Healthy Mother Healthy Child: Creating Balance in Everyday Life

Healthy Mother Healthy Child: Creating Balance in Everyday Life



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Healthy Mother Healthy Child: Creating Balance in Everyday Life by Elizabeth Irvine

This book is about creating balance and joy in everyday life. Drawing on her personal wisdom as registered nurse, yoga teacher, and mother of three, author Beth Irvine teaches families practical ways to build healthier lifestyles.
Using simple language and gorgeous photographs, Irvine invites her readers to engage in yoga, breathing techniques, meditation, creative expression, wholesome nutrition, and introduces them to complementary therapies such as homeopathy. She then applies these practices to common health problems, both physical and emotional, all the while respecting both conventional western and complementary medicines.
This guidebook empowers parents to lay the foundation of a healthier, happier life for their children whether by:
• Creating simple but meaningful family rituals
• Making a soothing and secure home environment
• Addressing issues affecting a child's self-esteem
Irvine's message of hope and inspiration to parents everywhere is this: just a few small steps in the right direction really will build stronger families from the inside-out.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780977617807
Publisher: Whole Health Publishing
Publication date: 04/01/2007
Pages: 153
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 8 Years

About the Author

Elizabeth Irvine is a nurse, author and mother who throughout her years of dedicated professional work in the health care field has fused her skills in allopathic and alternative modalities to help others help themselves. She has written more than thirty articles for health magazines, taught yoga for nine years, and produced a DVD entitled Yoga for Mother and Child. She has recently released her first book, Healthy Mother Healthy Child: Creating balance in everyday life. Beginning in March 2007, Elizabeth is hosting a column as a parenting expert on the national website club mom, which was founded by Meredith Vieira of The Today Show. Irvine currently owns a private wellness practice in Houston and is a guest speaker at many educational events.  

Read an Excerpt

Healthy Mother Healthy Child

Creating balance in everyday life
By Elizabeth Irvine

Whole Health Publishing

Copyright © 2006 Elizabeth Irvine
All right reserved.

Chapter One


The practice of yoga

Stress, pressure, not enough time in the day to squeeze it all in? Do these words ring a bell?

I believe people throughout the world share a common link of similar problems with stress.

Day-to-day wear and tear of today's fast-paced and demanding lifestyle takes its toll on all of us. Our bodies can put up with it only for so long until this stress manifests into a physical or emotional problem.

One of the first steps in managing stress is to become aware of it. How many times at the end of the day do you sit back and reflect over the past ten hours and say, "Wow, what a great day! I didn't feel rushed, tired, angry, overwhelmed, frustrated, or just plain cranky at any time during the day"? Recognizing your feelings is a huge step on the path to controlling them.

Learning to use yoga, breathing, and meditation as "remedies" can help you combat the battle of stress and all its negative side effects. If you learn how to incorporate this into your life, it can give your body the opportunity to perform as the amazing machine that it is. The first step is helping yourself; the next step is passing on the benefit to your children.

The body can heal itself

Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., graduate of Harvard Medical School, director ofintegrative medicine at the University of Arizona, and probably one of America's best known doctors, states so accurately in his book, Spontaneous Healing, "I have titled my book Spontaneous Healing because I want to call attention to the innate, intrinsic nature of the healing process. The body can heal itself. It can do so because it has a healing system. At every level of biological organization, from DNA up, self-repair and regeneration exist in us."

History of yoga

In a nutshell yoga is thought to be around 5,000 years old. The ancient Indian scripture known as Sanskrit defines the word as to "join up" or to "yoke." It is this yoking or union of the body, mind, and spirit that brings us closer to our true nature. Yoga came to the western world in the 1960s. It has gained increasing popularity and within the past decade most people have heard about yoga. According to Yoga Journal, 15 million people practice yoga in America today. The benefits of this ancient practice explained below reflect why the wave of enthusiasm has arrived.

