Mindful Parenting–I'm Curious, How About You?

Hi wonderful humans. I hope you're having a tremendous week. As a new mama I'm incredibly curious about mindful parenting, are you? I have no doubt that practicing mindfulness and mindful parenting have many differences but are equally influential when implemented in our home lives. It may be wishful thinking, but I pray for the day that all our education systems also include mindful practices into the curriculum. Wouldn't that be great for our children and our educators? 

Inspirational Addict Writer Andrea Bogart Sonoma Mama Actress Health and Wellness Yoga Instructor 

From the time an infant is one month old they start to make facial expressions and possibly even mimic some of their parents gestures. These first years of a child’s life are crucial for setting up a strong foundation for learning, relationships and mental health. As we stick out our tongues, play patty-cake and comfort with hugs and kisses, we quickly learn how babies and children are prone to copying behaviors they see. As the various developmental stages take shape, involving them them with things like yoga and meditation can help them deeply bond, sleep better, grow stronger, relieve fussiness, learn self-regulation, increase body awareness and promote neuromuscular development… just to touch on a few. Parents creating this space for themselves propels curiosity. Our little ones’ abilities to absorb impressions are rapid and undeniable so I implore us to experiment as early as we can. Although much of our information is young and anecdotal, I'm intrigued that research is revealing trends and further investigation is being prompted on how effective meditation and mindful practices are for our youth.  

Inspirational Addict Writer Andrea Bogart Sonoma Mama Actress Health and Wellness Yoga Instructor

In many cases when a woman becomes pregnant, a mindful yoga practice is being recommended by doctors encouraging them to maintain a calm, healthy pregnancy. Various stressors, if become constant, may negatively affect a growing fetus so it’s no surprise parents are interested in learning how to reduce unhealthy stress and use coping mechanisms, like meditation and yoga, to assist in stress management. Throughout my pregnancy I remained consistent with my meditation practice often using the Chopra Center meditations as a guide. I truly believe that even now with our baby girl only being ten months old she recognizes the voices and has an understanding that it’s a relaxing time not just for mommy and daddy but for her as well. I have found in my own struggles with being up several times a night to breastfeed that using an uplifting mantra helps me create inner peace, stay relaxed and I easily fall back asleep after she’s done feeding. I can’t help but hope this affects her positively as well. She too has been observing and involved with my yoga practice since the day she’s arrived. I’ve watched her press into downward dog long before she could even crawl. She loves to be involved, crawling all around my mat and watches as I breathe and move through postures. My positive experience leads me to believe that it’s beneficial to weave these practices in as early as you get to hear a heartbeat.

Children are showing signs of anxiety, restlessness and stress earlier and being diagnosed with things like ADHD before the age of six. Parents in-turn have a perpetual concern about children’s attention. We have an opportunity to shift concern into action by showing and teaching mindfulness early on. The amount of interest being displayed with your child in the action you are promoting will be your best guide. While there isn’t a distinct age said to begin teaching meditation it’s been recommended by experts to start off short and simple. Perhaps trying one min of meditation per year of age. After working with children in a theater camp, ages four and up, I was shocked and thrilled to see how many knew what yoga and meditation was and were able to lay quietly as we practiced meditation in savasana at the end of our yoga session all together. With that said it’s important to pay attention to your child’s nature and temperament so it may take some trial and error to find the structure that feels good.

There are a variety of creative ways to invite your children into a calming mindful space that can lead to an ongoing meditation practice. Mindfulness is not simply sitting perfectly still; music and movement often make ideal mindfulness entry points as well. Whether it be creating a special space in your home, using things like a candle flame to focus on, encouraging imagination with colors and visualizing or saying mantras with simple breathing exercises, allow your child to partake in the idea fun and help lead the way to mindfulness. We can watch them evolve into healthy adults by offering them simple tools now and most importantly, leading by example. Here are some wonderful resources I’ve explored with my youth yoga students and baby girl and simply love.

Inspirational Addict Writer Andrea Bogart Sonoma Mama Actress Health and Wellness Yoga Instructor Baby Girl with Meddy Teddy Meditation Yoga Bear

Meddy Teddy is a 100% posable bear who practices yoga and meditation. Meddy can be a tool and a buddy as you bring awareness into how to sit or lay comfortably to meditate. His eyes are closed to remind us how to turn inward to ourselves as we find our breath to feel grounded and calm.

My Light Shines Bright is The Chopra Centers first guided meditation app for kids age 8-12. The 22 guided meditations are geared toward building confidence, encouraging good sleep, creativity, and deep connection.

Itsy Bitsy Yoga is a wonderful book by Helen Garabedian that introduces parents and babies to the many ways of bonding together and improving health. A delightful guide to introducing mindful techniques as early as birth.

