect you to the group, which in itself is comforting, but it will slow your own breathing so that you can calm yourself down. Adding in additional breath cues, such as exhales in down dog or child’s pose will also give you another place to breath with them and let go of your fears, so take advantage of those throughout the class.

3. Ask for Help

No, don’t ask for help from the students, but ask for help from a higher power. Whether you check in with your guardian angels or with the Divine, take a moment or two to ask that they help you lead this class. Ask to simply be a channel for the Divine, and let the words and the poses flow through you. Some people call it The Universe, others may call it God… connect with something bigger than yourself. When you let Spirit take the wheel, everything becomes easier.

4. Remember, They Don't Have to Like You

This can be a tricky one, because the ego loves to rear its ugly head when we feel anxious, but your students have come to their mats for a safe, calming yoga practice — not to look for their new best friend. As long as you teach a balanced flow of poses that keeps their bodies safe, you are doing your job! You may have one or two people in the class who might not like you. That’s fine! And it is most likely more of a reflection of them, not you! Try not to be hung up on making yourself their new favorite teacher, and instead on simply teaching a balanced class that is safe for all bodies.

Some classes will be more challenging than others. As you teach more, you will most likely become less and less nervous. But even as an experienced teacher, you may still get those butterflies when you are teaching in a new place, or to a new group. By using some of these tips, you will be able to bring a sense of calm to yourself first, and then to your students around you.

How Motherhood Made Me a "Real Yogi" (Published at Elephant Journal)

Years ago, when I was completing my first yoga teacher training, I considered myself a “real yogi.”

I followed a strict vegan diet, as to adhere to the yogic principle of ahimsa or “non-violence.” Hot yoga was my jam, and I had a regular practice. I drank the green juices, green smoothies, and green kombuchas and felt pretty damn good about my yogi-ness.

Were there poses I wanted to improve on? Sure! But mostly, I thought I was doing it right. And, even more foolishly, I thought the yogis who weren’t on their mat, sweating out their latest vegan lunch, were doing it wrong. I was all about the asana, the physical poses.

It’s funny how motherhood changes you.

Flash forward to when I became pregnant and hot yoga was not the best for my body anymore. All of a sudden my vegan diet was not quite enough for my body to sustain two lives, and animal protein made its way in.

My physical practice changed from sweating and twisting in front of mirrors, trying to get smaller…to opening and stretching in a circle of women, as I slowly got bigger. My practice of “ahimsa” began to shift to a much larger interpretation. I learned to include myself in the circle of non-harm, meaning that I needed to love myself, care for myself, and monitor the negative beliefs in my mind. If I was going to be a good mother, I needed to love myself first.

As my beautiful son, and my smartest guru, came into the picture, my physical practice continued to change. Traditional abdominal exercises you find in a power class, something that I loved to muscle through, were now harmful. Postpartum women should actually avoid crunches and planks, so that the abdominal muscles can come back together again.

The idea of an early morning yoga class wasn’t happening when my son needed a 6 a.m. feeding. Even an evening class meant the navigation of a breast pump, feeding before I left, and missing out on the bed time routine that, at the time, I was still really needed for.

But I started to see that those physical, sweaty classes were not the only real yoga. The real yoga, for me, was now the pranayama, or breath control. This controlled breathing not only helped me through a natural birth, but continued to help me through endless diaper explosions, meltdowns, and later, toddler temper tantrums. As I sat in the stillness of my newborn, with the maya, or veil of illusion, fallen away, I was able to see my true self.

As my son has gotten older, I have returned to my mat for a more physical practice. One that usually includes more compassion for myself, and everyone around me. While I am currently sidelined from hot power yoga again, now that I am pregnant with my second son, I am not as distraught as I once was…because I have been able to see this as a process—an always shifting practice that I cannot get attached to.

Don’t get me wrong. I respect the vegan diet, and after I am done breastfeeding, and only worried about sustaining my life, I will return to it. I love my kombucha, and my hot yoga practice and I am eagerly counting down the days till I can return to my mat to sweat! And I can see all of this yoga as “real.”

