Should Kids Come to Yoga Class?

Little girl makes the slopes

The other day, I walked into my yoga studio, stashed my clothes in the bin marked “Ashley Zehnder” and stopped dead in my tracks. There, in the middle of the yoga classroom was a kid of about age 4 or 5, just waiting to start the class alongside the adults.

I’ve never seen a child in a yoga class before, especially at this studio, so it caught me a little off-guard. And since then, I’ve been doing a little thinking about whether kids should be in yoga classes at all.

On the one hand, I think it’s important for young children to see their parents engaged in exercise. We have a serious obesity problem in this country, and the best way to help all of us to lose weight is to ensure that all of us eat right and exercise appropriately. Kids that see that happening when they’re young might be more likely to grow into adults that do the same things.

But, yoga can also be really taxing on the body. Some of the poses we do in my class put a lot of pressure on the neck, hips and knees. Young people in the midst of growing could do a lot of damage to their joints with these poses, and they might not have enough body awareness to stop something when it seems wrong or uncomfortable.

So while I admire this mother for bringing her child in to the yoga experience I’m also planning to tell the studio to stop allowing children in class. I can’t sit there and let kids put their health at risk while I watch. If the studio won’t comply, I may need to find a new workout space.



Is Yoga Just About Exercise?

Ashley ZehnderLet me say this up front: I am a complete and total yoga nut. I love yoga so much, in fact, that I tell people all about it every chance I get. But often, when I get to talking, people stop me and say something like this:

“Tell me the truth, Ashley Zehnder. Does yoga have a spiritual side to it?”

It’s a sticky question. Many of the people who ask me this particular question are worried that they’ll get asked to join a cult or pray to some sky god when they head to their first yoga class. They don’t want to be involved in something that seems even a little bit spiritual or weird. It’s tempting to say yoga has none of that, just to please these people.

But at the same time, I’d be lying if I said yoga was just a form of exercise that people could just do in order to work up a sweat, without worrying about the rest of it. Because yoga really does have a spiritual component.

Long-time yoga practitioners would say that yoga work is all about respect and balance. The positions are designed to put people in touch with the universe as a whole, and the exercises tend to make people care about other living beings at a cellular level. It’s hard to walk away from a class like this without feeling altered in some way.

But I’ve met plenty of people who have done yoga while ignoring the spiritual message altogether. These people might feel stronger and more in-touch with their bodies and feelings, but they may not feel closer to a spiritual power or a universal message.

So I tell people that yoga does have a spiritual side to it, but that they can simply ignore or avoid this part of the class, should they choose to do so.

To me, just getting people to go to yoga is important. Who knows? Once they’re there, they may have a spiritual transformation they just never saw coming.

Ashley Zehnder

Ashley Zehnder: Should You Have One Wedding Ring or Two?

I thought I’d faint when the love of my life dropped to one knee and said, “Ashley Zehnder: Will you marry me?” He had the most gorgeous ring in his hand, and I couldn’t wait to put it on my finger and make it my own. I almost fell dozens of times in the weeks that followed, because I kept looking at my fingers as I walked around from place to place.

Ashley ZehnderBut it’s been a few months now, and I have a new obsession. Basically, I’m worried about wearing this big rock all day long, day in and day out.

Wearing my beautiful ring daily scares me. What if I trip, fall and my ring comes off? What if I break something and they have to cut my ring off?  What if I catch a prong and the stone becomes loose and falls out? What will I do?And, I am a very active person. I work out a lot, and I do a lot of fun stuff on the weekends, like hiking and sky diving and snorkeling. All of these activities make me feel good about my body and my life, and they’re a big part of who I am. I want to do them, but I want to make sure that people know I’m married when I do them, and yet it doesn’t feel safe to wear that big ring while I’m doing these things.

So I am wondering about a backup. Something like a solid gold band or maybe something in titanium.

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Ashley Zehnder: How I Fit Exercise Into Every Day

People always ask me: “Ashley Zehnder, how in the world do you make the time for exercise?” And it’s a reasonable question. After all, I do hold down a job, manage a family, entertain friends, and pursue passions. All while I’m planning my marriage to the love of my life. At first glance, it wouldn’t seem like I would have time for the exercise thing.

But here’s what I think. I need daily exercise in order to handle all of the other demands of my day-to-day life. It’s exercise that keeps me focused and keeps me sane. If I skip my workouts, I might not be able to handle all of the other tasks I need to complete.

Ashley Zehnder

While my goals are lofty, it does take some commitment in order to make them a reality. And for me, that means getting up at the same time each and every morning, so I can get my workout completed before I head off to work. Sometimes, it’s really tempting to sneak in another 30-45 minutes of sleep, but if I get up, I can pound the pavement and make sure that I’ve done everything I need to do before the workday begins. So no hitting the snooze button.

