All-Ages Fundraiser Yoga Class in Memory of Eliana Ortiz

Rhiannon invites yogis of all ages to celebrate the life of Eliana Lucia Ortiz (May 4, 2012-March 28, 2016) in a special fundraiser class on Sunday, May 1 @ Meridian Hill Park, DC and shares her story below:

“In every darkness, there is light.”

I remember the first time Eli came to my yoga class at lil omm yoga studio. She seemed too young for the class, and at 2 1/2 years old she was developmentally behind all of the other students, including her fraternal twin sister Emi. I quickly learned that she had been fighting for her life since infancy, overcoming a heart transplant at the age of 1, spending most of her short life in and out of the hospital. 

Despite these roadblocks she was full of determination, strength and a light that shone out of her smile, warming the entire studio. She completely stole my heart. And although she was my student, she ended up teaching me a whole lot more about life, love and inner strength. 

Sometimes coming straight to the yoga studio from the hospital, her loving mother would hold her in her arms while singing our silly songs and dancing around the room with scarves and bubbles, trying everything in her power to bring lightness to the heaviness of their situation. Even on days when Eli felt terrible, she would gather up enough strength to do a handstand at the wall or rest next to her sweet sister during sivasana relaxation, the two of them cuddling up on bolsters and propping their feet up the wall, breathing with hands on their bellies. 

On the 2 year anniversary of Eli's heart transplant, Whitney came right to the studio from the hospital to tell me about how Eli had shown off her yoga moves to all of her doctors and RN’s. Tears welled up in my eyes as she told me how Eli took such pride in showing off her yoga strength. Eli was a lover, but when it came to her life she was nothing less than a fighter. Despite her failing health, Eli was the strongest child I’ve ever worked with, her inner strength, determination and resilience emanating from her tiny body each time I saw her. 

My heart sank when Whitney reached out letting me know why they hadn't been in class for a few weeks. Eli was in rejection, a battle she ended up losing on March 28th at 3 years and 10 months old. 

As our community figures out how to cope with such sadness and loss, I felt that a yoga fundraiser to honor her life and joy was the best thing we could all do to begin to heal. And because I know it's what Eli would want for us. 

Eli is with me always. Each time I step in to a classroom or on to my yoga mat I will think of her. Each time I need to draw upon my inner strength, or find light in darkness, I will think of her. Each time I remember to choose love while fighting for what is important, I will think of her. 

Her short life is a reminder to seize every moment. To fight for happiness and joy. To breathe, dance, play, love and move in your light each second you are alive. Eli's life touched me so deeply. I feel so lucky to have been her teacher and to have danced in her radiant light.

Please consider supporting the Eliana's Light Fund to help in the development of a new holistic and complementary care initiative at Children's National Medical Center that will support children and their families through regular care packages, healing support, and connection to resources available in the community.

After spending so much time in the hospital over the years, her family is dedicated to supporting other children and families in the same situation to help reduce stress, improve the ability to cope with trauma, and promote healing. I hope you will consider joining me in supporting this family and this initiative. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you feel moved, please share with your friends and loved ones. 

Love and Light,



lil omm loves the fitCene!

Pleasance interviews Mary Jo Slidell, one of the founders of the fitCene, a community fitness movement.  Learn about fitCene's mission and check out some upcoming events below! You'll want to check out fitCene's annual membership, which includes many benefits including package discounts at many popular local studios including Zengo, PureRyde, and more.

unnamed-2_copyfitCene founders Mary Jo Slidell, Jill Wiener, and Lauren Rice

Why did you start fitCene? We saw a unique opportunity in this area to connect women across neighborhoods and schools over a common interest- fitness and health. There was not a central source of local fitness-related information, or an easy way to connect with other local, active women. We also did a survey last summer that revealed that most women in the area were unaware of all their fitness options, were not fully satisfied with their fitness routine, were looking to try new things, and preferred working out with the fitCene was born.

What is the mission? and how can we can get involved? Our mission is to inform, inspire, and connect active, local women. We want women to join the fitCene and become engaged members - both online through our website and Facebook group, at our events, and in their communities. We want them to try something new or share something they love. We want them to join us for studio, community, and speaker events, to make new connections, while further educating, strengthening and uniting local women. And we are always open to suggestions!

