The 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood: Pranayama

On our journey up the 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood, the next limb we come to is Pranayama, but we'll call it PranaMama since we're bringing this all back to motherhood. Prana is breath, it's the life force, the constant inhale and exhale that brings energy to our being. Pranayama(Mama) is the control or regulation of this breath, often through exercises and specific techniques. This simple practice, this holds so much power, and it is a great tool for mothers!

Our breath is beautiful. It can be nourishing and energizing, bringing vitality to our bodies and clarity to our minds. Motherhood is beautiful too. But it a can feel depleting at times, leaving us exhausted and drained. Our prana is a guiding light out of this darkness and back into the light. Just like when we practice yoga, in motherhood we must also continue to come back to this powerful breath. We must acknowledge when the tides of motherhood are carrying us out too deep, and return to our inhale and exhale to feel grounded, supported and strong once again.

We walk through our days with shallow inhales and exhales that are cut short. We forget about this thing we have called breath, and we ignore the strength we can draw from it. The hours fly by and the days tumble into each other. We are scrambling to keep up and to be the best mothers we can be. It's so easy to forget to take time for this beautiful thing called breath. But we must.

So sit down mama. Relax the muscles your jaw. Draw your shoulder blades just slightly closer on your back. Breathe in through your nose and feel the cool air travel in through your nostrils. Feel your lungs expand completely, your belly rising. Embrace that fullness.

Pause at the top of that inhale. Can you sip in just a bit more? Now pause again.

Now move into the exhale. Releasing the air back out through your nose. Feel your belly release, your lungs emptying fully as the last of the warm air leaves your nostrils. Embrace that emptiness.

Pause at the bottom of that exhale. Can you release just a bit more? Now pause again.

Repeat if you like. Notice the shifts.

Draw strength from this practice of PranaMama. Feel grounded and supported. Welcome in that clarity and peace. We can all use a bit more of this in our lives. Now venture back out into that world of motherhood, and know that these inhales and exhales are always here, right here, when you need them.

Mom and Baby Pranayama

The 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood: The Ahhhsana

The third limb of yoga in the 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood is Asana, or as we’ll call it here: Ahhhsana. This is the part of yoga that many of us know well; it’s often times what brought us to the mat in the first place. It’s the movement, the postures. It’s the opening and the closing, the expansion and the contraction of the body. And we call it the Ahhhsana because it should feel like that word sounds. It should nourish and rejuvenate and replenish and restore.

Motherhood is so demanding and so much is required of our bodies. We grow a human life, we expand to make room for that life to develop and mature, and then we bring that life into this world. We endure long days, sleepless nights and late night feedings. Then we find the strength to get up and do it all again the next day and the next. We pick babies up and put them down and pick them up and put them down. Then we pick them up again. We hold our little beings on our hips with one hand while we make dinner with the other hand. We open the stove with our foot and close the fridge with our shoulder. Our bodies become off balanced and stressed. We develop carpal tunnel syndrome and our posture goes downhill.

And during all of this, we often times put our own needs last. We focus so intently on our darling babies, our babies who almost always need something from us, and we put our own needs on hold. It’s so easy to say that we are being selfless in doing this, but are we? Is it really best for our families if our health declines? If we do not make ourselves a priority and take care of our physical bodies, we will one day find that we have less to give and share with those we love.

So welcome Ahhhsana into motherhood. Find time each day, even if it’s just for 5 minutes, to reach up high and bend down low, to twist your spine and extend your limbs. Open your heart and expand your ribcage. There is so much healing that happens when we connect with these postures and move through our Ahhhsanas.

Many mothers have so little time, and committing to a yoga practice can feel like a scary step to take. Make it small. Roll your mat out and keep it rolled out for an entire week. When you pass it, step onto it and hold one posture, just one. See how it feels. Touch your toes or hold a Warrior pose. See how it feels. And the next time you pass that mat, do it again. Come up into Cobra or balance into Tree pose. See how it feels. Maybe commit to one simple flow, perhaps a series of 5 postures. And bring your little one onto the mat with you. Let them crawl under you in downward facing dog and climb up your legs in chair pose. Make it fun and playful, and make it feel good. Enjoy your Ahhhsana.

Motherhood is hard and it takes a toll on our bodies. We are doing a disservice to everyone in our lives if we do not take the time to nourish, rejuvenate, replenish and restore these amazing bodies. So take the time, commit to a posture and then maybe another. Roll your mat out. This, mama, this is the first step.

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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: The Mama Yamas

As we begin our journey into the 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood, we have to start at the beginning, the foundation, the first limb, the Yamas. The what? Yes, the Yamas, or what I call: The Mama Yamas.

