Thursday, August 16, 2018

Yoga Mom Toolbox, A Guest Post from Jenny Ravikumar


I am so happy to welcome Jenny Ravikumar back to the blog for a very special guest post. If you don't know Jenny, she's a North Shore yogi with a beautiful spirit and stories to tell. I am happy to lend her Prim and Propah for the day, to bring some of new writing to life so please let's show her a little love!



As a single mom I often find myself trying to split my personality in two. On the one hand, I am myself: a spiritual badass who owns two businesses, rocks the crap out of having fun at life and has a hugely compassionate and empathetic heart. On side number two, I need to keep this little soul safe for the rest of his life and at times it requires this mama to do things she dislikes.

No matter if you’re one half of a parenting duo or doing this on your own, being the bad cop isn’t typically fun. When I’ve asked him to pick up his toys for the 100th time that morning, I often wish I had what my friend Rachel calls “the enforcer.” I wish I had a strong father figure who was able to swoop in after his 9-5 job and take over for a few hours so I could go to yoga.

Don’t get my wrong, I have incredible support. I call my brother, at times Rachel acts like an enforcer on the phone and we live with Papa and Mimi, so my son and I have most of the support we could need. But there are days.

And on those days, I use every tool in my box.

Yoga

I would live in an ashram if I didn’t need my son, our dog or my divinely comfortable queen sized bed. Yoga is what brings me back to me, it’s the light of my soul and the practice that keeps on giving. As a practitioner for over a decade and a teacher for most of that time, yoga is there for me even when I’m not in the yoga studio.

Breathing is my go-to. This sounds ridiculous as that’s the very thing keeping us alive, but it’s the practice of breath that keeps me vibrant and alive rather than existing.

When my nugget is throwing a fit, screaming at mama and trying his best to find words that fit his frustration, I breathe. I take a moment before approaching him and use ujjai breathing to calm my body, my mind and my heart. In ujjai, you breathe in through the nose and exhale deeply through the nose. As you exhale, your mouth is closed and you’re activating the whisper muscles at the back of the throat. This produces a Darth Vadar kind of sound. Ujjai quickly calms the nervous system and brings you back to the present moment. Breathing through the screaming moments makes me instantly calmer.

Ziggy is almost three and if I take a step back while we’re in the middle of an argument or upset, I realize that a grown adult and a toddler are screaming over a few trucks left on the floor. In other words; it’s not a big deal and I need to take a deep breath as much as he does.

This is where yoga comes in for him. Once I’m calm(er); it’s his turn. A few weeks ago, while we were enjoying a quiet car ride, I suggested breathing together and he said “Mama, I’m not upset, I don’t need to breathe.” It stopped me dead in my tracks and made me realize that I also need to use breathing practices when we’re calm to show him the balance of why and when we breathe.

Aside from the breathing, the movement of the practice makes me a better mom. Personally, I’m a better mama when I move my body, have healthy food nearby, am in any body of water or if a good book is within reach.

Find what it is that lifts your soul and makes you a better mama. And then lean into it.

Choice

I have the worlds best pediatrician. I may be biased, but he is amazing. At our second birthday appointment he said; “Toddlers can be challenging. It’s not this year, it’s next that will be a bigger attitude adjustment. Give him CHOICES. Always. And it’ll be a bit easier.”

As usual, he was correct. The closer we get to three, the more I’m realizing that the terrible twos are not actually a concept anymore. My son has a loud, vibrant personality (gee, I wonder where he gets it from) and he needs to be heard. Often our bits of tension revolve around me not giving him a choice. “We are going here” doesn’t sit well with my little. However, “we are running errands today, do you want a donut or would you like apples?” We are still arriving at our destination, nothing has changed. However, it gives him the feeling of having some kind of control in his environment.

As a former educator, I often remember the staggering statistic that our children understand around 500 words by the age of two but can only speak approximately 50 of them. How frustrating must that be! He knows exactly what he needs, why and likely even how to obtain it, but cannot explain to me any of this using the limited language he has.

In our house we have choices as often as possible. Red shirt, shark shirt or happy face? Apples or strawberries? Waffles or eggs? Tub or shower?

It makes our lives a bit easier to navigate, gives him a voice and often takes the guess work out of my day.