But I can also see myself as a real yogi, right now, even with the trappings of what I thought that “real yoga” was, stripped away. Good enough. Yogic enough. A yogi who can honor all parts of the journey, not just the ones that our Western culture tends to glorify. One that can see that the meditation and the breath are just as important as the asana.

A real yogi.

ANCIENT RITUALS FOR MODERN PREGNANCY (Published on Over the Moon Magazine)

Modern pregnancy is a crazy experience. On one hand there is an incredible mystery and connection to the Divine Feminine as we grow our babies. On the other hand, we have an unprecedented amount of science that can take a peek inside our bellies, sometimes dispelling the magic of pregnancy into calculated hormones and chemistry. Add to the fact that birth has become a business, and in a hospital, is often something to be managed rather than experienced— you can lose that connection to the Divine.

Many mothers want more. As we begin to awaken to a new era of consciousness, more and more women are recognizing the Divine power they possess as mothers-to-be. They are looking for something deeper than a designer crib or the best bouncy seat. Instead, they crave a connection to their higher selves, to the new soul they are bringing into the world, and to Mother Earth herself.

They are recognizing pregnancy as a chance to see their bodies as something more than a commodity, and rather as a vessel for life that has the ability to grow, birth, and feed a small human. They are becoming in tune with their own intuition about mothering.

So how can we fan this flame to create strong, beautiful, self assured mothers? Mothers who can feel confident in their connection to the Divine Feminine? This is where sacred rituals come in. Whether they are shared from mama to mama, from a doula, or in a prenatal yoga class, there is something sacred about inviting rituals into pregnancy and birth.

In lieu of dancing under the moon or bathing in the ocean, here are four ways we can connect with this feminine energy:

Adornment: One way to honor your changing body is to adorn your belly…your baby’s  home for 9 months! Finding a henna artist is a nice treat for a mama-to-be, but it does not have to be a professional artist. It could simply be a group of close friends with some body paint. As our bodies change, it is important for the pregnant mama to feel beautiful, and decorating her belly is an awesome tribute to her beauty!

Sharing Circle: This can be formal or informal, but it is important for women to get together and share the highs and lows of pregnancy. During pregnancy, we are so open and feel everything so deeply that the outside world can be like a bit of an assault. Pregnancy can also be isolating, and we often feel that we are the only ones who can be feeling so excited, so anxious, or so confused about birth. We must find space to honor our feelings and our journeys in a circle of supportive women. Prenatal yoga class tends to be a great space for this type of sharing, but often times there will be support groups for pregnant moms as well at yoga or wellness centers. If there is nothing like that in your area, you can start it yourself and get a group of moms-to-be together for some tea or coffee and share your stories!

Pampering: Think herbal foot bath with yummy essential oils, a nice prenatal massage with coconut oil, or even just a delicious piece of dark chocolate alongside some organic red raspberry tea. This is all about making you feel good while you do the hard work of growing another being!

Mother Blessing Ceremony: This is my favorite way to invite in sacred rituals. A Mother Blessing is a modern take on a Blessingway Ceremony, which celebrates the mama-to-be entering the next phase of her life—motherhood. This type of ceremonies often include a foot bath and massage, candle lighting, birth jewelry making, and birth story sharing. Unlike a baby shower which celebrates the baby coming and revolves around gifts for the baby, this type of gathering focuses on the mother and supporting and loving her, making her feel like a mama goddess.

It’s important to remember there are no right and wrongs with modern pregnancy. As long as a mother feels supported and knows her options, she should be free to birth however she chooses. This may be a hospital birth with an epidural, an unmedicated birth at a birth center, or a water birth at home. It can all be beautiful and sacred. By bringing in these rituals to pregnancy, we help mamas-to-be hear their intuition to help them make the best choices for themselves they can. We make this special time, a time which we usually only experience a few times in our lives, something truly beautiful and memorable. Most of all, we build mother who are confident, beautiful, and strong… and connected to the Divine Feminine.

