Hurdlers Pose – Mommy’s Yoga Challenge

Since I am coo-coo and like Crow Pose it’s no surprise that Hurdlers Pose is the next stop on the Mommy’s Yoga Challenge. Hurdlers also relies on arm strength, open hips and utilizing your core muscles. When warming up for the pose you want to focus on stretching these muscles with low lunges (Crescent Moon), planks and Pigeon pose.

To begin, start in three-legged downward dog.

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Next, flow into runner’s lunge with your right foot out wide pointing away from your body and fixed just outside the mat. Bending your right arm, wedge your elbow under your right thigh, basically shoving your tricep into your hamstring until your thigh is resting on that tricep shelf. Bring your left hand shoulder width and even with your right hand. Be sure to keep your fingers spread to maintain balance throughout the pose.

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Your left elbow and waist will eventually make contact. So the next step would be to gently lower your body onto your elbows and the shelf that has been created by your triceps.

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Just as in Crow Pose fixate your gaze on a spot for balance and concentration. Once you have your spot of focus, lift your right foot from the ground.  Now press into your hands, lean your weight forward, and lift your left foot off the ground so you’re balancing on both hands equally.

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Stay here for five breaths to seven breaths, then lower your feet to the ground. Step your right foot back and take plank or back into downward dog. Sound the applause because you just conquered the Hurdlers Pose!

 

Crow Pose

When I was first faced with this pose I was scared sh**less. Thinking I would fall on my face and that my arms weren’t strong enough I hesitated with even trying. Now, I’m obsessed and this pose one of my top favorite. If you bang out push-ups with complete ease and have the ability to bust out some substantial planks you’ll be able to handle the crow pose. So let’s get started with the first pose of the Mommy’s Yoga Challenge! (And yes I bit the bullet and just did the pictures selfie style.)

First, warm up. The crow pose is no easy feat so make sure you are warmed up before jumping. As I referred to above, bumping out a couple of sets of push-ups along with some planks will get the blood flowing through the muscles you’ll be utilizing.

Next, find a starting pose that works for you. The crow pose  can be started from a couple of different poses:

Frog Pose. This hip-opening pose is actually the same as crow, except in an upright position! Bend down into a low squat, feet facing outward and elbows pressing against inner thigh.

Forward Bend. Stand with your feet a couple of inches apart bent at the waist until you are touching the floor (you can always bend your knees if need be).

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In either start pose, when you place your hands on the floor be sure they are under the shoulders and therefore shoulders width apart. Spread your fingers open, this was earth changing when I started becoming aware of this simple tip for my poses. Spreading your fingers provides more stability once in a pose.

Next, to move into crow pose, bend your elbows slightly, lift up onto your toes and try to position your knees onto your triceps, as high above the elbows as possible.  Basically using your triceps as a shelf for your knees/top of shins. Focus on tightening everything, your thighs against the sides of your torso, your shins into your upper arms and your abdominal muscles inwards.  (To make it easier in placing the knees on the arms, you use a yoga block to stand on in order to give some extra inches to make it easier to get your knees on your triceps.)

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One of the most important things you can do in crow pose is keeping your gaze forward. So be sure to keep your eyes forward.  If you look elsewhere you will lose your balance and end up on your face. Keep your neck long and not arched or angled.

Next, shift your weight into your knees resting the weight of your body into the shelf you created with your triceps. Lift up onto the balls of your feet, continuing to shift your body weight forward. Lift one foot off the ground, then the other.  When you feel practiced and balanced enough try lifting both feet at the same time. Each day is different for me, sometimes I can lift both or sometimes I am a one foot at a time kind of gal.  Once both feet are off the floor, touch the big toes together and try touching your heels to your booty.

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Finally, once you have achieved crow and can hold it for more than a few seconds, you can tweak your form in order to perfect your pose.  Try to straighten your arms without losing the shelf completely and remember to continue to tighten everything inward. Feel as if you are tightening your muscles around the bones, joints and organs of your body and frame. Remember to keep your fingers spread dispersing the weight into the pads of the fingers and not so much in the palms to relieve tension in the wrists. Hold and for 5 to 7 breaths and WAH-LA! CROW POSE!

Comparison is the killer of joy, taking a cue from Bruce Jenner.

It’s so hard to not compare.

Looks, weight, parenting, clothing, salaries, cars, intimate relationships, engagement rings, after school activities, winning goals. A society all striving to be better than one another, all comparing ourselves to one another, all thinking the grass is greener. (I mean I even went as far as comparing my cheek bones to Bruce Jenner’s when his new self popped up on my Tuesday morning news feed. What I should have been doing instead is taking a cue from his freedom to declare who he/she is!)