Breathing Buddies Best-selling author Daniel Goleman shares such a sweet and simple way he observed children learning to use their breath and strengthen their focus in a classroom setting. After finding a comfortable place to stretch out they are to put their stuffed animal on their belly and count as they breathe in 1,2,3 and out 1,2,3, watching their toy move up and down.

I also weighed in on this topic with one of my favorite wellness platforms MindBodyGreen so please feel free to read more on kids and meditation there.  

Thank you guys for stopping by! Would love to hear from you especially if you have kids and have insight on what’s working and not working for you! Wishing us all the very best as we navigate our way into mindful parenting. 

XOXO ANDREA

 

Need Some BIG MAGIC In Your Life Too?

Hello there! I hope you're all having a great week... who could use a little BIG MAGIC in their life? And by "BIG MAGIC", I mean the #1 New York Times Bestseller by Elizabeth Gilbert. We are all creative beings and part of my wellness means keeping my creativity flowing. How about you? Taking time to write, design a good yoga flow, curate the perfect playlist, sing songs I make up with my baby girl... it's all creative. Think about how you can lean into your creativity, especially if it's your passion. Allow Gilbert to be a sensational guide. 

It’s not an easy job to wake up everyday and pride yourself with enough gusto to begin, continue or finish a project your investing your heart in. The struggle is real with resistance and writhing ourselves with angst often attaching unnecessary melodrama to our process of creating. Elizabeth Gilbert delightfully reassures us we are all creative beings that behold a treasure chest full of jewels and it's up to us to decide which of our precious stones will be revealed throughout life. With an honest perspective bedazzled in a no bullshit demeanor, I laughed out loud multiple times. Humbled from being able to relate, not only to her experiences, but the examples of many, recognizing my own patterns and behaviors that get in the way and can bring my process to a screeching halt. I have journals of children's literature ideas and stories written from 2009 to the present that sadly I’ve never pushed myself to execute further, until now. In 2012 I started writing the phrase, “start your blog,” regularly on to-do lists. After spending three years redundantly researching “how to start a blog,” I finally launched Inspirational Addict in 2015. I love writing more than ever and don’t make a dime from it… yet— and that doesn’t matter. Since recently becoming a new mom, I’m inspired to recommit to my children’s stories and work toward getting published. My sense of wonder and excitement has a stronger foundation since I got my hands on this lovely read, reinstating my passion for simply creating.

Inspirational Addict Blogger, Lifestyle Health and Wellness, Sonoma Mama, Yoga Instructor, Actress photographed by Erik Almas

How many of you have ideas that you sit on for years and sometimes never follow through because of fear of rejection and self doubt? One of the best self-motivating tools I’ve acquired in my journey is curiosity, which Gilbert talks in-depth on. Curiosity gives us great insight to inspiration and tests how far we are willing to stretch ourselves into the unknown with acceptance of whatever results we end up with. This read, reminded us to, “for the love of God, create for the sake of creating”. It brings me great joy because let’s face it, with today’s social media platforms everyone seems to be a photographer, blogger, story teller etc. and comparing yourself by means of self-destruction rather than inspiration, will destroy your process for sure. We don’t need permission to be creative and authentic, we GET to be. So as “Big Magic” graciously honors the creator everyone, I’m along side Ms. Gilbert, encouraging us to listen and pay and attention as ideas guide us to places that ignite our souls and push forth with confidence into the things we love wholeheartedly.

If you snag the book on Amazon or check it out on Audible let me know how you like it! I love hearing from you guys... Cheers to being creative in however we choose to be! Happy Wellness Wednesday.

XO Andrea

10 Reasons To Practice Yoga

Why practice yoga? I have an abundance of reasons with a pot of gold at the end but let's just ease into this. 

Have you felt the benefits of this practice yet? It's no surprise to me that a Forbes article indicated in a 2016 study that the amount of people practicing yoga in the U.S. nearly doubled from 2012. Bringing it to 37 million, which is estimating that one out of ten people are practicing now. Yoga has been so impactful in my life that it's a bit of a mouth full to describe just how so. Several of my blogs have been inspired by this journey and my first post was about how consistently practicing lead me to becoming a certified instructor. I care deeply about this practice and all of it's tremendous benefits. It's a non negotiable for me... yoga will be in my life for as long as I live. Here's my top ten reasons why.

Sonoma yoga instructor and wellness influencer Andrea Bogart settles with photographer finace, Erik Almas as a new mom and lifestyle blogger and actress 

Connection 

Yoga is the union of the mind, body and spirit. This ability to connect to a deeper sense of self arrives as you drop into your breath, begin to link it with movements and quiet the mind. The hope is that the discoveries you find as you explore the eight limbs of yoga will cultivate a joyful, non judgmental awareness in which you can use as a vehicle for transformation. This connection isn't only enriching for the self but in all your relationships if you want it to be.  It's a journey inward that guides you to connect with the present moment with compassion and acceptance.

