Monday, December 31, 2012

Small Acts of Kindness Making a BIG Difference!

Thank you to the kids and families who came out to support Snowflakes for Sandy Hook.
After a peaceful snowflake meditation and moving and breathing to find peace in our bodies, the kids and I discussed different ways we can send peace into the world through random acts of kindness. This all inspired by #26Acts - a hash tag that is sweeping the nation. The movement was started to inspire random acts of kindness in honor of the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Time has passed and our lives go on, but the tragedy is still in our minds and the community is still in our hearts. With the help of the Alluem Kids this week and kids across the US, Sandy Hook students will be surprised to come back to thousands of snowflakes filling their hallways and classrooms. Snowflakes filled with love and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
A random act of kindness from one child to another.

Discussing acts of kindness.
Snowflake makers.

Snowflake makers.
Glitter Station!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter Schedule

Hey Alluem Kids & Teens! Winter registration is open! 
Sign up online - - workshops tab

Alluem Teens (ages 12-17): 
 Wednesdays - 4:45-5:45pm - starting 1/23 

 Alluem Tweens (ages 10-12): 
Sundays - 11:15am-12:15pm - starting 1/20
 Mondays - 3:45-4:45pm - starting 1/21 

 Alluem Kids (ages 7-9): 
Sundays - 12:30-1:30pm - starting 1/20 
Thursdays - 3:45-4:45pm - starting 1/24 

 Alluem Little Kids (ages 4-6): 
Sundays - 10:00-11:00am - starting 1/20 
Tuesdays - 3:45-4:45pm - starting 1/29

 NEW - Boys Yoga (ages 8-12): 
Wednesdays - 3:30-4:30pm - starting 1/23 
As requested, we've added a new class just for the guys! 
 Please note: Boys are not exempt from our regular class schedule. 

All fees and packages are non-transferable, non-exchangeable and non-refundable. Any classes not used in the duration assigned are forfeit. Kids may make-up missed classes in another class of their age group only. 
Teens may make-up in any Beginner class on the schedule.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Broken Hearts, Prayers and Hope

Like the rest of the nation, I am heart broken. 20 children are gone.
Words are hard to find. 
I have no children of my own, but every child that walks into my yoga class leaves a footprint on my heart. And at a time like this, I think of each and every one of them. What are they thinking? Have their eyes and ears wandered over to the news of this tragedy? Are their parents talking to them about this? Are they afraid to go to school? It hasn't yet, but I find myself searching for words and preparing myself for when one of my students brings it up on the mat. I have the need to instill hope in our children's view of humanity and the things that happen in this world. Mr. Roger's mother taught him well...for every bad person that does something, look at all the good people that rush in to help, that come to the rescue, that support in times of need. It doesn't take away the pain of lives lost or the velocity of what has happened, but I like to think it brings a little bit of hope. 
I've been sending prayers to the children - I get nauseous at the thought of what was the last scene their little eyes saw. I've been sending prayers to the families - I can not even fathom what it must be like to bury a child. I've been sending prayers to the teachers who risked their lives - especially 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto, who in an act of selflessness, was killed while shielding her first-graders from danger. I've been sending prayers to the entire devastated community of
Newton, Connecticut. 

Who I haven't sent prayers to was Adam Lanza until today...
I urge you to read this posting: I am Adam Lanza's Mother
Take a moment to look through the eyes of a mother raising a violent child with a mental illness. I condone her for sharing her story and taking the necessary precautions to keep her child and those around her safe. 
On the intake form, under the question, "What are your expectations for treatment?" I wrote, "I need help."And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense. I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza's mother. I am Dylan Klebold's and Eric Harris's mother. I am Jason Holmes's mother. I am Jared Loughner's mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho's mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it's easy to talk about guns. But it's time to talk about mental illness.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Don't let the paint wash away.

