Mental Health for Youth

Its been a while since my last blog post. Its not been for lack of inspiration more because I’ve been immersed in incredible opportunities of growth and exploration of how yoga and mindfulness play a role in so many paths.

I have been so incredibly lucky these last few months to be able to follow my journey and embark on fun new projects and welcome back familiar routines. I’ve been working with a local Not For Profit as their Youth Mental Health Co-ordinator and being on ground floor in High schools, Jr. High’s and even college talking about Mental Health and positive habits to encourage a healthy mindset. I’ve also been a doula for two incredibly strong and fierce ladies that showed me just how determination and strength of bonds can move mountains. I’ve also been privy to some impressive and inspiring entrepreneurs who have fought tooth and nail to work for themselves, to educate themselves on so much of the backend business stuff the general public doesn’t see, or realize what energy and time that business aspect can take up. This group of women from all sorts of businesses were taking control over their future success and learning how to create and implement systems to succeed, lighten their day to day and be able to ENJOY their lives and businesses.

All of theses projects I’ve been lucky enough to create and be part are all so different in nature, but the essence is very much the same. Its life’s experiment and learning how to better ourselves, in turn enjoying our life. The connection for me is that I get to be a small part of a movement towards strong healthy minds, happy healthy families, and a community of creative, self sustaining and inspiring people. I AM GRATEFUL.

What does this all have to do with Mental Health?

I believe whole heartedly believe that we cannot be alone in all facets of life. Our human nature is to connect, to create bonds, to feel as though were part of a collective, and to BE part of collective. I believe creating opportunities to connect with others and show others we are all there is what keeps our mental health in check.

I sometimes feel alone in my struggles as a mom of three, wife and entrepreneur, and think it would be “easier” and more secure for my family to go back to a conventional job. When I let the light in just a bit I am usually faced with some project, an article, a message from a mom who’s kiddo I am teaching, a yoga class or otherwise that keeps my feet on the ground and the realization that I am so far from alone in this journey. I am reminded how important it is to let our people know that they are important to us. It is our community that keep us feeling connected to ones-self and to one another. I’m reminded of a quote from my YTT “What is, is everywhere. What is not, is no-where”. That sunk in so deep into my bones I often revisit the meaning, sometimes it means something slightly different from the last time I visited, but it seems to always keep my feet connected to the ground.

In one study I have read in the recent past, they recounted how it is not the youth that are the “popular”, not the youth that are the most “bullied” rather the youth that are the “forgotten” population. They somehow get missed. There was all sorts of theories on why, maybe there not given the opportunity for learning skills of resiliency, or navigating the route to a healthy mental toolkit. Maybe there is the assumption because they’re not being bullied they’ll be ok, and so on and so on. If we consider our natural human instinct to connect its so obvious that this “forgotten” population would be the most at risk for struggles with their mental health.

One teacher in the states experimented with this and had the kids in her class to write down 3 classmates they want to sit with next week each Friday. The instructor would keep track of all the names, and the names that didn’t appear at all would be the students she would ensure had ample opportunities to learn resilience and she created opportunities for the “forgotten” students to connect with other students in meaningful ways.

We all have our stories, not one story is the same as any others, but we all have a natural instinct to create our community. Communities look different for different beings, of course; some being full communities, some small, some close some at a distance but still there.

To wrap this all up in true “Yoga with Lori” tone, how does Yoga fit into this idea of finding a community and connection for our mental health? The word ‘yoga’ is derived from two samskrit roots. They are (1) yujir (2) yuj. The Veda used the word ‘yoga’ with the meaning of ‘yoking’, ‘joining’, ‘coming together’ and ‘connection’. So the practice of Yoga can literally be translated to creating connection. I do believe this means more than just finding “yoga buddies” to sit beside in your favourite yoga class. I believe this is because through a practice of yoga we become more self aware, more mindful of our movements, our actions and our thoughts. When we become more aware of all things ourselves, we become more aware of all things universally. Becoming more aware and more mindful of all things includes of other beings.

Practically this open to, or connection to oneself can also mean recognizing if we are feeling a certain way because of “so and so said this, he/she did this” maybe we need to look at “why is that effecting me so much?” “why do I let their opinions, manifest fear, insecurities, self doubt”? When we clear that fear, we are often blessed with a route to our true selves, and self confidence can be a natural side-effect!

