This yoga loving mom incorporates her love of yoga into her home and work life! How yoga has helped her family and others and can maybe help you too!
Name: Elizabeth “Beth” Reese, PhD, E-RYT, RCYT
Occupations: Educator: Founder/CEO of Yogiños: Yoga for Youth®; Director, New Territory Montessori School
Kids: Jordan (15), Cole (13), Andersen (8)
HFM: Tell us about your family:
BR: I am blessed to have an incredible, supportive family that includes my 3 kids and husband, Wade. We have 2 cats, Little and Symba, and a dog, Trixie. Andersen also has her eyes on a hedgehog (stay tuned!). Like many families, we enjoy doing a myriad of activities together, including sports like football, biking, and surfing; reading together; playing board games; traveling; watching Doctor Who, cooking and more.
My oldest daughter, Jordan, is part of the inspiration for Yogiños: Yoga for Youth®, as she learned to navigate challenges associated with Sensory-Integration “Disorder” through practicing yoga on and off the mat.
HFM: Tell us about OHMazing® Kid’s Yoga program titled Yoginos:
BR: Yogiños: Yoga for Youth® is a research-based, trilingual, mindfulness and yoga program designed to empower people of all ages to make OHMazing® choices for their bodies, minds and hearts on and off the yoga mat. I created Yogiños: Yoga for Youth® in 2008 when I realized that integrating yoga and mindfulness into the lives of my children was benefiting not only my family and me, but also having an empowering ripple effect in my community.
I am honored to say that Yogiños offers programs to youth in many studios and after-school programs, and I am incredibly grateful that many school leaders—locally and beyond—are integrating our program into their schools. Our evidenced-based approach is to offer in-services and trainings to the teachers who then weave the life-skills associated with yoga on and off the mat into existing curricula.
HFM: Why is yoga so important to you?
BR: When I first started practicing yoga I thought it was poses performed on a sticky mat with some breathing. Over the last 16 years, I have learned that yoga is much more than that; it’s actually a way of living life by making mindful choices about how I care for myself, others and the earth, as well as striving to better manage emotions and energy levels.
For example, when Jordan was 6 years old we learned that she has sensory integration “challenges.” This means that at times the dendrites or connectors in her brain misfire when overloaded. As a child she could get quite overwhelmed and would have what appeared to be huge temper tantrums; an occupational therapist shared that to her it felt like someone had their foot on the accelerator of her nervous system pinned to the floor. She was told she would not grow out of this but rather would have to grow “into” it. The holistic approaches of yoga—including yoga-based self-regulation where we integrate mindful breathing, focus, concentration, control of sensory input, and easily accessible poses into our daily lives—transforms the ways in which we manage our emotions and energy levels.
HFM: How do you think Yoga helps your every day family life?
BR: Weaving the theories and practices of Dr. Maria Montessori not only into my work as Director of New Territory Montessori School, but also into my daily family life, I embrace her transformative ideology, “teach me how to do it myself.” Toward that end, by teaching my family how to use life-skills based on yoga we are better prepared to tackle whatever comes our way.
Belly breathing is an example of a simple yet powerful tool to help us feel balanced. Breathe in to the count of 3-5 while making your belly expand like a birthday balloon. Breathe out to the same count letting your belly deflate like a flat balloon. This method of breathing literally helps to balance your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. This is great to practice anytime and anywhere, and can be taught to children as young as 2 years old!
HFM: What advice would you give to another mom who might say they don’t have time to work out or do yoga for example?
BR: In terms of yoga as a tool to manage your emotions and energy levels—something I hear many moms wanting!—research shows that 10 minutes a day is more valuable than 60 minutes once a week. Toward that end, I suggest weaving it into your day with mindful breaks throughout the day.
Standing crescent moon is an example of a pose that can be varied based on location, standing or sitting. Breathe in and extend arms up to the sky, press palms together. Breathe out and tilt to the right. Keep left foot or hip pressed down toward the earth. Be mindful to not bend forward. Continue to breathe in and out—even using your balloon breathing—3-5 breath cycles. On an inhalation, reach arms upright and on an exhalation repeat on the other side. This pose strengthens the sides of our bodies which helps strengthen our core. Arms over-head also helps us energize our bodies and mind.
HFM: What else would you like us to know about your family?
BR: That living together as a peaceful family-community is a journey, not a destination.