steffanySteffany Moonaz, PhD, RYT-500 is a yoga therapist and researcher in Baltimore, MD.  She began investigating the importance of mind-body activities at just 3 years old, and has always had a passion and a curiosity about the healing power of mindful movement.  Dr. Moonaz spent 8 years at Johns Hopkins University, creating and evaluating a yoga program for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.  In addition to her private practice, she now trains yoga teachers to work safely and effectively with arthritis-related conditions.      Yoga for Arthritis


Rituals for Gratitude and Breathe

My children are ages 8 and 5. Since they were small, we’ve incorporated a gratitude practice into our bedtime routine. We lie in bed together and pass around a “gratitude rock” that sits on the nightstand. We take turns sharing what we are grateful for- past, present, and future.

gratitude rock-heart-shapedWhen they were younger, the kids thought that this particular rock had magical powers. It is glittery and shaped like a heart, and I brought it back from hiking the Grand Canyon with their grandfather when he was 65. Now they know that any rock will do, but this one is special to us. We keep it in a little metal box, painted with beautiful colors.

This ritual helps my children to remember the blessings in their lives and it reminds them to keep dreaming. It also gives me a bit of insight into their day and into their deepest wishes. And it lets me model gratitude for even the smallest things, while showing them how I work to bring my wildest ideas to life.


My breath is my anchor. Whenever I feel challenged or my heart rate rises, I deliberately lengthen and deepen my breath.

I think it was probably during my first pregnancy. I had already been a dancer, a runner, and a yoga teacher, so obviously, the use of the breath is important in all of those. During pregnancy, I participated in a research study where I used a device every evening for 10 minutes. It gave me feedback based on my pulse, which I used my breath to control. I also had 2 natural births, and the breath was critical for moving through stress and pain. But it probably took hold even more as a parent. When my daughter would cry, I’d notice an immediate sympathetic nervous system response, and breath helped to calm that.

As my kids grew older, it became more important to ensure that I was calm and not reactionary, and bringing my best self to my parenting. Of course, it also helps with all of the presentations I give, and the challenges of life as an academic. This takes no additional time from my day, and I infuse that practice into small moments so often that it is almost an automatic response to a challenging moment. I have found this helpful professionally, personally, and certainly in my role as a parent to small children. I hope that this is a behavior that I teach them by example- that they see me cope with a challenge in this way and know that we all have challenges, but we also all have tools.


lisa-green-black-and-pinkMy morning coffee. I know this is not necessarily well aligned with yoga OR a tea company! I was always exclusively a tea drinker. My mom is almost fanatical about tea and feels mistreated when tea is not properly elevated as a morning beverage (ie. every restaurant should serve Earl Grey). But my husband started making coffee in a French press, grinding the beans himself, and bringing me a cup when I am running around getting everyone in the house ready for the day. It is a reminder to take a moment for myself, to accept a loving gesture of giving from my spouse, and to savor a brief moment in the chaos of the morning’s demands.


Share with us a favourite daily ritual that helps you feel calm, breathe and feel gratitude for a chance to win a Libre Infuser!



Comments (18)

  1. Dana


    My morning ritual is to listen to a few uplifting songs while drinking coffee. I may dance and sing to them while doing something that I feel gives back to the community (helping a friend through email correspondence, signing petitions. or something else). This helps me feel less tense about the coming day and feel positive about the world.

  2. Tammy


    I have a cup of my own blend of relaxing tea at bedtime, it has chamomile, lavender, and lots of other healthy herbs in it. So good, and just helps me unwind before bed.

  3. Reply

    Such great rituals Stephanie and I love how they integrate beautifully with a full family life. As a fellow mama I can truly appreciate the value in that and not adding to the list of ‘to-dos’. I’m so grateful for the reminder too, my girls and I used to share a gratitude practice at bedtimes together but that’s fallen away, I still have my own but you’re inspiring me to bring back a shared ritual.

  4. Terri Cole


    My daily walk helps me relax, keeps me in the moment and makes me grateful for all the natural beauty in the world.

  5. loriag


    My daily ritual that helps me feel calm is listening to the Bible on my ipad every morning.

  6. Maamie


    My favorite daily ritual (besides yoga) is taking my dog to a nearby dog park. It’s a state Park with trees and streams. He’s so happy to see all his friends every time we go. It’s easy to breathe deep in nature.

  7. Elizabeth pergande


    My daily ritual that helps me calm down is listening to music…if I take time to just relax then i feel calm right away.

  8. Vilma Pacheco


    My daily ritual is listening to my favorite classical music while enjoying a cup of my special tea.

  9. Carolyn W


    The daily ritual that makes me feel calm is writing out my day’s TO DO list. Knowing what I have to get done, out of my head and on to paper seems to free up room and relax my monkey mind.

  10. david


    I wake up and write in my gratitude journal at least 3 things I am grateful for. It starts my day off right

    • david


      I just realized I have a type o on my e-mail address so I am posting this with the correct one

  11. Gracie


    I take my tea & toast and sit on the front porch; listen to the birds, watch the hummingbirds & just chill

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