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The Story Behind the Name

Here is what we read at Yona Yitzchak’s bris  today:


Thank you all for being here today to witness us becoming a family and welcoming Yona Yitzchak Reinhorn into the Jewish community.  We would like to share with you the meaning and significance of the names Yona and Yitzchak.   We’d also like to say a few words about three treasured relatives in whose honor we named him.

About the name Yona:  In mystical Judaism every word and phrase has a numerical value.  The name Yona has the same value as the phrase Koach gadol, or “great power.”  Also, Yona is the Hebrew word for dove, and dove is the symbol of peace.  Yona, you were born big and strong (with koach gadol), and we wish for you to use your great strength, to wage peace in the world.


Yona’s middle name is Yitzchak, which means “he will laugh.” I’ve always loved the idea of this name – a wish for someone to laugh.  Barrett and I laugh a lot together, both with each other and at each other.  Also, Barrett has always loved the story of Sarah, Yitzchak’s mother in the Torah.  She was well past childbearing age but God told her that she would have a son.   She and Avraham both laughed in response, which is why he was named Yitzchak. Yona, we can’t wait to laugh with you!

Also, Yitzchak’s half brother in the Torah is Yishmael, who by Jewish and Muslim tradition, becomes a forefather of the Muslim people. Through Yona Yitzchak’s blessings of peace and laughter, we wish for him to bridge the gaps of understanding in the world.  Yona, we will help you reach out to others who are different from you, and to practice tikkun olam, which means “to repair the world.”


Yona Yitzchak is named in honor of 3 special relatives, of blessed memory. We love being an aunt and uncle, and we want to honor that special role by naming our son after one aunt and two uncles of ours.

Loy Wayne was my uncle and my mother Carolyn’s brother.  He was always the life of the party, and I can still hear his laugh and see his shining eyes. He was so helpful, and you could count on him. He would be the first to make the 3-hour trip to the airport to pick me up when I visited Kansas, and he would make sure I had a good time while I was there.  Yona, may you be as dependable and fun loving as Loy Wayne.


Yoli was my maternal great Aunt.  Barrett and I visited her on our trip to Israel in 2008.  Yoli was very outgoing and generous, and known for hosting parties.  She survived Auschwitz with my grandmother Ella, and moved to Israel after the war.  She passed away last year, just before our wedding.   Yona, may you have an outgoing and tenacious spirit like Yoli.

Yonel was my paternal great Uncle, and a favorite from my childhood.  He had a generous spirit. I think fondly of the unique and cutting edge presents Yonel gave me. For example, I still display in my office a 50 euro bill that he gave me, from the first year they were issued. Yona, may you be generous and forward thinking like Yonel.


In closing, Yona, we have wished upon you many traits:  generosity, dependability, tenacity, peacefulness, humor, and more.  We love you and can’t wait to see who you become in the world.  And for all of you who have joined us here today: thank you for already being a great influence in Yona’s life, helping him to embody these qualities.

More pictures!

My Birth Story

As I’m a prenatal yoga teacher who has worked with thousands of pregnant women over the last decade, naturally students greeted my first pregnancy with great joy and enthusiasm.   Many people have asked for my birth story, so here it is!

For background, I should say that I think birth is important.  The way a birth happens and the way a mom and baby are treated often affects the way new parents feel about starting their parenting journey.  So, my husband Gadi and I wanted to carefully consider our choices, options and alternatives in order to have a safe, healthy and happy pregnancy and birth.

I could spend a whole post talking about why we chose a homebirth, but it will just have to suffice to say, that’s what we decided.   We chose a woman to be with us who has been a midwife for over 20 years and is a mother and grandmother.    We spent hours with her in the course of the pregnancy, getting to know her, and learning from her.  When the day came, I felt comfortable trusting her to guide us through a safe birth.   As an aside, we also developed a relationship with the midwives at a local hospital, who agreed to give us prenatal care on a reduced schedule along with the full care from the homebirth midwife.   It felt good to us that they had a record of our pregnancy in case we or the midwife opted at any point to transfer to the hospital.

