Interview with SOL Yoga’s Catherine De Francesco

Catherine De Francesco founded SOL Yoga after years of dreaming about having her own business. Life was quite busy, prior to her project, and juggling parenting four children, her busy household, business as a real estate and investment agent was starting to cause her to experience a decline in her health and wellness. After she stumbled upon yoga as a means for slowing down while also staying healthy, she found that it affected all areas of her life in a positive way. She wanted to bring that positivity into the lives of others.

Recently, we had the chance to ask Catherine a few questions, and here’s what she had to say.

Interview with Catherine De Francesco

Ronda Bowen (RB): What led you to found SOL Yoga? Can you talk about your business a bit?

Catherine De Francesco (CDF): During my early adult years, I was always very active. In my 20’s and 30’s, fitness was a big part of my life, which typically meant 4-5 intense cardio workouts every week.  By the time I turned 40, my life was one big juggling act! My family moved from Canada to the US. I had four children under the age of ten, a husband who traveled a lot, plus an investment and real estate business to run. My health and wellness was beginning to slide.  Something had to give! And that’s when I found yoga – or more like, yoga found me. I went away on vacation with a girlfriend and decided to try a private lesson, hearing yoga could not only change my body for the better, but relax my mind, increase my focus, and so forth.  One or two lessons later, and I was hooked! So much, I made yoga a regular part of my routine and scaled way back on other workouts. Yoga became my ‘Secret of life’. And by that, I mean it seeped into every area of my life for the better. I became a more mindful person, more attentive, and a better listener. I changed my diet to include more plant-based foods. Mostly, I eased up on having to control things all the time and surrender to what life was bringing me. As a Mother, I believe yoga helps me be more present to my children and their needs.  I don’t want to waste a minute on negativity, and practice gratitude daily.

Eventually, I completed a yoga teaching certification with the dream of owning my own studio. Fast-forward four or five years later, and my dream came true.  SOL Yoga opened in Miami, Florida in 2018, and I’m now opening the doors to a second location in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with more locations underway.

Featuring beautifully designed, extra-spacious, infrared-heated studios, my vision for SOL Yoga is to give people a place to disconnect, to move their bodies and minds.  To feel as though they’ve done something truly good for them – their inner and outer health and happiness!

Infrared heat was very important to me to have in the studios, as this type of heat has been used for centuries for its amazing, detoxifying and anti-inflammatory health benefits.

Along with yoga, each of the locations are beautifully designed with luxe amenities and retail boutiques featuring curated health, beauty and skincare products, yoga gear and apparel. There’s also a smoothie bar, skin rejuvenation atelier and acupuncturist on-site.  Next, I’m introducing SOL Yoga developed skincare and health products containing CBD among other exciting, therapeutic ingredients.

Like so many others, I believe self-care is absolutely essential to keeping-up to today’s busy pace! And sadly, not enough of us are doing it.  It doesn’t have to be yoga per-say, but it must include time for our selves, to do things that bring us joy, without looking at our phones!

My hope with SOL Yoga is make this kind of self-care easier and more accessible to everyone possible!

RB:Can you talk about how one can start adding a yoga routine into her life, and the benefits of doing so?

CDF: If you’re new and just starting out, I highly recommend taking a private class with an instructor to first learn the basic poses and flows. For me, this was the perfect intro that helped me understand the physical components of yoga, while also learning the importance of breathing throughout my practice. Breath is essential to yoga, as it is to life.  If a private seems difficult or costly, there’s plenty of free videos one can find on youtube for example. All you need is a mat and some emptied space in your home to follow-along. From there, you can try classes at your local studio and let the rest unfold.