Tell me a bit about your favorite ways to move….
I love to run and I love to dance. I run for fitness, but also because it relaxes and inspires me. One of my most favorite things to do is to go on a long, sunrise run in a new city, with my favorite playlist. I also love interval work at the track as a way to change things up. As for dancing...I look for any excuse to do that! I especially love impromptu dance parties with my three kids.

Tell me one goal you have for 2016! I turn 40 in 2016 and my goal is to reclaim some time for my family and myself. I have trouble saying "no", but that is also because I really enjoy being involved and meeting new people. But over the years I have spread myself too thin across work, volunteer, and social commitments. This year, I am going to scale back and focus on down time.

Check out some upcoming fitCene events:
The following are exclusive sample classes for fitCene Members and cost $15:
  • Equinox, The Cut, Feb 9th at 11AM
  • Sculpt Studio Megaformer, Feb 18th 6:30pm
  • Zengo, Feb 28th at 1pm

plus more events found here

We also have a Spa Night at Nails by Tammy on Feb 4th at 6pm to benefit Girls on the Run.

And a newly scheduled event on Feb 25th that will feature free full-body scans and a speaker.

To learn more about fitCene's membership and benefits, click here.


Baby & Me YogaFit, Itsy Bitsy, or Playtime?? Which class is for best for me?

Our signature postnatal and family programs offer unique ways for moms to connect with their babies and each other.  We offer several different options for the postnatal mama and hope this guide can help identify the best fit for you and your lil one.

bL5lYhw8bLkYhahiKyOwWkX790i4eGa1ekWAz-wojjEItsy Bitsy Yoga babies greet each other!

Baby & Me YogaFit
These classes blend traditional yoga (safe for the postpartum body) with low impact strength training exercises where baby comes along for the fun! For example, exercises can include squats holding baby, sit ups kissing baby's nose, etc.  Small weights will be offered if baby is napping or wants to play with friends.  This class is recommended for mamas with newborns to pre-crawling babies.

Itsy Bitsy Yoga Baby
This session is yoga for the baby-- developmentally appropriate poses for baby on their backs, bellies, or in your loving arms. Moms learn some beautiful songs and infant massage inspired strokes that can calm a fussy infant. Poses can also aid in digestion and promote deeper, better sleep.  It's also a great time for parents to connect, breathe, stretch, and find support. This class is recommended for mamas with newborns to pre-crawling babies.

Playtime classes are adult practices where children of all ages share the space. A great option for families with multiple children. Expectant mamas welcome! Newborns often hang out in a car seat or blanket next to a parent's mat while toddlers can play with our toys and each other off to the side (still in the same room). Older kids are welcome to practice alongside a parent, do homework, or just watch. It's very fluid.  Even students without children are welcome to this practice!  We offer both YogaFit and Yoga Flow Playtime classes. 

Please note, registration is due per adult.


Special Relaxation Offers for lil omm students @ Balance Centering

lil omm student & friend Lisa Schumacher, LMT is a native Washingtonian practicing Massage therapy since 1996.  She is licensed in DC and MD and offers the following services: Zero Balancing , traditional massage, massage cupping, Burnham Systems Facial Rejuvenation: Rejuv Miracles , Myofascial release, Deep Massage and BioEnergy work.


Balance Centering Conveniently located at 4000 Albemarle St. NW Suite 202 in DC, directly across from the Tenleytown metro.

Lil Omm students who come in for massage, Zero Balancing, or Face work to get a free added value service for a first time visit of one of the following:

a) a honey-lift moisture mask - infuses your skin with moisture leaving it incredibly soft

b) extra 10-minutes devoted to feet

c) 10 extra minutes of facial rejuvenation

d) face micro-cupping

Here's a list of effective approaches to releasing stress offered by Lisa.

Deep Massage

Experience the benefits of new Deep Massage techniques learned during my recent studies with David Lauterstein; noted expert in the field.

What is it?