I found a speck of yellow paint in my hair this made me so happy! Then I realized it may be the last one, which immediately made my heart feel a little heavy. I've been doing everything I can to try to hold on to Haiti. Eating the Mamba spicy peanut butter that I brought home with me, washing with my new coconut soap (by Ayiti Natives & Co.), wearing my new handmade jewelery, looking at pictures over and over again and talking about my trip every chance I get. It's a trip I'll never forget, but now I'm afraid the last of the paint will wash away.  
The children welcomed us at the gate, all smiles in their ACFFC (Art Creation Foundation for Children) tee shirts. We planned to spend the day with them at their new location in Jacmel. Some of us would be putting a fresh coat of yellow paint on the walls while others would be regrouting one of their beautiful mosaics. While we waited for the one huge bucket of paint to be mixed, the children started playing hand games and invited us to join in. These children, some of who are street children, some of who come from severely impoverished families, were so full of life and light. They were kids being kids - doing exactly what they should be doing. The center offers them the opportunity for a better life, an education, consistent supply of food and medical care. Things they may have never been able to receive without this save haven.
I spent most of my time painting with a 12 year old girl. She had a bright smile and gently practiced her English with me as we painted. Asking questions like, "How old are you? Do you have a back pack? Do you know a song?" I asked her questions, too, but there came a point when the language barrier was too much. "I don't understand!" she said. "I don't understand either!" I said. So we just smiled and laughed at each other. As we moved further from the bucket, she would run and refill my paint brush every time I finished a spot on the wall. One thing I noticed here is everyone worked together and they all helped each other. Often times we get used to rushing and insisting on doing things for ourselves if we want it done "right"...this was a nice change. It was messy at times, but it worked...and it was fun and filled with love.
By the end of our time together painting, this young girl turned to me and said "I love for you to be my mom." I gave her a hug. While I would love to be her mom, I knew she had a mom and a dad and 2 sisters. I knew she had a place to go home to...but now I wondered what home was like. Whatever home is like for her, I'm comforted knowing that she has the art center as well to call home. A safe haven. A place to find her creative freedom. A place to express herself through her art. A language we can both understand. She showed me some of her pieces before I left...beautifully hand painted paper mache bowls. Products that the children make to help raise funds for the center to keep them self-sustainable. I learned that art in Haiti is often a means of survival. Artists are to Haiti what accountants and engineers are to the United States. And by an artist being supported and earning money, they are helping the socio-economic structure of the country...allowing them to then buy food or goods from local vendors - a trickle down effect that will help communities grow and thrive. I felt like I was doing a great service to the country by being there and supporting the children that day. I went home with a bag of paper-mache bowls, necklaces, birds and a lone cow I found in the pile of animal statues, masks and canvas paintings. These children are so talented and have beautiful souls that need to be shared. Through their art they thrive. It is truly a beautiful thing to witness.
I encourage you to visit their website and support if you can:
As I was leaving, she asked me, "You come tomorrow?" "Not tomorrow," I said, "but soon." I taught her the "I love you" sign in Sign Language and waved good by. And I will be back (in April 2013!!!!) paint, to share, to support, to love. That's all you need to do. Who's coming with me???