Conversation

Every fiber in my being wants to be able to create logic in his mind. I want to help him connect the dots and help me to understand his emotions, his body and his day to day thinking. As such, we try and talk as much as possible. I ask him about his emotions, we talk about feelings as much as we talk about shapes, colors and the world around us. I’ve spoken to him this way since before he could communicate back to me. I am constantly talking in order to help him understand his world and continue to express himself and his wants/needs.

This morning was a prime example. He didn’t want to put the blanket away. I put away all our toys, helped him get dressed, made breakfast and cleaned his plate. Some of that is generally his responsibility. I told him that because mama took some of his jobs, it was now his responsibility to pick up the blanket. He flipped out: for an hour.

Eventually, I sat down on the floor and stared into his teary eyes. I got him to slowly begin to explain that he didn’t want to put it away because he didn’t want to leave the house. It was painstaking and exhausting, but after we took some breaths together, I realized he just wanted to be heard. By me continuing to scream “put the blanket away” - he was further enraged. All he needed in that moment was to be heard.

Knowing Their Love Language 


These little beams of light we brought into the world are a bucket of feelings. They have wants, needs, desires and questions just the same as all of us. And it is our job to listen.

One of my favorite things to do with him is when we both take an essential oil and place it over our belly or our hearts. And then we cuddle.

Each child has a love language, just the same as any adult. I know his is quality time and physical touch. He would love nothing more than to sit next to me and watch TV as we talk about the episode or simply breathe together.

Being in yoga makes me a better mom, but it doesn’t mean that’s where your strength lies. Perhaps it’s reading, working out, a single glass of red wine, a good book, dark chocolate, alone time, time alone with your spouse or time spent in nature. Find what it is that fills your cup and continue to rely on those tools.

Lean into them and then remember : You are already an amazing mama; don’t ever forget that.

~

Jenny Ravikumar is an e-500 hour RYT with yoga alliance. She is a single mama, studio owner and non-profit founder who runs multiple yoga teacher trainings and mentorships each year. Join her online at www.jennyravikumar.com or in person at Barefoot Yoga Shala in Middleton, MA.



Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Our Choices Matter, Plan Against Pain

*This post was created in partnership with Moms Meet and Plan Against Pain. All opinions are my own.

Our choices matter. Of course they do. As a Mom, what I do day in and day out, affects both my life and the lives of my family, the people that I support in my role as “household manager”. As a daughter of nurses, I have always been keenly aware of how important it is to take our health into our own hands and be proactive. I have strived to instill that in my husband as well as take my young children for the checkups, explaining the importance of being healthy. Something that I had not thought about up until recently, was the best way to manage pain for myself or how to appropriately encourage others to do the same. I was just introduced to Plan Against Pain and boy, I wish I had created a pain management plan before both of my births because truly, we were just winging it. In retrospect, I am extremely fortunate that my pain management solutions worked for me and my growing family. Moving forward, I will have a plan in place.


Every human experiences pain differently. We are all genetically different, have different cultural beliefs as well as different perspectives of pain in our minds-- simply put, we’re different. When we think about pain control, it’s important to note that it’s not just for your comfort but also to speed up healing, avoid complications and  to keep any post-op pain from becoming a more serious, long-term issue. With the seriousness of the opioid epidemic across the country, I find the Plan Against Pain site to be a valuable tool in being prepared for pain and then perhaps not taking as many opioid pills to manage it if possible. I have had multiple surgeries in my day (I played a lot of rugby in college and broke almost as many bones) and with each one, I didn’t discuss pain management, I just sort of let my doctor decide what was best. I think it’s important to empower ourselves and others to be active in our healthcare choices, right down to what we’re being prescribed (or not prescribed) for proper management of postsurgical pain or any pain for that matter.

As a woman, it is especially important to me that we encourage one another to speak to medical professionals without guilt and to ask the questions that we have, whether we view them as stupid or worry about being judged. Did you know that 44% of mothers who had C-sections were not satisfied with how their pain was managed after childbirth? That’s a pretty high percentage and, having been a new mom, pain and caring for a newborn are not the best mix. Imagine if while giving advice to our pregnant friends and family about which bottles and strollers are the best, we also offer advice on the best way to approach the topic of pain management after a planned or emergency C-section? I’m pretty sure that I could most certainly bring it up at a girls brunch out!