So here goes:   I went into labor on my due date!  We never told anyone our due date because we didn’t want people to get fixated on a day, when due time is a whole month!  (See my blog post about due date vs. due time for more information).

On Sunday and Monday (June 26 and 27) I taught prenatal yoga classes.  I was feeling very achy and couldn’t imagine another 2 weeks of pregnancy (the end of the due time window).   I was really hoping that all the achiness I felt was a sign that labor was imminent, but I know how the mind can play tricks on you.   As a result, on Monday I tried to rest the whole day.   I read a book, I didn’t move much except to walk to my class and teach it, and I stayed hydrated.   In retrospect, I think this was my version of nesting!  I’m so glad I did this, because I needed a lot of strength for the coming day.

I woke up early Tuesday morning, wondering if my water was going to break.  I felt wet, and sure enough as I took the 10 steps to the bathroom, my water broke.   It was enough to be sure it was my water, but not a huge gush.   I broke a glass at the same time, so as Gadi and I cleaned up the water, we also had the task of making sure there were no shards of glass on our floor!   My water broke more in the process, and with the frequent gushes, out came every towel in the house to soak up the mess!   The work of cleaning up put me into labor right away, and we called the midwife to let her know.   The contractions were frequent enough and strong enough that she was at our house by 9am.

I found sitting on the birth ball helpful, and surprisingly, hands and knees position not as helpful.   I love to teach hands and knees pose in prenatal yoga, but it made the contractions more intense, which so early in labor, I didn’t need to do.  I progressed quickly and within a few hours I was in the birth pool to handle contractions better.  I threw up while in the tub, which is often a sign of transition, and the second midwife arrived so that we were ready in case things kept moving fast.

In this time, it’s interesting to reflect back on how I handled the labor.   I think it was all physical and mental yoga practice!!  Gadi bailed water on my chest or back every time I had a contraction to keep me warm and focused.  I used the rhythm of that like I use rhythmic movements and breath in yoga practice.  I also used spontaneous mantras.   When I would feel a contraction coming on, I’d say things like, “Yes!  Yes!  Feeling good.  No problem.  Breathing.  Letting go.  Calming down. “   Sometimes I would say all those things in one stream of consciousness, and sometimes just one thing.   I remember as things would get really intense, I’d swear, but I’d always reframe.   So, I’d say, “Oh, fuck! OW!  I mean   Yes!  Keep it coming.  I’m ok.   I’m ok.”  Talking my way through really helped.   In between contractions, I rested completely.  I don’t remember thinking about anything except how to relax and let go.

Though it seemed like labor was going fast, turns out there was a hitch.  By the late afternoon, I was getting to a stretchy 8cm dilated, with a lip of cervix.   The lip wouldn’t go away… for the next 12+ hours.  We’d make progress – the cervix would continue to change, but not enough to be completely dilated and ready to push.

This is where having 2 experienced midwives turned out to be critical.  Anywhere else, I’d be on the clock and being diagnosed with failure to progress.   At a hospital, that could have meant pitocin, narcotics, epidural, Csection, or all of the above.   At home, it meant lots of different positions, resting without pushing even though there was a strong urge, homeopathics, verbal support, constant reminders that the baby was ok.  The baby’s heart beat was checked frequently throughout labor and with every contraction once we got to pushing.  It was always strong and steady, which helped me stay positive – if the baby could do it, I could do it. I was a bit on the clock with these midwives too, because my water had broken, but they never scared me with that.   Instead, they worked hard to keep me moving forward.

By 5am Wednesday morning, the lip was cleared and we were ready to push.  I was tired, but had stayed pretty well hydrated and was trying to keep some calories in with honey, Gatorade and juice.  The pushing was unpleasant, but I knew it would be a strong sensation of stretch.   We took it slow, the midwives supported my perineum with compresses and finally, at 7:27am on Wednesday June 29, out came our baby!   All 9lbs. 2oz.  of him!   I didn’t have any tearing, and as soon as the baby was placed on my chest, I picked him up to see that he was a boy!

His name is Yona Yitzchak Reinhorn.   The meaning behind his name is again, a whole other story/blog post 🙂

What I learned from our labor:

–          Prepare for birth.   Prenatal yoga, good nutrition, regular appointments that lasted 1 hour and included discussion about everything, 8 weeks of childbirth education.  It all contributed to a good birth outcome.