Therefore to cultivate self confidence and a healthy mental state in our youth (or ourselves) nurture a feeling of community, a connection to one-another and to the collective. Nurture a practice of mindful living, natural creativeness and respect for body, mind, soul and all beings. Start by a regular yoga practice if all that seems overwhelming and see what happens 🙂

Stay tuned for video’s from Yoga with Lori to help with your at home practice:) 

Doula for Daddy

Funny, in my experience its the Dad’s who can be hesitant regarding hiring a Doula. Many comments like “well its a lot of money to spend just before baby”, “We are having a hospital birth so we will have a nurse”, “I’ll be there to support you through the whole thing and I don’t want someone replacing my role”…. and so on. Of course these are all valid concerns and usually, in my experience, the dad’s will end that conversation with “but you’re pushing baby out so its your decision”, but the skepticism is present. I love supporting theses families because that usually means when baby arrives I get to see dad so thrilled and the look on dad’s face says it all “I’m so glad we hired a doula” !

My Role as a Doula (and certainly all the AMAZING Doula’s I know and have worked with) is never to take over dad’s role. It is rather to help him know how to support, to offer him support and reassure him that his partner CAN do this, she is STRONG and so is he.  I offer practical advise, preparation and calm to the birth. Sometimes the calm I need to instill is in the dad (or partner). It is not easy to see a loved one in pain, and sometimes its hard to remember than this pain is a good pain, it brings baby. Doula’s come with a bag full of tools, real practical knowledge of birth, education and otherwise. They can help you in a healthy and safe way to be up and caring for your babe sooner, offer advise where to seek other support if needed (such as lactation consultants and well-baby clinics) and so much more.

SO to all the Dad’s (or partners) that are wondering if its financially “worth it” to hire a Doula, talk to other dads that have had a Doula! If you are worried about the cost’s, this is quite possibly the most important event in your life, the arrival of a tiny human being, is there really a cost too high to making the entry to this world a happy and joyful event?

Most Doula’s are quite reasonably priced, especially when you consider we are ON CALL until baby is born, we are there for as long as you need us, and we meet you before and after. When you sit down and think about hourly rates, parking and supply costs, many Ottawa based doula’s barely make minimum wage, and on top of that if we have other day jobs or children of our own we are dropping it all to be at your side. Please reconsider when you tell a Doula her cost is too high!

With love and appreciation to all the AMAZING Doula’s and to all the amazingly supportive partners out there!


Workplace Yoga

Have a look at this article from Yoga Times on Workplace Yoga. I’m happy to be part of this movement.

Years ago (at least 10) I remember reading an article about a company in Japan being so advanced that they created a roof-top garden space for their employees to have exercise classes. I remember my initial thought was; “weird…cool! but still weird”. They explained that having a break from the day allowed their employees to be more productive in the later hours of the day. It then went on to say they worked ridiculously long hours, but maintained focus and that employee satisfaction was actually quite high. At the time I read it, and really didn’t give it much more thought passed the “weird.. cool, but weird” As I think about it now, it must have struck a cord as it has sat in my memory bank for this long. It could be related to something a professor (a very wise sociology professor in Cégep, whom I believe is still there, and still on my social media radar!) once suggested to me. She explained it may be a good idea for me to study while doing exercise. She explained that because I was an athlete and pretty active, having the physical movement would help me to retain the information, rather than it be a purely intellectual connection I would feel the information as I moved. I bought that simplified version of why it would help me and it did. Now after many years of study I realize there is so much more at play including endorphin release, synapse formation, memory location, the mind- body connection is so incredibly interesting.