Pain shouldn’t just be “here’s a pill”- there should be a plan and per Plan Against Pain, pain management should be multimodal, using different types of treatments to alleviate pain. Of course, treatment plans are going to be different for everyone but just starting the conversation with your doctor is a super important step. I think the most important thing I want to convey is that asking your doctor questions is not a waste of their time. Asking your doctor to explain things in more detail is not a waste of their time. Your health and well being are of the utmost importance. Having a plan to keep you well is always a good choice.

Find great information on pain management, tool kits, statistics and more on Plan Against Pain.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Discover the Caribbean Coast at Stone Zoo- Sponsored

*This post was created in collaboration with Zoo New England, specifically Stone Zoo's new Caribbean Coast Exhibit.


You may remember last year's trip to Franklin Park Zoo to check out what was new, well this year, the team over at Zoo New England wanted to send the Propah kids to check out the Caribbean Coast exhibit that just opened this Spring. My kids were super excited to hit the road and meet some friends to take in some of the sights and sounds at Stone Zoo. We started our journey to the Caribbean in our walk-through aviary, Flamingo Flats, which is exactly what it sounds like... lots and lots of flamingos. We were greeted by friendly staff and a beautiful flock of flamingos, and are excited to come back because I hear it through the grapevine, we may be able to feed them in the near future!This exhibit also features scarlet ibis and colorful macaws (pictured). We also had the rare opportunity to see the critically-endangered Jamaican iguana, the island's largest terrestrial vertebrate which was thought to be extinct for decades.


One child was interested in the beautiful birds (and dressed to match) and the other child was all about the calypso drums that allowed him to make more noise than usual. This area of the zoo has definitely changed since I had last been there (when Wes was a baby) and I have to say for the better, for sure. The kids really enjoyed seeing the birds, the bush dogs, running along the "calypso trail" and onward towards the rest of the zoo. The way that it's set up, you can enter the Stone Zoo, and go directly into the Caribbean Coast exhibit, while the kids are still in a good, patient mood lol. As a mother, I like to plan to hit the animals and exhibits I most want to see, right out of the gate, to ensure that no meltdown has ensued before I see my bush dogs!


We were able to see a lot of the animals on our visit and I think that besides the Caribbean coast, we were really enthralled by the reindeer on this visit, don't ask me why but we came back to them a few times before calling it a day. The bears were hanging out, the company was great and I marked this off as another great visit to the Stone Zoo. I hear from my friends at The Boston Day Book that the Franklin Park Zoo has some great new exhibits as well, so we'll definitely be making use of our membership this Summer and took a map to plan our next trek!



Have you been to the new Caribbean Coast Exhibit at the Stone Zoo? 


Desert Essence Haircare

* This post was written in collaboration with Moms Meet and Desert Essence Haircare. All opinions are 100% my own as with every blog post that I write.


I've been afforded the opportunity to try a lot of bath and body products since starting this blog 8 years ago. A lot of them I've loved, some not as much and I have always been honest about my thoughts because when it comes to the products we are putting on our bodies, it's serious business for me. Moms Meet sent me a goodie box from Desert Essence and I was excited to try some haircare products because they aren't always a priority for me to ensure are 100% clean and effective. Desert Essence was founded in 1978 around a simple concept: beauty is natural, and nature is beautiful. By bringing the best of nature’s offerings to personal care regimens everywhere, they strive to strengthen the bonds between our planet and all the beings that call it home. Creating that they do. They believe in being responsible to others, honest, and forward-thinking to create and preserve a better future for us all. <--- Their words not mine... I dig it, Desert Essence, I dig it.

They sent a set of their smoothing shampoo and conditioner, their anti-breakage shampoo and conditioner, their smoothing primer, anti breakage hair mask and samples of all (which I promptly tossed in my gym bag) so I got to do a little testing on my colored strands in hot hot humid heat.


