Category Archives for Washington DC

Introducing: Breathing Space Family Yoga

New Name for the Same Great Classes

image from studiojmm.typepad.comOver the past year or so, the family yoga programing I’ve been building on Capitol HIll has grown beyond just me. (As far as I know, Amalie, Cindy, Kate and Rebecca don’t answer to the name Jen.)

The mission of Breathing Space Family Yoga is to help all family members to experience the benefits of yoga.

Breathing Space Family Yoga is a mobile program that offers classes for all ages from newborn to adult in Washington, DC. Yoga classes include age appropriate postures and movement, breathing exercises, meditation or mindfulness activities, and — in kids and family classes — games, songs and even art.

The website still has a few things undone, but we are excited about the new identity and want you to mark your calendars for our Open House at Hill Center on Sunday, September 8 from noon-3:30 pm. We hope you join us for kid-friendly activities and sample classes for both kids and adults.
You can find also find Breathing Space on Facebook and Twitter.

Be the Change – Mindfulness and Karma on Blog Action Day 2012

Who are your heros? Mine include: Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Wangari Maathai, Lois Gibbs, Mitch Snyder . . .

Be the Change - Blog Action Day - #BAD12
What your answer and mine probably have in common is that heros tend to be people who have consciously decided to contribute their energies to positive change in the world. That is also my definition of Karma yoga.

Yogis toss the work Karma around quite a bit. The popular notion of karma as “what goes around, comes around” isn’t quite it. Different religions and philosophical systems have different interpretations of the same basic concept of the energetic impact of your life’s actions, but in yoga, karma as selfless service is one of the possible paths to enlightment:

The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit kri, meaning ‘to do’. In its most basic sense karma simply means action, and yoga translates to union. Thus karma yoga literally translates to the path of union through action.

Not all of us are prepared to dedicate our entire lives to a cause, but we can all consiously decide how we want to participate in the world.

Need a little more inspiration? In honor of Mahatma Ghandi’s 143 birthday, MC Yogi posted a video tribute:

The Power of We

That’s the theme of this year’s Blog Action Day, an annual event designed to “unite the world’s bloggers by posting about the same issue on the same day, in order to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all.”

The Power of We is a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet half way around he world.”

Ideas for Taking Action: Democracy Requires Participation

You might have heard that this is an election year in the United States. The next 4 years of executive branch governence, the entire U.S. House of Representatives, and 1/3 of the U.S. Senate offices are up for election. Not only that, countless state and local races for state and city government, school board, and more will affect our lives in sometimes very immediate ways.

In DC, for example, nearly half of the city schools lost their librarians to budget cuts this school year. Last spring, DCPS cut staff funding for librarians at all small elementary schools, those with fewer than 300 students. Some schools were able to fund their librarian out of their general budget, others used PTA fundraising money to support their libraries, but that still left 57 schools without librarians. All summer, parents volunteers have been working hard to get funding restored and to make this an election season issue. Mayor Grey, who directly oversees the school system, is not on the ballot but the city council and “State” Board of Education  members for Wards 2, 4, 7 & 8 and At Large members are. What do you know about your candidates?

Perhaps learning about your election candidates seems like a small thing, but as a concious decision, it is karma yoga.

Want to do more? Consider going door to door for candidates to get out the vote. Distressed that DC doesn’t have a vote in Congress and our presidential election outcome is not really in question? Virginia is considered a swing state in the presidential contest and Maryland often has hotly contested congressional races . . .

Hatha Yoga and Karma Yoga

Want to do yoga for good? Yoga Salutes Non-Violence will perform 108 Sun Salutations to raise funds to combat domestic violence on Nov 3 and 11.

How about free yoga for doing good? Lululemon is sponsoring election day yoga classes around the DC metro area, including my 6:30 am class at Capitol Hill Yoga. So get up early, get your yoga on, and hit the polls before the crowds.

Read More Power of We Posts

There are more than 2220 blogs from 114 countries registered to take part in Blog Action Day. Just a few posts that got my attention:

Moms Clean Air Force Embraces the Power of We – Moms Clean Air Force invites you to join them.

The Power of We: A Blogger’s Musings – talks about how taking a stand is stepping out of her comfort zone.

Blog Action Day: “The Power of We – The White House blogs about their very cool “We the People” tool which allows anyone to petition the president directly.

Why Yoga 4 Classrooms? Making Mindfulness and Yoga Part of the School Day

Blog originally posted on

I’ve taught extra-curricular and enrichment yoga classes in a variety of settings:
public and private schools, for children just turning 2 to 12 years, and as part of the school day and within after-school care. In nearly
all cases, the teachers I’ve worked with are huge advocates of yoga for their
students. Not only do these teachers know their kids enjoy their weekly yoga
break, they see the benefits first hand.

