The 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood: The Mama Niyamas

As we continue to climb through the 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood, we move on from the first limb, the Mama Yamas, to the second limb, the Mama Niyamas. While the Mama Yamas focus on motherhood’s social guidelines and ethical practices, the Mama Niyamas hone in on personal behavior and observances. They speak directly to self-discipline and the daily practices of motherhood.

Again, we have 5, so let’s jump right in…

  1. Saucha: cleanliness, purification. With motherhood comes a whole new definition of cleanliness. On one hand, we want to feed our baby the cleanest food, use the purest detergents and soaps to wash their clothes, keep germs and dirt away from them. But on the other hand, keeping a clean house becomes more challenging, finding time to cook meals from scratch can seem impossible, clutter seems to pile up in all corners. The things we welcomed into our lives to purify our own bodies and minds (massages, meditation, sleep, exercise), even these are bumped low on the priority list. The practices and standards we had before motherhood are challenged in every way once we take on this new role in life. But it is so important, both for our families and ourselves, that we incorporate Saucha into our daily lives. We must consider how our daily practices are affecting our family. Is the home clean (not spotless of course!) so that it’s a safe and healthy environment for our children? Are we eating healthy food that will nourish and fuel our bodies? Are we minimizing pesticides and parabens and unhealthy, unnatural additives? Find what is important to you and your family. Figure out what your standards are and where your boundaries lie.
  2. Santosha: contentment. This one sounds so easy, and it can be. But it can also be hard. Before we were mothers, we had goals. We had dreams and aspirations. And then we became mothers and our priorities may have shifted. Our goals may have taken a back seat, perhaps temporarily. Our dreams and aspirations stood to the side while we battled sleepless nights and struggled to find the time to eat a proper meal, ideally sitting down but usually not. And this reality can be jarring and it can be hard. Or maybe we had an idea of how motherhood would roll out. We saw ourselves moving through it with ease and grace, but the reality was something less flowery. Parts of ourselves are put on hold as we navigate this journey. And the journey in itself comes with highs and lows, often times unexpected ones. But this is where Santosha comes in. Santosha is the daily practice of reminding yourself that you are enough, that you are not lacking, that you don’t need to be someone else. It’s embracing contentment and gratitude and turning away from resentment and jealousy. Instead of looking at other mothers and feeling inadequate, Santosha welcomes in presence and peace with your own motherhood journey.
  3. Tapas: discipline. Ah yes, discipline! Just as Santosha teaches us to seek contentment in the present moment in motherhood, Tapas asks us to find the discipline to move towards our goals. Who are we and who are we becoming? What are we creating and how are we building? It often seems that motherhood leaves little time for this, but the opportunities are there. We must have the discipline to find them and the discipline to pursue them. So whether this pertains to goals you are pursing for your family or goals you are pursuing for yourself, it comes down to discipline. Discipline isn’t easy, but it is so important.
  4. Svadhyaya: self-study. The glory of self-study. It’s scary. It’s raw and it’s so revelatory. We find the most truth when we take the time to truly study ourselves in this motherhood journey. How are we responding and how are we reacting to the circumstances of our day? And is this aligned with the intentions we carry into motherhood? It is so easy to stray and to be distracted from the morals and ideals we believe are so important. Motherhood gets busy and messy and stressful. But each day, at the end of the day, we have the chance to revisit our choices and contemplate our actions as mothers. This is self-study and it does not always come easy, but it is very important.
  5. Isvarapranidhana: self-surrender to a higher being or purpose. This one is so personal, it’s so specific to you. But there’s a constant, there’s something we have in common here: We must have courage. We must be brave and understand that there are pieces that are out of our control, and that is ok. In fact, there’s a lot of power and beauty behind this, but it can be hard to embrace. The power comes when we are able to release the idea that we must have complete control, when we are able to lift up our arms and let go of the need to own it all. Motherhood is the epitome of this. We bring life into the world, we nourish and cherish it, and then we watch it go off and become its own glorious thing. It is surrender at its highest point. So let go mama, let go.

How do the Mama Niyamas speak to your motherhood journey and how can this framework encourage you to approach motherhood more consciously? Where is there room to grow and to expand as a mother? Stay tuned for more...

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The 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood

I remember sitting in my yoga teacher training years ago and learning about the 8 limbs of yoga. I found this approach to living a conscious, mindful existence to be refreshing and grounding. It expanded my idea of what yoga was and exploded the possibilities of how yoga could be a part of my life. I committed to fully exploring each limb and weaving them into my existence.