–          Put yourself in hands you trust.  I don’t think I could have had an intervention-free birth with a practitioner I didn’t know.   One of the many benefits of homebirth.

–          Use every available tool you have.  I literally had a whole bag of tricks, and music for hours lined up.   I didn’t use any of them, but I’m so glad I had them.   Gadi would remind me of these options.   In the end, with his help, I just went inside.

–          Don’t let anyone “estimate” your baby’s size.   If the midwives had guessed I was going to have an over 9lb. baby, I would have been scared.    There was nothing to be scared of because I didn’t know, and nothing about him hurt me.

Last little bit:  Gadi was amazing!   You *need* amazing people surrounding you at birth.   It doesn’t have to be your romantic partner, but I was *so* glad for all the preparation he did too!   When I doubted I could go on, he said what I needed to hear.   When I needed help focusing on how to relax, he’d try one of many relaxation scripts we’d developed in the months of pregnancy.   When I knew exactly what I needed (hours of alternating cold washcloths on my face), he patiently sat next to me and did what needed to be done.   We really did birth together!  Love you, G!

That’s it for now.   On to loving up this baby!!

Male Yogi Perspectives

It’s the nature of my job – I spend a lot of time with women.   I specialize in prenatal and postnatal yoga, so I know women’s experience of the childbearing year expertly.

But I teach more regular yoga classes than prenatal/postnatal.  And about a quarter of my students in regular classes are men.    And I really like the men that tend to come to my classes – they’re open, funny, and bring a vibrant energy to their mat.   And, in general, men’s bodies do move differently than women’s bodies – a huge generalization, but nonetheless this has been helpful to me to remember.   I learn a lot from the men in my class and I’ve really enjoyed befriending them.

I interviewed a few of my regular students, who have been practicing consistently for at least 3 years, and found out some interesting things about them and their journey into yoga.

First, all three of the students I interviewed are physically active in other ways.   M cycles, C runs and swims, and B goes to the gym.  Their yoga practice complements the other physical activities, and balances them out so that they don’t feel like they overexert too much in one area of their body.   Interestingly, for two of the three, yoga is now their main form of physical movement – they feel like the  other exercise they do weekly is more to supplement their yoga practice.   And one said that when asked now what his main exercise is, he says, “Yoga.”

Also, the male yogis mentioned that a big part of their yoga practice is mental.   The primary reason B practices yoga is because it makes him “relaxed and calm.”   M wrote: “On longer [cycling] rides, the concentration I have developed in yoga has come in handy.   I focus on movement, breathing, relaxing, shoulders, neck, face…turning the pedals over, one after the other… and smiling.”

Lastly, all the yogis see sticking with yoga for the long run partially because it’s been so helpful with staying uninjured and even healing old injuries.   C says: “It’s pretty clear that yoga helps a lot to manage the injuries, stiffness and aches that gradually accrue over the years.”  Because of his yoga practice over the last 6 years, he’s avoided recurrent back spasms he used to have every few months, and also managed to be pain and medication-free from sciatica, which was a regular ailment of his.

B ended his interview saying that he really couldn’t imagine a time in his life where he won’t be practicing yoga.  In many ways, as I look at their answers, there’s nothing particularly “male” about their responses.   For me, it’s nice to think about the universal gift that yoga offers everyone.

A giant thank you to M, B, and C for taking time to reflect on their practice!

See you on the mat!


Fall Yoga Outside!

Don’t mind the pajamas in some of the pics — when I’m on vacation, I stay in pj’s until late in the morning!

My dear friend Emily and I are having some yoga “play” here – one of my favorite things to do with yummy friends 🙂

partner down dog

Partner yoga downward dog – this feels great on Emily’s sacrum when my toes press back and up.


maybe someday i'll touch my head

Now I get to have a little fun!   Maybe someday my foot will touch my head 🙂


warm up wheel

A little warm-up wheel before the grand finale…


partner wheel

Ta-da!  A double wheel pose!   Both yogis should be able to do wheel pose, and bottom yogi has to be strong to lift the top yogi!