Relieve Stress

There is loads of research that supports yoga reducing stress and anxiety in conjunction with elevating your mood and over-all sense of well-being. When we stretch the body, create a fluidity with our breath and movements we release stored toxins and calm the mind quite beautifully. Stress wears differently on all of us so my suggestion is to simply see for yourself.  As you begin to practice consistently you will start to see the benefits show up in your daily life. A heaviness you may have often felt before becomes lighter. As relaxation is practiced, a  calm nervous system encourages more balance in dealing with life's upsets and disappointments as you navigate toward joy and healing more readily. 

Ease Joint Pain

You gotta love when Doctors and Chiropractors are prescribing yoga for pain, which I'm delightfully hearing more and more. I'm a prime example with having had severe knee pain from being a former dancer/ gymnast and using yoga as rehab instead of surgery. It was pretty miraculous for me. This is not the case for everyone but worth a shot in my book. Combined with anti-inflammatory foods you may save yourself in a multitude of ways; Ie., medical bills, painful procedures with recovery times, being on prescription drugs. Increasing flexibility and strengthening muscles that support our joints are key components when practicing various styles of yoga.

Gain Strength

Many of the yoga postures are strengthening poses that tone your entire body. I've had some incredible athletes try yoga for the first time with me and express that it was the hardest thing they ever did. Don't let that scare you... there's a practice for everyone. It's a full body work out physically and spiritually. Power Yoga, Vinyasa Flow and Ashtanga are three styles I'd recommend for someone wanting to focus on gaining muscle strength. Remember, strength comes in many forms as well.. it's not just about the tight core, killer triceps and buns of steel. As your awareness starts to inspire better life choices, it would be fair to say you've definitely strengthened your mind as well.

Great Workout

There are many styles of yoga with a variety of level's and intensity's and exploring them will help you land in a practice that's right for you. I was in the gym for years pounding the treadmill, using weight machines and not particularly enjoying myself at all. I was introduced to yoga in my late twenties switching gears, using it as my consistent form of exercise. I explored styles and levels and fell in love, quickly becoming addicted to the physical and mental challenges and happiness shift I was experiencing. At large, it seems everyone wants to maximize their time and efforts with quick results. I think of yoga as great work out for everything. With the right combination of style, instructor, level and commitment the benefits go far beyond the time spent on your mat and my top ten reasons.  

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Calming

Pranayama (control of breath) is the driving force of any style of yoga. Practicing this controlled breath connects us to our bodies and the present moment. Meditation (Dyhana) is one of the wonderful eight limbs of yoga I referred to earlier that quiets the mind and has been found to help reduce anxiety. Connecting to these vital elements increases your ability to relax, restore and revive. Day to day activities often leave us restless with mind-chatter and a yearning for a way minimize that. Finding balance and an understanding of your mind, body, spirit connection will invite more calm into your life. With a constant the need and/ or expectations to respond to things, this is one perk of the practice that can be detrimental to communicating positively and effectively. Savasana can be an out-of-body, calming experience... make sure you never miss out on that. 

Increase Flexibility

If I had a dollar for everyone who said "I can't do yoga, I'm not flexible", I'd be treating us all to fancy vacations regularly. My understanding and empathy with this is that, if you feel a lot of tightness or stiff areas in the body, yes postures will feel more challenging in the beginning. Anyone who has practiced at least three times with-in their first week I believe would tell you they felt better in some tight area of their body. I was always decently flexible due to my dance training but I've never felt flexibility combined with strength the way I do now from yoga. I've worked with several clients and watched their progress during a few short months and over the course of several years. There's no need to become gumby and some would advise that being overly flexible isn't smart for the long hall. However, I will cheer you on to consistently and mindfully practice asanas and stretch as it will lead to an increased range of motion and life long vitality.

Inspires Mindfulness

There is a lot of life we live just traveling through on auto pilot. The foundations of yoga teach us how to create more awareness and to be present. Hitting your mat regularly is likely to reveal more that you would expect and shift your ordinary responses into a place of thoughtful perspective and curiosity. I learned what a competitive perfectionist I was even in my yoga practice and how humbling it's been to let go of that. It's sort of like holding up a mirror to yourself and learning how to compassionately embrace every morsel of what you see and grow from it. Setting intentions, feeling gratitude, exploring the senses and taking in whatever arrives creates mindfulness that is transformative. 