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Never Forget Michele

He didn't really look at anyone and he wouldn't speak...then he hid behind me. I reached my hand behind my back and he took it. With his hand in mine he led me and the group down a narrow muddy pathway from the entrance of the Fondwa Orphanage to where all the children slept and played. Still not speaking, he laughed when I slipped and fell in the mud. I laughed, too. Our group of 11 was delivering donations of toys and supplies. They were so excited to see us and what we had - stickers, play dough, balls and beads. In all the excitement, someone bumped my little friend's arm reopening a cut that looked raw. He began to cry in pain, so I scooped him up and held him close. We poured some of our bottled water on the cut and put a bandaid with some medicine over top. He was brave even though it looked as though it could be infected. Then I carried him over to get a toy - a small green ball that popped into a dragon. He sat on my lap and we played.
I know how to say maybe 5 things in Creole now. I asked him his name...still not talking. I got him to laugh while we played and other children snuggled in - playing with my hair, inspecting my earrings, asking if I was a doctor. Before you know it, I hear a little voice on my lap repeating the words "For you, madam. For you, madam. For you, madam." I realized it may be something he's probably heard over and over again from visitors to the orphanage. I wondered how many people come through for a day, an hour or just a moment, dropping donations and leaving. "For you, madam. For you, monsieur." And then out of their lives. Suddenly I was sad and I didn't want to go. I didn't want to be one of those people that just pass through, but I knew I was for today. I began to think of a song, whose name I can't remember, with a line that says something like - if you never say your name out loud or to anyone, they can never miss you...or remember you...or something like that. He is a 4 year old orphan in Haiti, but somehow I believe he knew he didn't want another person to know his name and then forget him. But I wanted to know his name. I didn't want to forget him. I asked him his name again and again until another child told me his name was Michele. I would not forget...Michele.
I've been listening to a song on my iPod a number of times since I've arrived in Haiti called "Show Me What I'm Looking For" by Carolina Liar. I've been asking myself - why am I here? I've been asking God, the people, the mountains, this country - to "show me what I'm looking for". I know I came here to bare witness, to learn, to be exposed, to step out of my comfort zone, to be inspired, to live, breathe and connect with each other as a human race. To connect with myself. I started thinking Michele was repeating the words, "For you, madam." literally for me. I suddenly felt Michele was there for me as much as I was there for him. I was looking for connection and that's exactly what we did. 
Over the past 8 days, I've seen a lot of this country...trying to interact with the people the best I can. Sometimes feeling scared and unwanted. Sometimes feeling warm and welcomed. Today I connected to Michele in a way I will never forget. I held this boy, who's touch is probably so limited, and before I left I put my hand over his heart. It was beating fast. So was mine. I did not want to put him down. I connected and hopefully not for the last time. I will never forget Michele. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mountains Beyond Mountains

Hello friends! I've landed safely in Haiti and will be here for the next 10 days. Who would've ever thought I would be celebrating my 32nd birthday in such a way as this?! Thanks to The Village Experience (and of course, all of your support at Alluem Yoga!) I am ready to absorb all I can while I'm here - the people, the culture, the history, the beauty of the land. I'm ready to explore, to learn, to bare witness with my own two eyes and lend my hand where it is needed. I feel so blessed to be on this journey. There really are mountains beyond mountains here.

Incase you're following along, here's the intinerary:
December 1 - Arrive in Port au Prince International Airport. City tour upon arrival. Check into locally owned and operated hotel. Welcome dinner at Presse Cafe with friends of TVE. 
December 2 - Depart in the morning for the drive to the North. Arrive to Cap Haitien in the evening.
December 3 - Enjoy a city tour of Cap Haitien, the old city, local marketsand much more throughout the day. Spend the afternoon on a hike to the mountaintop fortress of Citadelle Laferrière and the San Souci Palace – both designated UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1982.
December 4 - Project day with Sonje Ayiti in Limonade.The mission of Sonje Ayiti is to uplift Haitian communities though education, economic development, and health promotion. Learn about the adult literacy program, operation goat, university scholarship program, economic development projects, and the micro-credit loan program. This promises to be an educational and inspiring day of service
December 5 - Project day with GARR near the Dominican Republic border. GARR stands for Support Group for Refugees and Repatriated Persons. It is one of the few organizations to work with Haitians and Dominico-Haitians (Dominicans born of Haitian parents) who have been forcibly removed from the DR and left to fend for themselves at the border. GARR provides them with emotional support and practical help. GARR visits imprisoned migrants and offers them legal assistance and informs their families of their situation. It also raises awareness about trafficking through radio broadcasts and public debates to encourage people to pressure the Haitian authorities to reduce the trafficking of people.
December 6 - Enjoy the beaches of the North Coast today and free time to reflect.
December 7 - Morning departure for Port au Prince. 
December 8 - Transfer to Jacmel in the morning. Stop in Fondwa to check on projects and visit the orphanage and university.
December 9 - Spend the day with the Art Creation Foundation Center for Children. Help paint the walls of the new site with the children. Visit the Arts Festival in Jacmel to support local artisans.
December 10 - Free morning, visit the Jacmel Children's Center. Leave for Port au Prince. Farewell dinner.
December 11 - Transfer to airport.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Restore the Shore Mandalas

Alluem Kids remembering the beauty of the Jersey Shore and ready to help rebuild!!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Donation Based Class

$442 raised and a van packed to the roof with donations that will be heading to Sayreville tomorrow!!! Thank you so much everyone for coming together today! It's times like these that community and support is rreally all that matters. We cannot wait for this year's Thanksgiving Day Class to "Restore the Shore"! It's going to be a class you won't want to miss! 
 Register online now!