Read also: Ashley Zehnder: Why You Should Never Skip Stretching After exercise

And I find that working out on the weekends makes sticking to workweek plans a little easier. Even one day off sends the subtle message to my brain that the work is optional. If it’s something I do every single day, with no breaks at all, it becomes a habit, and it’s harder to skip.

So how do I, Ashley Zehnder, fit fitness into every day? Through habit and force of will. If I can do it, you can, too!

Ashley Zehnder – Water Safety Certifications

Ashley Zehnder is an expert swimmer and is very knowledgeable about water safety and instructions. She began swimming at the age of five and competed for her high school swim team in Lexington, Ohio where she qualified for state twice. In 2009 and 2010 she coached at Clearfork Swim Club, the same swim club where she learned to swim as a child, and from 2010 to 2012 she was a Kent State Masters Swim Coach during her time as an undergrad student at Kent State University.

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Ashley Zehnder is a certified professional lifeguard, a water safety instructor, and a CPR-rescue professional. She has become extremely educated in water safety and first aid by taking courses covering those topics. She has taken courses on blood-borne pathogens, oxygen administration, general first aid, and automated external defibrillators. . In her free time, she loves to listen to music especially R&B, rap, and country, complete puzzles, read, cook healthily, and work out. Her family is very important to her. She currently resides in Houston, Texas with her fiancé and works as a server in the area.

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Ashley Zehnder: Healthy Salad Recipe – Warm Quinoa Greek Salad

Quinoa is the new superfood fad amongst foodies. There are, however, unhealthy ways to prepare quinoa. Frying quinoa into cakes or putting too much salad dressing on the quinoa diminishes the health benefits. Warm Quinoa Greek Salad is an excellent dish that takes advantage of all the health benefits that quinoa provides.

Here are the ingredients that you will need:

• Two cups of water
• One cup of quinoa
• One cup of crumbled feta
• Ten basil leaves that have been rolled into a log and sliced
• Pepper to your taste
• Salt to your liking
• Two diced tomatoes
• Ten to 12 diced kalamata olives
• One tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
• Four to five chopped oregano sprigs
• A handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley

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Boil two cups of water in a pot, add the quinoa and stir. When the water has returned to a boil, cover the pot, lower the heat, and let the quinoa simmer for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, combine the tomatoes, olives, parsley, and oregano in a bowl. Once the quinoa is finished cooking, add the olive oil to the quinoa and mix in the tomato, parsley, oregano, and olive mixture. Stir the quinoa with the vegetables and add salt and pepper to your liking. Top the quinoa with basil and feta crumbs and serve warm.

Ashley Zehnder is a server in Houston, Texas. She lives with her fiancé and enjoys cooking healthy meals for the two of them. She is always looking to share her recipes and learn new ones from others.

Ashley Zehnder Member of National Honor Society

The National Honor Society is the United States foremost organization in recognizing high school students who perform at outstanding levels. Students who are accepted into the National Honor Society have exhibited excellence in leadership, service, character, and scholarship. More than one million students participate in National Honor Society activities, and chapters of the National Honor Society can be found in all 50 states and territories including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The National Honor Society also has chapters in Canada.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals established the National Honor Society in 1921. This was the first nationally recognized organization that honored students for exhibiting excellence. By 1930, the National Honor Society had over 1,000 chapters nationwide.

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Since then the National Honor Society has grown to be the largest educational groups in the country. The success is in large part down to the four core principles of the organization. Those principals are: to create enthusiasm for scholarship, to promote leadership, to stimulate a desire to provide service, and to develop character in students of middle and high schools.

Ashley Zehnder is a member of the National Honor Society. She exhibited excellences in scholarship, leadership, service, and character while she was a student in the Lexington School District in Ohio. After high school, she attended Kent State University and received her Bachelor of Science degree in 2012 and her Master’s degree in 2013. She currently lives in Houston, Texas and works as a server. She aspires to work in either the environmental conservation industry, the animal conservation industry, or as a civil engineer.

Ashley Zehnder: Important Tips for Beginner and Inexperienced Coaches

The best coaches are the experienced coaches. This does not mean the best coaches are older, this means that the best coaches have taken their time to learn, observe, reflect, and, therefore, improve their skills and knowledge. Being a coach is very similar to being an athlete except that you have to be able to communicate your skill and knowledge of the sport you are coaching rather than perform your skills and knowledge. Inexperienced and beginner coaches learn this the hard, but that’s how you become better as a coach. Here are some tips that will be helpful for inexperienced and beginner coaches looking for ways to improve their abilities.

The number one thing that all coaches must remember is that patience is a must as a coach. You have to be patient with yourself and your athletes. You can’t expect to become a great coach within a week, nor can you expect your athletes to pick up on what you are trying to teach them immediately. The best coaches are patient because they are able to get the best out of themselves this way and the best out of those they are coaching.

A patient coach will also keep his or her mind open and learn while on the job. The best way for coaches to improve is to learn from their mistakes and their achievements. Good coaches don’t let themselves get stuck in their ways. Instead, they keep their mind open and sponge-like so that they can absorb new information, process new information, and decide what to do with what they’ve learned.

