Family Halloween Yoga Class Fun at Hope Artiste Village. Costumes welcome!

Family Halloween Yoga Class Fun at Hope Artiste Village. Costumes welcome!

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Join Erin Vinacco this Halloween for a free family yoga class on Halloween Day (October 31) at the Motion Center Yoga Collective, Hope Artiste Village, Pawtucket. Halloween Costumes are welcome!

Regular weekly classes will be be held throughout the winter during Farmer’s Market starting Nov 1st, Saturdays 10-10:45am, $5 per participant. Free for little ones under 2!

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Come move, breathe, play and relax together! Family yoga is active and engaging opportunity for families to connect in a whole new way.  Practicing yoga postures with a new, fun and playful approach helps us all to decrease our stress and increase our joy and connection.  Each class includes breathing practices, group and partner activities as well as tools to calm and focus our minds and bodies both on the mat and at home.  Class concludes with time for quiet guided relaxation and rest even for the most wiggly bodies and active minds.  All abilities welcome.  All children must be accompanied by an adult participant.  Focus is on school-aged children (5-12) but younger and older siblings are welcome to join too.  Aunties, cousins and grandparents are all welcome – bring the whole family!

Erin Vinacco is a native Rhode Islander with over 7 years of experience working with and children,parents and families. She finds joy in sharing both the peaceful and playful aspects of yoga and mindfulness with students of all ages and abilities and currently works with the non-profit ResilientKids to bring mindfulness into the schools.  Her compassionate presence welcomes all students to the mat and allows everyone to explore and develop their unique practice at their own pace and comfort level.  She is a certified Kripalu yoga teacher and has been practicing yoga and meditation for more than a decade.   Erin has completed a 40-hour training in Trauma Sensitive Yoga through the Trauma Center in Boston and over 40 hours in training in teaching yoga to children, teens and adults with special needs through Creative Relaxation Yoga Therapy and My OmAbilities.

Find out more about Motion Center Yoga Collective here.
Climb out of the Darkness 2015

Climb out of the Darkness 2015

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Postpartum Progress’ Climb Out of the Darkness® is the world’s largest event raising awareness of maternal mental illnesses like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety & OCD, postpartum PTSD, postpartum psychosis, postpartum bipolar disorder, and pregnancy depression and anxiety.

Climb Out of the Darkness is held on or near the longest day of the year annually to help shine the most light on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The event features mothers and others across the globe joining together to climb mountains and hike trails to represent their symbolic rise out of the darkness of maternal mental illness and into the light of hope and recovery.

Help us shine the light of hope with our words and our advocacy efforts so that our fellow mothers will receive better information and better treatment, and their new families will get off to the healthy and strong start they deserve.

Team RI will be joining the event on Saturday June 20th at 9am at John Chafee Nature Preserve. For more information, contact Courtenay Xavier at climboutri@gmail.com or go to the event website Postpartum Progress.

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Post-natal fitness

Post-natal fitness

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Don’t be alarmed! We will NOT be discussing bootcamps, marathons or one armed push-ups in the following article! We will however, talk about the mind-bogglingly difficult process of getting up and moving again after you have a baby.

Exercise! Whether that means a walk around the block, a yoga class, whatever your thing, it provides us with a wonderful dose of endorphins, a precious piece of soul-nourishing time and makes us feel so much better about ourselves. And yet, like a frustrated but happy hamster, we get stuck in this wheel of making it happen. We get energy when we workout, we need energy to workout, we don’t have energy with a new baby, and round and round we go! I get it! Having a shower most days is a huge personal triumph and adding something else onto our daily lists can be overwhelming.  As with so many aspects of parenting, society imposes unrealistic pressures – presenting us with images of Moms who seem to get their pre-baby bodies back so quickly after giving birth.  If you worked out before having children, the need to return to those glory days as well as regaining some identity, can also be an additional dose of self-pressure. Getting back to your former self takes time, patience and sometimes a bit of letting go.

The benefits of exercising before, during and after pregnancy are amazing. Increased energy, fewer aches and pains and improved self esteem are among just a few. And yet, we often find this re-aquaintance with our post-baby bodies, one of the hardest parts about re-starting exercise. Why won’t my body react when I want it to? Why does this exercise feel so hard now? Why do I pee the moment I move an inch off the floor? Remember, working out comes in many forms and it’s all about moving your body, shifting energy and being kind to yourself.