And then I had a child and everything changed. My time on the mat was reduced to a few minutes a day, maybe even just a few minutes a week. My reading material went from books that enriched my soul, to scouring the internet for quick tips on mothering: What should a breastfeeding mother eat? Will I ever sleep again? Are there any meals I can make in 2 minutes? It was survival mode folks.

But one day I was walking past my dusty shelf of long neglected books. Pablo Coehlo was flagging me down. Irving Stone looked at me with disappointment. Even Jane Austen was taunting me. And then I saw my yoga books and I thought surely I had some time to skim a few pages between diapers and tummy time. I randomly opened to a page that discussed the 8 limbs of yoga, the 8 components to living a meaningful and purposeful life. I recalled my dedication to these limbs in my past life as a non-mom and wondered how they fit into my life as a mother. Surely I still wanted to live a meaningful and purposeful life, perhaps now even more than before.

And so began my quest for the 8 limbs of yoga in motherhood. Yoga changed my life 10 years ago and reshaped the way I viewed myself and the world around me. It has been profound for me in many ways. And surely I would want to carry this into my life as a mother. Being a mother has brought new meaning and purpose to my life, but along with that has come the hardest challenges and deepest struggles. As a mother, if ever there was a time for living a conscious and mindful existence, this is truly it.

So stay tuned in the next few weeks as we take a deep dive into The 8 Limbs of Yoga as they pertain to Motherhood. We’ll take on the Yamas, the Niyamas, Dhyana, even Samadhi and much more. Are these words new to you? If yes, that’s totally ok. Really, it is. I’ll walk you through them. Hopefully this journey will support your motherhood journey, lift you up, shift your perspective, challenge you, inspire you, whatever it is that you need right now as a mom. Or perhaps it won’t. And that’s ok too. But for me, this has provided a framework for motherhood. This has been the bridge between my identity as a yogi and my identity as a mother. It’s been eye-opening, inspiring, grounding. I hope you find a piece of this too.

Stay tuned…

Melissa Kushnaryov, Co-Founder Seed & Song

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana with Baby

What to Expect from our Mom & Toddler Yoga & Music Classes

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". These may be the first lines of the classic piece of literature, A Tale of Two Cities, but they could also be the title of a memoir describing daily life with a toddler. These little people are so darn fun and SO utterly exhausting! They seem to be here specifically to call us to dig into our deepest wells of peace, patience and forgiveness. There are moments, most likely at least once a day, when mothering a toddler when you say to yourself, "I have no idea how to do this" or "I am SO frustrated!" We get it. They are testing their boundaries. They are growing and changing at exponential rates and they are testing you constantly. 

Our team at Seed & Song gets it. We are in the midst of mothering toddlers. We are still trying to figure out how to not throw your own tantrum when dealing with your toddler's tantrum. This is exactly why we have created our Seed & Song Mom and Toddler class. We want to teach our toddlers how to speak, explore and play with others. Even more than this, we want to teach them how to be strong, how to find peace and patience within themselves, and how to be kind. We need this for ourselves too. Our toddler class is fast paced, full of amazing music, yoga (for mom too!), art, and play BUT at the heart of this class are the principles we know you are trying to live out and teach your child. We will be fostering a space to take a breath, be kind to our neighbors, and love each other.  

Start Out With Seed & Song: Incorporating Music & Yoga Into Your Prenatal Journey

It's important to start out right- to start your day right, to start a project with the correct materials, to start a journey with the right map and the necessary supplies. Motherhood is the same. This is why we are thrilled to be launching our Seed & Song Prenatal Class. 

There are many prenatal yoga classes, and this is wonderful. Staying fit, flexible, centered and calm during the pregnancy journey is essential. Our program, designed by certified yoga instructors, music therapists and mothers, builds on these principles and takes them to another level. Just like our mom and baby and mom and toddler classes, all our music is created by board certified music therapists with the aim of supporting the movement through the music. The messaging of our music is designed specifically with mama and baby in mind. 

There are many wonderful mom and baby music classes but not as many programs for integrating music into the pregnancy journey but it is so important. We know that babies develop hearing at 18 weeks and that newborns recognize and respond to the sound of their mothers voice from the moment they are born. Talking and singing during pregnancy is a wonderful way for mothers to connect with their baby in utero. Our classes encourage music participation and singing throughout. We also teach moms songs they can sing throughout pregnancy and then take these songs into their child's life to teach and soothe them. 

Start out with Seed & Song. This unique program will truly support you and guide you as you prepare for you baby. 