The Mama Yamas are all about your integrity, your social guidelines, your ethical practices in motherhood.The Mama Yamas show up in your day before you even step on the mat. They sit with you while you move through your practice. And they leave the mat with you, journeying through the rest of your day right by your side. They are real and raw and bring you back to the basic fundamentals of humanity, the heart of who we are and how we navigate this life as mothers.

There are 5 of them, so grab a cup of tea (or perhaps that 9th cup of coffee if your baby didn’t sleep last night) and let’s get started…

  1. Ahimsa: non-harming. There are obvious ways that this applies to motherhood: not harming your child and providing all of the amazing care and compassion and love that you’re capable of giving your little one. But non-harming is bigger than this in motherhood. As mothers, as women, we are hardest on ourselves. We are the first to be deprived of something so that we can provide for those we love. And now, with a little baby asking for every ounce of our energy, we often find ourselves deprived. So Ahimsa also means non-harming towards ourselves, because we can only love our best when we are at our best. So go easy on yourself. Ask for help. Take a nap while someone watches your baby. Allow friends and family to cook for you. Tell yourself that it’s ok if your house isn’t spotless. You may find throw-up in your hair. That’s ok. And give your body some love. It may not look or act like it did before you were pregnant, but this amazing body of yours has grown a human being and is now supporting that life. That’s remarkable and deserves love. It’s not about lowering your standards in any way, it’s about finding a healthy balance in life as it is right now.
  2. Satya: non-lying. I believe the beauty of Satya in motherhood relates to our honesty with ourselves and the decisions we are making every day. It’s about living a life aligned with your values, one where you are completely honest in thought, speech and action. You say things are fine. Are they? Or do you actually need to ask for help? You say you want your children to be kind humans. Are you showing them what that looks like? You tell your children to speak nicely? Are you speaking nicely? You say you want your child to grow up to be a confident, independent and adventurous. Are you leaving space for this in their lives today? Oh man, this one can be a bit challenging at times. It is a chance to reflect on who you are and how you are moving through this life. Are they aligned? Are you being truthful to yourself?
  3. Asteya: non-stealing. We have so many distractions in our lives, so many things asking for our attention, demanding our attention. It’s a constant battle. Are we stealing away the best of ourselves from those who deserve it most? The truth is that there will always be something out there for us to like, to watch, to follow, to comment on. There’s always more. And then more still. But every moment we disconnect from what’s real, from what’s happening around us, is a moment we are stealing from those in our presence. And it all comes down to exactly that, presence. Are we present? Are we truly there, engaged and involved in the moment? These children are. It’s all they know. But sometimes the moment gets lonely for them. The find themselves right by our sides, but completely alone. So disconnect to connect. Stop stealing these precious moments, this presence, from the ones who need it most.
  4. Brahacharya: how we use our energy, both the ways we conserve it and the ways we expend it. The demands on mothers are endless, but our energy is not. We have a limited amount of ourselves that we can give to the rest of the world, to our families and friends and communities. We must be mindful in how we direct this energy. We must also find ways to protect this energy, taking time to restore and recharge. The word “no” is not an easy one for many of us to say. We like to please, we like to help, we like to take on more and more so that we can contribute to those around us. But there comes a point, and it sneaks up on us, when giving more results in giving less across the board. So be mindful of your energy. Be conscious of where you are directing it. Take inventory of your obligations and your commitments, and be sure that they are meaningful and purposeful. And, of course, do not forget to slow down and recharge. The world moves fast and motherhood is demanding. Protecting your energy is your responsibility. Never forget this.
  5. Aparigraha: non-greediness, non-possessiveness. As a mother you may feel like you are constantly giving and sacrificing. That’s what mothers do. But in what ways are you being greedy and possessive as it relates to your goals in motherhood? If you look closely, you may be surprised. We want to desperately to protect our little ones from the world, but deep down we know that is not possible. They will know loneliness and fear and sadness. They will feel isolated at times and hopeless at other times. These feelings are a part of life and we cannot shield them from the shadows, as much as we may want to. It is in living through these moments that our children will come out stronger on the other side. So instead of trying to own their path, to direct and control, it is our jobs to equip them with the tools they need so that when these moments arise, they can confidently navigate them. And then, at some point, we have to release them and let them move forward. Our children are ours, but also they are not.

In what other ways do the Mama Yamas relate to your own motherhood journey? How can this foundation, this first limb, help to shape your approach to motherhood?

We are never perfect, and we are always evolving in this life. Leave room for this in motherhood as well. Practice mindful mothering. Move forward with intention. Begin with a solid foundation: The Mama Yamas.

Stay tuned for the next post…the Mama Niyamas!

Mama Yamas 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood

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!