Today I am so very pleased and honored to bring you a conversation with Heather of Shivaya Naturals. I first found Heather through her wonderful online magazine Rhythm of the Home. After looking at her bio and hopping over to her blog I quickly became enamored and have now been a reader for several years! Please get a cup of something warm and find a comfy spot to read and join us for an insightful and relaxing conversation.
For me, visiting your blog everyday is like taking a moment to meditate in a peaceful place. Could you tell us about the name of your blog and what it means to you?
Well first, thank you for the kind sentiment, that means a lot.
I first learned of the word Shivaya in my yoga practice from the mantra Om Namah Shivaya. When I researched what it meant, I fell in love with the word Shivaya, which, in a general definition, means that everything is connected. I feel connected to the world around me, I feel the connection to other people, to the natural world, to all living things, and I wanted to create my story from that starting place. Shivaya helps me to remember that everything that I put into words should be about creating connection with others.
I see that you are a foodie! I really enjoy reading through your recipes because they always include a lovely story beforehand. Can you share with us one of your favorite food connection stories?
I think that for me, food has become a source of healing, especially with my children. I always loved to eat. Always. My mom is a great cook, and she has always been a person I loved going out to eat with, sharing recipes, and exploring new food cultures. Our dinner table was a place where we met, every day, rain or shine. We ate together, we talked, we got to know each other a little bit better. The table was a sanctuary, and that was always important to me.
When my own children came along, and when we realized that food was a source of pain and illness for them (all three of my children have celiac disease), it changed my perspective on it’s power, and on how I could use it. I knew that I wanted to keep the deep connection to the love food that I had, and I wanted to teach them the same joy, but I also wanted to make sure that they understood that while some foods are harming, others can heal. That journey has been incredible for all of us.
I’ve been following your blog for awhile now and I know that your kids have some food allergies. What are your go to snacks that work around these food allergies?
We stay away from gluten entirely, and all things connected to it. We also heavily limit our intake of dairy (our children are completely dairy free at this point). I love to bake, just love it, and I have raised my boys to enjoy it with me. Normally everyday there is a high protein baked good that we come up with, like almond meal and chocolate scones, or coconut flour banana bread. We have learned to adapt the things that we love to make it low in sugar, high in protein and as healthy as possible. Our snack times, especially as homeschoolers, seem to also consist of things like dried fruit, easy soups, green smoothies, nuts and trail mixes, hard boiled eggs, and lots and lots of fruit. The funny part about snacks is that I never grew up with them, which I still find an odd part of my childhood. My mom did not believe in snacking, except on a piece of fruit. She felt strongly in three hearty meals a day, and she began with a large breakfast, and went right through into dinner. I really had to struggle to find a snack routine that worked for the kids and I, and we have come a long way in developing a rhythm of eating that works for us. I don’t like to let my kids blood sugar drop, but I also want to make sure that what they put into their bodies is something that they actually need.
I’ve read through every blog post start to finish and I see that you’ve knitted A LOT in the past few years. What was your initial inspiration to start knitting? How many pieces have you knit since you began?
Wow, that is a lot to read through! I began knitting as a teenager. I was one of those girls that was dying to learn what felt then like the lost art of domesticity. My mother was a knitter and a sewer, and I begged her to teach me. At 17 I knit my first scarf, and I was hooked. My inspiration has shifted from one of almost an anthropological study to a true love of the craft. I really enjoy my time on the needles, and like my yoga practice, I find it to be an essential part of my day. It calms me, it inspires my creativity, it allows me to gift those I love with something made by my hands, and it is truly functional in that it keeps us warm and cozy when needed. I like the balance between beauty and functionality, and I think that knitting provides that balance beautifully.
Before my first daughter was born I did yoga 5 days a week. I continued my practise into my first pregnancy. But then it came to a screeching halt when my daughter was born. You’re a mama of three boys and yoga therapist. How have you been able to find the balance needed to keep your practise going on a daily basis? Can you give us some advice on how to practise with babies of different ages (I’ve got a one year old and a three year old).
That is a very tough question, and one that I think many of us struggle with at some point in our lives. I get asked a lot about how I find the time to practice every day, and the answer is honestly that I do not have a choice. My practice is a part of me that I am not sure I could live without. Of course, having said that, I also have to get up much earlier than my children in order to find the quiet time to come to my mat.
