Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Toddler Yoga June 26, 2014

Filed under: books,yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 9:18 am
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Bagel salutesSomething that happens more and more often lately is the YB (who hasn’t turned two quite yet, so can still be called “Yoga Baby”) will pull out the mats and ask to do yoga. For a long time her favorite part of the process was simply rolling out the mats – and always mats, plural, because she insists on having one of her own instead of just practicing on mine – but now she’s starting to actually do poses with me.

I don’t have any training in children’s yoga beyond a 15-minute presentation one of my YTT buddies gave a few years ago, and it is hard to figure out what asanas to show her! Her favorite is downward dog, of course, because she can do it super-easily (with her head on the floor, but still). But you have to do more than just down dog all day. At first I was doing half sun salutes, because she liked how I would peek at her during the up and down and it mostly kept her attention (at left is YB doing a bagel salute last month). Lately, though, she’s been wanting more.

What’s been surprising me is that she mostly wants poses on the ground. I tried tree pose, and then just “let’s stand on one foot”, and then anything resembling a wide-legged warrior stance, and she just couldn’t figure out what to do with her feet, got frustrated, or did something else entirely. Maybe her coordination just isn’t quite there yet? Instead we’ve been doing some poses on the floor: boat pose (which she can do beautifully if Mommy holds her hands to give her some balance), cobra/sphinx and locust (all of which we’re just calling “snakey pose” for now), happy baby (although I don’t think she believed me that it’s a real yoga pose), and cobbler (“butterfly”). She can’t stand up and step one foot forward and one foot back, but she can sit down and press her little feet together. I’m brainstorming other ideas of floor poses that can have animal names that we can do together. (Happy to take suggestions here too!)Babar's Yoga for Elephants

We’ve also experimented with some partner poses. She loves climbing on my back when I’m in child’s pose (or any pose where I’m low to the ground, really). She also LOVES yoga flying. We’re nowhere near the point of being able to do anything like this, but maybe in a few years!

One thing that has helped more than I expected is Babar’s Yoga for Elephants, which I didn’t think we’d use till she was older. This is the only Babar book we have, a gift that a friend from my old job spotted at a yard sale and scooped up for me. The level of the text is still a little beyond YB for me to read to her, but she loves looking at the pictures of the elephants doing yoga. We flip through it together looking for poses we can do.

I still have some more continuing education to do to keep my Yoga Alliance registration current. At this point it would be more than I could handle to try and do some sort of children’s yoga training, but I am looking at different books to read, and I’m considering downloading a webinar or two from Yoga U Online. (I’ve downloaded some of their free ones, and listened to an interview with a children’s yoga teacher so far, but I’m not yet ready to pay them money for their content just yet). I figure if I need to clock some hours anyway, I might as well do it on activities that will help me share yoga with her. And overall I’m just really enjoying practicing yoga with my little girl.

Double Down Dogs


Happy Fourth July 4, 2013

Filed under: Miscellaneous — R. H. Ward @ 5:45 pm

Happy Independence Day! On this day last year, YB was still in my belly (my due date was July 3). What a difference a year makes! In honor of the holiday, YB is asserting her independence.



Notes from YogaMomLand June 20, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:02 pm
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So I’ve been trying to get up early to squeeze in a short yoga practice first thing in the morning, and it’s been going surprisingly well. One day last week, though, F had to provide assistance to get me out of bed, so he invented the Yoga Gnome, a tiny friend who waits for me on my mat in the morning, brimming with anticipation. Imagine Yoga Gnome’s excitement when he hears my footsteps on the stairs! I kind of love this idea, and at least it got me moving. I’m pretty sure Yoga Gnome could visit your house, too, if you needed him.

This week, it’s been easy to get up on time because YB has been waking up unnaturally early. She’ll wake up hungry and then her cough will keep her up (or she’ll cough herself awake and then realize she’s hungry, I’m not sure which), and then it’s light outside, and since it’s within an hour or so of her usual wake-up time, she’s just up then. On Monday morning I tried to get her back down with no luck, but she was mellow and happy, so I did some sun salutations there in her room so I wouldn’t miss my practice entirely. She watched from her crib and laughed. Then she pooped, which I’m taking as a sign of approval.