Warrior III GroupAmong
the most often mentioned benefits of yoga for children by their teachers are that yoga:

  • relieves tension and stress, something
    teachers are very concerned about as standardized testing requirements
    continue to grow,
  • increases concentration, focus, and attention span,
  • expands imagination and creativity,
  • improves ability to be less reactive, more mindful of thoughts,
    words, and actions
  • builds confidence and self-esteem, 
  • enhances team skills and social interaction, 
  • encourages a fit and healthy lifestyle.

(read Yoga 4 Classrooms’ full list of Benefits of Yoga for Children)

Yoga & Mindfulness Integrated Throughout the School Day

Yoga 4 Classrooms® is not studio yoga in a school setting. There’s no pushing aside desks and chairs; no unrolling yoga mats; no removing shoes; and no 30 or 40 minute yoga class. Yoga 4 Classrooms is yoga integrated throughout the school day.

Open Heart StretchRight at their desks, students can bring their body, mind, and breath together using adapted-for-the-classroom yoga postures and developmentally-appropriate mindfulness and meditation exercises. A 30-second breathing exercise can center an entire room. A 2-minute motor break can invigorate and focus a class for a quiz. A 5- or 10-minute activity can relax, distress, enliven, build confidence, create community, and more, depending on the needs of the group and the exercises chosen.

About Yoga 4 Classrooms

Yoga 4 Classrooms is an evidence-based, low-cost, simple, effective and sustainable tool designed for classrooms, which facilitates students’ physical, mental, emotional and social personal growth. Y4C is anchored in well-validated evidence-based classroom pedagogies, developmental science, cross-sectional research in cognitive affective neuroscience, tenets of positive psychology and secular contemplative practices.

Yoga 4 Classrooms Professional Development Workshop

Y4C logo w registerSCREENThe one-day Yoga 4 Classrooms Professional Development Workshop is open to all classroom teachers, administrators, school counselors, phys ed teachers, health educators, therapists and others seeking to bring simple yoga and mindfulness techniques into the classroom or similar setting for a more peaceful, productive class day.

We cover a classroom-appropriate mix of yoga-based motor breaks, brain boosting movements, breath exercises, visualizations, mindfulness activities, creative movement and community-building games.  We’ll explore wellness and character-building discussion points such as the power of positive thinking, nutrition and being a peacemaker, which address the whole child and also many school initiatives such as bullying prevention, health and wellness and social and emotional education.

Teachers who implement Yoga 4 Classrooms usually report that taking as little as 30 seconds to 5 minutes to practice these simple tools throughout the day helps their class community learn to self-regulate, leading to a more positive, peaceful, productive school day…not to mention happier, more resilient students.

Each workshop participant receives a fully-illustrated, full-color Y4C teacher’s manual, ensuring the program is both easy to use and sustainable for long-term use.  No yoga attire or mat will be needed because we will simulate the classroom setting.

Yoga 4 Classrooms professional development workshops are offered around the United States and online. Find out more at

Yoga 4 Classrooms is Coming to Washington DC

I am so excited to begin sharing the Yoga 4 Classrooms program in the Washington, DC area this fall. 

Yoga 4 Classrooms - Professional Development Workshops for School Teachers

The Yoga 4 Classrooms mission is to transform educational environments through yoga-based wellness training and support, empowering students and educators to create positive, peaceful, productive classrooms that support exceptional learning and a lifetime of health and wellness. 

Y4C is low-cost, simple, effective and sustainable program designed for use in the K-8 classrooms. It's curriculum includes a mix of yoga postures, brain boosting movements, breath exercises, visualizations, mindfulness activities, creative movement and community-building games, which facilitate students’ physical, mental, emotional and social personal growth and address anti-bullying, health and wellness, and character education.

In 2007, while volunteer teaching in a local elementary school, Lisa Flynn, E-RYT, RCYT and founder of ChildLight Yoga, was inspired and challenged by the classroom teachers she encountered to create a yoga and mindfulness-based program focused on the whole child that would also be appropriate for the classroom setting. Since its implementation in 2010, Yoga 4 Classrooms is quickly expanding nationwide and beyond.

Get Started with the Yoga 4 Classrooms Professional Development Workshop

On October 27, I will lead a one-day Yoga 4 Classrooms professional development workshop at Christ Church on Capitol Hill for classroom teachers, administrators, school counselors, physical education teachers, therapists and others seeking to bring simple yoga and mindfulness techniques into the classroom. 

