One day in mid-July, I stood outside Body & Soul Yoga in Brookside for our weekly evening pre-natal class. It was warm, I felt relatively good considering I was about 8 months pregnant, did I mention the mid-July part, ick. A woman walked up and I thought that she was new to our class because I didn't recall seeing her there before. We chatted a bit, she was pretty early in her second pregnancy. What are the odds that this woman would be present at my child's birth? Low you would think, I didn't even know her name. Turns out she was the back-up doula for my original doula who ended up having health complications and couldn't be there (which I found out about the week before the event I think, it's a little blurry now).

Life is pretty amazing. That is actually the only time we met in person, until said birth, although we had a great chat or two. Many other things about the birth did not go quite according to what I had envisioned, however, I am proud to say I felt pretty calm and was able to handle the issues as they arose. And I feel okay with it now. No tub, no walking, constant monitoring, induction, pitocin, etc etc rats rats rats. What I could decide about was enough. I handled the pain in my own way, much thanks to my doula of course both in advice and physical aid, and to my husband as well. It all ended well with the birth of our dear little healthy son. I do give yoga some of the credit for me being able to roll with the changes, letting go of the expectations of "expecting". I also give my pain-tolerating Slovak genes some credit. I also give me credit. Birth is important to societies says one famous midwife, I agree wholeheartedly. This is a random post and my first as a mother. Better go check on the little dude.



pre-natal yoga ponderings

How does one do yoga with a baby on board? About the same as pre-bebe for me. Common sense should prevail of course, but in general avoid major twists, long stints on your back, and anything that doesn't feel right, as usual. My own yoga experience during pregnancy has been interesting. In the nauseated days when I was still teaching class, I had a constant fear of tossing my yogi cookies in front of potentially horrified participants, but thank goodness it never happened! As I progressed I could do most stuff and some things even felt more stable, surprisingly tree, half moon and down dog were highly doable.

As I enter the last couple weeks of this unique approximately 266 day experience, some issues have arisen and are fine, but new to me. Potty break before, during and after class was necessary last week, ha ha, listen to your body is never more unignorable than during pregnancy. The body is practically shouting its messages, take it easy, rest those feet, EAT. I shortened my down dog to just one breath, and propped my hips up for all floor work, blankets are a pregnant ladies best friend, next to pillows of course. I wonder how to best carry yoga into the birth experience. I find that yoga helps me release tension (cos I yawn the whole class pretty much) and I know the hospital is not my calm place yet. I will do some chair flow, lateral flexion, and mountain in the early part of labor, possibly cow and cat. I will practice letting go, and visualization of another place. Above all, I will concentrate on my breathing, slow and steady is what mom and baby both need. Letting go of expectation is probably the hardest for me, since I have high hopes of a natural birth. I know it will be hard for me to let go of that if something freaky happens. Eventually I know I have to let go of judgment as well, of myself and others throughout the experience, trying to stay positive, focused and deliberate, we will all do the best we can and keep the intention of healthy mom and healthy baby in mind at all times. Namaste,



Yoga Mama

As I sit here, the baby is kicking quite a lot, most often in the right ribs, simmer down sweet pea, we'll meet soon :) This has been quite a journey over the last 34 weeks and counting, around 6 to go! Those early and long couple of months of wretched nausea gave way to relative normalcy. Okay, it's been different but not too bad - nighttime jaunts to the restroom and kitchen, more doctors visits than I've had in my whole life to name a couple. Of course the ever present reminder is the central-level expansion right around my root chakra, on a costant mission to grow a baby. In the meantime I have felt pretty good, but a little more tired, more popping of the knees, more food-focus, less shoe-lace competence, and a host of emotional experiences that are fine but can also be overwhelming at times.

