What’s Love Got to Do with It?

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Do you sometimes wonder if you have chosen the right path? If you said yes, you’re in good company.  I was in this place of fear before I began Stretch What Matters and long after it started. The fear was so powerful, that I almost threw in the yoga mat. I started the business because I had so many reasons to commence. Isn’t that how all great ideas become a reality? Well what if I told that at the exact same moment, I had more reasons not to start? Yup. How’s that for truth? So what happened? What ultimately made me begin? I lovingly said yes to the list that outlined my dream. Mind you, I didn’t say yes to the whole dream all at once. That’s just crazy. Instead, I started with one student and I charged her nothing but the experience I gained. I learned that the experience was more valuable than money. In a sense, I became an apprentice and it was the best business decision I ever made to date. I did this for quite some time and it grew me, quickly. “What about the money?” said Fear. Dreams take time – so I made sure I had another source of income coming in to support myself during my internship. Did you see how love entered that decision?  Pay attention, I’ll show you.  Love is the voice inside you that nudges you in a new direction when a part of you is ready to grow.  Love begins as a whisper and overtime grows increasingly louder when ignored, pushed down, laughed at or is down right bullied. Love invites you to trust it...
Teacher Spotlight: Maryann MacDougall

Teacher Spotlight: Maryann MacDougall

Maryann’s Why In July, 2006, I began a yoga practice after 2 years of walking by a studio. It was time to go in. Within a few years of practice I began to think about a Teacher Training to learn more and possibly integrate it into my speech and language practice and my work with children with special needs. My personal yoga practice allowed me to discover that the principles of yoga can easily be brought to my work with young children as a speech-language pathologist. I found the right training with Stretch What Matters. Breathing, calming activities, focus, understanding emotions, and social skills development are critical early learning skills, especially for children with challenges. In classrooms, implementing simple strategies across the day help children become more self-aware and learn what they need to focus, calm down and/or express emotions. Yoga, incorporated into therapy or in a classroom, does not necessarily need to be about poses (although this, too, is a lot of fun) to be successful. Maryann’s Yoga Dream My dream is to continue my work as a speech-language pathologist and integrate yoga into the sessions. Blending the two brings an opportunity to build communication skills, flexibility (cognitive and physical), and internalizing new behaviors. My strength lies in working individually with children with a focus on the whole child-empowering the child’s ability to see his/her strengths and build on theses skills with guidance, using the Stretch What Matters Yoga system and philosophy. Where you can find Maryann Maryann offers private and small group yoga to children with special needs in an around the Boston area. She can be...
The Doors That Open You Up To Change

The Doors That Open You Up To Change

Doors with a promise of change open up for us every day. What we do with an opened door, is entirely up to us. There have been a number of doors that have led to the creation of Stretch What Matters. One of the doors that felt the heaviest was one I was required to open before beginning a college internship. I was a senior and before graduating with a degree in Psychology, I was assigned to work with adults with special needs employed with jobs entailing assembly line work (packaging products). On the first day of my internship, I was sent into a private office with a large television set. The woman responsible for getting me started, told me that all new staff were required to watch a short video prior to working with anyone on site. Easy enough, I thought. The woman turned on the video and kindly excused herself. She explained that she was short staffed that day and that I should come out when the video was over. What happened next rattled me to my core. As the video unfolded, I realized it was an informational piece on the deinstitutionalization of individuals with special needs from 1960 to 1980. The long process of shutting down and releasing people from formalized institutions took well over 20 years. In this moment, I witnessed real footage of people confined to spaces unbelievable to me. Everything I viewed felt like a nightmare and my whole body felt sick. I was filled with fear, rage, grief, sadness and despair all at the same moment. The door opened. The video ended and I...
Yoga Teacher Spotlight: Jessie Lippi Tuz

Yoga Teacher Spotlight: Jessie Lippi Tuz

Yoga was never part of Jessie’s plan, but today she can’t imagine her life, or the lives of the children she works with, without yoga. After completing the first hour of the Stretch What Matters Foundations Course, she felt a change in herself. True story. That weekend, Jessie began using the strategies she was learning to teach kids – on herself. As a child/teenager diagnosed with ADD, she realized how Stretch What Matters Yoga would have changed her childhood and she decided right then to bring yoga to children. Jessie’s Why I stepped into my teaching career over a decade ago when I was working behind the scenes for Swim Angelfish (a therapeutic swim program for children with special needs). I witnessed how the therapists were making a tremendous difference in the lives of their students and I was inspired to venture down the path of teaching. That experience led me to Barbara Burton, OTR/L and through working with her, my love for working with children became even stronger. Yoga is the perfect vehicle for the services I offer children of all abilities. For over 6 years under the mentorship of Barbara Burton, OTR/L, I have been specializing in implementing sensory motor programming, teaching children self-regulation skills through sensory diets, applying behavioral techniques, and implementing sensory motor programs (including vestibular protocols, postural exercises, MNRI reflex integration, and iLs). In addition, my therapeutic swim instruction as well as my role as an ABA therapist fit perfectly under the umbrella of yoga. Yoga seamlessly fits into all the ways I work with children. It  teaches children how to be the driver of...
That Moment When I Pushed a Kid Too Far Too Fast

That Moment When I Pushed a Kid Too Far Too Fast

Confession time. I have pushed my own kids too far too fast more than once. The most recent time I did this happened on Monday. Let me set it up for you so that you can feel as yucky as I did. Let me start by sharing that my son and water don’t mix very well. My daughter, on the other hand is a certified mermaid. They are just different and it’s all good. Christian has shown me, from the time he was little, that water scares him and that any activity having to do with water needs to be approached with accommodations, modifications, patience and tons of compassion. In other words, I always need to accept him exactly where he is in his relationship with water. Done. Saturday swim lesson registration seemed easy enough. I checked off ‘level 4’ simply because Christian passed ‘level 3’ last summer. So far so good. And then Monday arrived. I had a verbal social story ready and reviewed what he could expect at his swim lesson. To be honest, I didn’t take him far from his level 3 swim lesson experience last year. The lesson start time arrived and my son cautiously approached the teacher. Please note here that he was absolutely wearing a small, manageable amount of fear. I could see it in his walk, hear it in his voice and feel it coming from his body. Yes, I can smell fear, can’t you? As a side note, I am okay with manageable amounts of fear. I actually think it’s healthy (that’s for another day). The swim class was led to...
Is Summer Making You and Your Kids Feel the Opposite of Blissed Out?

Is Summer Making You and Your Kids Feel the Opposite of Blissed Out?

Is summer playing tricks on you and the children in your life? As a yoga therapist, I help children and teens identify what may be causing them to feel uneasy and I want you to know that I witness a ton of uneasiness during the summer months. Don’t worry, the reason summer doesn’t always feel good makes sense and I have a few ideas on ways to bring back the love. Cue Summer When you take a good look at Summer, you see that she is the best bestie you ever had. For starters, Summer is reliable. She shows up on time every year. And how about those gifts she brings? She offers staycations, vacations, homeworkless days and longer nights . . . just to name a few. Uneasiness, where are you coming from? My experience has taught me that some of summer’s gifts are just too much to handle all at once. Let’s face it, Summer’s friends, Fall, Winter and Spring, program us to believe that Summer is not a good friend choice. They do this by convincing us that staying busy and filling up any moment of perceived free time is the most productive and safest thing to do. So when Summer arrives, we are left feeling threatened, careless, lazy and in danger. We even start wishing for Fall to come and save us and the kids we love. Bring back the summer love If you or the children you love are struggling with slowing down and/or having difficulty spending more time together, please know that you are not alone. Life as everyone knows it, changed overnight...