I did notice one nice new thing about my yoga practice these days. My hips and calves are still tight, but suddenly I have a lot more arm strength than I used to, and my plank pose and chaturanga are possibly the easiest they’ve ever been. Relatedly, YB’s up to around 23 pounds. Who needs to lift weights when there’s a toddler around?

In other news, today is my and F’s third wedding anniversary. It’s been a busy three years: yoga teacher training, homeownership, parenthood, promotions and new jobs. Through it all, he’s been the best partner I could possibly imagine. Happy anniversary, sweetie.


Pond House Part 2 June 4, 2013

Filed under: reflections,yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:17 pm
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Last week, F and YB and I traveled to Rhode Island with some friends for the Memorial Day holiday, and stayed at the same house where we all stayed two years ago. The house was just the same, but things have certainly changed for our group of friends: last time, there were seven of us (three couples and a solo friend), and for this trip we had the same core group but also brought along our friend’s new partner, two babies, and one more on the way. It was fun to go back to the place where we had such fun two years ago and see our family of friends growing and changing and welcoming new people to love.

And we had some yoga on this trip too. We didn’t lay our mats out by the pond again, but three of us ladies snuck off to the attic room on a chilly Sunday morning, pushed back the furniture, and had a nice yoga practice while the dads watched the babies. It was great to see my pregnant friend developing such a nice yoga practice – two years ago she had only a little experience with yoga, but nowadays she gets to class twice a week and is feeling great in her second trimester. Our other yoga buddy was the mom of the other baby in the house, and it was nice to see, together, that we haven’t totally lost our yoga practice (or our figures) in our new motherhood. I was so glad to have the opportunity to share this practice, and this vacation, with my friends.

The trip also reminded me again of how lucky I am in my amazing daughter. YB is such a happy kid, always smiling even on rough days. We took the train home on Tuesday, and what should have been a five-hour ride turned into an almost eight-hour ride because of Amtrak delays. YB had a tough time, and so did we, but she was a real trooper and found things to laugh about even in hour 8 of traveling. And when we finally got home, she was so happy just to be there, laughing and clapping and banging on the table. I had to put aside my own tiredness and frustration and just be there with her, in the present moment, glad to be back home.


Joyful Things March 7, 2013

I’ve been writing a lot lately about making resolutions and overcoming bad feelings like guilt, shame, and fear. I even have another post or two in the queue along these lines. When you think about it one way, you might see these as positive posts, reaffirming our ability to take action and make change – but looked at another way, I’ve been kind of a downer lately. So, in honor of the impending springtime, here are some wonderful things, things to rejoice about and be grateful for.

  • I have a poem published in the current issue of UU World magazine. This is exciting for several reasons: it’s the first time I was solicited for poems. As a Unitarian Universalist, it made me happy to see my work in a magazine that so closely aligns with my values, and which reaches such a wide audience of readers who share those values. And it’s the first time I got fan mail from a reader who liked the poem!
  • I work in a job where my group’s VP and product director care about meeting new hires and getting to know their people. I had lunch with our VP a few weeks ago, and our product director scheduled a group lunch for next month. Overall I feel listened to and supported at my job. And I have the ability to work from home when I need to.
  • I just realized that this January marked ten years since I started practicing yoga. Ten years! I took my first yoga class during my last semester at UNC Greensboro. It was an ashtanga-based power yoga class at lunchtime, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I was really confused at first, but I loved it. I still love it ten years later. How cool that it’s become such a part of my life!
  • F and I celebrated a special anniversary last week: six years since our first kiss. It amazes me to think about how my life has changed as a result of that moment and all the wonderful things that came from it.
  • Speaking of wonderful things that come from kissing, YogaBaby is clapping her hands, waving, and trying to stand up at every opportunity. She’ll hold onto our hands and walk across the room now. When handed a photo and asked “Who’s that?”, she answered “Dada.” (And we were able to repeat this event three times.) She also says “mamamamama” now, but only under duress when she’s upset. Predictably, I come running when I hear it. Overall she’s pretty much a joy to be around.
  • F’s sister came to visit last week. It was wonderful to see her, and she stayed in with the baby one night so F and I could go out for a nice dinner.
  • When our entire family unit was down with a stomach bug a few weeks back, I had reason to be grateful (1) that I did not in fact die lying on the bathroom floor like I thought I would; (2) that F and YB didn’t get it as bad as I did and in fact YB had the mildest case; (3) that YB still felt sick enough that all she wanted to do was nap and cuddle, which was about all we could keep up with; (4) that I have the kind of husband who will go to the store for medicine at 1 am (with a bowl on the seat next to him just in case) and then will change the baby’s jammies and sheets when she throws up at 3 am and I literally cannot move; and (5) that my parents were willing to come over with ginger ale and jello the next morning to take care of us.
  • I’ll be covering the prenatal yoga class at East Eagle Yoga starting next month when Sarah, the current instructor, has her baby. I’m excited for an opportunity to teach again, and I love prenatal. More on this in April!