Soak up the yoga and the love – do some partner yoga soon!




Befriending the Backbend

“When the asana is correct, there is a lightness, a freedom.  Freedom comes when every part of the body is active.  Let us be free in whatever posture we are doing.  Let us be full in whatever we do. “  – BKS Iyengar

I have a love/hate relationship with backbends.   I love them because they are stimulating and energizing – who needs coffee when you’ve got some good backbends under your belt for the day?

But then I hate them because they’re hard – they require awhile to warm up before you can properly do them.  I have to practice at least 30 minutes before I can do more difficult backbends, and then I have to spend at least 15 minutes releasing them so I don’t have an achy back afterwards.   They also need to be repeated in a practice several times in order to really work in them, and after you’re done with the first, you rarely want to move on.   So, it’s a full hour practice for me, much of it pushing myself.

I also hate them because they show me the state of my practice – and when they’re stiff and stuck feeling, I know I haven’t been practicing with enough intensity.   And that’s how they’ve been feeling lately.   So….

It’s time to do a little backbend challenge!   I’m commiting to a month of backbends in October, my birthday month.  It’s a little Iyengar tradition to do dropbacks on your birthday – sometimes practitioners do as many as they are old (for me that would be 33 this year), and sometimes practitioners do 108, the sacred number of yoga.   Mr. Iyengar, now in his 90’s, still evidently does dropbacks!!

Here’s a beautiful video of a dropback. I’ll be using it as my inspiration – yes, I can do dropbacks, but no, I’ve never done any significant number in a row!  I don’t think that will be my goal in October, but who knows?  Stay tuned and check in with me on how my backbends are opening up as I commit to a more regular practice.

Anyone care to join me on my backbend quest?

Love to you all!


Some Postive Changes in Hospital Births

First and foremost, I’m a yoga teacher.  I teach all adults, and I specialize in prenatal and postnatal yoga.  But in my previous life, I did a lot of activism, in public health and human/civil rights.  My passion for the last decade has been working with moms in the childbearing year, and of course, a huge focus of our work is on laboring and birth.  So, I like to share positive news and trends in the pregnancy/birth world!

One of the reasons I think yoga is so important during pregnancy is that it helps you *trust* how healthy you are.  When you know from deep within that you are healthy and that your baby is healthy, then you can advocate for yourself if needed.   As valuable as hospitals and their well-trained staff are, navigating a hospital birth is often a minefield of interventions and restrictive policies, many of which can be unnecessary.   Two recent articles highlight some positive changes happening, in large part because families are advocating for them!!

First, hospitals are finally starting to lift the ban on drinking and eating in labor!   Can you imagine working hard for 14 hours (average length of labor for first time mom) and not eating or drinking?   That’s crazy!  So for years, informed mamas have snuck in snacks to their labor rooms, because they know they need fuel to make it through labor.   Now, hopefully, families can feel free to openly nourish their laboring women in the hospital.

If you’re pregnant, advocate for yourself ahead of time by letting your care provider know that you reserve the right to eat or drink (if you want) during your time in the hospital.

Second, we have a long road ahead of us, but a recent article in a medical journal is finally recognizing that routine induction of moms in their due time leads to a huge increase in the incidence of Cesarean section.   It’s so important to avoid medical induction if there is not a medical reason, and yet, half the moms in my class struggle to push back against eager doctors (and midwives!) who want to induce.

If you are a mama seeking to avoid CSection, talk to your provider early in your pregnancy about their induction rates.   Ask your provider if they routinely induce, and when.   I recommend if they routinely induce at 41 weeks that you seek another provider, and let the original provider know the reason why!   As a consumer, you have a great deal of power to change the way medical providers practice, especially when the science backs you up.

And of course, through it all, practicing yoga regularly with give you the motivation, determination and COURAGE to grow your baby, birth your baby, and parent your baby the best way you can.



Pregnant Parsva Konasana

What is that Savasana feeling?

What is that quintessential Savasana feeling?