Part of keeping an open mind is welcoming feedback and using it constructively. You cannot go around thinking that you know everything there is to know about coaching. You have to listen to your peers, hear their advice, and then consider what do with it. You do not always need to act upon criticism or feedback; you merely need to keep your mind open enough so that you hear it and understand it.

Recommended read: Ashley Zehnder: Ways to Improve Your Coaching

The best coaches enjoy what they do. If you’ve been coaching for a little while now and you still aren’t having fun, then maybe coaching isn’t for you. If you’re not having fun, you won’t do your job well, and your athletes will pick up on that and respond poorly. Furthermore, coaching is a lot of work, and if you’re not having fun, you won’t complete everything that is expected of.

Another reason to quit if you haven’t been having fun for a while is because you need to believe in yourself. If you’re not having fun, why would you believe in your coaching abilities? You have to believe in yourself because your athletes have to believe in you. If they don’t believe in you, it will be very difficult to accomplish anything. Self-belief is where success as a coach starts.

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, make sure that you have set some time aside for yourself. You don’t want to become too consumed with your job because then you won’t think straight. Set some time aside to do things that you enjoy doing and that are relaxing. You will think clearly if you do this and be able to self-reflect, thus improving your coaching abilities.

ashley zehnderAshley Zehnder is an experienced swim coach and an expert swimmer. She was a swim coach for a few years at the Clearfork Swim Club in Lexington, Ohio. She was also a Kent State Masters Swim Coach for a few years while she was a student at Kent State University.

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Ashley Zehnder: Healthy Lunch Option –Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers

Black Bean and Quinoa burgers are a healthy, filling, cost-effective, and easy to make lunch option. Both quinoa and black beans are high in fiber and protein, meaning that this is a great meal for heart health and digestion.

Here are the ingredients that you will need:

• One can of black beans, rinsed and drained (about 15.5 ounces)
• One Tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and an additional amount for cooking.
• ½ a cup of cooked quinoa
• ½ teaspoon of cumin
• One tablespoon of nutritional yeast
• ½ teaspoon of sea salt
• ½ teaspoon of paprika
• ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper (preferably freshly ground)

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, in a medium-sized bowl, combine all the ingredients and use your hands or a fork to mash the beans. Make sure that everything is thoroughly mixed so that the mixture is almost paste-like and is easy to form into patties.

Recommended Read: Ashley Zehnder – Great Recipe for a Butternut Squash

Separate the mixture into four equally sized balls and shape each ball into a patty that is between ¼ inch and ½ inch thick. Using an oven-safe frying pan, cook the patties over a heat with olive oil. Allow each side to cook for one minute or until brown. After each side has cooked for one minute, transfer the frying pan into the oven and bake the burgers for 15 minutes.

Serve the burgers on whole-grain buns, fresh greens, and any other toppings to your choice.

Ashley Zehnder lives in Houston, Texas with her fiancé. She works out regularly and enjoys cooking and learning new recipes for healthy meals.

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Ashley Zehnder – Quick, Cheap, and Easy Butternut Squash, Chickpea, and Kale Curry Recipe

Unfortunately, cooking healthy meals can be quite expensive and take some time. This does not always have to be true, though. There are ways to eat healthy while still saving money and time. Here is a great recipe for a butternut squash, chickpea, and kale curry that is easy to make and not too costly.

You will need the following ingredients.

  • One can of coconut milk (13.5 ounces)
  • ¼ of a bunch of chopped cilantro to be served
  • One or 2 limes (choose how much lime you would like)
  • Two tablespoons of red or yellow curry paste
  • One chopped onion
  • One peeled butternut squash cut into 1-inch cubes
  • One tablespoon of brown sugar
  • Two tablespoons of fish sauce
  • One bunch of kale with the leaves torn, and the stem chopped
  • 1 ½ cups of chick or vegetable stock (whichever you prefer)
  • One can of chickpeas (14.5 ounces)

First, whisk ½ a can of coconut milk with two tablespoons of curry paste in either a 3-quart saucepan or a Dutch oven. Heat the coconut milk and curry paste over a medium- high heat. Bring the saucepan to a simmer and let the coconut milk simmer for about a minute.

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Add the chopped onions to the coconut milk and let the coconut milk, curry paste, and onions simmer for another three minutes. After three minutes, add the kale stems, butternut squash, chickpeas, brown sugar, fish sauce, and the remaining ½ a can of coconut milk to what has been simmering in the saucepan. Cover the pan and bring to a boil.

Once it has started boiling, bring the heat down again, uncover the pan, and let everything simmer for another eight to ten minutes. After which, you want to add the kale leaves and let everything cook for another two or three minutes. After this, squeeze in the juice from ½ a lime and season the curry to taste. Serve the curry with additional lime wedges and cilantro on the side.

Ashley Zehnder enjoys cooking healthy meals for her and her fiancé. She is always looking for healthy recipes.

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