Through this trip I've come to realize a few things from yoga apply now more than ever. Number ONE (which takes care of all others, really): Find the present moment. Having a baby will pull and tug and rip you into the future, and possibly the past. You can lay awake thinking about birth: "What will feeding be like, do I have all the right stuff? Will my body go back to the way it was? Will I be an okay mom? What was good about my childhood that I want to recreate? Anything I want to avoid? What will I do if he won't stop crying?" It's good to have a counter-voice in the back of your mind. "We'll cross those bridges when we get to them, you know?" Number TWO: Stuff! As parents we get pulled into needing all kinds of stuff and it distracts from the central focus. Carseat, crib, most essential, along with diapers, cremes, and clothes of course. What about toys, blankets, stroller, high chair? Where to store it? Do we need to move? Is our car safe? Again, the yoga voice is hopefully whispering, "We can always get that later if we really need it."

For now I feel pretty ready to meet my little one, but am trying to stay flexible. Here's another final biggie: Let go of expectation. Down to the day he comes we won't know when we'll meet and can't really control exactly how he comes. For the first time in my life, I'm going to be the main and constant (okay co-)caretaker of another human for everything, food, warmth, shelter, love. I am excited to be a mom. It's a steep job, but one that becomes easier to handle as I realize that I will take each day as it comes, and will have lots of resources to help if I get stuck. I'll have my dear husband, wonderful family and friends, as well as doctors and hotlines just in case. I get this chance to spend an amazing first year learning the ropes of rearing a little one, and getting to know this human being, and to help encourage and nourish him and see what unfolds. What more fascinating job really could someone ask for?



A Perfect Storm

I was at work a few weeks ago chatting with a gentleman with a really positive and energetic take on life. It was a breath of fresh air so to speak and got me thinking about the difficulties in life and how we survive them. Often on this blog, I enjoy the lessons we can draw from the parallels of nature and human experience, and at no time is this more relevant than now, with the extreme flooding taking place around our country. Of course we do not wish for this misfortune, but neither can we change it or prevent it completely. We cannot always control the world around us, but rather we can regulate our reaction to it, whether that be people we encounter, or the whims of the atmosphere.

If you have ever watched the plants during a terrible downpour, it can be unsettling. Limbs droop, stems and branches sway almost wretchedly, and yes even some damage can occur. However these very flora would not last without the life-sustaining water trickling down to awaiting roots. They are soaking and slowly giving strength and stamina to the green gentles of this world. Although the plants appear bent and beaten, the reality is that they needed the process to strengthen, and quickly adapt to the vagaries of their surroundings. Within hours the plants once more stand strong, roots lengthening, leaves rising back upward toward the sun, replenished by the experience.

What can we humans do in the wake of a storm in our lives? It may take more than a few hours to recover depending on the size of the storm, the length of time is not to be measured as a competition of any sort. Instead, each individual must unfurl at their own pace, testing their roots, growing at their own rate. For some, a similar storm is more disruptive for one, vs. another, given their experience. For those less tested, the recovery may be longer, but no less important or relevant. In fact, the very diversity of the plant and human condition gives collective strength to life.

I recall a quote that is an excellent summary of how we can make our reaction positive, present, and relevant. "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain." Maybe this is one intention we could hold, that even in the times of darkness, we find celebration and acceptance.



Bring the Farm to You.

I know a lot of homeowners that have gardens, but not too many that grow veggies to eat. I'm not sure why, but maybe it's a little daunting. I've dabbled in growing my own food, and it can be tough at times. You have to consider location, materials, your time committment and of course, will the squirrels attack?

I've grown mostly tomatoes, and red peppers. Ed and I tried to branch out one year, with some corn, pumpkins and beans, but not much luck, could be not enough sun, or poor soil prep. Our front yard tree is gone now though, we might have a better shot this year!

I recently bought a box of Triscuits and they had a free pack of seeds right there, some sort of basil. I've had good luck with herbs in containers so that is started outside now. I discovered their very cool web page with lots of tips for the mini-farmer. You can plan your plot, get recommendations on plants and best planting times through a personalized farm plan, and sign up to win $1000 towards the farm of your dreams! Happy digging and of course tasting the fruits (and veggies) of your labor!




Here we are.