Style of yoga

The developers of three major styles of yoga - Astanga, Iyengar, and Viniyoga - were all students of Krishnamacharya. Other classic styles come from the guru Sivananda. All these styles take root from Hatha yoga in the union of mind, body, and the spirit through asanas or poses. What makes these styles different is the emphasis. Some put the emphasis on the strict alignment of the body while others focus on the coordination of breath and body movement or the flow from one posture to another.

Not all yoga fits into a classic category. Teachers may have trained under more than one tradition and then fused their interpretation into a different "style." A yoga class can vary from a heat-induced strenuous physical workout to a gentle meditative relaxation. No one style is superior to another. Think about what fits you and you've found the right style. Take your time and be mindful of your choice, for the rewards can last a lifetime.

The style of yoga I practice has evolved from my formal yoga education with Swami Vedanta Saraswati of the bihar School of Yoga in Munger, India, and teachers in the tradition of the late Vanda Scaravelli. This education, combined with my daily practice over the past ten years, has evolved into a fusion of my teachers' practices and my own intuitive wisdom guiding me in my approach to yoga.

Quality of attention

An essential part of my practice is gathering up all my attention and focusing it on the task at hand. I am cultivating a focused, diligent state of mind, beginning with a "coming-home" feeling, back to the gentle primordial rhythm of my breath. I remember to incorporate my breath as a tool, a guide, or a best friend leading into the movement. It's not about imposing a position on my body and then breathing - it's the other way around. When I'm completely focusing on my breath with an emphasis on attention, so in tune that my body becomes pliable, just waiting to unfold, it is a true innate response to my "getting out of the way" and letting my body and breath lead.

Practicing the asana (physical position) is allowing your body to move slowly and effortlessly while keeping your mind completely focused on your breath, which allows the movement to happen. The late Vanda Scaravelli, the author of Awakening the Spine, said, "Do not fight your body. Drop that heavy load. Do not kill the instinct of the body for the glory of the pose. Listen to your body, watch it, observe its needs, its requests, and even have fun. Play with it as children do. The body has its own intelligence and is willing to cooperate; one only has to have patience and attention. To be sensitive is to be alive." Vanda Scaravelli studied for many years with B.K.S. Iyengar. She trained teachers who now teach her form of yoga all over the world.

In a word I feel the biggest message in yoga is "attitude." It's all about being awake and paying attention to your body. Listen to your body's inner intelligence and then let your "inner knowing" take over guiding you. It knows what to do. It's like a spark that ignites. It is coming in unison with the body, reestablishing contact. Things begin to "kick in" and you catch a glimpse of the endless possibilities and knowledge that the body instinctively holds within. We all have the capability - it's just about opening up to the opportunity. This ability is innate. You can be given the guidelines, but the destination is found on your own. Through this style of teaching I realized that the only way to understand this approach was to allow my instincts to take over. My feet or hands become very strong and feel alive, sensing the gravity from the earth. Within the breath I "make space" for the spine to be free and move in ways I didn't think were possible, just like a flower that grows up through a crack in the cement. You begin seeing yourself as a natural growing being that, when given the chance to be free, can respond with amazing clarity.

Being still and listening

For me a fundamental approach to yoga is that all poses are ultimately practiced in the same way. It's really a very ingenuous, natural way of working. It doesn't matter if you're in dog pose or headstand, the same principles apply. Another aspect of my practice is to give attention to and focus on the smallest little point of my body or a tiny space such as in the middle of my shoulder blades. It can be any place that we use regularly in our daily tasks without paying it any particular attention. It is an amazing feeling to be able to release tensions from those minute, very important places. You don't think you feel anything and then later you realize how much your tension has eased. It feels as though you've been working from the inside out. Whatever position I am in, it feels very natural, effortless, but strong. After a pose I rest, staying alert and focused on the positive responses which my body has instinctively created. Being still, watching, waiting, and listening are such important parts of my practice.

