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It’s the last day of 2020. Finally. What. A. Year! A year of loss. A year of discovery. Each of us has experienced loss and suffering in one way or another. Deaths from Covid are both literal and figurative. The loss if a loved one, the loss of a job or business, the loss of freedom as we’ve known it. Disappointment has been a primary emotion.

According to The Psychology of Disappointment, disappointment is an emotion that exists when an outcome does not meet expectations. The greater the disparity, the greater the upset. Disappointment over-time is stressful. That was 2020, over and over again. It pressed us.

It was also a year of discovery. Discovering what matters and what doesn’t. Family matters. Many kids and families enjoyed time together like never before. Physical and mental health matters. Many kids and families navigated challenges with the help of new skills. Skills like adaptability that Yoga teaches us on the mat and transfers to life off the mat.

As we enter the hope of 2021 with the existing circumstances that end 2020, adaptability will be required. Keep doing Yoga. Keep showing up for yourself and the ones you love.

Oh, ho, no! This holiday season is quite different than ANY other! We wish you and your family well as Covid cases are at an all-time high. The suffering for many this year is staggering. We all seem to all be in a required process of holding on and letting go - and then some. We have found time to laugh.

We laughed with San Francisco Bay Area Moms and participated in the 2020 Holiday Extravaganza: Featuring 12 Virtual Events and Giveaways. We also had so much fun at IYK Online Mondays with the Kids who helped us transform our yoga class into winter and holiday poses from Candy Canes to Snowflakes, Santa’s Sleigh and Candle pose, we use our creativity and laughed all the way to our resting pose (Savasana).

We meditated peacefully and we wished for peace. Peace from this virus. Peace in our households. Peace in our communities. Peace in our nation. We wished on a Star - the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on the day of Winter Solstice. Happy. Merry. All the way.

Ahh, Thanksgiving. For our family, this year, it was an unexpected time to rest. Typically, there would be travel and all the details to take care of in anticipation of this holiday week. Instead, it was just us - at home. We cooked. We watched a movie. We rested. It made me wonder about how much rest we really need.

According to Smart Parent Advice, here’s how much sleep our kids really need. You may be surprised! Covid is taking a toll in so many ways, maybe one is opportunity is to get more much needed rest.

Yoga promotes better sleep for every age! Movement and meditation prepare the body and the mind for deeper and longer sleep. Try a class online. Subscribe to IYK YouTube. We will be posting our Good Night Yoga sequence soon. It works for every age - parents too! Sleep tight. ;)

The election is over. Mostly. There are aftershocks like never before. It’s doubtful they will change the outcome, and certainly not what many experienced on November 7. There was an audible and collective exhale felt around the world.

I heard so many people say, “Now, I can breathe.” The magnitude of the collective breath we were holding was palpable. The tensions of Covid. The tensions of Black Lives Matter. The tensions of our children not in school. The tensions of working from home, or worse, not having a job. The tensions of the election and its impact on our lives and the future of our children’s lives. These tensions were compounding - far beyond the interest in our bank accounts!

I’m an advocate for breathing. I practice breath-work and I teach it everyday to every age. I thought I was breathing. I had no idea I was holding my breath too. Until, I let it go. I felt it flow. It made me realize, we often have no idea that we’re holding our breath. This is especially true for mothers.

Our babies cry and it sends a lightening bolt through our bodies. (BTW, this never changes. I have two teenagers and I still feel that bolt when they are in distress.) That moment usually includes an inhale, but not necessary an exhale. Those moments add up in typical daily life - and are exacerbated in the out of ordinary life we are living nearly everyday of 2020.

Our bodies seek rhythm. Breath has rhythm. We are often unaware of our breath. It is the practice of becoming aware of our breath that can help us establish a rhythm to manage various and constant states of stress that assault our nervous systems.

Breathing is the one conscious action we can take to help slow down your automatic response system and diminish the affects of fight, flight, freeze or faint!

You may already know this! What I discovered, is Knowing is not Doing. We must do it! Here’s the practice part. Everyday. Every moment you feel tension. Try this:

  1. Sip in a breath like your are sipping through a straw. It will feel cool in your mouth. Inhale all the way to the top - no more air can come in.
  2. Pause at the top for a moment.
  3. Then release it slowly like you’re blowing out a candle - lots of candles! Exhale all the way out to the bottom - until there is no more air.
  4. Pause at the bottom for a moment.
  5. Repeat this 2 to 5 times depending on the situation.

With consistency, this practice becomes a new norm when the lightening bolts strike. My kids know when I am breathing, I’m processing and preparing my response. They have learned to wait for it. Ninety-nine percent of the time their need is not an emergency, it just feels like it! This helps us all regulate and solve problems calmly.

Regardless of your preference for President. Now, we can breathe. Now, we can solve problems. There is much healing required in our nation. To be the United States, we must unite within ourselves - body, mind and heart - and reflect that unity outward in everything we do. Here we go!

Americans are stressed: Last month, the American Psychological Association found that 68% of adults surveyed say the 2020 election is a significant source of stress in their life – up from 52% in 2016. Across the board, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents are significantly stressed. And Black adults had an even greater increase in stress from the election, from 46% in 2016 to 71% in 2020.

Be aware of heightened tensions. Kids feel this a lot! Not only their own daily stresses with schedules, homework and friendships, but with the collective “second-hand” stress they absorb from their adults and the community. Take a breath in and out for Peace. At IYK, we often share with the kids, “Peace Begins with Me.” This is the mantra for every day. As we approach Election Day, it’s time to breathe - to practice what is in our control and what is not.

Our friends at YogaX at Stanford explored the breath. Breathing as a part of a yoga practice, also known as pranayama, is not just practicing deep breathing, or breathing exercises for the physical body. Prana can be thought of as energy, life force, or life giving, while the second part of the word, ayama, means unrestrained or free. By having pranayama be an essential component of our yoga practice we give ourselves the opportunity to see how our breath has the power to influence and transform our psychological and emotional wellbeing. 

And we, at It’s Yoga Kids, know it works for the whole family! Breathe deeply. Take care.

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