All this to say is that we really don’t need an explanation as to why movement and exercise work, we can feel it. It is only to obvious for some to use movement as a tool for success. The simple equation when we relate this to our jobs is; work+exercise= job satisfaction, higher productivity. A win for the employers and employees. I have recently been introduced to teaching in a corporate building. I have a standing class and I love it. I wasn’t sure I would at first as it is a different type of class, shorter because of lunch hour restrictions, less time for chatting and sharing (forming personal connections is something I love to do) but the amazing part is that the men and women that come in, REALLY enjoy it, I can feel the release and the tension lifting as they settle in. I’ve been paying close attention to their faces and body language and it is remarkable how much lighter, softer, more confident they leave from when they come in. Even the small suggestion of breathing into the belly can be a huge benefit physically and emotionally, and make all the difference in how the remainder of the day unfolds. A yoga practice may make a world of difference in stress levels to employees and we have all heard of how lower Cortisol levels are key to physical, emotional and mental health. Perhaps this company in Japan that was “weird and cool” was incredibly forward thinking 10 or so years ago. I’m not saying we should start building gardens on all the roof tops in the downtown core, (although it would be amazing, I can’t imagine the logistics of that, especially with Canada’s winters) but holding a yoga class is a good start. It seems more and more workplaces are seeing the benefits to offering “brain breaks” and exercise at the office, to those pioneers in Japan, I am happy you did what you did. Upward and Onward to the forward, innovative employers of the world.


A Gift of Presence

I consider myself pretty fortunate these days. I got to spend some time Friday afternoon with my daughter (we shall call her Beans) at an amazing location, off the beaten path. Her wonder for the world makes me smile. Every tiny bird that flew by us was to her amaze, she played with sticks, stones and pine cones and I watched and let her explore. The energy was simple, BE  the venue promotes this energy in the most natural way of course as it is a Yoga Retreat, but what made it more magical was that Beans seemed so at home and so free to take in what the world offered her. She was experiencing everything with such wonder, on a path I had walked several times, she gave me insight to experience it, not just walk it. So I started to wonder what it was that made it so different, I had walked down the path and more than appreciated the beauty of the place. I heard the birds, taken in the beauty, felt the trees and the stones, at least I thought I had. Something made me stop and be present in that afternoon with her. As a yoga instructor I often say in a class “let go of what brought you here today and give yourself the gift of presence in this moment and for the time we share” these words are all to familiar but for the first time myself I felt this presence on a whole new level. As Beans and I held hands and she stumbled with her new upright movement I felt so much joy and was reminded of a time I had nothing else to do but be present, I remember as a kid heading down to be by the water close to my home and just being with a few friends, maybe a little innocent mischief and lots of laughter. The feeling of “being” is something I fear some of the kiddos today are missing out on. We have all heard it being said; “too much screen time, too many structured activities, too much this, not enough that…”. This train of thought is why we are seeing more yoga in the schools and more mindfulness being talked about. IS it really working? As a children’s yoga teacher, I’m thrilled that it is more common. My fear is that yoga becomes more regimented, mindfulness becomes something kids are graded on. I would love to see children’s yoga as more of a medium to encourage movement, creativity, healthy habits and tools to keep the sense of wonder that my Beans had so naturally while in nature. So get outside, teachers I encourage you to think outside the box… teach to your curriculum but encourage wonder and experience life with your kiddos move your bodies, open up the channels your kids will thank you for it and so will their families. I am so fortunate to live in a community with a school that already does this so well, and so fortunate to have friends in the school system that really embody a sense of wonder when teaching and hold the passion for sharing that wonder with their kiddos, students, friends and more. The Little Feet Yoga philosophy on movement for our kiddos is really something I believe in, it aligns so nicely with my own experience and ideals and hope you all take a moment to check it out.

Shout out to a few moms, teachers, and otherwise that are inspirations in keeping the childlike wonder alive in the world; Liz L. Kate I. Allysun W. Julie F. Catherine L. Terri N. Linda M. and of course my momma for letting me be a kid, get dirty, play with rocks, plash in puddles, sing silly songs, explore the world.. but most of all letting my kids do all of that and so much more, because “hands can wash, so get them dirty” xox


A QUICK blog- I was inspired by this photo I took many years ago at my friend Catherine Lesage’s Little Feet Yoga class. I love this image, I believe if my memory serves me this is a mom and daughter really playing with yoga. I recently had a yoga student of mine (an adult) send me a little message after a particularly challenging class that explained how much she loved my classes, she reminded me that I do offer some challenges but always allow space for humor and laughter. I am reminded to teach from my heart, from where I am at and offer my own flavor on my classes, teachings that both Catherine (LittleFeetYoga) and Sue (Energies of Aliveness) instilled in me, thank you both for this gift.