Communion with spirit

This is where a communion with spirit is easier, in this quiet, still space. For me this is the true essence of yoga. It is an interconnectedness that gives my body permission to be in a state of freedom. It is a true well-being, a state of healing. Making this connection fills me up. It gives me more than energy, it generates a steadiness for maneuvering the shallow and deep, the rocky and smooth, the fast and slow current of the river called life.

Doing Yoga Safely

The environment

If I were to take a minute and look around the room prior to teaching a class, my eyes would see a clean, airy room with good natural lighting and nonslip floor. Scanning the room, I look for sharp edges protruding and ensuring plenty of space to maneuver, flooring comfortable for bare feet, and ideally sticky mats for safety.

Physical body

Nothing comes to mind more quickly when planning a yoga class than keeping my students physically within a safe perimeter.

Here are a few basic rules in keeping your body safe. First eating should be light or minimal two hours prior to practicing (as the body needs time to digest its food) and practicing yoga too soon could make you feel unwell. Second never overhold a posture or overstretch as yoga should never hurt. Also there should never be any inverted postures for girls during their menstrual cycle (as it can interrupt the flow of the cycle). Bare feet on a nonslip surface are the only equipment you need.

Regarding breathing

It is important that your breathing be as natural as possible. Do not force your breath or hold it. Remember to breathe in and out through your nose with your mouth lightly closed.

Task at hand

Keep your mind alert with awareness on your movement and your breathing. If your mind wanders off, it's ok; just recognize it and bring your attention back to your breath and your body.

Practicing yoga safely with children

When practicing with your child, the key is to make the sessions short, fun, and varied so to keep your children interested and involved. With my own children we started by practicing for about 15 minutes, which included some simple, focused breathing; a couple of animal poses; and then we would finish off with a visual relaxation. Most importantly we had experienced a peaceful time together, an awareness of our bodies, and a sense of revitalization. Begin by practicing on your own until you are comfortable with the technique. Start slow, take your time, and enjoy the feeling of being cleansed from daily stress. After you feel the peacefulness and revitalization, you then will be able to pass the benefits on to your children.

A child's intuition

A child's body is instinctively wise to what it is capable of in regard to yoga. Ask your children to listen to their bodies and this will guide them naturally and safely. All of my children know how to use their yoga and breathing to help their bodies relax, whether it is before bedtime, allowing a restful, peaceful night or any time they feel the stress from the day. The way they learned this behavior was by observing mine. They would come into my room, as kids do, wanting to be in the same room where I was practicing. They knew mommy was always in a good mood when she finished her yoga. That was how it connected. It was something that struck their curiosity, it intrigued them, and of course if one of them thought it was worth trying, then they all wanted to join in. And as for Sam he learned how to help himself relax, allowing his body to move into a natural state of being and self-healing, keeping his body in balance. Over the years he now knows how to utilize this tool, using it as part of his healthy lifestyle and keeping himself free of eczema.

Chapter Two

Yoga postures

Start with the basics

Begin and end every session with relaxation; incorporate relaxation between asanas. Rest in corpse pose, which is the classic relaxation position. Begin by lying down symmetrically, your head and neck in line with your spine. Allow your legs to turn out with your feet naturally turning outward. Place your arms down by your sides and let your palms face up, your shoulders rotating back and down into the ground. Allow your head to turn slowly side to side and then come in line with your spine, your chin slightly tucked in so your neck can be long, and stretch. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your sense of touch. Take your mind rhythmically through the different parts of your body that are touching the mat: your feet, pelvis, shoulders, and the back of your head. Feel Earth's gravity pulling the tension from your body, allowing your body to release tension and tightness.

Next bring your attention to your sense of hearing. Listen for all the sounds you can hear. Listen for loud sounds and soft sounds. Choose one sound and listen to only that sound, excluding all others.

Now bring your awareness to your breath. Just simply notice that you are breathing. You can say to yourself, "I am breathing in and I am breathing out."