  When: Saturday, October 27 from 2 – 8 pm (includes a dinner break)

 Where: Christ Church on Capitol Hill, 620 E Street SE, Washington DC

 registerHow Much? Tuition of $180 includes:

  • 6 hr. interactive workshop (includes lunch or dinner break)
  • Fully-illustrated, full-color, 230 pg. Y4C Manual
  • possible PDP or CEUs and reimbursement from your school
  • Certificate of Completion

The 230pg, fully-illustrated Yoga 4 Classrooms® Manual is utilized in this workshop ensuring the program is both easy to use and sustainable for long-term use. Absolutely no yoga experience is required. In fact, educators are encouraged to wear their regular, comfortable clothing and flat soled shoes to the workshop as we'll be simulating a classroom experience.

For more information
or to register, visit

Interested in having an entire school trained to implement the Y4C program? Feel free to get in touch or read about how your school can be a Yoga 4 Classrooms School.

On Advertising Efficacy and Other Gems from Lil’ Shute

As I was getting off the phone the other evening, Maya asks:

M – "Mom, were you talking to SunTrust?"

J – "No, why do you think I'd be talking to SunTrust? Who's SunTrust?" (No one in the family has a SunTrust account.)

M – "They are the people you call when you need someone to help you solve your problems."

That, of course, immediately made sense. We've been hearing the same Pandora Internet Radio ad for weeks. Maya is quite effectively primed for the inevitable encounter 14 or so years from now with the SunTrust account rep selling credit cards in exchange for T-shirts in the student union.

Though she sees comparatively few advertisements, we've talked a little bit about them. There are ads every half dozen Pandora songs (wondering if paying for ad-free Pandora is worth it now), at then end of a few of the selections on Netflix, among the previews of some videos, and inserted into new toys. She knows ads are a company trying to sell her things, but her response is often "But I want to buy it!"

Yesterday evening:

M – "Mom! Mom! I can talk while I'm screaming."

J – "Oh, really."

M – In a high pitched squeal: "I LOVE YOU MOM!" Normal voice: "That was talking through screaming."

And We Visited The Enchanted Forest

School let out last week and we spent our first full day off at Clark's Elioak Farm near Ellicott City, MD. We got off to a slow start, arriving at the farm around 1 pm. They didn't quite have to kick us out at their 5pm closing time, but not by much.

Clark Farm - Enchanted Forest

1. Posing with Papa Bear, 2. Sliding out of the Shoe, 3. How she reacted to just about all of it., 4. Greeting the crooked man at his crooked house, 5. Tugboat Pirates, 6. Patting the White Gosling, 7. In front of the rainbow bridge, 8. Second attempt at riding Captain Jack, 9. Everybody Yell Pumpkin!

I found the place thanks to a CertifiKid promotion. If you grew up near Baltimore and were the right age before 1988, this stuff might look familiar. Remembering the Enchanted Forest theme park from childhood visits with Mom Mom & Pop Pop, it was a no-brainer to take Maya to Clark Farm's Enchanted Forest where they are reconstructing the old features. Even without the coupon, the $5 entry price is reasonable. $2 to ride the pony, cow train, or hayride.

Maya had a blast. She RAN from feature to feature announcing every character she recognized. Her resolve that she wanted to ride the pony wavered once face-to-face with a real one, but she persevered and went back again to finally ride. Our final act of the day was to feed the sheep and goats (technically, my final act), and Maya declared that the best part.

Yoga for Runners and Kids

If you haven't been keeping up with me over at Jen Mueller Yoga, you might have missed the following:

Yoga for Runners

Stretch it out

. . . Over many years, yoga has affected my entire life, but in the beginning, that's not why I practiced. When I first started regularly attending an Ashtanga-inspired class at my gym on Tuesday nights, it was to keep me on the road so I could finish a marathon in the fall of 2001.

Back when I started running (which I did when signing up for said marathon) and over the first few years, I was diagnosed with a laundry list of runners' injuries. My ailments included shin splints, plantar faciiitis, patella femoral syndrome, chondromalacia . . . 

Read the rest of Yoga for Runners at at Jen Mueller Yoga.

Check out my Yoga for Runners workshop at Capitol Hill Yoga next Saturday (discounted registration ends 3/24.)

Yoga IN School?


. . . As I let my 3rd-5th grade after-school yoga class into the room this past Wednesday, one of my students had near-panic written on her face. Before she even walked through the door, she asked if she could do her homework instead of participating. "I'll never get it all done tonight," she pleaded. I cocked my head to one side and looked at her. "Yeah, you're right. I need the yoga," she said and headed for a mat. . .

. . . Preliminary research on child-specific benefits include reduced problem behavior, test anxiety, and anger and increased feelings of well-being, self-regulation, and focus. . . .

Read more Yoga IN School at Jen Mueller Yoga.