Releasing Perfection in the Motherhood Journey

It’s a new year and everything is filled with the promise of a “new you”: a new diet, a new workout regimen, a new commitment, a new routine, a new anything and everything, as if "new" and "better" and "more" is precisely what we need. And as moms we judge ourselves harder than most, because our decisions, our choices spread beyond ourselves and truly impact the little ones in our lives. We hold ourselves to such high standards, we strive for perfection and take on more and more while our plates are already full. Often times we develop an idea of perfection and we reach for it, we reach high. And every day we are faced with so many challenges, and so many chances to overcome these challenges with grace or to be overcome by them. At the end of the day, we may wonder if we moved any closer to that idea of perfection. Did we cover any ground? Will we ever get there?

But where is this idea of perfection coming from? And is anyone really ever achieving it? We live in a world of airbrushing and filters. We see lives portrayed on social media and we think that is life, that is real, that is what we are reaching for. But is it? This world is filled with struggle, and motherhood can be one of the greatest. To step into the identity of a mother and to expect ourselves to walk this journey in perfection, it is perhaps one of the greatest injustices we can do to ourselves.

So release this. Release the idea of perfection. Open up to the mother you are, the mother you are always becoming, and embrace this identity. We can always hope to walk through the journey of motherhood with a little more grace, a little more patience, a little more ease. But we cannot ask ourselves to walk through this journey with perfection. We cannot expect ourselves to match those airbrushed versions of womanhood, those staged and filtered versions of motherhood. The curated images are not the real journey.

Music Crafting with Your Kids

With the holidays coming up, cooler days and more time inside with your little ones, you may be looking for some new ways to keep these little people occupied. Here's a very fun idea for a musical craft. It's super easy and fun and can lead to hours of music making fun! 

 

What you'll need:

Empty and dry water bottles (we used standard size but the tiny ones would work really well for tiny hands)

Assorted beads, the brighter the better. You can find great packs of beads at crafting stores or Target or Walmart 

Tiny bells. We found a lovely pack of small bells at Jo-Anne's

Washi Tape. We love these great packs at Michael's

Stickers of your choice 

Gather the kids on the floor and spread the assorted beads and bells out on the floor. Give them each their own water bottle and have them fill their water bottle with the beads and bells that they like the most. This is a great fine motor activity. 

Once the water bottles are filled, make sure to securely close the cap. You can even apply hot glue to the inside of the cap to make sure they can't be opened. Once the bottle is closed, it's time to decorate! Kids can select their favorite colors of Washi tape and with your help, they can wrap the tape around the bottle. They can also choose favorite stickers to put on the bottle. 

Now it's MUSIC TIME!! Put on your favorite music or grab a guitar or ukulele and get ready for some music making. We like to shake along to one of our favorite Seed & Song songs, Om Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Self Care Quotes for Motherhood

Self care can feel a bit selfish, sound a bit indulgent and easily become a low priority, especially for mothers. While moms are busy changing diapers, making meals, cleaning up messes, working, chauffeuring and trying to maintain a basic sense of balance and order in their family's life, their own self care takes a back seat. Actually, not just a back seat, self care is often times dropped off at the curb and forgotten about entirely. It's time to pick self care back up again and make it a priority. Clear off that front seat mamas, self care is back.

Remember: A mother is the backbone of the family. She is the trunk of this beautiful family tree. But if the trunk is not thriving, nourished, strong and grounded, how will the limbs of the tree thrive? How will they grow and blossom and reach their full potential? Do not take your own self care for granted. Do not disregard and neglect it. The strength of your family depends on it.

So here are 10 self care quotes to remind you to take take care of yourself, to nourish and nurture yourself. These self care quotes will inspire you to carve out time for the things in life that feed your soul and refresh your mind. When life gets too busy and the days are too full, when everyone needs something from you and you are holding up the world on your shoulders, remember to pause and reflect. What is it that you need? What is it that will ground you, strengthen you, feed you? Every single day, find your own way to focus on self care.

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Be kind. Be patient. Be generous. Be accepting. Be all of these things to yourself. That is where it begins.

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Surround yourself with those who reflect your own beauty and brilliance back into your heart.

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Find time to nourish yourself with the pieces of the world that feed your soul.

Turn off the world and go within. Rejuvenate & refresh. Open your eyes and begin again.

If you are to be a light for those you love, you must find ways to nourish yourself, to feed your fire & keep it burning.

Self-care is not a luxury. Indeed not. It allows us to show up in this tumultuous world as the best versions of ourselves.

This is your life and you are the curator. Be intentional. Be selective with what you let in.