Here are a few tips before resuming exercise:

  • Check with your medical person if it is ok to resume exercise.
  • If you nurse, feed right before working out. Baby and boobs feel happier!
  • Wear 2 sports bras. If you can, splurge on a properly-fitted sports bra.
  • How do you your shoes feel? Our feet change shape so much during and after pregnancy, it is well worth being properly fitted for a new pair of sneakers. Our feet are our foundation to the rest of our frame – take care of those tootsies! Check out Rhode Runner in Providence who will expertly fit you for bras and shoes.
  • Exercise doesn’t have to mean all or nothing. If a walk around the block is all you and your baby can manage today – take it! Your time will come!
  • Join a gym where you can either take your baby with you or pop them in the childcare for 30 minutes. Most YMCA’s accept babies from 6 weeks old. Working out WITH your children is great if you can do it.  You will set a great example to your little one about making exercise a priority.
  • Try something new. Instead of getting frustrated about not being able to do the stuff you used to do, try a new class, swimming or walking. You never know what kind of new doors will open.
  • If you have any post-partem medical concerns such as a slow-healing C-section, Diastasis Recti, Tendonitis – work with someone who has experience in dealing with such things.  Any experienced trainer should be able to modify exercises for you and prevent further damage.

Exercises with your baby
Finding the time to workout with a new baby can be really tricky.  Here are some easy exercises that you can do with your baby at home.

* Low Plank – elbows under your shoulders, feet together, body in one level line. Modification: drop knees to ground. Hold for 15 seconds and increase time daily.
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* Cat stretches – hands under your shoulders, knees under hips. Round upper back and then flatten back. Repeat. Modification: Make fists if you have sore wrists.
IMG_7134* Baby Press – lie down on your back, knees bent, feet on floor.  Hold your baby over your chest and press them down towards your chest and up into the air.  Head and shoulders stay on the floor. Try 10-20 reps, rest and repeat 3-4 times.
IMG_7141* Squat – holding your baby in the middle of your body, legs are wide and feet facing 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock, weight in your heels.  Sit down into your heels, stand up and squeeze bum as you do so.
IMG_7147* Baby on thighs – twists or lean backs.  Heels into floor, neck neutral, either lean back and then up OR twist to one side and then the other.  For a higher level, lift your heels off the floor.
IMG_7137* Child’s Pose – such a great end of the day hip/low back opener.  Baby can be right on the floor between your arms. Open your knees up wide and rest body onto thighs.  Hold for 30 seconds or longer if you can.
IMG_7136* Baby bicep curls – Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Shoulders rolled back, tummy tucked in. Hold your baby sideways in your arms. Roll her towards your chest and then down towards your hips. Keep your elbows tucked in. Repeat.
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Photo Credits: Suzanne Cadge, Catherine Lea

What is a Meditation for Kids and Family Class?

What is a Meditation for Kids and Family Class?

Local parent, Tara Demyan is a fan of the Meditation for Kids and Family class at Atisha Kadampa Meditation Center. To learn more about what it means to meditate together as a family, read Tara’s recent interview with Angela Stewart, Education Program Coordinator of the Atisha Kadampa Meditation Center.

Children Meditating Together What is a “family” meditation class?

Angela: All parents want their children to be happy, and every child wants a happy family. “Meditation for Kids and Families” is an opportunity for families to come together, have fun, and learn special ways of thinking and being that help to create a meaningful life and a happy family.

The family class offers a simple introduction to Buddha’s teachings, emphasizing loving- kindness, respect for others, and keeping a happy heart and positive attitude.

The family meditation class helps kids learn together how to develop harmony, confidence and methods to calm their minds and be happy. Each class includes a short discussion about everyday experiences relevant to children, guided meditation, and fun activities that foster kindness, cooperation, patience and giving.

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How can meditation benefit my child?

Angela: Children want to live in a peaceful world. Such a world starts with a happy family and harmonious relationships with others. The meditation for kids and families class offers children an opportunity to do engage in fun, meaningful activities with their families while connecting with others who are interested in learning how to create a peaceful world.

Meditation is a method to make our mind peaceful, calm, strong and stable. Children who are able to remain calm when faced with difficulty are more resilient to the problems of daily life. They are able to develop and maintain better relationships with others and experience fewer problems and difficulties.

Children in our modern world face many challenges. We live in a world where children are exposed to violence and other tragedies. Many children are dealing with interpersonal conflict, stress, and worry. Over 2000 years ago, Buddha gave instructions to solve human problems. Although very ancient, this advice is still relevant for our modern world and can benefit those of all ages.

How old does my child need to be to participate in the class?

Angela: The class is recommended for children 5 — 12 years of age; however, these are only guidelines. Generally, the class is best for children who can remain seated in a small group for 15-20 minutes, follow instructions, and participate in group activities.

 I’m not sure my child can sit still, let alone meditate. Can children really meditate?

Angela: Many people think children can’t meditate because they have difficulty sitting still. This simply is not true! Although sitting still is helpful during meditation practice, it is not required; we can meditate during all of our daily activities simply by holding a positive state of mind, such as love or compassion. Since all children can learn positive ways of thinking, even about challenging situations, they can definitely learn to meditate, even if they have difficulty sitting still. Like any skill, meditation takes practice. In these classes, children will learn short, guided meditations. As children practice and gain experience, they are able to sit quietly for longer periods of time.

 What is the structure of the class?

Angela: Classes include teaching and discussion about issues relevant to children and emphasize Buddhist principles for how to become more patient, loving, and kind towards others. Classes also include a brief prayer (e.g., for all beings to be happy and free from problems), short guided meditations appropriate for children, and fun activities. Instruction is provided primarily through experiential learning, such as with the use of games, stories, crafts, puppetry, and acting.