The Yoga of Parenthood, Part 1: Malasana October 26, 2012

Filed under: yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 3:37 pm
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Malasana, at the beach, with angry baby

This will, I think, be the start of a new series here at the yoga blog. I may not have as much time to write as I used to, but we do take a ton of pictures of our kid, and many of those pictures are tangentially related to yoga in some way. Today I bring you malasana, or the yoga squat, shown here on the beach at Cape May, on a windy September day when the water of the Atlantic Ocean was pretty darn cold and YogaBaby didn’t care who knew it.

To learn more about malasana, check out my much more detailed Pose of the Month post!


Balancing Acts October 18, 2012

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 2:16 pm
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It’s been two weeks since I posted here. Um. Coincidentally, two weeks ago my husband F started back to work and YogaBaby headed to daycare. Until you have had such things happen in your life, you would not believe how complicated this gets. When I was at home on leave, F hung out with YogaBaby in the early mornings while I caught a little sleep, then got himself out the door to work; when F was at home on leave (and YB started sleeping more), he usually got up early with me and then waved goodbye as I got myself out the door to work. Point being, in both cases there was one person who wasn’t trying to get out the door to work and who could reliably have a baby placed on them while the other showered. Now I, F, and YogaBaby all need to get out the door in the mornings. Admittedly, YB is a pretty easy character in the morning – she often sleeps until or past 7 o’clock, so the grown-ups can get fed and showered in the 6 o’clock hour before she needs attending to. But it’s still a lot of stuff and humans to coordinate. And some combination of sleeping unswaddled, being at exciting daycare, and having a constant low-level daycare cold, has been affecting YB’s sleep schedule such that she was waking up 3+ times per night, so F and I were coordinating all of these morning things while barely conscious. (I think we’ve got that figured out now – the new plan involves feeding her more, and more often – but don’t quote me on that.) And don’t get me started on the craziness of the evenings, or how being a one-car household affects the new babyful commute.  Suffice to say, we are tired, and still seeking the new normal.

Besides the busyness of family life with two working parents and a small hungry hungry hippo, I think there’s been another reason why I haven’t been posting. It feels somehow wrong to write in a yoga blog when I’m not doing any yoga. Lately I’ve been thinking back nostalgically to the days of my teacher training, just last year, when I practiced my yoga every day – every day! – and even meditated on a regular basis. I felt so centered back then! I had so many good yogic things to write about, asanas to discuss and tips to share. And now, even if I found the time, what would I have to say about yoga? If I want to write about yoga postures, I ought to be actually doing them; if I’m going to write about teaching, I should be teaching some classes that I can then write about. How can I write about a yoga practice when I have no practice?

My practice, right now, is different from what it was. Instead of rolling out my mat, I lay a blanket on the floor and play with my baby. Instead of luxuriating in asanas, I remind myself to pee. I sleep when I can, and I don’t guilt myself for not getting up extra early to do yoga, because sleep is just as necessary as downward dog. Two weeks ago, a friend watched the baby so F and I could have dinner and go see my favorite band play a concert, and that was yoga. Last week I got a massage, a whole hour just to relax and not worry about getting anything done, and that was yoga. I ride my bike to the train station and that’s yoga too. There will be asanas again at some point, and even meditation, but right now my balancing act has nothing to do with tree pose and everything to do with responsibility and family and time. My yoga practice, right now, is to do the best I can with what I’ve got.


