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Wedding Registry – by Siga Bielkus

Most brides find a lot of pleasure in compiling their registries, their wish-lists for future domestic bliss—the copper pots, the crystal stem-ware, the high thread-count pillow cases. Naturally, a lot of the enjoyment is aspirational (“Williams Sonoma Professional Grade Panini Press with Bluetooth Speaker, in Gold”). And who doesn’t like getting presents, particularly ones you pick out yourself? But the real pleasure in selecting registry items comes from visualizing the home that you and your partner are in the process of creating.

This isn’t entirely materialistic. Sure, it’s satisfying to pick out the linens for the master bedroom, or the brand of juicer you’ll be using to make your morning green drink (  But what I enjoy most is the anticipation of the meals we’ll be cooking together over the years, the nights we’ll spend in each other’s company. My fiancée and I dream of a shared life, and by clicking on a set of bath towels, we come a tiny bit closer to that reality. These little material choices — cast iron or nonstick?—are ways of adding texture to our imagination of a joined existence. It’s a way of giving that future a physical presence, of grounding the wonderful experiences to come in the present moment.

None of our registry gifts, no matter their labels or price tags, are remotely meaningful outside of that context. A coffee pot is just a lump of ceramic unless it helps form the background of shared Sunday breakfasts, of morning kisses, of years of intimacy. It’s all just stage dressing for the real act.

In much the same way, one of yoga’s biggest lessons is context. When I’m on my mat, I can clearly see how the externalities of my daily life — all the stuff that’s filling up the breakfast nook of my soul—is just stage dressing. Like the coffee pot on my registry, they’re just the background to the real story, and the real joy, of my existence. That doesn’t take away from the pleasure of the material or routine, but it shouldn’t ever distract. So even when my fiancée and I are scrolling through flatware patterns, I know that they’re just designs on a spoon. What matters is that our hands touch when we click the mouse.

Want to get some ZZZ’s? Yoga “Sequence for Slumber” – by Aida Bielkus

Many of us are not getting enough sleep.  Staying tuned-in to our active day and electronics late into the night, detach us from a natural rhythm, and we therefore often fall into bed exhausted and wake feeling much the same way (yikes!).  Here is a great yoga sequence to integrate into a pre- bedtime routine.  Gently moving and stretching the body helps the mind unwind from your day, preparing you for sweet dreams.  The goal is to quiet your senses and bring your attention inward.  So turn everything off, silence your cell phone, put on your most comfortable pj’s, wash up, brush your teeth, put your favorite cream on your face, rub a little on the back of your neck, lights out and try this yoga sequence in bed.

1.      Gentle Inversion- this is one of my favorite poses ever! Scoot your hips close to your headboard and kick your legs up. Your legs rest gently against the headboard. Arms by your side face up. Close your eyes and stay here for 3-5 minutes.

2.      Spine Twist- keeping your eyes closed, bend your knees and gently roll to one side pushing away from the headboard.  Take your arms out by your side -like a T- bring both knees together, letting them drop to one side, and turn your head in the opposite direction. Take 5 breaths counting down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then take the same actions for the other side counting down your breaths.

3.      Reclined Butterfly- bringing the soles of your feet together gently let your knees fall toward the bed, place one hand on your heart and one on your belly and begin to notice your heart beat, silently witnessing and observing your heart and breath. Think of one thing that made you grateful today.

4.      Reclined Half Pigeon- lay with a straight spine, hug your knees into your chest, and then lower your feet to the bed, releasing hand from around the knees. Lift the left ankle over the right knee, and interlace your fingertips under the right knee and gently pull in. Go gently to begin to loosen the hips, or try using your breath to take the stretch further. Release and take the other side.

5.      Child’s Pose- roll over onto your belly, bring your knees under your chest, you’re your forehead on the bed, and extend your arms out in front of you. Take your arms gently to the right feeling a gentle stretch on your left, take a deep breath and release. Take it to the other side and then find center.

Deep breathing will also enhance this sequence and quiet the mind. Keep in mind your muscles may not be as “warmed up” as they are in a complete yoga class so go gently and listen to your body.  After you’ve done the poses, take 10 gentle breaths counting down 10 to 1 with the acknowledgement that at 1 you will be drifting toward sleep.

Depending on how you like to sleep extend into that position and beginning with the soles of your feet, systematically bring attention to various parts of the body moving all the way up to the crown of the head.  Invite a heaviness and looseness into each part as you feel the mind letting go of the body, silencing thoughts, and drifting to sleep.