Our practice changes as our lives do, that is just a simple fact. Before I had children I taught around 20 hours a week of yoga, and practiced for at least a few hours a day. It was my life and my work, and suddenly my oldest son was born and everything just changed so fast. What struck me the most about those changes was that I did not need to practice the 2 hours that I was accustomed to. In some odd way, I could find what I needed in 20 blissful minutes. In those really crazy days, 5 minutes of breath work and a couple of sun salutations and I was good to go. I think that the only advice I can give is to come to the mat, no matter what. Even if it is only 5 minutes before bed, 10 minutes before the kids and the pets and the craziness wakes up. More important is the idea what we are worth the time that we need to be whole. That is really where the importance of the mat comes in. One round of sun salutations is still enough to remind our bodies to breath through the day, to link ourselves fully into each moment that is about to be before us. That is the gift of the mat, and that is why even a few minutes can have a profound effect. I think that if we strive to have full complete practice, especially one that we had before children, that may be where disappointment can come in.
I came across your post from November of 2010 about the “Show Me Box”. I recently read Project Based Homeschooling by Lori Pickert and it seems like a very similar idea. I think this is an incredibly creative. Can you tell us what inspired it and what kinds of projects your boys have created with these random materials?
I love the book Project Based Homeschooling, and I think that it is a book that would be great for anyone, no matter their educational choices for the children, to read.
That project was one that meant a lot to me, and that I still hold as a favorite post. Long before I read the book, I was a believer that project based learning was as essential part of our children’s education. There is something really neat about giving children a small amount of knowledge, and then setting them free to explore what they can do with it. That particular exercise is still something that we play with all the time. It can be random materials in a box that they use to create something tangible, to 5 items in a bag that they have to pick out one by one and tell a story with, to one simple idea that they pick out of a hat and draw and illustrate a small book with. The idea is to let children run with something to it’s fullest possible extent, and to make them aware that they have the power to create, even at a very young age. I love having a project that I can do with them from start to finish, but I also love the idea of giving them a few materials and seeing what they come up with on their own. That is what makes a good designer, artist, writer, etc.
You would laugh at some of the things that they have created,, but at the same time you would be amazed at how it is has changed them. My oldest has probably been inspired most by project based work, and he will just go into their art room and begin creating with the craziest materials, and will make it work. He can really see how to put together what he wants, and he is resourceful in how to get himself there. For Halloween he created this awesome Halloween House from random materials that he found, and he set it over the bowl of candy we were handing out. It was this cool way for the kids to reach in and get their candy, and he had a ball putting it together. That is what I wanted for them, to be able to not have to ask me what they needed in order to create something, but to see what was around them and to use their own imagination.
I like to meet a smart kid just as much as the next person, and I think that factual learning has a place in our lives, but nothing beats out an innovator.
In less than a month my daughter will be turning three and I have been thinking alot about our homeschooling journey. We’ve been dabbling in Montessori and suddenly Waldorf seems to be calling us as well. As a home learning family do you follow one method or just do what calls to you?
When we began homeschooling our two oldest, I certainly leaned more towards Waldorf education. I think that the Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio approaches help children get a creative and rhythmic start to their lives, and that will always serve them well.
I also believe that every child is different, even in the same families, and the importance of matching their needs is essential for a successful homeschooling journey. My children love creativity, but they also love the challenge of complex mathematics, or learning a new language. We do it our own way, we follow our kid’s passions, and we try and bring them a well rounded education that will serve them well in the future. I am not sure that there could ever be one model of education that would fit all of them together, so putting things together piece by piece is important.
With the change of each season you bring us the beautiful online magazine Rhythm of the Home that inspired creative and rhythm in our lives. Can you tell us five things that you and your family do on daily basis to bring rhythm to your own home?
That is a great question. I love rhythm, and I think that every child (and adult too) deserve a rhythmic life. For us, everyday we wake up and come together and take time to share what we want and need from the day. No day begins without that moment. No matter if we were all asleep in the same bed, or all of us are scattered when the last person wakes, we still find that time.
We come together in meditation once we are all showered and dressed. It is only 10 minutes, but even the 2 year old sits on my lap and tries to be quiet. It is not forced, but it is respected by everyone. The idea was not to teach the children a strict meditation practice, but rather a value of meditation.
We take a walk everyday, rain or shine, wind or hail (ok, maybe not actual hail). The best part of our day, collectively, is this walk. Something about just getting out and observing nature, and playing in the outdoors is important. Living in Colorado, there are trails everywhere. They always offer something new, and they are just a place where the kids can explore their surroundings, observes seasonal changes, and take a deep breath.
The kids take a bath every night. They have since the day they were born, and every day since. I am a pisces, and I love the water. I use to sit in the tub and breastfeed each of my children, sing to them, cuddle with them, and just relax. I believe that water is healing, and that at the end of every day it is good to let the water run over us.
Finally, we say our blessings together. We have a period of time each night where we read to the kids. The older two still love stories, and Landon is finding more patience to sit still for a story. Once that is done, we have a quick good night snack and some warm almond milk, and then light a candle and say our blessings for those that we love. It is a good and quiet way to end each night.