Ever wonder how to best soak up the present moment? Sometimes its easier when the "right now" is enjoyable. A sunny day, a relaxing book on the sofa, or talking with a good friend and we don't want it to ever end. However, yoga doesn't ask us to just stay in the pleasant moments. Sometimes we go through those tough times too. Feeling sick, a migraine, and loss or injury of someone dear, or simple a time in life when we feel a little unsure or overwhelmed. It's far easier to try and escape these un-fun epochs. I say, those difficult moments absorbed may make the delightful times all the more sweet. So, please make hay while the sun shines but also try to see the bright side of a dark time or maybe just let the dark play out. All moments will pass, eventually, and the highs and lows give depth to the opposites.



Plant a seed.

How do big life shifts and "goals accomplished" start? With the little steps of course. Lately we've been considering cutting down a large and ailing tree in our front yard. I image how this maple tree started long ago, perhaps it was planted by a person or squirrel, beginning to thrive just a millimeter at a time, creeping and warming and growing in the sun. At any point very early, it could have been thwarted, altered, removed. And yet now it stands 75 feet tall, rigid and imposing. It has been a source of beauty, CO2 removal, cooling shade, and home for some. But now it's a cause of concern as well, given that it has dropped some large branches, as you can see in the photo.

Do we allow our life path to grow this way sometimes? YES. Those small steps, both good and bad can lead to something flourishing in our lives until it has grown to very large proportions. We must be careful to maintain, nourish and nurture those small steps that work us towards our goals. If any negative steps take place, before they become fixed and "expensive" to remove, we have to take a conscious effort and control over them. This may entail pruning or removing them before they become a nuisance or even worse, a danger to our happiness and safety.

So, take this moment to plant a positive seed today in your life. No matter how small, it counts. If an early difficulty is encountered, do not waver - sometimes the most fragile beginnings become the strongest trees in our life. If it takes time and energy, most likely it is worth it. In addition, look around for any changes that are not desired, and actively determine how to stop them. This might involve journaling on paper, plans with a friend, you could even check out www.stikK.com if you want to contract yourself into change, that can be powerful as well. I wish you well in your tending.



Boost that Mood! The Dr. says so!

Thanks to my friend Erin G. (M.D.) for sharing the following continued research about yoga and its benefits to mood, and anxiety levels...it is possibly better than walking!

"Exercise has been linked to improvements in mood and anxiety, but it is unclear if certain types of physical activity are more effective than others. A new study suggests that yoga may be more effective than walking.
The recent trial included 34 health adults who did not have significant medical or psychiatric disorders. The participants were randomly assigned to practice yoga or walk for 60 minutes, three times a week for 12 weeks.
The participants' mood and anxiety levels were measured at the start of the study and again at week four, eight and 12. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy scans were also performed throughout the study.
Greater improvements in mood and anxiety were reported in the yoga group compared to the walking group. The researchers suggest that these beneficial effects may be related to the increased gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels that were noted in the yoga group. GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate nerve activity. Because many mood disorders have been associated with low plasma levels of GABA, supplementation with GABA has been suggested for disorders such as anxiety and depression.
However, more research is needed to confirm these early findings."



Are you what you EAT???

Have you noticed how our diets can run amuck so easily? For emphasis, I just looked up the word amuck so as to better clarify my thoughts. Surprisingly and perhaps profoundly it stated, "a murderous frenzy". That truly could describe the typical fast food joint on a Saturday around noon. Wall to wall people glaring, children riled up in anticipation, cell phoning, impatiently inching their way forward towards something that satisfies our oh so tapped-into primal urges for salt, fat, and heh heh "taste" in our food. Ironically, on a cellular level, the awaiting meal is like a clutch of biochemical daggers, traipsing down the gullet ready to maime, possibly silently over a few decades.