Mama-Ste! The 3 Most Important Things My Mother Taught Me – by Vyda Bielkus

Mama-ste! The 3 most important things my mother taught me.

I have a great relationship with my mother; in fact all of my 3 sisters do too.  We jokingly call her the ‘Guru-Ma’ – the all-knowing wise woman.  Looking back at our lives together, I have come to realize the number of important life lessons she has taught me are countless.  But as we approach Mother’s Day, I wanted to share what I feel are some of the most important.  So many mothers (moms to be, new moms, and even moms of 30+ years) struggle with putting other’s needs ahead of their own, and feelings of guilt, that I believe what I learned from my mom can be an inspiration to all. Take good care of yourself.

1. Take good care of yourself.

Many moms who come to my studio tell me they find it really challenging to make time for yoga class when they have kids… and then when they do come, they feel bad that they are going to class instead of being with them.   Taking care of yourself is one of the biggest gifts you can give your kids. Yes taking care of YOURSELF!  When my sisters and I were still very little (all under ten) our house was full of crazy!  There were four of us girls (one who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 2). My mom had just started a business of her own which literally had an office in our basement- and our dad was no Mr. Mom.  With all that swirled around her, I remember on Saturday mornings my mom would head out.  She wouldn’t wash the dishes from breakfast, she didn’t really care if we were dressed or not, she just would kiss us good bye and take off, leaving us with our dad.  One of us would always be crying at her feet as she would be heading out the door, but out the door she went.  As soon as the door closed behind her, my sisters and I had a ball!  We’d run around the house, play pretend, get outside in the mud and just had fun, not thinking about her at all.  When our mom came back she was always glowing and more relaxed.  As the pattern continued, we made the connection that “exercise at Dunphey’s” made our mom happy, which in turn made our entire household happy!    She continued to role model taking care of oneself for us.  She learned Transcendental  Meditation (TM)  and it became a household rule that when mom meditated we’d be quiet.  Even our friends, and yes at times that meant eight kids in the house, each of us with a friend, knew “TM time” meant quiet time.  We learned to respect her needs.  Although we might not have been able to put it into words back then, we understood that when mom took care of herself she was more present when she was with us.  She wasn’t as distracted or stressed.

2. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but of strength.

Help is always available.  Moms don’t suffer from having to juggle a lot (that is the fun of life), moms suffer because they believe they need to do it alone.  After our parents’ divorce, my mom, probably out of sheer need was able to ask for help.  She enlisted her sister, our uncles, our grandparents and nannies to help her raise us.   When she would go off to work and leave us with Buba(grandma) and Bocius(grandpa) we didn’t feel less loved; in fact it made us feel more loved.  We always knew as kids someone was watching out for us and had our back.  We also got to learn so much from the richness of our relationship with our extended family.   But there were countless other ways my mom taught me that asking for help is the only way to have your needs met.   When two of us were in really big transitions, she dreamed of sending us to a private girls’ school.  She knew she wanted this for us.  The school would not only support our growth, but also help her raise us because of its structure.  In many ways getting us into the school was as much of a good thing for us as it was for her (a busy single working mom).   The school is one of the most exclusive, private schools in the country, and there was no way she could afford to send us.  Instead of seeing this as a block, she asked for helped.  As our luck would have it, the school granted us scholarships.  I loved my school!  It was some of the most amazing years of my childhood.  From watching my mom ask for help, I got it: if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.   Sometimes we don’t ask for help because we perceive it as not available.  Start looking around for help and you will see it everywhere.

3. The Power of Sorry.

There were the moms that made it to every sports game and then… there was my mom.  I think she made it to one of my games and maybe a few of my sisters’.   There were the moms who picked up their kids right on time every time and then… there was my mom.  Lots of times my mom was late, but one of the bests was when she was a whole two hours late, and to top it, she was at the wrong school! The thing about it is that my mom would always and still says sorry.  She was genuinely sorry if our feelings were hurt, she was genuinely sorry if she misunderstood or was given conflicting information, but the secret is she didn’t feel guilty.   The truth is, in life, you will sometimes have to be in two places at once, or a work meeting will take priority, or you will make a mistake.  Be sorry not guilty.  I still observe this amazing gift my mom has to say sorry to just level the playing to field.  To make whoever she is “disagreeing” with feel and understand that the relationship matters more than whether one person is right or wrong.   And FYI, for all you mom’s out there who feel guilty when you miss a child’s “important” game, recital, or school, function,  I used to think my mom was way cool, that she couldn’t come to my games because she was working!