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VIDEO! Three Simple Steps To Help You Relax Anywhere

We all go through it.  We get busy and struggle to connect with the true essence of ourselves.  Whether we are stressed or worried about family, friends, work, etc. it can be hard to find time for yourself and feel invigorated once again.  BollyFit® Founder, Anuja Rajendra will share three simple steps that you can use anytime, anywhere to how to reconnect with your self and feel more relaxed!  Click here to see how you can find peace and calm within your self.


Formality can help weave us together

Read below for Anuja’s February 2014 column in the Ann. The Ann is the informative, critical, and inspiring magazine distributed monthly in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and  

“Anuja, tie my shoe!” the 2-year-old girl politely pleaded.  I smiled and squatted, genuinely happy to help, but an involuntary cringe grabbed my gut, as it does every time a single-digit-aged adolescent calls me by my first name instead of Mrs. Rajendra, Miss Anuja, or my favorite, Anuja Auntie.

I’ve tried to surrender to the reality that many kids today are taught to address grownups on a first-name basis, but cling to the Cleaveresque reality I grew up with–where the younger generation was guided to vocalize respect for the one before it, and the older enjoyed the fruits of formality.

I grew up in an America where, like all my friends, I called my friend’s parents Mr. and Mrs. Ward, my babysitter Ms. Carol and our neighbor Mr. Montgomery.  Carrying on culture from my parents’ ancestors, our family friends–whether lifetime or met in line at the grocery store–were lovingly referred to as Uncle and Auntie.  This helped weave people together.

A parent now, I still refer to many elders with formality.  I don’t feel diminishment to my ego or the relationship by showing them respect for having lived longer.  I expect and hope the same for my children, but more and more adults admonish formality and I feel like a dinosaur drudging up decades-old decency.

I instilled this ideal as a new mom hiring our first babysitter.  Lisa was a 19-year-old college student and I asked her if my kids could call her Lisa Auntie, to make her “help” feel more familial.  Looking back, it seems funny that I asked and perhaps stranger that she said “Sure!”  Perhaps she needed money or, as she hailed from a hierarchical Italian family, she enjoyed the words’ warmth.

Today Lisa is mom to two tots I hope will call me Anuja Auntie.

The next sitter was Lisa’s friend, another college student who became Anne Auntie.  Then Katie Auntie–a 20-something science teacher and mom herself now.  We’ve adapted from insider infancy and our sitters these days run the gamut of Miss Bryn, Miss Taylor and Miss Missy, but my kids appreciate each adult looking out for them, and this doesn’t stop them from having huge fun together.  The labels accentuate childhood–where kids can be kids, adults can be adults, and we all benefit from a growing, extended family.

I’m all for egalitarianism as a working woman and equal partner in a happy marriage.  I chose not to be given away at my wedding and kept my maiden name.  Elders don’t always know best and youngsters should be empowered to exceed age-limiting barriers.  I know my peers care no less about the next generation than our foremothers, despite diminishing formality.  Just look at our inspiring parent communities here in Ann Arbor!

I want for my children the web of support that I had–where they can know through an easy label who is the adult and who is the 2-year-old and enjoy the sense of peace and familiarity that comes from knowing they are surrounded by grownups, most of whom care for their well-being.

I smile when I see my kids ask Mrs. Arnold, Dr. Tim or Elizabeth Auntie to help them with their shoes, or their kids ask me, as we collectively share the buoyancy and burdens of bringing up babies.

Eyeglasses and eye chart

When care is beyond our control

Read below for Anuja’s March 2014 column in the Ann. The Ann is the informative, critical, and inspiring magazine distributed monthly in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and  

Ten fingers and 10 toes.  I soothe.  I swaddle.  I inaugurate and caress my crying, cooing newborn cherub to my chest.  I drift into the epi-duo-real ecstasy that we two are an omnipresent one.

Filtering out the world beyond our shared bed, he is perfect and safe in my embrace, and I in his.  My tears fall on his head, his drool drenches my gown, and I feel them stream together somewhere, singular in sustenance.

Life since that first hospital room has been mostly simple with my sweet and silly 7-and-a-half-year-old second born.  He survived a broken leg while sailing through potty training and dry skin cured by homemade coconut oil from his great-grandmother in India.  Most doctor visits have been “well” and we never needed to check boxes on medical forms that indicated deviation from “normal.”

Today, he bounces heavily on my lap, verging on being bigger than me.  I embrace him as we rock together on a single seat in a scarier satellite hospital room 30 minutes from home.

“There have been changes in his numbers,” I vaguely hear.

I awaken to anxiety and slide us slightly back on the seat to avoid a freefall to the floor.  The silk scarf seems to scrunch tighter around my neck, where minutes ago it felt supple and stylish.

“There’s also a decrease in the size of the right pupil, which I will talk to you about further, but I want you to keep a close watch for any changes and call immediately if you notice anything.”

I squeeze my son to comfort him, and me.  I fear the reality that may soon be relayed upon us.

Outwardly the space is calm compared to the chapter before, when the assistant threatened, “You will need to strap your son down if he does not cooperate.”  She attacked his brown eyes wtih drops of dilating liquid, using a delivery mechanism that, to him, looked like a gun set to fire.