Breathe deeply and allow yourself to let go. If you were able to let it into your world, you are able to let it go.

In moments of stress, a cup of tea & a deep breath go a long way.

A walk. A deep breath. A stretch. A moment of silence. A smile. You deserve all of these.

Our greatest challenges, our greatest teachers

Every day, every single day, we face challenges. We face people and places and things that feel confrontational, confusing, hard, maybe even impossible. And some of our greatest challenges come from our greatest loves. Our children push us and pull us and demand and refuse. They stand firm and then fall apart. And we are there. We catch them. But just as we’re helping them to their feet, just as we’re dusting them off, they start to push us and pull us again.

Breathe deeply mamas. These little loves of ours, these little beings, sifting through their internal world while learning to navigate the external world. It’s hard work for them. And it’s hard work for us too. On the days when they feel like our greatest challenges, know that they are also our greatest teachers.

Where else were we given a second chance to experience childhood so closely? Who else has asked us to dig down deep, oh so deep, to see what we are really made of and to show us a depth to ourselves that we never knew? And how would we ever have a chance to feel such unconditional love while being tested endlessly? Where else would we be given the opportunity to practice patience and kindness and generosity every single day? It is through practicing these things over and over that we become them.

We matter in their world. We are pivotal. And they matter so much in our world too, in more ways than we may realize. Just as the good moments fill us with love and happiness, the challenging moments fill us with growth, the chance to learn and evolve into a space we may not have seen before.

So embrace the challenges, embrace the new space these challenges open up to us. Dig deep and grow. These little teachers of ours, they are relentless and they are powerful. And even in the moments that don’t pass with ease, know that they are our greatest teachers.

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Passing in a Blink: A reminder to find presence in parenting

How sad it would be to realize one day that we were not awake, aware, alive for these years, these days and these moments. We hear they pass in a blink. We hear it over and over. But these moments can feel heavy and days can drag on. Sometimes this “blink” we hear of seems ridiculous. But sometimes it does not. As we teach our children to walk and as we pack away their baby clothes, they begin the journey into independence. It’s what we intended all along. It’s what babies do. It’s what we did.

So while babies are small, while toddlers toddle, find depth and presence, even in the chaos. Connect truly and act consciously as you parent. Enrich, enliven, engage. Build a foundation of strength and love, of honesty and acceptance. Invest in these moments, even the challenging ones. And as our babies begin to walk, to ride, to journey and take flight, we will know that even though it was a blink, even though it passed quickly, we were there. We were awake, aware and alive, and they will feel it too.

Remember to find depth and presence, even in the chaos.

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The word is “No” mama, say it with me.

The word is “No”. It’s not “Yes” or “Maybe” or “I’ll try” or “I think I can” or “Let me figure it out” or “Let me squeeze it in”. It’s “No”. Do not be afraid of it. Embrace this small, simple, strong word. So many of us are spread thin and feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Your are a mother; your time is valuable and your energy is valuable. The world will take as much as you will give and then ask for a bit more. And after every inch you give, it will ask for a bit more. Just a bit. Just one more thing. And then another.

There comes a time when the answer has to be “No” and there’s nothing wrong with that. Do not be afraid of it. Do not feel guilt. Use this word to guard what you have to give. Motherhood will ask so much of you, and truly it is one of the most amazing jobs in the world. And everything else will ask so much of you too. There is only so much to give, only so much to draw upon and to spread out to those around you. Guard that precious energy. Save it for the parts of life that count, the things that count, the moments that count, the ones who count.

Be intentional. Do not be afraid. The word is “No”.

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Fighting Fear and Finding Joy

I am the mother of a human child. This is really very complicated at times. It is so heartbreakingly beautiful and difficult in the same moment. On top of this, she is changing ALL THE TIME. She is impossible to organize and keep clean. She follows the rules and then breaks them all every day. 

Living with this little human child means that there are moments of such joy that I can hardly believe I am this lucky to be her mother. She holds my face when I sing to her and we laugh and kiss each other. Time stands still and it is perfect. The thing is, there is this voice of fear that creeps up inside too often during these moments. It says things like, "what if something ever happens to her?" Darn you fear! This was a perfectly golden moment until you poked your little head into it. 

I used to think this is just what it means to be a mother, that one can hardly enjoy a perfect moment with your child without being completely gripped by fear. But recently I heard some beautiful and challenging words from the researcher and storyteller, Dr. Brené Brown. She said that in all her years of intensive research, gathering stories of people's lives and listening to them in their most vulnerable truth-telling, she has found that JOY is the single most difficult emotion to experience. She talks about this very human tendency, that as soon as joy creeps in, we are sabotaged by fear. She believes that it takes the utmost courage to show up in our lives and practice joy. 