Pranayama for Balance in Pregnancy (Published at Elephant Journal)

Alternate nostril breathing, or Nadi Sodhana, is a yogic breathing practice from thousands of years ago.

Known to help to balance both sides of the brain, calm the nervous system, and leave you feeling revitalized, it seems like the perfect way to practice pranayama during pregnancy, right?

Not always. Here’s why: During pregnancy, it is very common for mucus membranes to swell due to increased blood flow, leaving mamas-to-be with a constant feeling of congestion.

Many mamas complain of difficulty breathing in and out of the nose during pregnancy, and closing one nostril only makes the difficulty of breathing worse! Combine this with the increased emotional intensity and anxiety that many pregnant woman report, and all of a sudden a calming breathing exercise can turn sour.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t need balancing and breath work!

With the availability of medical testing in pregnancy, many women are anxious and on the edge of their seat for test results. They are often fatigued, due to the hormones rushing through their systems to help grow their babies, and the increased physical toll that is being taken on their bodies.

They simply don’t feel like themselves, and they are in need of a balancing and calming breathing practice. So here is how we can modify this age old pranayama to suit a pregnant women’s changing body, while continuing to provide a sense of calm.

Modified Alternate Nostril Breathing for Pregnancy

Sit in a comfortable position, either in an easy crossed legged position, or bringing soles of the feet to touch.

You can use a blanket or block to raise the hips higher than the knees. Lift through the crown of your head, and root through your seat.

Bring both hands to the knees, with palms facing upwards and open to the sky.

As you inhale, begin to gently close the left hand, leaving the right hand open.

As you exhale, begin to close the right hand, and open the left.

Continue this sequence between left and right sides for about five minutes.

Be mindful not to hold the breath, but simply to let the breath flow, bringing nourishing oxygenated breath to both you and your baby.

With this modification, we still receive the benefits of intentional breathing and balance, without adding any unnecessary stress to the mama-to-be!

Chakra Balancing During Pregnancy (Published on Elephant Journal)

Many yogi’s believe there are seven energy centers, or chakras, located throughout the subtle body.

These energy centers are particularly interesting during pregnancy, as we prepare the mind and body for the journey of birth and motherhood.

Each chakra corresponds to a different area in the physical body, as well as distinct emotions pertaining to birth. Balancing the chakras can ease stress and fears surrounding birth, and help the mama-to-be to feel empowered and ready to meet her baby.

No matter what kind of birth you may be planning, it can be helpful to mindful of the fears and emotions that my be lingering in your physical or subtle body. This is best done by first taking an inventory of your own fears and energy blocks, and then working to release them through a simple chakra meditation.... Read more at Elephant Journal!

How Prenatal Yoga Can Help You Rock Your Pregnancy & Delivery (Featured on Elephant Journal)

Pregnancy is a powerful time.

It’s a journey all its own, and one that you can’t fully comprehend until you walk it yourself. It is complete with highs and lows, ranging from the elation you feel when you first pee on a stick to the overwhelming fatigue that goes along with the first trimester, all the way to the excitement and doubts that arise as you approach your due date. Luckily, yoga helps us not only deal with the pregnancy symptoms, but also helps us step into our new role of mama goddess! If you haven’t taken your bump to the mat just yet, here are 4 reasons to consider trying out a prenatal yoga class—even if you are not a yogi (yet).

Continued on ElephantJournal.com

Sacred Space and Motherhood (First Posted at Teach.Yoga)

What is Sacred Space? Where is the place where you can access your higher self? Nature? God? Is it a place that can be defined? It is easy to think of an ashram or temple, or a mountain retreat center. Maybe depending on your upbringing, a stained glass windows and heavy doors create a feeling of the divine.