When does it stop?

I’m the worst when it comes to falling into this trap. As a woman I fall into it when it comes to my looks and my aspirations, a little voice chanting are you pretty enough? are you ambitious enough? is what you do enough? As a mother I get wrapped up in a web of comparison when it comes to my parenting and my involvement with my kids, another voice whispering that mom is doing more than you, look at that mom with her kids every second, there’s that mom winning the gold with leading the girl scout pack and vomiting out Pinterest worthy crafts and lesson plans with each breath. Comparison even ropes me in as a wifeare you having as much sex? are you everything he wants? wives written for television are the standard, you have your work cut out if you’ll ever be that good. 

Comparison is actually killing our joy. But when I think about stopping the madness it would basically mean cutting all links to the outside world. Unfortunately this isn’t possible. So what if we tried changing the way we interpreted all these comparisons.

Where to start is easy: don’t compare yourself to the other person beside you. But easier said than done, so let’s add a dimension: Turn that comparison you are so tempted to make into inspiration. Be inspired by that person and their abilities, be inspired to take your own steps into coming into your own person. Highlighting your talents and your unique qualities out loud.  However, take care to not confuse inspiration with aspiration. Don’t fall into an even tricky trap than that of comparing, don’t aspire to be another. Always be yourself with your own aspirations.

Next, why not put the light we find so easy to cast on others on ourselves. Treating ourselves as our own best friend, celebrating who we are and even what we are lacking.Rather than focusing and envying the seemingly great qualities or belongings of another, why not focus on the qualities that shine in ourselves and what we have in our lives that we call our own. Declaring the person we are is just amazing as the next.

According to yogic philosophy, we cause ourselves pain by desiring things or personality attributes we don’t have, but think that we need. In other words, we harm ourselves by longing after what belongs to someone else. Whether that be a bigger or cleaner home, a smaller waist or bigger boobs, a mommy that doesn’t yell or one that is a cruise director for her kids on a daily basis, the wife who fulfills all fantasies or wears a nightie every night,  or whatever that comparison may be that is killing our joys. Let’s encourage happiness. Striving to be grateful for what we have rather than yearning for new and different things. By finding happiness with who we are and what we have, we also find joy, relaxation, and peace.

I’m finally learning to accept and to cater to what makes me happy and what makes me, physically, mentally and emotionally at rest. Though it may not be what everyone else deems appropriate or trendy, though it may not make the top pins of Pinterest, setting up the right environment for me to succeed in and to feel as myself, I am able to conquer this whole woman, mommy, wife thing I got going on.

Are you accepting??? Or are you just comparing yourself and losing sight of what you should be declaring out loud about who you are, what you have and what makes you happy? As a reminder to myself to let the person I am flourish in the environment I prefer, I’ll end this post with a “Declaration of Joy for Me”. I hope you all follow suit and write-up your own as we go into the busy summer season.

“Declaration of Joy for Me” ~ A declaration of who I am and the environment in which I flourish in with NO apologies:

I need to exercise every day or I turn into a mean bitch.

Most days I choose to wear makeup because it makes me more productive. However, I wear a baseball hat 50% of the time.

I can’t stand going to Costco, it drives me to the brink of madness. Too many aisles, too much stuff, too many samples.

I love yoga not running, I’ll do yoga until the day I die but probably will never run a marathon.

I don’t drink. I was basically a drunk for all four years of college and the three years following graduation. Once I got pregnant I just never had the desire to indulge again, when I do I instantly regret it as my children wake up between 6 am and 7 am. So I just don’t get all the “mommy wine” shit out there.

I am more at peace in grown-up places like bars, libraries, coffee shops, book stores, salons, gyms even wildlife preserves. I seem to lose a little bit of my soul and sanity when I enter something completely devoted to children. It’s a huge possibility that if we ever make it to Disney that I will completely wither up and turn to dust upon setting foot past the entrance.

I’d rather be stuck in a padded room with my three children than take them to the mall. I hate the mall and mall play areas. I’ve been to the mall a total of 3 times in the last 3 years.

We co-slept with all three kids, including the twins in boppees. That’s right … two adults, twins and two boppees in a king for 3.5 months. Maybe that’s why I refuse to let them climb in bed with us now, but will have a sleepover on the living room floor with them.

My kids follow a strict nap and sleep schedule, and have since the day they were born. Doing so just makes our household run so much smoother.