I just got home from a week long vacation, in which I did very little yoga.  I couldn’t wait to get into a routine at home again, including a regular yoga practice.   I rolled out my mat on Sunday afternoon, and just fell on it in happiness.  After about 30 minutes on the mat, I took my first Savasana (did you know you can do that??  Multiple rest and relaxations in your yoga practice??)

The feeling was exquisite.   Everything in my body was vibrating!  It felt so good to physically notice my toes, to feel the weight of my body sinking into the ground, to imagine my imprint on the earth as I let go.   Because I had just been on vacation, I wasn’t yet thinking about lists of to-dos.    So, even though I was on the clock, having to teach in an hour or so, I felt delicious.   I could just float through and on the sensations of deep relaxation.

My teacher Don has a phrase that he says during Savasana: “Notice any pulsing, tingling, streaming sensations.”   I’ll use this occasionally in class, and I also try to come up with other evocative language.   If you’re at all a “word” person, then it will be worth your while to notice the words and phrases that work for you in your yoga practice, whether you hear them from  a teacher or come up with them yourself.  The words that came up during this Savasana were “thrumming” and “vibrating.”

I had a sense of deep well-being.   At one point, I was saying Well-Being over and over, which is really nice if you think about it.  Smiling and sighing a lot (you know how much I encourage that if you go to my class).

Afterwards, it felt so clear to me *why* yoga makes such a difference.   When you have that experience as part of the back drop of your day, you can draw on it to help you with difficult situations.   Instead of reacting in anger or defensiveness, you might be able to take a deep breath, feel compassion, and try a different, more effective tack.   That’s what happened to me!  It was wonderful to know that my yoga practice was good for me, and for the others around me who benefitted from a more soothing response from me.

They say the effects of yoga practice last for about 48 hours.   I think that’s more or less true – of course we’re all different, and so are our yoga practices!   But if you can give yourself a little yoga (WITH Savasana of course) at least every other day, I think you’ll notice some changes, both on and off the mat.

Happy to be back!


savasanaCircle lululemon picture 🙂

Yoga Journal’s Boston Conference

Way back in April, as part of my bachelorette weekend, I did part of the Yoga Journal Boston conference.   I don’t think I had been to a yoga conference since 1999 – they’re huge and very consumerist-oriented, so sometimes they are a turn-off to me.   I lose the yoga in all the hubbub!

But this was actually really great for me.   I needed a weekend of intensive yoga – no teaching, just doing my own thing.  It was wonderful to take care of my hamstring and shoulder, and go at my own pace.   There was a sense of less ego and performance for me in this conference than I probably had 10 years ago at my last conference.   Injury and experience both will humble you, I guess!

I saw some teachers I’d studied with before and to whom I wanted to make a little pilgrimage.  David Swenson, Shiva Rea, and Beryl Bender Birch were all great, and it was nice to be in their energy again. Each one is so different!  It’s good to study with lots of people.

New for me was Desiree Rumbaugh, an Anusara teacher.   I have always liked Anusara, but just haven’t pursued training because I like a lot of other styles too.  I’d never studied with Desiree and I’m so glad I did!   She’s got a lot of energy, and she teaches well.   She reminds me of my teacher Amba with her infectious laugh and joie de vivre.  I did a handstanding workshop, and though I’m very proficient in handstands, I learned a little of the Anusara approach, which is definitely different than any other approach I’ve learned or intuited on my own.   I’m considering another workshop with Desiree later in the summer, because this short intro was not enough!

I also had an introduction to Julie Gudmestad, who had written the Anatomy column in Yoga Journal for forever!   She’s a physical therapist and yoga teacher, and I did a course with her on the rotator cuff.   It was great because my rotator cuff has been getting aggravated easily in the last few months.   She had some really helpful information, and in general, the conference helped me zone in a bit more on some of the things I am doing in my teaching that are probably contributing to the problem.

So, do I recommend conferences?   Yes!  But sparingly.  A conference once every 5 years or so is plenty for me.  If you’re interested in studying yoga more intensively, a conference is a good way to shop around for potential teachers, and could even be a good way to explore one topic with many teachers.   For example, if you wanted to work on arm balances, you could do a conference and pick sessions that help you learn a bit more about arm balances (word to the wise though – these conferences are tiring, so make sure you don’t injure yourself overdoing it!).

