Archive - October 2014

1
Paleo Parents release third book: Real Life Paleo (+ giveaway!)
2
Take Back Your Health Conference returns to Arlington in November
3
Kirtan performer Jai Uttal brings family-friendly experience to Arlington
4
Holistic Moms Network to host Natural Living Conference
5
How to find balance during fall, the Ayurvedic vata season
6
Simplicity Parenting author coming to DC this weekend
7
Inspiration abounds at first National Kids Yoga Conference
8
Resources for Children’s Yoga

Paleo Parents release third book: Real Life Paleo (+ giveaway!)

Different diets work for different people, but there is certainly a growing interest in grain-free eating these days, especially for issues related to inflammation and autoimmune conditions. I remember thinking that a cookbook for gluten-free kids sounded like a great idea when I first saw something about Eat Like a Dinosaur shortly after it was released in 2012. Since then, authors Stacy Toth and Matt McCarry, the Northern Virginia-based couple behind PaleoParents.com, have become rock stars in the health and wellness community and the Paleo world. Their personal story of transformation is incredibly inspiring.

After I ran into Stacy and her family a local farm event on a recent weekend, I decided it was high time I gave away the copies of Eat Like a Dinosaur and Beyond Bacon.

Eat Like a Dinosaur is a cheery delight with a story about kids who feel better when they change their diet, family-friendly recipes, and everything you need to get started on a life without gluten.

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Beyond Bacon shows just how much diversity there is to be found in cooking with pastured pigs. The photography is beautiful, and in addition to the amazing recipes, it really lays out a vision for sustainable farming and eating.

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I am humbled to note that in the time it has taken me to execute on this Mindful Healthy Life concept I had when Beyond Bacon was released in the summer of 2013, Stacy — a mom of three with a full-time job — has done a bunch of speaking (including to the Arlington/Alexandria Holistic Moms chapter in December 2013) and won the title of NOVA’s Strongest Woman, and she and her husband Matt McCarry have penned a third book, Real Life Paleo.

rlp-book-finalI can’t wait to get my hands on Real Life Paleo on Sunday at the Take Back Your Health Conference and will do a giveaway on the new book at some point down the line, probably with a recap of the conference talk. But for now, I wouldn’t want to stop you from ordering your own copy or buying one in person! Every writer knows how important early sales are. So the winner of the giveaway can get started with the first two Paleo Parents books, Eat Like a Dinosaur and Beyond Bacon.

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Meet Stacy this weekend at the TBYH conference. Sunday morning, November 2, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne of ThePaleoMom.com (author of The Paleo Approach) speaks at 9:00 about using diet to manage immune and autoimmune diseases, Stacy Toth speaks at 11:00 about a three-phased approach to going Paleo, and there’s a panel at 12 noon with both women and two doctors (click here for the full schedule).

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If that’s not enough for you, check out the Real Life Paleo book release event on November 4 at the Barnes & Noble in Bethesda. We have to be out of town and would love to hear how the Election Day event goes!

Stacy and Matt write in their newsletter of the November 4 event that they will be signing books and giving out door prize packs valued at over $300 each featuring some of their favorite vendors: Pure Indian GheePaleo TreatsExo Protein Bars, and treats made by Out of the Box Bakery from the book. Let them know you’re coming by RSVPing to Eventbrite at bit.ly/RLPreleaseparty or to via Meetup at the Paleo Parents & Friends group. More info on the whole U.S. book tour for Real Life Paleo is at http://TVPBookTour.bit.ly/

Also through the Paleo Friends Meetup group is Stacy and Matt’s annual costumed no-candy Halloween party on November 1, which this year features Sarah Ballantyne as special guest at the Toth/McCarry Northern Virginia home. If you are not nearly-concurrently on a soccer field, at a birthday party or at a housewarming like me on Saturday, get yourself into the group to RSVP for this not-to-be-missed event.

We’ll run this giveaway of the Paleo Parents’ first two books for a full week, concluding on Friday, November 8.

 

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Take Back Your Health Conference returns to Arlington in November

The local conference phenomenon known as Take Back Your Health is coming back to Arlington on November 1 and 2 before it makes its Los Angeles debut next April. Conference founder and NoVA native Robin Shirley has followed her dream of moving out to Santa Monica but is keeping a foot firmly in the DC health & wellness community.