Like with everything new, it may take a 5 or more ‘tries’ before you get used to this kind of practice.  The more you put into trying, the more likely you will experience yoga’s effect on your body and your mind.  And despite what you may hear from others, you do not have to have a flexible body to do yoga! Not at all. More like, have a “flexible mind”, be open to trying, falling out poses, and letting go.  Like everything in life, the more we let go of what we have planned for ourselves, the more the universe steers us in the right direction. I’m paraphrasing my favourite Joseph Campbell quote.😊

RB: Natural alternatives are important to you. Can you talk about why and maybe share a few of your favorite natural treatments for things with our audience?

CDF:I find the word ‘natural’ can imply so much and then, not a lot as every brand out there likes to say they’re natural…when are they really?  Where possible, I like to stick to things I know and trust, and more often this means eating foods that are in their purest form. Apples that are in-season. Eggs that have been pasture-raised and finished.  Water that’s from pure, natural springs. Where health products are concerned, I supplement with what my diet may be lacking such as iron or collagen for my energy, joints and skin. I also take a high quality probiotic for gut support and enjoy magnesium in the evenings for its calming benefits.

RB: What causes are important to you?

CDF: My first child was born just one pound, and thanks to the phenomenal care we received at the hospital, he is now a healthy, amazing athlete, a professional race car driver in fact! Because of this, I am a big supporter of hospital care programs with a focus on preemies, including Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Canada where my son was born.

Supporting women is also very important to me.  In Miami, there’s an organization called Lotus House which SOL Yoga has partnered with, and always look forward to helping out in any way.

RB: You’re a busy entrepreneur and a mom. What do you do to stay balanced?

CDF: Balance? That magical word we all strive for…lol! Does it really exist? I find more often my kind of balance includes saying ‘no’ to things I would like to do, but know I’m better to save for another time.  And that’s okay.  A daily sweat – whether yoga or a morning run always makes me feel better too, so I include something active every morning I can, scheduling it in like a meeting. I’m also big on delegating. Ultimately, I cannot do everything, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for help, when one needs it, right?! By doing this, I allow myself the opportunity to be more present, versus juggling 5-6 balls in the air.   Thankfully, I’m surrounded by an incredible group of positive, thriving, empowering women, who genuinely can finish my thoughts and sentences!  The support we have for each other and for SOL Yoga is one powerful sisterhood force.

Starting a Gratitude Journal

Having a sense of gratitude is important. You don’t need a special holiday, like Thanksgiving, to feel gratitude for the good things in your life. Instead, you can cultivate that emotion all year long by starting a gratitude journal.

Choose your journal

The first step in starting a gratitude journal is to choose a journal. You can choose a physical journal from your local stationery store, or you can choose to use a digital journal – or even a blog. You’ll want to choose something that makes you look forward to filling it with words each day. 

Make time to write

it’s important to be consistent and build the journaling habit. Especially at first, schedule some time to write in your journal consistently – even if all you’re writing is a paragraph. Even if you’re unable to start with daily gratitude journaling, carving time out consistently will help you feel the benefits. 

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Consider using prompts

When you’re getting started with your gratitude journal, you might not know what to write about. There are some great websites out there with prompts for your journal like the ones from Positively Present, Positive Psychology Program, and Develop Good Habits.

If you get stuck

If you find yourself getting stuck, start thinking of what your life would be without certain things. Sometimes that can help us to see what blessings we really have. If you’re getting stuck on a regular basis, and prompts and flipping your thinking don’t work, you may want to journal less frequently (but still consistently). Something else that may help is going back and reading what you’ve already written.

Photo by Calum MacAulay on Unsplash

Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect

Give yourself the permission to write what comes to mind. You’re not writing for an audience, you’re writing for yourself. It’s okay if what you put down on paper isn’t perfect, what’s important is that you’re getting it out and down on paper so that you can reflect upon it.

Embrace mindfullness

As you journal, you’ll find that you have more gratitude each day, and that your general mood changes to be more positive. If you’re having a rough day, return to that space of gratitude – either in your thoughts or by reading through passages in your journal. Cultivating a disposition of gratitude can help boost your mood in the long-term.