Unity Makes Strength

Overwhelming amount of donations!!

And more coming in as we load up the van!
Soup's on! Yummy warm food for our own community!!

Restore the Shore

Photo Credit: Steven Wojtowitcz

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Post Sandy Savasana

Loved seeing so many friendly faces ready for an energy packed yoga class! 
After a week of no school or activities, these kids were ready to move!!!
Even more, I loved seeing all 26 children resting peacefully in a Post Sandy Savasana...something I think we all could use!

Join us later today for our Hurricane Sandy Donation Based Flow with Gina at 4:00pm. We will be raising money and collection donations for the Sayreville Hurricane Relief Fund. They are in need of the following:
-Tote bags (to bag items for families)
-D Batteries
-Extension Cords
-Winter Hats/Gloves
-Non-Perishable Foods
-Baby Diapers
-Money for gift cards
Stay (or join us) after class for hot soup, warm bread and drinks!! Bring the kids!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dear friends of Alluem Kids,
We hope you are all safe and warm in your homes this week after Hurricane Sandy. The Mill is open to everyone who needs a place to warm up and recharge - your mind, body, or your cell phone. We have heat, water, power, wifi and love to give. Please don't hesitate to just stop in.
with love, karen

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

5 Good Reasons to Practice Prenatal Yoga

You're pregnant. I know you're probably already thinking, "When can I sign my little one up for the Alluem Kids classes!?" I know you want to start them young! The sooner the better, right? I know!! ;-) So start now! Prenatal yoga gets your little bean ready for a well rounded yoga practice once he or she is born!  And to boot, there are tons of benefits for you, the mom-to-be! Read "5 Good Reasons to Practice Prenatal Yoga" written by Alluem's very own Prenatal Yoga instructor and guest blogger, Nicole Coons!
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends "30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week for pregnant women without medical complications." But what kind of exercise is best? What's safe enough to do through your entire pregnancy while also keeping you supple and strong? More and more, women are discovering that yoga offers something for every stage of pregnancy and more. Even doctors are starting to recommend yoga as a way to stay healthy and stress-free for the duration. If you are pregnant, or even trying to conceive, here are the top reasons you should consider incorporating yoga into your exercise regime.
1)   Love and celebrate the pregnant body. The physical body goes through so many changes during pregnancy and the needs are different as the pregnancy progresses. New pains or areas of discomfort develop that need special care. Prenatal yoga is a gentle, yet effective way to keep the body strong and to address the changing needs of the pregnant woman’s body.
2)   Tame the emotional roller coaster. Emotions can seem to run wild during pregnancy, and prenatal yoga can provide stimulation to the glands that govern emotions. Higher levels of serotonin and melatonin in the mother’s body create feelings of ease and general happiness, which can make her feel better in her body during pregnancy. It’s much easier to deal with the emotional ups and downs if you have a practice that supports emotional balance.
3)   Restore energy. It takes a lot of energy to grow a baby, and prenatal yoga teaches the mother to become respectful of her need to slow down. By slowing down, vital energy can be restored, and healing and healthy growth of the fetus can occur. Prenatal yoga also addresses the practice of pranayama (breathing), which alone can aid in relieving stress or tension in all of the above areas—body, emotions and energy.
4)   Connect with community. Being pregnant, especially when it’s the first pregnancy, can feel very isolating at times. It’s wonderful to have access to prenatal yoga classes that allow expectant mothers to spend time with one another. This sense of community can decrease stress and anxiety that may come up. Sometimes friends are made that continue long after the babies are born.
5)   Gain confidence about birth--and experience less pain. Prenatal yoga classes, unlike other exercise classes, often have the underlying goal of supporting women as they prepare for birth. Many yogic teachings about breath, concentration, relaxation and openness in the mind and body are complimentary to the teachings of common childbirth methods, such as Lamaze and Bradley. Practices that promote confidence and calm in the mother are common among all of these approaches. Even if a mom-to-be doesn’t enroll in a childbirth education class, she may receive a lot of the same information over the course of her pregnancy by just attending yoga classes. Finally, a study conducted in Thailand in 2008 found that "prenatal yoga may result in less labor pain and shorter labor. [Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 14(2), 105-115]. If that's not motivation enough to incorporate yoga during pregnancy, I don't know what is!
If you’ve practiced yoga during pregnancy, what’s your main reason? How has it benefited you most?