When I first interviewed Robin back in 2011, I was pretty amazed at how much she’d accomplished at such a young age, just 23 at the time. Creating a widely successful conference just a few years after leaving college to reclaim her own health from Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and chronic Lyme disease — and way younger than I did anything noteworthy — seemed pretty impressive.

And all the conferences have been great. I’ve attended each of the TBYH events and have learned, roughly, a ton. Most I’ve attended on my own, but in April 2012, the hotel was a weekend escape for me and my kids from home renovations. My son got his Ayurvedic pulses read (and my kids got their photo taken – scroll down here for the blue eyes and redheaded mullet of my youngest). My whole family then somehow managed to spend three hours at the TBYH holiday market last December (thank you, iSchool for the Future and Kreative Kids for the crafts!)

The speakers Robin has brought through over the years have been pretty amazing, including Dr. John Douillard of LifeSpa on Ayurveda, Sally Fallon Morrell of the Weston A. Price Foundation on traditional diets, Lisa Wilson from the Raw Food Institute on juicing and Ann Marie Michaels from Village Green Network (and formerly of Cheeseslave blog) on healing from food allergies.

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This November, the tradition continues. For parents in particular, the talks may be life-changing. Dr. Teresa Fuller, a pediatrician who joined the staff of National Integrated Health Associates earlier this year, will be speaking on the topic of “Raising a Brain-Healthy Child” on Saturday morning at 10:00.

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Then, on Sunday morning, two huge names in family-friendly Paleo eating take the stage. Fairfax-based food star Stacy Toth of PaleoParents.com and the Northern Virginia Paleo Parents & Friends Meetup group will talk about “Paleo for Real Life: an Easy 3 Phased Approach for a Lifetime of Health” at 11:00 a.m.  (based on The Paleo Parents’ new book Real Life Paleo) and her podcast partner Dr. Sarah Ballantyne of PaleoMom.com and author of The Paleo Approach will address “The Paleo Approach: Using Diet to Manage Immune & Autoimmune Diseases.”

 

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Click here for the full schedule and topic titles. Children 17 and under may attend for free with a parent, but there is no special space or childcare, so parents are asked to keep them seated and quiet. If they need to move, the exhibit hall should provide a welcome distraction. Tickets are available for the weekend and for each day individually.

I’m running a giveaway for one free conference registration, closing at 12 noon on Wednesday, October 29. To get more entries, sign up for the Mindful Healthy Life email list (for blog posts delivered to your in box and a quarterly seasonal newsletter), like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. You can also gain entries by following TBYH on social media and commenting below.

And for anyone who doesn’t win the giveaway, Mindful Healthy Life readers can use the discount code “mindfulhealthy” for 20% off the conference registration through October 31.

Edited to add our referral code for those who want to attend future editions of Take Back Your Health. Please use http://www.profcs.com/app/?af=1636700 to register, and a portion of your ticket sale will come back to Mindful Healthy Life. Thank you for your support!
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Kirtan performer Jai Uttal brings family-friendly experience to Arlington

To hear Takoma Park mom and strategic consultant Grace Ogden talk about attending a kirtan with Jai Uttal, one gets the impression that not taking your child would be like shielding her from a rainbow.

A kirtan is a participatory music event that can simultaneously calm and energize the spirit.  The experience of chanting, usually in Sanskrit, is aimed to be a healing one, helping participants connect to their heart and more generally to a shared vibration and bigger sense of spirit. A father himself, Jai has a joyful spirit, Grace says, that creates an inclusive and loving vibe for the musical chant-dance experience.

On Thursday, October 23, Grace’s event-planning firm, Grace Productions, is partnering with BuddhaFest to bring Jai Uttal and mantra performer Gaura Vani to the Spectrum Theatre at Artisphere in Rosslyn, Arlington. The event runs from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m.

