London mindful Mum Series Presents: Zarouhi, “ZAZ” Grumbar
by Jen Armstrong
Zarouhi, also known as @yogawithzaz, is one of our favourite London Yoga Mums and we are so pleased to be featuring her on our site! With a strong presence on Instagram, and an interesting blog touching upon topics such as making space for you in your life and the depth and nuances of yoga itself.
Zaz lives in the West London area of Hammersmith and also teaches there, and slightly further a field in Fulham and Notting Hill. Zaz originally was drawn to the mat following a motorcycle accident in her 20’s, and she quickly realised that she could benefit from yoga not only in a physical sense but also on an emotional level by bringing some balance into her life.
With over 20 years of practice behind her now, and her roles of mum and yoga teacher, Zaz is a true inspiration to all yogis who, alongside enjoy practicing yoga for creating stillness in the mind, thrive from a stronger asana practice.
We at HERE wanted to ask Zaz a few questions relating to her role as not only a Yogi, but also as a mother. Her Q and A below reveals some interesting insight into her mindful approach to parenting, and also includes some workable tips to take-away for your to use in your own daily life and routine at home which we have summarised into Zaz’s Mindful Parenting Tool box.
Folllow Zaz’s instagram story here.
Zaz talks Mindful parenting:
'has doing yoga made you more able to be a mindful parent and deal with the stresses that comes along with being a mum?'
To me, yoga is an interesting, subtle practice, which creates changes on a deeper level than the physical in a surreptitious way. It’s quite sneaky! My yoga practice has kept me sane during the stressful moments of parenting - most of the time - and I am very aware and tune in to how my children feel in the moment, because this is what we find in mindfulness and in yoga; it is the present moment that matters, not the past, or future. If they are upset about something, it may seem very small, but to them, in that moment it is huge, and as a parent I have to not diminish that experience, but to listen and help them find context and perspective, and the awareness that what they are experiencing will pass, and teach them techniques to deal with those things. Similarly, when there are stressful moments (the resistance to bedtime, a little person preventing us from sleeping, the frantic school run), while like everyone else I may initially feel frustrations, I always come back to the awareness that these times are brief, and will soon be over.
'is there anything special you do to help with negative thoughts in your head?'
Compared to 20 years ago when I was fully in the grip of an eating disorder, my mental state is vastly different. Because of my physical practice I feel stronger and more in my body in my mid-40s than ever before, and I am in a much calmer place of self-love inside. When I do have the odd wobble - perhaps on my way to a studio audition, questioning myself or having a difficult conversation, I come back to the mantra “I am enough.” I inhale “I AM” and exhale “ENOUGH” repeatedly and let it sink into myself. I also remind myself that there is always another day, that I can release negativity and work in solutions to problems rather than dwelling on what I haven’t done. My husband is also an amazing cheerleader and supporter of me as a teacher and mother, and reminds me of what I have accomplished and am working on.
'are there any things/poses that can be done when you only have a few moments?'
Most definitely! Taking time to sit down somewhere (it can even just be closing the door of the loo) to take 5 long, deep inhales and exhales is a great way to instantly create a feeling of calm. 5 breaths takes about 15 seconds (we can all find 15 seconds, even busy mums!), and neurologically, 15 seconds is the approximate amount of time it takes for the brain to send a message to the endocrine system to inhibit the release of stress hormones such as Adrenalin and cortisol. It doesn’t remove those hormones instantly from your bloodstream, but it does give a little space and clarity for you to regain control if things are feeling overwhelming.
I also like to do a forward fold to allow the blood to rush to the head, release the hamstrings and lower back. Sitting in malasana/yogis’ squat is also a great way to release hips and focus on lifting the heart. If you have a bit more time and space, a quick few sun salutations can’t be beaten for getting the blood flowing, and working many different muscle groups when done correctly, and can be modified. When the kids are throwing the occasional wobble and I know talking is pointless, I use ujayi breath to calm myself... or, according to where we are, I’ll do a headstand. I find it relaxing and it usually totally distracts the kids and they want to join in!
'do your kids do poses at home or take mindful moments as a result of seeing your practice?’
I would love to say that my children join me for yoga poses or practice meditation, but usually when they find me on the mat they want to use me as a climbing frame or do acro yoga, which is always fun. Both my children have been able to do kakasana/crow pose and tittibhasana/firefly since they were 4, and headstands and handstands are commonplace at home. My son has also begun to learn the effects that breath control can have when he is upset or frustrated. We do alternate nostril breathing and focus on the inhale and exhale and it’s amazing how swiftly it helps to calm down. I’m so hopeful that that will be a tool he has with him forever.
Zaz’s toolbox of mindful parenting methods:
Be aware of your child’s emotions in the present moment, don’t diminish their feelings. If they are upset in one moment, no matter how small it may seem to you, to them it is huge.
In moments of stress that could push you one way or the other, use the mantra “I am enough”- Inhale “I AM” and exhale “ENOUGH” repeatedly, and let it sink in.
Take time to sit down somewhere (it can even just be closing the door of the loo) and take 5 long, deep inhales and exhales- a great way to instantly create a feeling of calm.
Yoga poses to do when you need that moment of physical release: forward fold, malasana/yogis’ squat, sun salutations or headstand (where possible!)
Using Ujayi breath.
Alternate nostril breathing and focus on the inhale and exhale- an amazing breathing method to help calm yourself and your child.
Being the first of our Mindful Mum Series, we want to thank you Zaz for sharing your mindful parenting tips with us at HERE. It’s so amazing to hear from experts such as you and how you incorporate all you have learn’t through practicing yoga over the past 20 years into your daily family life and role as a mum.
To read more about Zaz and where to find her classes click here.