I imagined the sound as it penetrated his squenched-up pupils.  I told him to be brave, that it was just an eyedrop.  But I flinched internally myself, recalling the burning of a boy’s eyes in “Slumdog Millionaire.”  I reminded myself that was not close to reality here.

As the opthalmologist’s lips moved, I let his words flow over but not reach me.  I wanted to reserve space for the calmness that parents fake in the moments before hearing bad news about their children.  I suddenly knew what they already experienced–when a doctor’s lips cease to speak, the space afterward can forever change our lives.

Could it be glaucoma?  There is a family history.  Blindness?  Please let it be treatable.  I waited for the diagnosis as I snuggled with my sweetie/son.

Thankfully for us, the news was a blip compared to what it could have been, and the blimp that is for so many.

He needs to wear glasses.  Not the end of the world.  I let myself find more seat to relax back on.  I’d been prescribed the same at around his age.

I think of an array of reasons why this moment feels pivotal, though probably much more to me than to him.

I sense the dawn of a new visible chapter in our lives, from scouring for superhero glasses, family photos now reflecting the frames, assuaging him after children tease him.  More doctor visits, more forms, more drops.  His learning responsibility for his glasses and appreciation for his sight.

I feel closer to him than ever before, and a new healing human kinship with the millions of brave and inspiring families whose kids have various afflictions from allergies to autism to AIDS.  I pray for them.


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BollyFit® C3 Event with Healing and Education through the ARTs (HEART)

“HEART is interested to explore the intersection between art and health/wellness [with BollyFit®]. Dance is unique as an art form, having the potential to be physically demanding and emotionally expressive, and, as such, can be both physically/emotionally beneficial. It’s cultural and political force is also powerful.”

–Brian Krasnick, Member of HEART

We have enjoyed our latest C3 event at the University of Michigan with the student organization, Healing and Education through the ARTs (HEART).  HEART is comprised of many students devoted to using arts as a mode of healing.  BollyFit® Guide, Priya, led an invigorating dance workshop so that members of HEART could explore the healing of dance.  The dancers enjoyed the fun, fitness, and illumination brought to them through upbeat Indian tunes alongside an intense cardio workout.

Not only did BollyFit® serve as an exercise to these students, but as an art form that lets every individual express themselves through their own movements.  BollyFit® is the best thing that you can do for your mind, body, and soul and HEART’s idea that art can heal one’s body and mind is completely in line with BollyFit®’s goal of doing so.  We can’t wait to dance with these students again soon, and that we can all share the healing magic of BollyFit®!

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A magical birthday party


Read below for Anuja’s April 2014 column in the Ann. The Ann is the informative, critical, and inspiring magazine distributed monthly in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and  



I feel inspired/pressured to create cherished birthday celebrations for my children, but I don’t want to go too far, like the mom who cleverly coordinates cutlery with the cake, nor not far enough, like the mom who’s too busy with her own occasions to rejoice without really reflecting.



So trying to figure out what to do with 20-or-so boys at my son’s ninth birthday party in the vortex of a wild winter was worrisome.



I had confidently convinced my son and his father that our house was the best venue, as compared to the “easier sellout spaces” of past parties, from laser tag to Liberty, even though they were laughter-filled and loved by the kids.



I promised my husband this wouldn’t be a repeat of the seventh birthday party when a light saber-wielding guest accidentally whacked our prized framed sports memorabilia, shattering glass at the feet of frightened friends. The repair costs alone could have covered a Chuck E. Cheese party that didn’t require cleanup.



I pledged to protect our cats from being chased by children, and to detain all drenched footwear at the foyer.



“We’ll have them play games in the yard and serve snacks in the garage!” was my solution. That way, they’d be physically active and our home would be safe. My biggest fear was our yard, which can easily entertain four kids and a sprinkler in August, is too small for five times that many friends who would freeze if we forced them to stay outside for too long in February.



My son suggested that we give him Alaskan Malamute puppies for his birthday, which would solve the party problem — the kids could have an Iditarod race in our yard. He doesn’t know it but I fleetingly considered it.



When I learned of the existence of a real-life University of Michigan Quidditch team willing to visit the homes of local muggles and lead a wizard’s party, I could feel tingles. My son has read “Sorcerer’s Stone” more times than his age and, ignoring my censorship, was reading “No. 7” already, reciting passages by heart. Nothing could top having these young, fun role models lead the charge for our birthday party.



It felt like the warmest day in weeks — cloudy and 30 degrees. The team arrived early to set up and sip homemade butterbeer my dad concocted at his grandson’s request. Their “sorting hat” put the kids into teams without hurt feelings for anyone, the silly student “snitch” donned shorts in the snow with kids squealing with delight in the fresh air, and a former camp counselor turned teammate led the lads in G-rated games that kept them smiling and sitting in one place when we moved indoors.



When the team issued a final “lumos” spell, handing each guest one beautiful team-made wand, it brightened my bleak outlook about having to hand out plastic goodie bags stuffed with more plastic that no one knows what to do with.



This constellation of miracles made for a potion-packed party; I swear I could see sparkles in the snow.