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Grace says that a kirtan typically becomes more energetic toward the end, like most any concert, but that it’s completely normal for people to leave when they need to. She’s seen children come to kirtans in pajamas if they have a long drive home. Children under age five get in free. Tickets for children ages six to seventeen are $10, and adult tickets are $30, but Grace emphasizes that the event welcomes everyone and that no one will be turned away.
Kidkirtan1Grace has brought Jai to DC twice before, once for an evening performance suitable for all ages and in November 2013 for two events, including a Kids Kirtan geared to young children. Jai includes children’s voices in his Kirtan Kids CD, and DC-area parents wanted a child-focused event that would include the funny stories about Hanuman. Stories about the mischievous monkey help children connect with their understanding of themselves.

headlineWhen Jai performs for a mixed-age crowd, he begins the show by inviting children to come to the front where they can dance, usually layering themselves naturally with little children closest to the stage and the taller ones in back.

For those who have never attended a kirtan, Grace says not to worry if you’re not familiar with Hindu traditions or Sanskrit words. The music, she says, “lights up the heart, connects us universal qualities that are present in all of life. It’s just like singing about the sun or the moon or a radiant flower.” The chants evoke feelings of “joy, beauty, safety, love, healing, forgiveness, and inspiration,” Grace says, adding that Jai has a “natural awareness of and connection to children’s energy.” Being so loving and respectful of children and approaching his work with such joy helps children feel at ease participating in the experience, which is not a quiet one. In fact, it’s loud and interactive, Grace emphasizes. Jai studied in India and was led on a spiritual path that includes concerts and retreats, but he also is a Grammy-nominated artist with a varied background in jazz and many forms of world music.

At the kids’ kirtan, Grace’s daughter, Julia, aged 11,  hung back as one of the older children in the crowd. But at the all-ages evening event like the one happening Thursday, Julia “danced her sweet self into a state of bliss.” It was exciting for a child to see talented musicians so happy to play to her, just six or eight feet away in a very immediate experience unlike most concerts. Julia was “seen and touched in her heart and inspired” to be invited into participation, Grace says, adding of watching all children at a Jai kirtan: “I love that they are awakened into the light of music.”

Grace says that Jai’s performances inspire joy. “It’s hard to just get joy straight off” in the midst of our complicated and stressful lives, she says, so Thursday’s kirtan is just the ticket if you’re looking to be in a space of joy with your children.

The kirtan is part of a larger bhakti tradition that aims to create “a dynamic flow of energy from the heart chakra,” according to The Expanding Light.

Click here to purchase tickets to Thursday’s event.

To see a video of last year’s Kids Kirtan in Silver Spring, see the Willow Street Yoga Facebook page.

Photo credit: Christine Alicino

Disclosure: I was offered free admission for my family to attend this event.

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Holistic Moms Network to host Natural Living Conference

Holistic Moms Network is a cool enough group for local and online support for living holistically, but it’s even more fun when you get to meet people in person from different chapters around the country. The non-profit organization is holding its annual Natural Living Conference on Saturday, October 25 in New Jersey at Montclair State University just outside of New York City.

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Okay, it’s not in DC, Maryland or Virginia, but it’s only about four hours away. By car. Last year I got to meet some of the leaders from California chapters. They had to be on a plane for more than four hours!

This year’s event is featuring a keynote with Dr. Laura Markham of Aha! Parenting and a screening of the documentary Unacceptable Levels and a Q&A with the film’s director, Ed BrownUnacceptableLevels

 

Breakout sessions include:

At just $55 for the whole day or $40 for a half, the event is a great deal for all the information it will impart as well as the goodie bag treats and all the other samples you’re likely to find in the exhibit hall.  There, parents can learn about wonderful products — food, skin care, and more – and services like Well Amy. One could really spend the entire day in the exhibit hall (and you can do just that for a reduced rate of $20).

The conference is an adult-focused event where babes in arms are welcome. Children may come into the exhibit hall for a reduced price ticket ($10) but need to pay the full rate if they require a seat in the sessions and workshops. The keynote is in the morning and the film screening and Q&A is in the afternoon. Lunch can be purchased separately.

For more information, see annualconference.holisticmoms.organd register at register.holisticmoms.org/

And if you’re looking to make a trip of it, I’m told there is plenty of fall fun to be had in New Jersey, including pumpkin and apple picking. Budding artists might enjoy the Montclair Art Museum, future naturalists will want to explore Brookdale Park and Verona Park, and animal lovers will get a kick out of Turtle Back ZooTripBuzz has a list of Things to Do With Kids in Montclair, NJ, and the New Jersey Mommy Poppins site also has a list of 15 Fun Things to do in Montclair, NJ along with plenty of additional ideas for exploring the area and for weekend happenings.