High Tea at the Mayflower Hotel


Back in July, on a total whim, I purchased a Groupon for tea for 2 at the Mayflower Hotel in DC. The above photos were taken during and immediately following Maya's first fancy afternoon tea.

My original intention for tea was as a birthday treat. But the end of October was so full of birthday and Halloween that fancy tea didn't make the cut. Barely a blink later, we found ourselves in January with the Groupon expiration looming and having read a few reviews of the Mayflower that tea wasn't really child friendly after all. I almost passed the Groupon on via the neighborhood listserv, but another mom convinced me to just get dressed up and go. 

Verdict: No, it's not really child-friendly, at least not for 4-year-olds. The staff was professional, but not warm. I'm guessing that I'm not the only person who purchased a Groupon explicitly to take a little girl to tea because the hostess asked to see it before taking us to our table. Our waiter kept most of his disapproval hidden as he warned me to (I forget his exact wording) to keep a close eye on Maya – implying that she would pour her tea too fast, let it overflow, and burn herself or (worse?) make a mess. Maya was, of course, oblivious to this and I knew she wasn't going to even try to pour the tea herself so we busied ourselves with enjoying our tea.

But I'm sure the staff are getting a lot of little girls in what is normally an adult restaruant now as the Groupon comes due, so we'll cut them some slack. In fact, 3 little girls came in all dressed in their finest during the 40 minutes we were there. The manager, on the other hand, seemed very happy to see when she checked to see if our tea was "just delightful," but she probably doesn't wipe up many spills.

Maya did great, really. She remembered to use her napkin instead of her sleeve (mostly) and to keep her elbows off the table. She tried several of the sandwiches and enjoyed quite a few of the desserts. I doubt you are supposed use your spoon to eat the whipped cream and lemon custard provided for scones, but that seemed a small concession.

The one where I discuss football, sort of

Well, it does take a major solar array on a stadium to get me to blog about football, but that's what the Redskins recently installed here in the DC metro area. So I wrote not one, but two articles about it:

Washington DC’s Football Team Goes Solar – VIDEO

… starting this fall, Washington Redskins' FedEx Field will draw 20% of game day power from their newly installed parking lot solar array. On off days, solar will provide 100% of the stadium's power.

read more on Care2

And then I discuss possible motives on the part of Redskins owner Dan Snyder:

Redskins Go Solar at FedEx Field with NFL's Largest Installation

Love him or hate him, you know Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder makes shrewd business decisions. That's among the reasons the new solar panels at FedEx Field are turning heads. Snyder entered a contract this summer with…


Now back to our regularly scheduled programing . . .

Itsy Bitsy Yoga in DC – Capitol Hill, Logan Circle, Foggy Bottom

Original Post, August 27, 2011:

Have I told you about my new job?

A couple weeks ago, I gave notice at The Nature Conservancy.  While I've enjoyed the last two years writing newsletter articles about their global conservation programs, I'm finding myself more and more drawn to teaching yoga, specifically to kids. So starting this fall, that's what I'm going to do.

Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Tykes - Tree Pose

Some of my classes have already started. Recently, ten three-year-olds and I went on a trip. We packed our bags, took an airplane ride, went swimming on the beach, and went dancing in New York City, all without leaving their colorfully decorated classroom in Northwest DC.

Partial class plan for Planes, Trains and other Mobiles:

pack our bags

  • wash our clothes: twistee
  • dry our clothes: nahbi
  • hang them on the clothes line: half moon
  • iron the fancy stuff: moon toe
  • fold the shirts and pants: toes to nose
  • put everything in the suitcase: forward bend

pack the car: in-out breathing

drive to the airport: red light-green light x2 or x3

check our bags at the airport: ring around the yogi

airplane ride: play The Airplane Song: jump, spin, gallop, dance (Laurie Berkner)

visit the beach

  • make a sand castle: wide angle forward bend & variations
  • read book: sing These Are My Glasses (Berkner)
  • take a bicycle ride

train ride home

Sure yoga teaches patience and mindfulness and is a physical exercise that's good for kids, but it's also wildly fun.

Updated schedule, August 2012:

Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Babies

for 4 week old to nearly crawling babies

Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Tots

Weekend Classes
for Tots! 

for crawling babies to 2 year old toddlers meets

Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Tykes / Little Families Yoga

for 21 month toddlers to 4 year old preschoolers meets

Weekend and

for 21 month toddlers to 4 year old preschoolers with younger siblings welcome meets

Mom & Baby Yoga

for mom with 6-week old to nearly crawling baby present meets

Contact me for more information about upcoming classes or join my mailing list by following the link or liking my Facebook page.

Photo credit:
Preschooler demonstrates tree pose, a pose taught in Tyke Itsy Bitsy Yoga. Yoga Girl photo by Flickr user naturalmom / CC BY 2.0