Sleep Better 

Often reasons we don't sleep well are due to the worries, anxieties and constant information coming at us that is overstimulating. Exhaling is a release in the nervous system and postures relieve tension in the body thus often acting as a natural sleep remedy. Different styles of yoga, like Restorative or Hatha are slower paced and support better sleep than say an energizing power flow or hot yoga. If you suffer from insomnia you'd want to pay more attention to that and perhaps the time of day you practice. An evening gentle practice just might be the recipe for you to get your proper zzz's.

Brilliant for the Mind

It makes sense that yoga can sharpen the mind. With so much emphasis on the nine reasons above how could it not? Strengthening the immune system, central nervous system and deepening your focus are all tangible, physical health benefits. Neuroscience studies are reporting that our happy chemicals like serotonin and dopamine levels are increased in our logical and emotional brain when we practice sustained discipline in our mind/body (like hatha or vinyasa yoga). Yay for more feelings of relaxation and contentment. We all need more of that right?

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I'm a hopeful Inspirational Addict here and wishfully thinking, one of these reasons may be enough for you to give yoga a try or lock down that commitment to consistently practice. For the first time, I am discovering how difficult it can be to carve out space for self-care since having a baby so I get that it may take some strategy. Lucky for us with 37 million practicing we have several outlets to try to do it. Just like the various styles, there is something for everyone that could be your cup of tea; be it physically making a class, having a private instructor come to your home or lead you on-line, find an event near you or going on an amazing retreat.  I'm always here for you guys with questions or comments! Big hugs and thanks for popping by. 

xoxo Andrea

MINDFULLY START YOUR DAY BEFORE YOUR FEET EVEN HIT THE FLOOR

Happy Soulful Sunday... are you ready to start your week off with a bang? I am, I hope you'll join me with some thoughtful intentions leading the way.

Inspirational Addict Mindfully Start Your Day with Intentions

Are you set on auto pilot? How much of the first few minutes of your day are spent going through the motions without much awareness? Do you have multiple alarms set for waking up or reach for your phone and immediately start responding to things or possibly shower and brush your teeth with your eyes half open? All of which are things I've gotten caught up doing at various times in my life. Think of creating awareness as a gift to your soul... rather than inflicting any sort of shame on your behaviors. These are the places from which we grow.

I'm not quite sure where I picked up my actions from, but a while ago, my curiosity about how I started my day inspired me to make some changes. Upon waking, I sit up in bed and take three deep inhales and exhales linking my breath to a seated sun salutation. As I finish the third one with my hands at heart center, I set an intention. This is a way for me to mindfully start my day before my feet even hit the floor. This action rippled into more rituals (morning and night) that even with a newborn, I try to diligently make happen daily. 

Inspirational Addict Mindfully Start Your Day with Awareness with photography by Erik Almas

My introduction to setting intentions came from a consistent yoga practice, which I love and incorporate into my own teachings today. I never had much thought around mindfully starting my day before yoga and it's a big part of why I am always curious about how to better myself. Prayer has been and will always be a part of my life but there is something different about setting intentions that feels purposeful. I can attest that you really don't make changes in your life that stick until you want to make changes and commit. 

To mindfully start your day with a morning routine you absolutely have to make one that's right for you. We all have different lifestyles and commitments. I suggest you doing something you may enjoy or be curious about trying for starters. I tend to stack things into what I'm already doing and find that helps me be consistent. For example, in addition to doing my three breaths which ground me and give me a little stretch as I set an intention, I also use my early morning breastfeeding sessions for meditation and doing my three daily gratitudes. I take down a glass of water first thing, which I set next to my bed the night before.  My man and I make a Vega One protein drink after we stretch for 10-15 minutes. These are all things I enjoy and yes, are challenging at times but have become more habitual now and if I miss doing something... I have that feeling that I didn't do part of what supports my productivity throughout my day. This is me... what's your morning look like for you? Believe me, it was different when I was single. It was even more different before my yoga practice began and with a beautiful, growing baby girl, I'm sure it will take a new shape again soon. Being open to the shifts and changes with your lifestyle is also a dynamic part of you being mindful. Trust in that. 

My talented fiancé, Erik Almas, and I wanted to shoot something together that we created. This was very much inspired by how I make great efforts to mindfully start my day... I hope what ever your morning looks like, you have an awareness around your actions and do at least one thing for yourself that feels, grounding, uplifting and provokes some joy that carries you throughout your day!

At the beginning of your day when you wake up; express your aspiration “May I practice three difficulties, may I see what I do. When it happens, may I do something different, and may that be a way of life for me.”
— Pema Chodron

Thank you for stopping by... I love hearing from you if you've got any fun morning rituals you want to share, let me hear them! 

XO Andrea