So take the family up with you if you have a partner, friend or family member who can treat the kiddos to some New Jersey (or even New York City) adventures while you learn lots of wellness tips to nourish your family and connect with other like-minded parents.

Holistic Moms Network has over 100 chapters around the country. In the DC area, there are HMN chapters in Arlington/Alexandria, Northern Virginia (Fairfax) and Loudoun County. The Burke/Springfield chapter will be relaunched soon. Anyone can start a chapter, too. There’s an awesome leader meeting on Sunday, October 26, the day after the conference, so if you’ve been thinking about starting a chapter, now might be a great time to see what that’s like!

 

How to find balance during fall, the Ayurvedic vata season

If you’ve noticed a challenge feeling balanced during these busy back-to-school fall months, the wisdom of the ancient healing science of Ayurveda might shed some light on the cause.

Today’s guest post about fall, the vata season, comes from Ileana Gonzalez of Apurva Ayurveda Healing in Vienna, Virginia.

Although the seasonal change is subtle, it can have a big impact on the mind and body.

As the seasons transition, our mind and our body also experience a transition, as they adjust to the inevitable changes that nature brings with it. This adjustment period is normal, and vital, but it can also lead to certain imbalances if we don’t manage and ease into the transition.

Autumn is known for the decreasing temperatures, the increasing winds, and the overall instability of the weather. Vata, the air and space energy (or dosha), intensifies during this time, leaving our mind and body dry, cold, and unstable.

In our culture, it is normal to start the bulk of our activities during these months. The kids go back to school, they have more activities (sports, schoolwork, and hobbies).

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Your job becomes more demanding with deadlines and objectives. But if you observe nature, you will see that animals actually prepare to wind down and hibernate during the cold months. This anti-nature behavior we adopt actually leads to a lot of imbalances in our mind and body.

Perhaps you have the beginnings of a cold, or maybe you get more frequent headaches and are more moody during this time. Your skin becomes drier, your hand and toes are more sensitive to the cold. All of these things are just a way for your mind/body to adjust to the changing season. Even our cravings change. We crave “comfort” foods like soups, stews, and sweets.

The good news is that our mind and body were designed to adjust to these changes. We just need to “tune in” and manage the adjustment so that it is easy, smooth and hot tealeads to balance. In ayurveda, this management is easy if you apply the simple rule of “like increases like.”

Because vata is cold, dry, light and mobile (unpredictable, unstable), we have to add warmth/heat, oily/unctuous, and predictable/stability to our lifestyles and diets. If you master this principle, your transition from one season to the next will be a lot easier!

Keep this principle in mind when you prepare the kids’ meals/snacks. Choose grounding foods that are heavy, warm, and sweet like rice, sweet potato, and dairy; avoid raw, cold and dry foods. Download this great vata shopping list.

A great way to cut down/prevent on the colds and sniffles kids get this time of year: dab a Q-tip in warm sesame oil and place in the ears and nostrils daily after their bath. This will not only help to keep the area germ-free, it will also lubricate and nourish the area. If your child is prone to vata-like imbalances (dry cough, change in sleep pattern, constipation), try giving him an oil massage using warm sesame oil; the more often you do this, the better. A few minutes before a bath is best, but you can also do it at bedtime.

Something the whole family can practice during this time of year is savasana, or corpse or dead man’s pose. Lie flat on your back, legs and feet apart, palms up at your side. Breathe and surrender for at least 5 minutes. Guaranteed calm! Drink warm milk with a sprinkle of nutmeg, and enjoy a little quiet time before bed. This will help everyone get a good night’s sleep.

As for the grownups in the house, it is normal to feel less concentration, insomnia, and chronic fatigue with the increase in vata energy. For them, I recommend a wonderful vata-pacifying therapy called shirodhara. It is designed to directly activate the ajna chakra, thereby affecting the mind in a profound way. It provides mental clarity, decreases heart rate, decreases blood pressure, and an overall sense of calm and rest. Most people fall asleep during the treatment!

