Yoga for Elephants

Yoga for Elephants | www.sproutingbalance.com | #everybody #yoga #accessible

Laurent de Brunhoff, the son of Babar creator Jean de Brunhoff, wrote BABAR’S YOGA for Elephants. Originally published in 2002, the book provides step-by step instructions on yoga asanas (poses) and shows how yoga can be used in daily life and travels.

Using Babar to show various poses breaks the western stereotype that you must be tall and slim to practice yoga. Even though Babar is a cartoon figure, it allows a person who carries weight to consider that their body could possibly move through flows and practice the meditative effects of yoga.

Given that this was written over 15 years ago, de Brunhoff was ahead of his time. The image of yoga in North America is only now starting to show a representative image of the practice. Just scroll through the cover pages of Yoga Journal on the Toronto Public Library website. Almost all of the covers involve a female model, skinny, and generally blonde.

Until the January 2019 issue with Jessamyn – in her words, “a black fatty who doesn’t hate themselves on the cover of one of the whitest magazines”. Why is this significant? She is representing a large portion of the yoga-practicing nation. People can relate to her.

The classes I teach are a representation of this forgotten group. I have people doing chair yoga, individuals that use walkers and canes, two participants in wheelchairs, various replacement parts (e.g. hip/knee), the usual stress related aches and pains … and they all range in body size, race, gender and age. Sadly, Yoga Journal didn’t run Jessamyn’s cover on all the copies and did half of the issues with another typical model. I don’t know anyone who can recreate the cover on the right (or would want to!).

Yoga for Elephants | www.sproutingbalance.com | #everybody #yoga #accessible

I admit that I read Yoga Journal, they do have some good articles and can help me with my teaching and personal practice. BUT and this is a big BUT, it is the imagery that they promote that stopped me from doing this for YEARS. Why would someone like me (aka not a size 2) ever go and become a yoga instructor? I have a hard enough time with the criticism I get for being a fitness instructor and that doesn’t require becoming a pretzel and being graceful at the same time.

The promotion of this imagery also means that many in the general population think that “good” instructors or “real” instructors have to look like the cover of the magazine. I have been told (more than once) by a participant that I had no right to be teaching, that I was a disgrace to the industry, and that I couldn’t motivate anyone since I’m fat. Well, I’ve been doing this for 20 years – that is why. I have worked hard to achieve, maintain and add to my certifications including my canfitpro Fitness Instructor Specialist and East to West Yoga 200hr Certified teacher. And I believe that I can help.

Why can’t we promote that EVERY BODY and EVERYBODY can practice fitness & yoga and we can do it anywhere? Going back to Babar’s Yoga for Elephants, he gracefully practices yoga on the subway, in the park, at the airport, and in front of international treasures like the Eiffel Tower. In the end, most people want to feel better and have a nicer spirit. It doesn’t matter how we look when we are doing it. I’m proud to be the graceful elephant inspiring others.

 

In the comments, please share your thoughts on media imagery or making yoga accessible! And remember to follow us and SPROUT a conversation on Twitter – @sproutbalance – and Facebook!

SPROUTING [P]INSPIRATION:
Looking for some ideas on recipes, organization or things to do with your Lil Sprout? Come check out my Pinterest page and the things that inspire me to become more balanced.

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Road Block Ahead

Road Block Ahead: Finding Calm Instead of Road Rage - www.sproutingbalance.com - #calm #driving

I spend my day going in circles.

I am behind the wheel of a car multiple times a day shuffling between work locations, my daughter’s school and her activities. Now, this can be spent in a positive state or hinge on the edge of road rage. I try to stay cool and collected but a lot of the time, the other drivers make it difficult.

This morning, as others turned up their road rage, I dialed mine down and reflected. I started thinking about how their time on the road mirrors the rest of their life. How these habits are affecting the physical and mental health of these drivers and what we are indirectly teaching our children.

Full Speed Ahead
The light turns green and the car speeds up to (or past) the speed limit in a matter of seconds … to slam the brakes on for the next red light. Continue reading

Gawk! Late.

Gawk! Late.jpg

Most people are struggling to stay happy and are constantly seeking the elusive balanced life. Often, we think that doing more and having more is the answer to happiness. We don’t want to deprive ourselves of experiences so we add another appointment. An extra t-shirt will make the wardrobe more diversified although the closet fuller.

What if this need for more is what feeds our anxiety and throws us off balance? How many needs have caused us to rush more and place us at a point of chronic lateness? Continue reading

PROPS!

PROPS on Sprouting Balance

Sprouting Balance is about a willingness to adapt and change when needed. You may have noticed that I have changed the title of this blog series. When I started posting, I loved the idea of Blog Love Friday to share thoughtful articles from sources (i.e. BLOGS) that you might not be aware of. What I learned though was that I also wanted to share articles from magazines and news sources. That is why I am now giving PROPS to great articles that help you PROP up your sprouts of balance.