I sit with this question as I write, knowing that the idea of scared space has varied greatly for me through out my life. On my long subway commutes on the A train when we lived in New York City, my sacred space was the area I could shove myself onto a subway seat, plug in my earbuds, and close my eyes. No one could touch this peace inside me if the music was loud enough. When I would arrive home, my sacred space was my beloved Rockaway Beach Boardwalk, walking alongside the ocean at night. Hearing the ocean roar, and seeing the moon illuminate the water… there was nothing more sacred than that.

I have a small altar now, near by bed. On it are a few of my favorite crystals. A photo. Some candles. But it is often disturbed. Sometimes it is the place where I rest a glass of water and my phone before I go to bed. Sometimes it is moved around by my son, lining up my crystals into an imaginary train and spilling my goddess oracle cards around it. Does that make it any less sacred? I don’t know.

As mothers, we create sacred space in our bodies for our children. Our magical bellies serve as a promise to the divine. Let us hold a life inside, and we promise to grow that spark. To manifest cells into a human being. I often think the closest I have ever been to the divine feminine was the nine months that I walked with my son. We take part in a miracle. This taught me that the miracle is inside me. Its always inside me, and I can always walk in the sacred space.

I can’t go to my scared spaces as easily as I used to, but I can create them. I can BE them. I can connect to the divine, and I can allow others to do the same.

Miracle Mama Moment

Yesterday was a long day for me. Steve was working late, and despite getting Wes up early and out to play outside for a long time that morning, he didn’t settle for an afternoon nap.


I was scrambling to get last minute tax things in the mail, and Wes wanted my attention. I was really stressed about the papers, annoyed at myself for not doing it all earlier, and annoyed that Wes wasn’t napping so that I could have a mental break.


He wanted me to do bubbles with him. I actually dropped what I was doing and blew some bubbles. Automatically, my breathing deepened and slowed down, just from having to concentrate on blowing the bubbles. Pretty soon he was laughing and so happy, and we were laughing together! I was no longer stressed… I was just in the moment of seeing my gorgeous boy watching the magic of bubbles, growing and popping. And then he said, “I love you Mommy” and I almost cried. This 5 minutes of breathing and connecting made my whole day easier, and calmed me down to be able to make it though til bed time.
So, bubbles are miracle workers. The breath and the bubbles created an energy shift, and created the connection that I needed to be able to be a better mom for a few more hours. It’s the little things.

Why Choose Prenatal Yoga

Why Choose Prenatal Yoga?

For many mamas, prenatal yoga classes are a right of passage. You make your registry, you get your ultrasounds, and you bring your bump to class! But not every woman feels that prenatal yoga is right for them. Some have a strong yoga practice already, and feel that prenatal yoga is too slow or too easy.  Some have never considered themselves, flexible, spiritual or the “yoga type”. Some are carrying their second pregnancy, and don’t have the same amount of time that they used to have. Here are some reasons that you may want to reconsider, and join in your local prenatal yoga class:

  • Likely to gain less weight - Yes, weight gain is a natural and necessary part of growing a baby. Most woman can aim to gain around 25-35 pounds. Yoga and fitness can help to keep you in a range that is healthy for your body.
  • Lower risk for Gestational Diabetes
  • Easier Labor and Delivery- (Regular exercisers are 75 percent less likely to need a forceps delivery, 55 percent less likely to have an episiotomy and up to four times less likely to have a Cesarean section)
  • Better Body Image- In a culture where there is a huge focus on a woman’s physical appearance, many woman can experience a vareity of emotions on their changing bodies. Prenatal Yoga helps to celebrate the beauty of a the mother to be, as well as the magic of the pregnant body. 
  • Helps with swelling
  • Keep immune system up
  • Meet other moms and feel apart of a community- This is a big one! Pregnancy can be a joyful time, but it can also feel isolating. You aren’t hanging out with your girlfriends at happy hour anymore, and you probably are going through ups and downs you have never dreamed of. It is easy to feel alone. Prenatal Yoga helps mothers voice their concerns and make new friends during this beautiful transitional time.