Buying a piece of clothing that costs more than $10 makes my heart seize up. I am obsessed with online shopping.

I feed my kids McDonald’s meats and drink McCafe ice coffees, the words “Medium ice coffee, sugar-free vanilla, light on the cream” just rolls off my tongue as if second nature. I also eat DQ ice cream.

My way of parenting is old school and not modern at all. I am okay with this. I tend to label it as free-spirit parenting 🙂

I hate Disney Junior and it gets under my skin when moms sing the songs from those shows.  I would be happy if the only channels available were Food Network and Crime TV.

I didn’t like Frozen and my son only saw it once, my other two have never seen it. That’s right, I said NEVER.

My living room constantly looks as if a bomb went off and a small tribe of children have taken over my home, but my kitchen is spotless and I make my bed every morning.

I read an average of 5 books to my kids every day but I find pushing them on a swing one of the most annoying things in life.

I am happy spending the entire day inside with crafts, my laptop, coffee, homemade snacks and my kids in their pajamas. Leaving the house is overrated for me.

I am a believer in gluten-free, paleo, essential oils, coconut oil, organics and making most of our meals and snacks from scratch. I visit our local health food store at least twice a week.

And this folks is the environment that I flourish in with the light on the amazing woman, mom and wife that I am.

(*This post was inspired by the MOPS theme “A Fierce Flourishing” for 2015-2016.)

P.S. My selfie stick came in #mommyselfie

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I am Not a Sex Kitten.

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I hesitated prior to posting this out of fear of being alone in my feelings.

I am not a sex kitten.

Using the word sexy to describe myself would be in the form of either sarcasm or a joke.

Unfortunately I am made to feel like a misfit because I am not sexy. Made to feel like a failure because I cannot sport visible garters and thigh highs. I am not one who can fill out a corset in all the right places. I’d look a fool in leather pants and high heels. I do not sleep in lace and silk but rather cotton and granny panties.

I am reminded again and again of my failure at being a sex symbol from Celebrity Apprentice to American Horror Story to comedies such as This is Where I Leave You  to thrillers like Gone Girl. The big boobs, silky hair and long legs found on the screen will not be found here. I am on the verge of feeling sorry for my husband as he sits next to me in my robe and flannel pants with my hair piled on top of my head.

Don’t give me that crap about “it’s the way you carry yourself” … the clear difference I am talking about is when I am walking into a store in my jeans, sweater, pony tail and furry boots with Kleenex and snacks billowing out of my pockets as three little ones bicker about me and I run into a woman with a dewy glow, a deep red pout, lashes full and dark with a butt outlined in the latest skinny jean and a waist emphasized by a body hugging and clickity-clackiting on high heels as she saunters down the aisles. Take a guess on who a man will take a second look at. I’m referring to the scenes in our favorite television shows and movies where the fit and trim wife and mother of 4 greets her husband in a nightie when he gets home from work and he slams her on the kitchen counter for a quickie before the kids get home from soccer practice. WTF? I’m lucky if I can have dinner on the kitchen counter and sippy cups off the ground and a smile on my face when my poor sex-kitten deprived husband walks through the door.

I envy the women who are able to post sexy selfie after sexy selfie. I wish I had that look of pin-up girl and not the girl next door. The ladies who look amazing in the light of their cars as they snap a selfie post-workout or holding their Starbuck’s purchase. I wish they could teach me. The last time I took a remotely provocative picture I was 21 and in college probably a half a keg deep at 3 am wearing less clothing than Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.  To get a better sense of what it actually took to take a “sexy selfie” I did a little investigating. What I found turned my girl next door frown upside down as I laughed and gasped at the images and tips that danced across my Smartphone screen. If you are a fellow “girl next door” rather than a “rap video dancer”please Google “sexy selfie”  and click Images for a good laugh. My feelings of failure were quickly diminished because though I may not be sleeping in the nude with perky big boobs and an ass that women envy, my picture will not be found in this line up of TMI and sexiness gone wrong.

I also find comfort in knowing that at the young age of 31 I still have plenty of time to conquer the “sexy selfie”, maybe take a pole dancing class or two, possibly go an extra step of getting in front of the camera by doing a mommy boudoir shoot and (once the kids are in school) greet my husband at the door in a nightie with a steak and baked potato with the kitchen counter clean for more than eating off of.

#mommyselfie, I Dare You.

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We are going to play a little game of Truth or Dare with a spin. This game means fulfilling a dare that shows the truth to the person we are.

This little game has developed through a spin-off on the idea behind I HATE selfies so I had 48 pictures taken instead. 