Whoa! What?!? This completely floored me and also made total sense. The experience of true joy is so absolutely vulnerable and so out of my own control. It is a call to utmost presence in the moment. I realized that too often I let fear pull me right out of the joy. I do not want this kind of fear in my life. 

What if the greatest gift we can give our child is our joy? What if our total presence and delight in them at any given moment is the thing that will help them feel known, safe and give them courage to expand and grow? I know that for me, I would like to choose more joy than fear.

I guess raising a human child requires a human mother. There's nothing more human than being vulnerable, letting myself be alive and truly experience joy.  

Seed & Song: Our story

Moms are in demand. Period. Your body is sore. Your mind is scattered. Oh and you are responsible for a new human. Welcome to motherhood. And welcome your new “band of mothers” to help you through it all. Seed & Song is about connecting you to your body, your baby & your breath through music and yoga.

Sharing stories link us together. Stories help reassure us that we are not alone. In fact, your supportive community is waiting. Here is the story of how Seed & Song came to be. Allow me to introduce the wise women behind it all.

Laura Rose Anderson

Laura was born to be a music therapist. She was also born to help others learn to love themselves. It wasn’t until 2012 that her career path expanded to include yoga, sound and meditation for inner healing & self discovery. Both disciplines, music & yoga, blend effortlessly together offering profound tools to cope with daily life. She simply had to share.

Laura Music Therapy

Laura and Vanessa Contopoulos met in the field through their work with children who have special needs. Vanessa is a remarkable healer, mother, founder and director of Amplify Music Therapy and co­founder of a non­profit called the SongStream Project. Pictured below is her sweet Seed & Song baby, Eloise.

Vanessa and Eloise Drum

Through their shared passion of performing original music, Vanessa & Laura formed a band called ‘Red Willow Waltz’ in 2013. Playing music together was a creative outlet they cherished.

Red Willow Waltz

Once Vanessa learned she was pregnant, Laura guided Vanessa through prenatal yoga sessions in preparation for birth day and eventually helped support during childbirth. Since then, It felt like a natural progression when they began writing lullabies and songs for children.

Laura created the first version of classes in January 2015 when Vanessa came to experience yoga & music for the first time. Their dreams of collaborating on this project turned into real conversations and brainstorming sessions. From those conversations it became apparent they needed a strategic savvy mind to help make these dreams a reality.

Enter Melissa Kushnaryov; A beautiful yogi, mom, and marketing extraordinaire. Pictured above is her sweet little boy named Toren, who is now a big brother to his sister, Miela. When Toren was little he would fall asleep in his mother’s arms every Thursday listening to Laura’s Kirtan band. Which also happened to be where Laura and Melissa first met as they bonded over the soothing qualities of music and the affect it had on her son. As soon as Melissa was getting ready to move to Santa Rosa, Vanessa and Laura presented her with Seed & Song.

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Since joining the Seed & Song family, Melissa has learned how to play Ukulele and trained in the Seed & Song Curriculum all during her second pregnancy and living in Santa Rosa, away from her community in San Diego. Wow.

As mothers, yoga teachers, and music therapists we are honored to pioneer this field of music enhanced mom & baby yoga classes to a growing community of mothers.

Click here to learn more, Share with a friend. Leave your yoga and/or music story in the comments below. We love hearing from you.

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LINKS:
Read more about Laura's
 music meditation practice and community involvement here: http://www.sitarose.com/

Read more about Vanessa's peace studies and listen to her original music here: http://vanessa­contopulos.bandcamp.com/ 

Read more about Melissa's yoga journey and search for slow living here: http://www.insearchofslow.com/

 

 

Seed & Song: Elevating motherhood one breath at a time

If you are longing for something to exist, you should create it. Seed & Song is a dream project of three women. We are mothers, yoga teachers and music therapists.

A year and a half ago, right in the middle of mothering tiny people and watching so many women in our community making the transition into motherhood, we began to long for a place to catch our breaths, an authentic space to nurture our children and ourselves. Seed & Song was born out of this need.

We have drawn on our years of collective experience in using music to support development, song writing, teaching yoga, and finding our own breathe and voice through yoga and meditation to create Seed & Song.

We have created a unique yoga class for moms and babies accompanied by original music designed to cultivate development and engagement for the babies while supporting the yoga poses and flow for moms. We are delighted to be able to invite you to become part of this completely new program and community.

Watch this video to learn a bit more about who we are and what we do!