As you focus on your breathing, breathe in and out through your nose with your mouth lightly closed. Keep your jaw soft, your throat soft, and your lips lightly touching. Notice your inhalation and your exhalation. Watch with keen attention, focusing only on your breath coming in and then your breath going back out again. Focus your attention on your breath in your abdomen.

Place your hand on your abdomen and begin to notice the movement of your hand with the rhythm of your breathing. As your hand rises, feel your inhalation, and as your hand falls, feel your exhalation.

Keep all of your attention on the movement of your hand synchronized with the rhythm of your breathing. Stay with this practice for five minutes or more. Many changes are coming about physiologically as your body begins to relax.

Basics that apply to every pose

Hold the pose only as long as you feel the beautiful stretch and you are enjoying it. Listen to your body and come out of the pose when it begins to feel uncomfortable or you lose concentration on the pose. Remember that the goal is not the glory of the pose. The journey is the lesson. Give yourself time and attention, watching and waiting for your body to respond to the pose.

Salutation to the Sun Series

This graceful sequence of postures is performed in a continuous flow. It can be done quickly or slowly but as always with lots of attention to your body and your breath. The series works so each position is a counter pose to the previous one. It allows all the muscles in your body to be stretched and your major organs to be stimulated. It is known as the yoga tonic. Practiced daily, it will give you much flexibility and keep your body in good physical shape. It is a foundation of yoga asana.

In Salutation to the Sun both sides are stretched. So the second half of the round consists of the same twelve positions and differs only in position 4 where the right leg is taken back and position 9 where the left foot is brought forward between the hands.

Do full rounds (stretching both sides of the body) as you feel your body needs. Finish with relaxation, reaping the benefits you have created for yourself.

The poses are explained so they can be performed as part of a series or individually.

1. Mountain Pose

This pose brings a state of concentration, calmness, and awareness of your practice. Begin by standing with your feet hip width apart. Bring your attention to your feet. Spend a few minutes letting your toes ripple on the floor. Place one toe down at a time. Feel both your feet with equal amount of weight. Now bring your attention to your pelvis - open and wide, attention to your shoulders - back and down, and attention to your chest - open and soft. Keep your chin slightly tucked in so your neck can be long. Focus your eyes upon something in your vision at eye level. Bring your attention to your breath.

Watch your breath as it gently comes in and out. Feel and imitate the qualities of a mountain ... grounded, still, powerful, and majestic.

Mountain pose, done correctly, is a foundation of yoga postures. It is a pose to do anywhere, any time. It's a great way to give the body a break from the stresses of the day. This position helps correct your posture by allowing your spine to be straight, a bonus for a growing young body.

2. Raised Arm Pose (reaching for the sky)

This pose stretches the abdominal muscles and arms and tones the spinal cord. Begin by standing in mountain pose. While inhaling slowly and deeply, allow your arms to reach up to the sky and back behind you, letting your back arch. Look up and back, keeping your neck soft and relaxed. Stretch only as far as you are comfortable; the distance will increase with practice. Exhaling, bring your arms back to starting position.

3. Forward Bend Pose (hand to foot pose)

This pose is an inverted pose, meaning your head is upside down. This is great for allowing more blood to the brain, improving circulation and it also improves digestion and keeps your spine supple. The most important thing to remember regarding this pose is that it doesn't matter how far forward your body bends.


Excerpted from Healthy Mother Healthy Child by Elizabeth Irvine Copyright © 2006 by Elizabeth Irvine. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Yoga The practice of yoga     1
Yoga Postures Start with the basics     13
Breathing Our best friend     33
Nutrition Nourishing the body     55
Therapies Complementary therapies explained     71
Challenges Where yoga and relaxation can help     87
Expression Tools for expressing the self     103
Family Ritual in family life     119
Home The gift of family     131
Afterward     146
Appendices     149
Internet Resources

What People are Saying About This

Denise Linn

I love this book! Right to the heart of how to make the world a healthier, happier place for our children. (Denise Linn, bestselling author, Sacred Space)

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