Perhaps the fact that I'm pregnant (and have been sick to my stomach at times) is what is causing me to question more and more just exactly what the heck I'm ingesting lately either out of desperation, convenience or simply lack of culinary know-how. "Corn syrup" okay that's a notable villian in the army, but what about his much lesser questioned hoarde: MSG, xanthan gum, sodium benzoate, guar, and resin just to name a few??? There's some arrogance to our modern culture, maybe partially our infantile trust in modern food science, that we'll eat something packaged for days, weeks, months maybe years, simply due to the fact that some date stamped on it assures that's just fine and dandy, not to mention a few unmentionables packed in for good measure. I know the days of our ancestors were not easy, lives were shorter, hunger a more present danger, but I'd almost prefer to be there taking my chances on a lean week or two, if that meant those meals I did enjoy were fresh, and what I was evolved to consume.

Here are a few local to KC places that I would feel good taking my delicate little stomach, and not to mention the neo-nate, lately. Please add any places you enjoy in the comments area. Lately meat is not my friend as much so veggie places are looking up as well!! Guess that's where yoga ties into this post ;)

Chacko's Bakery - Mission
Avelluto's Italian Delight - Mission
Eden Alley - The Plaza
Great Harvest Bread Co - Prairie Village
Mediterranean Market & Deli - Overland Park
The Mixx - Midtown/Plaza
Waldo Pizza - Waldo!
Jerusalem Cafe/Bakery - Westport



Are you out of your senses???

My sister recently lent me an excellent book and it has got me thinking about how we go through this life, sniffing, caressing, glancing, harking, and savoring. In
A Natural History of the Senses
, by Diane Ackerman, you start with the nose and move along through our 5 fabulous perception options.

It has me thinking about sensory deprivation. So far, a couple of people that lost their sense of smell in the book feel lost from their own lives, homes, spouses, and that's not to mention the difficulties of trying to actually enjoy food without olfactory assistance. Helen Keller is brought up a few times. Any time I thought of her before reading this I sort of felt sorry for her, but in this book I learn the other side. Her sense of taste, touch, and smell are so enhanced that you might argue she lived a life more sensual and rich than most!

I am thinking of my own nose and a few special scents that are indeed complexly and inexorably linked to my memories. I have a certain conditioner that takes me right back to summer vacations with my dear family down by the ocean. A special Egyptian-reminiscent perfume and there I am on prom night, 17. Warm Vanilla sugar lotion transports me to my college road trip to the eastern Australian coast, and on and on. Do you have any special smells like these? It's fascinating and sad that a loss of smell is sometimes correlated with Alzheimer's disease. It's amazing how scent is so indescribable, yet so effective at drawing us out of our present moment. Perhaps it could also sink us more deeply? In yoga I often apply my herbal eye pillow of lavender and chamomile, I think I'll make it a point to do that more regularly.

I shall continue this theme for a few posts, tune in next time for touch.



Are you on the D List???

You may have heard discussion lately over one of the hottest vitamins around: the Big D! Some recent research has shown that a chunk of us don't have enough D. Vitamin D is a fat soluble secosteriod and is produced in your skin upon exposure to you guessed it: sunlight! While you don't want to give up sunscreen and avoiding our solar friend at his strongest is still wise, a few minutes of sun per day DOES give you enough D to be healthy. Once generated, Vit D heads to the liver and other areas and helps regulate calcium metabolism and bone health, and may even aid healthier hair too!

So...the big question is where do you get Vitamin D in hazy shade of winter? Well even mild sun exposure is not a bad idea if you can get out for a walk on a sunny day here and there. In your diet be sure to examine labels, and to cover all the bases a multivitamin is a great idea. If you look to your diet for sources of D, consider drinking fortified milk, fatty fish, mushrooms, eggs and meat. To do a little self analysis, as your physician at your annual physical if you can check your D levels, some forward-thinking practitioners have already added this test to their required list of blood tests, my doc does and I'm happy to report my levels are aok! Remember, always check with your doctor if you're not feeling well, and before you drastically alter your diet or habits, make sure your doc has given you the go ahead. Soon enough we'll be heading out to the garden or pool and easily generating plenty of D. In the meantime, take care of your body and it will take care of you!


Summer Sparkler!

Wow! It's been a while since I've visited Blog-Landia. Are you still out there my friends?? Now I'm a mom times two!! Can you be...