What is something you are grateful for?

Share, if you would like, in our comments. We’d love to hear what you’re grateful for.

Dental Hygiene Tips for Children

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Dental hygiene for children is so important to their overall health. From the time those first baby teeth come in to the first lost tooth to the time that the wisdom teeth either erupt or need to be removed, good care of the teeth can lead to a lifetime of good oral health habits.

In honor of this special month, we have a guest post featuring some tips on how to best care for children’s dental hygiene needs.

8 Children’s Dental Hygiene Tips

1.Baby teeth erupt from 6 months to 2.5 years. Unfortunately, tooth eruption makes gums sore and inflamed, leading to unhappy babies. Use a gentle child’s toothbrush as the bristles are designed to be kind to inflamed tissues.

2. Diet is the key to healthy teeth; limit sugar and starchy foods. 

3. Brush baby teeth with plain water using a soft toothbrush. It will remove plaque, massage gums, and keep kids healthy.  

4. Schedule the first dental exam after the baby’s first birthday. Remember, for kids and adults, plaque is not fully removed by brushing and rinsing alone.  The dentist or hygienist can remove plaque and tartar, reducing the risk of cavities. Some toothpastes, like ClōSYS, slow the regrowth of plaque as well as strengthens enamel. Ask the dentist how often to visit, as plaque build-up varies from one baby to the next.

Image courtesy of ClōSYS

5. Start a routine of a twice daily brush and oral rinse. The two points of emphasis for toddlers/kids are to (1) not to swallow toothpaste and (2) to brush for 2 minutes.  Using a timer can help get them in this habit. When introducing fluoride toothpaste, always consult with your dentist or doctor first.

6. At age 2, children can begin using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.  Fluoride toothpaste will strengthen enamel and protect from cavities.  Choose a gentle toothpaste that does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) as it is known to inflame tissues and cause oral sores. Again, consult a dentist or doctor before using fluoride toothpaste with children under 2 years of age.

7. Be sure to read “Drug Facts” on the label and follow the instructions when using fluoride toothpaste.

8. Parents should begin helping their children use dental floss and/or interdental brushes between ages 2 to 6, and children should be flossing on their own by age 10. Bacteria convert food, debris, and sugars into a slimy substance called dental plaque.  It grows along the gum lines and between teeth.  Getting food and debris and plaque from between teeth is difficult—that’s where dental floss comes in.  Interdental brushes also reach between teeth and can be dipped in fluoride toothpaste before use to increase prevention and effectiveness. 

Learn more about ClōSYS on their website.

What is the Meaning of Equanimity?

Every so often, someone will ask about the meaning of “equanimity,” which makes good sense, as our magazine is Equanimity Magazine. Lumbie Mlambo, owner of Equanimity LLC had the following to share about Equanimity on the Oh So Cynthia blog earlier this year:

“My life was more clearly revealed during recovery from a stroke in 2001 that left me partially paralyzed,” says Mlambo. “I have since recovered, but I consider myself forever a stroke patient.” As a result of that experience, she started a lifestyle magazine in 2009 called Equanimity to share meaningful content for all. The goal, Mlambo say, “is to inspire, motivate, and empower people to thrive and not give up on their dreams but to realize that they have a potential to rise and be somebody and become productive in their communities.

“Equanimity means mental or emotional stability or composure; balance.” In 2013 she founded a non-profit organization with the sole purpose to provide charitable services to aid disadvantaged communities worldwide.” JB Dondolo Inc. is named after her father, JB Dondolo, and the non-profit promotes and develops projects that stimulate growth and improve people’s lives in low-income areas.

When we conduct interviews, you’ll notice that one of the last questions asked of the subject is, “What do you do to bring balance into your life?” This is a nod toward the magazine’s name and the underlying meaning of “equanimity.”

So now, I turn to you, what do you in your daily life to add a sense of equanimity, or balance? Share your thoughts in our comments.