Whether you have tried yoga or not, come on in to the studio for a prenatal class on Thursday nights at 7:00pm or Saturdays at 12:15pm! All levels and stages of pregnancy welcome!
Nicole teaches prenatal yoga at Alluem and has been practicing since 1998 after spending 15 years of her youth as a modern and ballet dancer, instructor and choreographer. She became certified through YogaWorks, which also introduced her to prenatal yoga. Once she had the experience of two yoga-filled pregnancies herself, she connected more deeply with a desire to support women through their childbearing years - helping them feel great in their bodies and enjoy the journey of motherhood. She received specialized training in prenatal and postnatal yoga through the Prenatal Yoga Center in NYC. Through this training, Nicole refueled her vision for a world where more women are having conscious births, wherein they are knowledgeable about their bodies, inspired to trust their intuitive wisdom and able to recognize their own power to choose and participate actively in the unfolding of their birth experience. Nicole's prenatal classes offer expectant mothers a balanced and safe practice designed to help release stress and anxiety, relieve typical aches and pains of pregnancy and cultivate strength and confidence for birth and beyond. She is eternally grateful for the numerous teachers, students and her family who have illuminated the path for exploring her never ending inquiries of the mind and the heart. She is honored to be part of the Alluem Family and to share the gift of yoga!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chair Yoga

"Sit up straight. Get your head off the desk. Feet on the floor. Stop rocking your chair. Sit still." These are the words I heard day in and day out at school. We're taught that in order to learn and be focused, we must be still. Not true. We all learn and absorb material differently. Some of us are visual learners, some auditory, some kinesthetic. Me, I'm a kinesthetic learner...hands on! I needed to move and touch and experience. Tell a kinesthetic learner to sit still and that's all they learn...they learn to put a ridiculous amount of energy into staying still, that they don't hear a word the teacher is saying. Who benefits there? 
So, let's try some chair yoga you can do right in school that may not be as crazy as the pose to the left, but is subtle enough to help the kinesthetic learners focus.

Ground Your Feet - Sit up straight feet with feet flat on the floor. As you inhale, push your right foot into the floor, exhale release. Inhale, push the left foot into the floor, exhale release. Keep going nice and slow. The breath calms and the pushing of the foot is so subtle you barely see movement, but brings focus.
Seated Twist - Time for a break? Take a twist! Reach the left arm across the body and hook the right arm onto the back of a chair. Inhale sit up taller, exhale twist. (Be sure not to do this during a test.) And switch sides.
Seated Cat n' Cow - Hands on the knees, inhale open the heart and arch the back. Look up for Seated Cow Pose. Exhale round and almost push into the knees for Seated Cat Pose. Keep going for a couple rounds.
Eagle Legs - Gotta move those feet, but can't go far? Wrap them up! Lift the right leg up and over the left thigh. Keep the right foot going and wrap it around the left calf. While you're all twisted squeeze the muscles, hold and then release. Feel a fresh flow of blood right into the legs and feet! 
Take 5 Breath - Feeling anxious before a test or maybe you just aren't understanding what the teacher is talking about? Don't panic. Take 5. Place one hand on your thigh under your desk and tap your fingers out to the count of 5 as you inhale. Pause and then exhale out counting backwards from 5 tapping it out on your thigh.

Then of course, there are plenty of fun ways to use a chair within our yoga practice, 
that we may not be able to do in school, but grab a chair at home and get to stretching!

Don't forget to throw in a round of Musical Chair Yoga!

Friday, September 21, 2012

I am an Emotional Creature.