Once you have teachers you love, seek them out and learn from them.   Most teachers who inspire you will be a deep well of information and transformation, good to learn from several times over many years.   I think there’s beauty in going deep with one teacher or tradition, and while a conference doesn’t give you that, it’s a valuable sampling.

Now get on the mat!


A Good Excuse for Being Away

I got married!!  Hence, my hiatus here on the blog and in my monthly newsletters!

A lot of people give advice when you’re getting married, and I found it breaks down into equal thirds.   1/3 of the advice is complete bollucks, 1/3 is good advice that you’re not going to take because it’s too late or doesn’t apply to you, and 1/3 of it is something you end up using.

The best advice we got?   Try to be in the moment!!   So many people told us the wedding would be a blur.   Several women told us that they were still so busy coordinating on the day of the wedding that they weren’t really present.  Lots of people said we NEEDED to have a videographer because that’s the only way we’d remember the wedding.

That was some bullocks for us – no video needed!  Instead, we planned a lot and worked hard.  For the actual weekend, Gadi and I were really *present* and the whole experience blew my mind.    Lots of others seemed to have a great time too, which was nice, but it ROCKED for us.  I remember everything so vividly!  Of course, we’re also trying to write everything down and collect pictures from everyone, because we know someday we will start to forget.

Interesting right?   That was what a lot of people missed about their own wedding experience – being in the moment – being present.   For me, even though there was very little yoga asana happening in the week leading up to our extravaganza, we tried every night to debrief with each other and really soak it all in.   It felt for me like a lot of my yoga training came into play each day in order to go with the flow of it all.

At 2am the night before our wedding, when I couldn’t sleep, I finally turned to the mat, and it felt SO good to breathe deeply.   In general, the times when I feel most present in my life are on the mat or in the studio teaching.   It’s a really familiar touchstone at this point.   I knew in that moment on the mat, in the middle of the night, in a hotel room, the day before my wedding, that everything would be fine. Even if I was only getting a few hours of sleep before the marathon day of getting married (I had a good makeup artist to hide the circles if need be!).

Thanks to everyone for your advice, even if I didn’t take it 🙂 Hearing about other’s experiences was enough for us to really plan out our weekend so that we could be there with people who’d traveled hundreds (and thousands) of miles to be with us.   And so we could really be there with each other, in the moment, as we made a big commitment!   It was, for sure, a high moment in our lives!


Just married!!

Notes from the Field – Week 1 in the Yoga Odyssey

I always have a *terrible* time keeping up with the blog during the Yoga Odyssey, but I’m really trying this time!   Seeing as this is the first week of the Yoga Odyssey, and I’m so immersed in the program, I thought I’d share some highlights of what we’re experiencing.

There’s a community bulletin board as part of the program.   People share a bit about their yoga journey, their experiences during the practice, and questions (and answers) they might have.   It’s fun, and new and different each time!

I’ve been thinking about our demographics as I’ve read participants’ introductions on the bboard.  There have been some fun things I’ve noticed: 

 We have a mother-daughter combo!  In October we had two whole families participate which was also really fun.   I like watching them write each other on the bulletin board J We have at least two sibling pairs this time around, and of course, several friends practicing together “virtually” through the Odyssey.   It makes me happy that this is a project people can share together.

We also have a lot of new moms in our program, in large part because I teach prenatal and postnatal yoga.   I think the moms have started to bond over the joy and challenge of having young children, and finding the balance in order to be able to take some time out for themselves.   

Finally, we have several people from out of the United States.   One participant commented on the interesting sensation of being a little out of phase with the majority of the US-based participants.   She was finding it an interesting challenge to wake up to practice “while everyone else is resting sublime in sleep.”   I’ve thought of that too, when I get an email at 3am in the morning from someone.   Of course, that doesn’t always mean they’re in a different time zone from me, but definitely we are not in phase 🙂   That’s the beauty of this – you can do it at any time.  Because I won’t be teaching a class at 3am any time soon, but you may want to practice at that time! 

Anyway, thank you all for the first week – it’s been wonderful for me so far!

Love and light,


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