What's in my bath and body products is important to me. This you know about me. I don't want unnecessary chemicals, additives, preservatives and so on, especially because it's becoming easier and easier to find products that are better for us and for our environment. Taking a look at the Dessert Essence products, you'll be pleased to see that there is quite the care and consideration taken into what the team there has been using for years. Their ingredient list is extensive but nothing is foreign. It's all easy to understand so you know what you're putting on your body and your family's body (since I'm the one supplying everything for my household, the responsibility falls on me.) The products themselves, ingredients aside, do the work they are tasked to do. I love the way my hair looks after using the Smoothing shampoo and conditioner but if you have an aversion to the way that tea tree oil smells (it can be a touch strong), it may not be the best option for you. The Anti-breakage is welcomed in my routine as my hair has been colored more times in my life than I can count. I don't wash my hair every day so at less than $8 a bottle, this brand is bringing me value that will last for awhile. Dessert Essence brings in the product at a price point that you can try without feeling guilty if it doesn't work out... but I think it will; they've got a good thing going.


Want to try these products yourself? Get 20% off Anti-Breakage and Smoothing Hair Care Products on desertessence.com with the promo code DELovesMomsMeet

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

PlusCBD Oil

*This post was created in collaboration with Moms Meet and Plus CBD Oil

Have you ever tried any CBD products? I am not talking about marijuana but rather products with hemp derived CBD oil, created to bring all the benefits of hemp without the psychotoxic effects. I definitely had to do some research to see what CBD oil was all about but was very intrigued by recommendations from homeopathic physicians as well as seeing other influencers talking about their experiences. PlusCBD Oils says that phytocannabinoids like CBD, are plant derivatives that "communicate" with just about every organ system in the body, helping to restore balance and physiologic homeostasis. When I was offered the opportunity to try PlusCBD oil products, I jumped at the chance because I have been wanting to test the waters with various CBD products for anxiety, topical pain relief and the calming properties that I have seen other folks talk about. I received a pretty awesome care package from PlusCBD Oil and had some immediate favorites that for sure. There are multiple different options depending on what your body and lifestyle needs.


Sampling Tips Direct from Moms Meet:


Every person is unique and has a different, ideal dose for them. PlusCBD Oil suggests starting low and slowly titrating up to find the perfect dose for
yourself. Here are some helpful tips on understanding the different formulations:
  • For those busy moms who are always on the run, PlusCBD Oil Capsules are the way to go. They contain a convenient 15 mg of CBD per serving and can easily be swallowed.
  • The PlusCBD Oil Balm revitalizes skin with a refreshing peppermint scent. The entire jar contains 50 mg of CBD and CBDA.
  • PlusCBD Oil Drops can easily be added to your favorite drink or smoothie as a fun and convenient way to get your daily CBD. Each serving contains 3 mg of CBD.
  • PlusCBD Oil Extra Strength Spray offers the perfect dose of CBD. It is great for beginners or those new to CBD. With 3 mg of CBD per serving, it offers a refreshing taste with each spritz!
  • PlusCBD Oil Softgels are formulated with an extra-virgin olive oil base. With 15mg of CBD per serving this is a great option for those looking for high intensity support.


Like I said, I have tried a variety of products and my clear winner is the Extra strength balm and the pepperment spray. The balm has been a literal lifesaver from sore feet to rubbing on my shoulders after a cupping session left me itching. I felt almost immediate relief and I may just be replacing my all purpose balm for this beauty. As for the peppermint spray, I have been using on my sensitive teeth and gum areas. I recently got a little rough while flossing and my mouth was left very achy. I thought I would try spraying a little CBD oil in my mouth and spreading around. I am not lying when I say that I felt relieft and the nausea that results from my oral sensitivities, also subsided. These are my top recs as I was able to see the immediate results that I could quantify. As for the soft gels and other tablet forms, I would have to really give them a solo chance without any other items in my routine (collagen, multi vitamins etc) to really give a good rundown but I noticed no negative affects from adding them to a day when I didn't use the peppermint oil. I am excited to continue tinkering with my items, bringing them into my life where they will be most impactful. Don'd be afraid to try something from the PlusCBD Oil line. I really do feel like there are ways to mitigate the amount of medications we are taking whether they are for pain, anxiety and the like. We can find things that work in our own individual situation, CBD included.

  Want to try PlusCBD Oil for yourself? Use promo code momsmeet17 to receive 15% off online orders.