If you are the parent of a teenager or were once one yourself...
If you have a daughter (or a son) or were once one yourself...
If you work with children, teenagers, or young adults in any capacity in America or anywhere around the globe...I urge you to read Eve Ensler's "I am an Emotional Creature - The Secret Life of Girls Around the World." 

Ensler has compiled a collection of monologues that “celebrates the authentic voice inside every girl” and is “an inspiring call to action for girls everywhere to speak up, follow their dreams and become the women they were always meant to be.” The stories stem from girls around the world and are sad to say the least - abusive relationships, child soldiers, mutilation, factory workers, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, everyday peer pressures – the list goes on. We hear their voices and within it, we hear our own. We all have a story.
Through each story, there becomes a common theme....a fight between finding their voice or conforming to the masses and standing up for what they believe in or shutting down in attempt to please. To please: (v) to embody the wish or the will of someone other than yourself. Ensler’s research showed that 74% of women say they are under constant pressure to please others. 
“To please the fashion setters, we starve ourselves. To please boys, we push ourselves when we aren’t ready.  To please the popular girls, we end up acting mean to our best friends. To please our parents, we become insane overachievers. If you are trying to please, how do you take responsibility for your own needs? How do you even know what your own needs are? What do you have to cut off in yourself in order to please others? I think the act of pleasing makes everything murky. We lose track of ourselves. We stop uttering declaratory sentences. We stop directing our lives. We wait to be rescued. We forget what we know. We make everything okay rather than real.”
“This is a call to question rather than to please. To provoke, to challenge, to dare, to satisfy your own imagination and appetite. To know yourself truly. To take responsibility for who you are, to engage. This is a call to listen to the voice inside you that might want something different, that hears, that knows, the way only you can hear and know. It’s a call to your original girl self, to your emotional creature self, to move at your speed, to walk with your step, to wear your color. It is an invitation to heed your instinct to resist war, or draw snakes, or speak to the stars.”
Section 3 of the book is called Refuser. It speaks of how we get our power back from whatever fears, trauma, or abuse we may have endured in our lives – no matter how big or how small. Standing up for what we believe in, learning self-defense, stopping self-harm, helping those in need, not accepting what’s not right, finding knowledge, finding support. Ensler says, “Most everything is found in action…and when we finally have our voice and come together, when we let ourselves gather the knowledge, when we stop turning on each other, but directing our energy toward what matters, when we stop worrying about our skinny stomachs or too-frizzy hair or fat thighs, when we stop caring about pleasing and making everyone so incredibly happy – we get the Power.” 

So we ask ourselves, where do we find our power? 
We believe in ourselves.
We believe in one another.
We find strength in those around us.
We learn healthy dependence on one another.
We work together.
We take our time in making decisions.
We figure out what we stand for.
We stop trying to be accepted and we accept ourselves.
We stop waiting for someone to tell us what to do.
We do what we want.
We learn to share our thoughts and feelings.
We experience new things.
We ask for help.
We use our words.
We cry. We cry a lot.
We empathize.
We pray.
We meditate.
We move into our bodies to feel.
We move out of our comfort zones.
We feel.
We share.
We give love.
We let love in.
We stop whispering and we speak up.
We find our voice.

This is yoga. This is where I find my power.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gearing Up for Global Mala!!!

September 23rd is a big day in the NJ yoga community! Global Mala will finally be here!! This year's Global Mala will be the largest yoga peace gathering ever held in NJ! Over 1000 yogis and 76 yoga studios will be participating including Alluem Yoga! Check out the event flow for the day (which includes some world renowned teachers!!), but more importantly (because I'm all about the kids) - check out the Kids Mala event! YES - your children are welcome to attend the event and participate in some fun filled activities and yoga while you practice!! I'm also proud to announce that the Alluem Kids, Trepta Yoga Kids, Onyx Yoga and the 3rd and 4th graders from LMM in Newark (with the help of Toni Reino and Debby Kaminsky) have combined forces to make over 100 peace bracelets out of recycled tee shirts!
Bracelets will be available for sale at the big event this Saturday! 
100% of the profits will go towards NJ Charities! 