SPROUTING HEALTH & WELLNESS:
People with the Same BMI can Look Wildly Different | MindBodyGreen
I have major issues with using Body Mass Index (BMI) as an indicator of an individual’s health. BMI only uses your weight and height and dismisses muscle mass. An athlete might be classified as obese since they will have a high muscle mass.

LITTLE SPROUTS:
Smart Storage for Small Toys | Two-Twenty One via i Heart Organizing
Dollar store items to the rescue! This article gives an inexpensive way to help corral some of the more awkward children’s toys.

LEARNING TO SPROUT:
Dealing with Post Pill Amenorrhea | Eating Bird Food
This is a reminder that no matter how diligent you are with diet and exercise, health problems can still happen. Brittany uses western and eastern medicine and discusses her struggle after going off hormonal contraception.

GIGGLING TO BALANCE:
I’m Old. And I’m crotchety. Back Away | The Art of Doing Stuff

What the huh what? | The Art of Doing Stuff

These two somewhat go hand in hand – getting older, knowing yourself, and trying to figure out new technology. Either way, both of Karen’s postings will give you a giggle.

SPROUTING [P]INSPIRATION:
Looking for some ideas on recipes, organization or things to do with your Lil Sprout? Come check out my Pinterest page and the things that inspire me to become more balanced.

In the comments, please share articles that you read this week that helped you SPROUT some BALANCE! And remember to follow us and SPROUT a conversation on Twitter – @sproutbalance

Storing Children’s Artwork

Storing Artwork by Sprouting Balance

The school year is coming to an end and students will be cleaning out their desks and coming home with piles of artwork and a diorama that was (thankfully) on display. Now what to do with it all?

My daughter is four so we haven’t started with the big school projects but we have plenty of ‘important’ artwork. This is what has worked for us:

1) A magnetic board in the playroom that showcases ‘key’ pieces;
2) A small desk that holds those ‘important’ pieces;
3) And then taking pictures and saving in a Google Drive.

This works for us for two reasons: we have limited space and we can share these masterpieces with our family abroad.

I am going to divide the solutions I have found into two categories: keeping paper versus electronically storing images. Since every family is different, our storage needs are different too. Also, our willingness to store and maintain paper is very different. Paper overwhelms me; I have even nicknamed it “Paper Mountain” so it is important for me to keep it at a minimum.

PHYSICALLY ORGANIZING OUR ROOTS:
When I was a child, I had a keepsake book that stored my certificates, report cards and extra special work. If it couldn’t fit in the book, then it couldn’t be kept! I think I will do something similar for my daughter so the certificates and ribbons have a place to go. If you have more than one child, you will have multiples of each option! There are other options for those that crave more:

  • A filing box with a folder for each year – use the same size box you store your tax documents and bank statements so they stack nicely
  • An art folio – thin enough to hide behind the couch!
  • Magazine holders
  • Binders for each year or school segment (i.e. K-3, 4-6, 7-9, & 10-12)
  • Show & Let Go – this is for the hardcore folk who can toss without regret. Display it nicely for everyone to enjoy and when the next piece is going up then the old one gets tossed.

Check out my ‘Organize … Lil Sprout‘ board on Pinterest to see some of these ideas being used by other creative families.

ELECTRONICALLY ORGANIZING OUR ROOTS:
The most important part of organizing electronically is to have a decent camera (iPhone counts) and trying to keep a consistent background. We take all of our photos on the kitchen floor. You might find that you like to attach it to an easel, have the child hold it, or even a bit of washi tape and the wall.

Once you have taken the pictures, now decide where to keep it whether your computer, a website, or an app. Here are a few examples:

We have been using Google Drive but in May 2015, Google launched Google Photos, which is a dedicated space to store photos and videos. I need to look into this more, but it looks like it will be a nicer interface. Flickr is a Yahoo! product similar to Google photos.

For those of you that still love to have something to hold, I suggest taking those snapshots of the artwork and projects and make a photo album through Shutterfly or Photobucket. Or, if you already like making photo albums, intersperse the artwork between other photos. It is another way to show how they have grown other than height!

Shutterfly and Photobucket have free and unlimited photo storage and the option to then turn the photos into an album, mug, or bag! We use Shutterfly for making albums, mugs (etc.) and I have been very happy with the products however, I do not use them for storage.

I worry that since they are selling a product, there is a great chance that their business could close and my photos would disappear with them. This is a slim chance, but I personally feel more comfortable with Google or Yahoo!. But of course there is always a risk when you choose online storage.

LEARNING TO SPROUT BALANCE:
Ultimately, you need to decide what works best for your family now and in the future. If you choose to keep a file box for each year of school, then you will be giving your child 14 boxes when they complete high school. Do you think they will want to store and keep that much from their childhood? So choose the best, be respectful, gain enjoyment from it, and learn what can be thrown out.