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This treatment, as well as other vata-pacifying techniques, is available at Apurva Ayurveda Healing in Vienna, Virginia.

Lastly, don’t forget to increase seasonal fruits veggies—nature’s way of helping us through this transition. Look to squash and root veggies such as sweet potato. Mmmmm. So grounding and nourishing. Try Monica B.’s recipe from Hey Monica B: A Blooming Resource on Ayurveda for Roasted Root Veggies with Garlic & Rosemary.

  • Any mix of root vegetables like butternut squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Rosemary sprigs
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Chop the root veggies into bite size chunks and place in a pan.
  • Drizzle with plenty of olive oil because when cooked it will caramelize and turn extra yummy.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes uncovered

Thanks to Ileana for this guest post!

Updated in October 2017 with Apurva’s new location

For more tips on balancing during vata season, check out these articles at Chopra Centered Lifestyle or Yoganonymous.

Simplicity Parenting author coming to DC this weekend

Simplicity Parenting is one of the books I had out last week at the Holistic Moms Arlington/Alexandria daytime meeting on “Supporting Children’s Emotional Health,” and I was excited when a member told me the book’s author, Kim John Payne, was coming to speak on October 11 at a daylong event organized by Acorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten and Nursery, which is celebrating its 50th year serving families in Takoma Park.

kim john payneThe flyer for the Saturday event reads: “Looking for ways to support children in being calmer and happier, more focused at school, finding it easier to comply with family rules and become less picky eaters?” The school elaborates: “In this lecture and workshop, Kim explains why less is more and presents four simplicity pathways you can take to help your child feel calmer, happier and more secure. This is the work and the workshop which provided the inspiration for Kim’s book by the same name (published in August 2009). It presents not only the four simple steps, but examples of how to bring “the power of less” into your home on a daily basis.”

The event runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 11, and is taking place not at the school (which has one of the most amazing natural play areas I’ve ever seen!) but rather at Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD 20910 (GPS: use 8525 Fenton Street), three blocks from the Silver Spring Metro Transit Station. Click here for parking information. Payne will lecture 9-11 a.m. Lunch follows 11-12 and is provided in the $60 fee (or $55 per person if coming as a couple or pair); vegetarian options and some gluten-free options are available. Then, from 12 to 3 p.m. will be the workshop portion of the day. Register at www.acornhill.org.

There are a lot of Simplicity Parenting pieces I have tried to incorporate into our family life, including scheduling in quiet time and do-nothing days and limiting media. So far this school year we’ve stuck to no weekday screen time. Well, not counting Nationals baseball highlights. I expected my daughter would attend a Waldorf preschool like her brother, but when she was offered a spot in the Montessori class at my son’s public magnet school, we saw how much simpler it would be for the family to have them in the same place with the same daily schedule. If I hadn’t had chronic health issues, we might have still done the two-school shuffle, but in the absence of perfect, consistent and streamlined will have to do!

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Inspiration abounds at first National Kids Yoga Conference

YogaKids DVD was the first television I allowed my son some seven years ago.  Since then, he and his little sister have been to a handful of kids and family yoga classes, and a day of yoga camp. This summer, my daughter had a delightful yoga birthday party at which her older brother showed off his knowledge of poses and Sanskrit phrases. They are not without some yoga knowledge.

But truth be told, though I try to practice daily on my own, yoga has remained something of an extra rather than an integral part of my parenting. It’s always there in the background in theory, but in practice, when I’m working so hard just to stay well by cooking all the time and am also staying involved in volunteer efforts whose higher goal is health and well-being for families, I don’t always ooze groundedness at home. I never have, anywhere. This really is a lifetime journey.

Enter the first National Kids Yoga Conference conference this past weekend! As if it weren’t inspiring enough just to interview the organizers, I emerged from the conference in awe of the many benefits of yoga for children and bowled over by the numerous strategies out there to make yoga accessible to young ones. It was truly transformative. I hope and believe that my parenting – my life – will never be the same.

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Resources for Children’s Yoga

At the first National Kids Yoga Conference on September 27, we learned about many wonderful recording artists, authors and others providing support for yoga with children and providing training.

Check out this list of Resources for Children’s Yoga taken from the conference exhibitors, sponsors and speakers and organizations mentioned by speakers and exhibitors.

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