Monday, August 27, 2012

What are we teaching our daughters?

I came across this picture on Facebook. 
It broke my heart. 
The notes read: "When you take a bite of ice cream you do 10 push ups!". They were written by a nine year old to keep her mother on track with her diet. Words can not describe the fury running through my body. Did this mother in fact ask her daughter to write these notes? If so, that is sick. Did this child think to write those notes herself? If so, that is sad. Either way, nine years old and the message she has learned is that if she chooses to enjoy a bite of ice cream, a repercussion must be had.
Ten situps for every bite.
And so disordered eating begins.
 Generation after generation, we pass down the best ways to abuse our bodies and minds, the best ways to put ourselves down physically, emotionally and mentally. From the 18th century organ crushing corsets to give the appearance of a dainty figure, to 21st century diet fads, books, magazines, apps on how to get the best body. When does it stop? When do we say enough is enough and learn how stop passing down ideas of self objectification, forceful exercise, and abusive fat talk to younger generations? 
Every year girls are learning to hate their body at a younger age. In the Journal of Adolescent Health and Journal of Eating Disorders, the numbers show that anywhere from 30%-45% of girls in 1st through 3rd grade want to be thinner. This should not be. The size of your clothes and the number on the scale should not be a concern of an elementary school child. Who is teaching them this? Parents? Teachers? Media? If it's not coming from you as a parent, be aware of where it is coming from and do something to stop it. Why not teach them how to love their bodies, as we do in yoga, and how to form healthy relationships with food? Teach them mindful eating. Teach them self-acceptance. Be a healthy role model. Your child should never hear you or someone else judge, criticize or compare their bodies. Silence your inner critic.
Life is precious and much too short to spend your time and energy in a state of self-loathing.
Do something.:

Monday, August 20, 2012


No, practicing yoga on vacation is not like working on your day off.
This may have been my favorite moment of my vacation in LBI!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Circus Yoga!

Only a couple spots left! Register today!!! - workshops tab

Click to enlarge.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Paper Cranes of Cranford

Off the Mat Kids are on a mission to spread loving kindness starting in their home town of Cranford, NJ! Throughout Asia cranes have been a symbol of hope and peace. In Japan, China, and Korea, cranes stand for good fortune and longevity because of its amazing life span of a thousand years. Over time, the crane has become a favorite subject of the traditional paper folding know as origami. It is said that 1,000 folded cranes for each year of a person's life makes their wish comes true. 

Shortly after World War II, the folded origami crane also came to symbolize a hope for peace through Sadako Sasaki, a young girl stricken with leukemia after being exposed by radiation after the bombing of Hiroshima. Sadako was determined to make 1,000 paper cranes with the intention set for good health, happiness, and a world of eternal peace. While she only completed 644 before she died, her classmates graciously finished the rest. Today this practice of folding 1,000 paper cranes represents a gesture of peace, hope, and a healing for the self or the world. 

The first 5 cranes were released in the Cranford Public Library. The kids have 15 more they'll be releasing this weekend, each with a positive message! If you're visiting this page, you may have found a paper crane made by the Off the Mat Kids! Our hopes are that this crane made you smile and maybe brightened your day in some way. It's a small act of kindness from our hearts to yours. Let us know if you found one by leaving a comment or by emailing The OTM (Off the Mat) Kids and I would love to know! What would be even greater is if you passed the crane on, placing it somewhere else for another person to find. Take it with you beyond the borders of Cranford. Take it on vacation with you! Leave it where someone else can find it and perhaps feel that same inspiration and love.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Scenes from Off the Mat Kids Camp

Off the Mat Kids kicked off this week at Alluem Yoga and I couldn't be more humbled to work with such an amazing group of young yogis. This 4 day, 3 hour a day camp was a powerful way to combine a knowing of ourselves and our yoga practice combined with an understanding of the world and how we can influence positive change. 
This is yoga in action. 

First Off the Mat Kids Camp at Alluem Yoga!

Spreading some loving kindness along the Rahway River.

You are beautiful!

Finding balance.

Communication. Connection. Support.

They can seriously change the world.
Off the Mat Kids!
Brainstorming ways to change the world!