SPROUTING [P]INSPIRATION:
Looking for some ideas on recipes, organization or things to do with your Lil Sprout? Come check out my Pinterest page and the things that inspire me to become more balanced.

In the comments, please share articles that you read this week that helped you SPROUT some BALANCE! And remember to follow us and SPROUT a conversation on Twitter – @sproutbalance

Blog Love Friday! 2015 June 19

Blog Love Friday

Sunday marks the first day of summer and the longest day of the year above the equator. The summer solstice has been celebrated for its symbolic importance since ancient times. Toronto will be getting their OM on in the Distillery District with the OmT.O. yogic celebration. I hope to drop in at some point, with mat in hand, for some restorative yoga at the end of the day.

SPROUTING KNOWLEDGE:
Last weekend, I spent some time with Susie Dias of East to West Yoga in a weekend long course. At one point, Susie was reviewing with the class the importance of breath. I learned that I am a terrible breather. Obviously, we don’t have to think about breathing to stay alive (if we did, we would all be dead!); but the way we breathe can change our quality of life. My natural breathing tends to be very short and high in my chest. This is not the most efficient way to get oxygen through my body. It also indicates that my body is feeling stressed. So, I’m trying to be more conscious of my breath and really engage my diaphragm. I already feel more relaxed.

SPROUTING HEALTH & WELLNESS:
7 Breathing Exercises to Help you Reduce Stress | Mind Body Green
Continuing with this yoga and breathing theme, I found a great infographic on yoga poses that encourage you to slow down and focus on breathing.

LEARNING TO SPROUT:
Social Media and Ego could be Damaging Practice of Yoga | news.com.au
“Contorting your body into a pretzel on Instagram doesn’t mean you are doing yoga, that’s just your body type.” I love this quote. People are starting to fear Yoga since magazines & various social media outlets show tall, lean, muscle ripped individuals practicing these gravity-defying postures. We start to believe that you’re not doing yoga until you’ve spent 90min in a sweltering hot room. There is a type of yoga for everybody and every body. You just have to try different styles to find one that works for you. I know that I cannot stand hot Bikram yoga; my body is not meant for that heat and humidity. I prefer Hatha with a restorative focus; this makes my body stretch out and relax. So go experiment and see what works for you.

Enjoy your Father’s Day weekend!
Namaste

p.s. Although there are several deeper meanings to the word, I am sticking to the simplest and using Namaste as a salutation meaning hello/bye. Just thought I’d mention it since many people don’t know what it means!

SPROUTING [P]INSPIRATION:
Looking for some ideas on recipes, organization or things to do with your Lil Sprout? Come check out my Pinterest page and the things that inspire me to become more balanced.

In the comments, please share articles that you read this week that helped you SPROUT some BALANCE! And remember to follow us and SPROUT a conversation on Twitter – @sproutbalance

Blog Love Friday! 2015 June 5

Blog Love Friday

The weather this week has been lovely. The children have been playing in the school yards and the commuters are riding their bikes. Yet today, a PA Day for the Toronto District School Board, the weather is overcast and it is set to rain. I’m sure lots of parents opted for indoor activities such as the Science Centre, the Aquarium, and the movie theatre. Some may have thrown caution to the wind and gone to the zoo. I wonder how many parents decided to have a day of rest.

As adults, we live in a highly scheduled environment with deadlines and daily lists of tasks. Our job as parents, is to teach our child to be self-sufficient and learn to prioritize. However, there are lots of people,who have learned to never unplug. They are not taking all of their vacation time and when they do take a few rare days off, they still check emails. This means we are teaching our children that we as individuals should not be one of the items on the daily priority list.

So here is a task for your next vacation day or PA Day … PLAN NOTHING. Sleep in late, cuddle on the couch, build a lego fortress, colour/draw or read a book. Give yourself permission to be unscheduled … and save some money in the process too.

LEARNING TO SPROUT:

How Successful People Work Less and Get More Done | Entrepeneur
Excellent article that discusses how working more does not make you more productive. It encourages a list of tasks at work and home BUT in a way that urges readers to disconnect, enjoy family time, and rule the work instead of letting the work rule you.

5 Signs you’re Overscheduled | MindBodyGreen
I am fairly certain that everyone I know is guilty of at least one of the five. Sprouting Balance is about reducing and/or eliminating items like these.

SPROUTING CREATIVITY:

Five of the Best: Adult Colouring-in Printables | Fat Mum Slim
Remember one of my ideas of an at home day? Have you tried colouring? Not Dora, Cookie Monster or Elsa – adult designs. It is surprisingly therapeutic; just trust me on this one.  If you can’t find a pattern online, there are several books available at arts stores.

SPROUTING [P]INSPIRATION:

Looking for some ideas on recipes, organization or things to do with your Lil Sprout? Come check out my Pinterest page and the things that inspire me to become more balanced.

In the comments, please share articles that you read this week that helped you SPROUT some BALANCE! And remember to follow us and SPROUT a conversation on Twitter.