The rules:

1. Complete the dare of  taking a minimum of 1 (or maximum of three) selfies. Post these to Facebook in one posting (or 3 separate). Use the hashtag #mommyselfie.

2. Through the same post of your selfie(s) dare three other mommies to complete the challenge as well. (You can always copy and paste the link to this article for rules).

3. No kids or others allowed just your SELF.

4. Capture a selfie that is truthful and real.

5. Be thoughtful in choosing who you dare, make sure it’s a mommy that you rarely see a picture or post of her beauty come through on your Facebook feed.

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Hopefully you’ll find enjoyment and entertainment. I am laughing at mine as I write this. My selfies are of me (1) ready for a dinner with friends, (2) off to school drop off, (3) tired at 4:30 waiting for daddy to get home and (4) on a shower day … I am clean with hair and makeup done 🙂 Through my selfies I found that I own a lot of black, I can’t hide how much I despise school drop-off, I have more wrinkles than I remember and going out to dinner with friends makes me really, REALLY happy.

In playing this game, mommies from all walks of life, ages, and races from all over will be celebrated. A campagne to get more mommies in front of the camera like my dear friend Jenn Spangenberg seeks to do through her photography in Much About Momma Project.  We consistently capture the beauty of our children through the lens of our camera. Mommies are the ones that created that beauty, it’s time for that origin of beauty to shine.

Be on the look out for my selfies coming to a FB feed near you. You could be next … I DARE YOU.

#mommyselfie

I HATE selfies so I had 48 pictures taken instead.

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I hate selfies.

I hate them because I’m not good at them.

I hate them because all I can see are my faults.

I hate taking pictures for all the same reasons.

As I shared in “I Confess”, one of my mommy resolutions was about getting in front of the camera more often starting with my own personal photo shoot with Pretty in Pics Photography owner Jenn Spangenberg.

Jenn amazed me and struck a chord when we got to talking about dreams and artistic passions. She confided in me that one of her goals this year was to complete a project titled Much About Momma. Here’s what it’s all about from the beautiful Jenn herself: So often, mommas are behind the camera, capturing family memories but not in the pictures.  My hope is to get these moms in front of my camera.  I want them to see the beauty that everyone else sees in them.  I want them to have images of themselves at this stage in their lives.  I want their children, husbands, and families to be able to look back at their beautiful mom and wife and remember these days.  I want this to be about THEM.  Many moms are so busy taking care of everyone else that they forget about themselves.  Or, maybe they think about it but feel too guilty to do something for themselves.  It is my hope that moms will take a little bit of time for them.  They need it in order to take better care of everyone around them.

When Jenn asked me if I would be willing to take part by getting in front of the lens I jumped at the chance in order to face my fear head on.

As long as I can remember I’ve never had a great self-image. I have the tendency to pick apart my attributes down to the smallest hair follicle. It is incredibly hard for me to look at a picture of myself without it getting me down in the dumps.  I came up with the solution of avoiding the camera in order to avoid the black cloud that fell over my heart when looking at a picture of myself. Then I spoke to Jenn. She made me realize that I was actually missing out on capturing memories that my children and generations after me would want  to see. And NEWSFLASH, I did NOT want my children to have this same fear of the camera or negative self-image. So I took the leap and headed over to Jenn’s for a morning of 48 snap shots.

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Believe me when I say this was not easy for me. It took a nice long shower and some quiet time before heading over there to build up my courage. Thank baby Jesus that Jenn just “gets me” — she knows what to say and how to make me laugh. All together I was in front of her camera for almost an hour and a half but it felt like the camera wasn’t even in the room. This talented mommy of two little beautiful girls made me feel at ease and as if the camera lens was just an extension of her limbs as she carried on conversation after conversation with me about life as a mommy and a woman. Not once did I feel uncomfortable or shy. Jenn is a true artist of photography and the female heart.

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My hope for all of you mommies out there is to get in front of that camera. Push away the negative feelings or the “busy” that fills your schedule through being a mommy and a woman. Take a breath and take a leap. Take that snap shot.

Please take the time to visit Jenn’s website, Facebook page and blog just out of support to a fellow mommy to celebrate her talent and all the beautiful mommies she will come to be capturing through her story. She is doing a selfless thing with her amazing talent and her beautiful, caring personality. If you find yourself thinking of a special mommy that you want to get in front of the camera, Jenn is currently offering a Mother’s Day special! (Contact her through her website and she will give you the details!)

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Thanks Jenn, you’re an amazing mommy and woman.

#mommyselfie