What do parents do during the class?

Angela: Parents are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the family meditation class. By learning to meditate themselves, parents are better able to help their children practice what they have learned at home, in school and during their daily activities.

Does my child need special clothing or equipment?

Angela: All of these classes are open to anyone; it is not necessary to pre-register; and you are welcome to join at any time. Children don’t need to bring or wear anything special to the classes, and both chairs and cushions are available for sitting.

What is Atisha Kadampa Buddhist Center?

Angela: Atisha Kadampa Buddhist Center is an oasis of peace and inspiration in the heart of the East Side that offers a relaxed, welcoming setting in which to explore ways to develop wisdom and cultivate peaceful states of mind. Classes are designed to provide practical advice for responding to life’s challenges. Since Buddhist teachings and practices can be understood and applied by everyone, regardless of experience or religious background, anyone can find practical benefit at our classes, workshops, and events.

Details:

Atisha Kadampa Buddist Center is part of Serlingpa Meditation Center
339 Ives Street Providence, RI 02906
website: www.meditationinprovidence.org

Thanksgiving for Nature

Thanksgiving for Nature

Whether it’s watching football, playing a game, reading special books, or expressing our gratitude in some special way, almost every family has a beloved Thanksgiving tradition that extends beyond the festive meal that is front and center on this American holiday.

My own custom developed in early adulthood, when the political arguments and caloric intake reached epic proportions one Thanksgiving and I simply couldn’t stand to be inside another minute. Let’s face it: holidays are great, but they can certainly be intense. At least in my family!

I headed outside that cold November day and walked around the block. Alone for all of 15 minutes, with nothing but my steamy breath, the crunch of my shoes on the early snowfall, and a beautiful sunset, I felt my blood pressure lowering and my clarity returning. I noticed — not for the first time — that time in nature is my favorite form of therapy.

The following year, I asked my siblings and cousins to join me for a post-dinner, pre-dessert stroll. We hadn’t seen one another for a while and it was nice to catch up away from the ears of the “real” grownups. I had recently taken a field ecology course and so I pointed out different trees, birds, and other objects in nature along the way.

And so it began: my own little Thanksgiving tradition that I’ve continued throughout the years, through marriage and pregnancy into parenthood. It’s certainly nothing ground-breaking. I mean, how many people go for a walk on Thanksgiving day? But spending time in nature is an essential piece of my happiness, and so I’ve consciously worked to make it a consistent component of my growing family’s Thanksgiving celebration.

And yet, each year it looks and feels a little different. The kids are older; so am I. I used to drag them along; now I’m asking them to wait up. Our observations and conversations grow more and more complex. It’s a snapshot of where we are as a family as much as it is of the weather and moon cycle. We clear our heads and stave off post-prandial torpor.

And then we go eat some pie!

Run for Your Lives!

Run for Your Lives!

by Katy Killilea

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What could be better for a worn-out parent that a sanctioned way to abandon one’s family? When my iPod morphed into a iPhone and my husband was able to call me while I ran, I realized the real reason why I love running. He called, his voice replaced Ira Glass’s in my headphones, and I cracked: WHY are you calling me? I am running. I am LITERALLY running away from home! (“Uh, I just wanted to know if you’d seen Jack’s cleats.”)

Of all forms of recreation, there’s no other that requires so little forethought/equipment/money, and that provides such a realistic facsimile of freedom. You’re alone! Running away from your house! All it takes is the desire to escape and legs. There are, of course, benefits to running other than freedom. But it’s not about blood pressure. The very best part is the act of actually running away–running away until you’re tired and thirsty and long to be back home.

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The sanity-preserving effects of distance running, as well as other benefits (endorphins, general well-being, ability to eat large amounts without gaining weight) are dissected and laid bare in Run Like a Mother, written by two mom-runners–one ‘s a hard core competitor (and she also happens to be a nursing expert), one’s not–who both find running essential to their well-being.

While the book has plenty of training information, which I would certainly consult if I ever were training for anything other than temporary escape, the juiciest, most important thing about this book is its discussion of why mothers run, what happens in our heads when we run, and how the day’s run changes everything else. It tells us why, for people who like running, a run makes the rest of the day feel easy. This book is also a lot of fun to read, with pie charts on what to think about while running (10% promising… for the fiftieth time, I’ll make better playlists and delete the tired songs today…2% There’s no chance it’s been 3 weeks since we got busy) and tart commentary on running bras and fashions. Running skirts are like…any other fashion that initially seems ridiculous but later trickles down to Old Navy.

Every mom who runs will find themselves in this book. Meanwhile, plenty of people hate to run but love yoga,  surfing, Pilates, or lacrosse, and I’m sure those activities work in people’s lives much the same way as running does in mine. What do you do to escape?

The details:

Run Like a Mother
by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea
2010 Andrews McMeel $15