Postnatal Yoga September 24, 2012

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:53 pm
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My body seems to have bounced back quickly from my pregnancy and birth, but there are definitely still some sore spots and changes to contend with. My hips are very tight, and my abs are still weak. I also notice that my calves are still quite tight – during my pregnancy my calves would get so tight that I’d get leg cramps at night, and that tightness seems to be persisting. I’m also trying to build up some arm strength again after taking a break from more strenuous asanas and exercise towards the end of my pregnancy.

As I try to rebuild my yoga practice, I’ve been naturally gravitating towards asanas that will stretch my hips. Pigeon feels great, and it’s nice to be able to rest on the floor again! I also love cobbler pose, especially because I can hold and play with my baby in this posture. I practice downward dog to help open my calves, and plank pose with repeated vinyasas to build back my abs and arm muscles. I’m also finding that standing postures like the warriors work all of these areas.

These are some of the asanas I’ve been focusing on, but I was also curious about what asanas are recommended for postnatal yoga practice. Here are a few resources I found:

Postnatal Yoga: Conditions and Cures for Both Mama and Babe ( I like this article because it gives a few suggestions for simple poses that might be helpful to your baby too. I know I put YogaBaby into knees-to-chest and it seemed to feel good to her.

Postpartum Yoga for New Moms ( This article discusses some of the same postures as the YJ article, but it adds a few more strenuous asanas as well, good for when Mom’s feeling a little stronger, and a few different postures to try for strengthening the abdominals. I love practicing cobra again!

It looks like Shiva Rea has a few popular DVDs for new moms. Her Postnatal Yoga DVD has received some good reviews on Amazon, but it should be noted that the DVD doesn’t include any “mom and baby” postures. Rea addresses this in her new DVD, Mama & Baby Yoga. This looks to be brand-new for 2012!


Gratuitous YogaBaby Photo September 20, 2012

Filed under: Miscellaneous — R. H. Ward @ 4:06 pm

In lieu of actual substantive content, please enjoy this photo of my Buddha baby chillin’ peacefully.

YogaBaby at 8 weeks


Mom and Baby Yoga August 14, 2012

Filed under: yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 3:06 pm
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Mom and Baby Yoga Space Now that it’s been a few weeks and I’m feeling stronger, I’m starting to think about getting myself back in shape again. I definitely gained 30 pounds during my pregnancy, which seemed like the right amount – I stayed vegetarian and mostly ate a healthy diet (other than the vanilla milkshakes), but I definitely didn’t try to limit my eating in any way. I don’t know what my weight is now, but other than my massive baby-feeding appendages and a little bit of tummy, I’m back to what feels like my former size. Also, my pre-baby jeans fit again at only three weeks post-baby (they’re snug, but they button!), so thank you yoga and vegetarianism for that.

So, time to get myself moving. I took a walk a few days last week, in the mornings when it was cool enough to take the baby out in the stroller. I’ve only been going two blocks; I was exhausted after the first walk, but a few days and a few more walks later, I felt pretty solid.

I’ve started practicing some yoga again too: just maybe 20 minutes, and I’m starting off gently, but it feels really good, and it’s easier on my body than walking, interestingly. I’m surprised at how quickly my strength and flexibility is coming back to me. I had thought I’d lost a lot of strength during my pregnancy, but I guess there’s a difference between having the strength to lift my regular weight and the strength to lift my weight at nine months pregnant.

I’m including a photo here of my current yoga space. In order to do yoga at all, of course I have to work around the babe. Rather than waiting until she sleeps or sticking her in her swing, I’ve concocted this setup where she can hang out on her little jungle playmat while I do my asana practice. At first she was not into this at all, but I think I first tried it when she was a little too young for the playmat. A week or so later and she was way more interested in looking at things. The past few times I’ve tried it, she’s been cool looking at her little parrot and butterfly friends for a good 20 minutes, which is enough for me to get some yoga done, at least at this point. Eventually I’m going to want to get back to the yoga studio – I’ll have to, to get myself back in good shape physically and for teaching – but this setup is perfect for home practice.