Deep Massage is the product of David’s  exploration of the evolution of touch therapies in the last 50 years.

This work explores a very novel approach to bodywork using touch therapy that affects clients deeply, not necessarily with more pressure, but with a more profound connection, with powerful therapeutic benefits for body, mind and spirit.   Deep Massage is influenced with the concept from Zero Balancing of integrating energy with structure for soft tissue with additional influences from Rolfing, Cranio-Sacral and Myofascial release.

Integrating energy and structure connects to the nervous system and signals it to calm down.  If the nervous system is constantly on high alert, no amount of massage therapy will produce the serenity you seek.  Feedback from a new client "I feel reborn". 

Additionally this work includes focused foot massage : Heel and Sole for  Heal and Soul. 

Zero Balancing

Interested in Massage without undressing, Therapy without talking and expanded consciousness without mediation or drugs?  Try Zero Balancing (ZB for short) 

A ZB session releases deep tension in bones and joints in a very effective and efficient 30-40 minutes on the table.  Afterwards you may feel lighter, looser and more in sync with yourself.

ZB can help you find a better "normal".  

Facial Rejuvenation : Rejuv Miracles 

Look younger and more refreshed  with a session of Burnham Systems Facial Rejuvenation:  Rejuv Miracles.  As a certified practitioner, Lisa has helped both men and women of all ages feel revived with softened fine facial lines, and improved skin quality.

What is Facial Rejuvenation? It's a multidimensional approach to improving your appearance. It affects not only the skin but also engages the nervous system to create total body relaxation.  In addition, it calms the mind, body, and spirit to create positive emotional shifts as well.  

Whatever you choose, you will receive work that can release stress on a very deep level.

Book your appointment at

Click the “schedule now” widget or send Lisa an email with your day and time preferences ( Please send a note when you schedule that you are a Lil Omm student so you can receive one of the complimentary add-on services included at the top. 

Office Hours: 
Friday 10am-7pm 
Saturday 10am-5pm 
Sunday noon-6pm 
Monday 1pm-7pm 


Meet Sharlotte Fedewa! Our new YogaFlow/Playtime teacher

Starting in October LO will offer our signature Playtime class with Sharlotte on Wednesdays @ 4pm.  In a YogaFlow/Playtime class adults and teens can enjoy a vinyasa practice while children of all ages are invited to share the space.  It's a wonderful way to share your practice with your family.  Infants often nap in carriers or watch mom/dad from the mat, while tots play with friends, and older children can practice or simply observe, create, or do homework.

Sharlotte Fedewa is an ERYT, Yoga Anatomy, soon to be 85 hour pre-natal trained!

My Yoga Journey began in 2008 when my College dorm offered free yoga classes. I was hooked. I loved the way my body felt after doing yoga. I still love how I can always come to my mat and melt away the world for an hour or two. Yoga helped me concentrate better in school and manage the stress of my cocktail serving job. On my 22nd birthday, August 29th 2011 my  life took a life transformational turn when I dragged my sister Katie, with me to Italy for an intensive 200 Yoga Teacher Training. After a month of waking up at 6am for the Ashtanga primary series and learning that yoga was much more than just asana, I became a yoga teacher. My life was absolutely transformed and I decided I wanted everyone to feel the way I feel when I practiced yoga.

I have taught many places including Michigan, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Boise, Missouri and now Washington D.C. I settled into Joplin, Missouri in June of 2013. Joplin needed a lot more yoga so, I decided to open up a yoga studio, Treehouse Yoga despite the fact that I was 7 month pregnant. I could fill a book from the learning experiences from owning a yoga studio. The love I received from the Joplin community made my heart melt. It felt good to be able to help people who never had a yoga option before. My sister Katie and I decided Joplin would benefit from having more yoga instructors so, we designed our RYS and taught 20 yoga teachers to take the lead. Most of the teachers are still there benefiting the Joplin Community with yoga daily.

Besides yoga I love playing with my Daughter Roslyn, Joshua, my amazing fiancee, hiking, hooping, food, crafting and my most favorite thing to do is travelling! The Inca trail in Peru is probably the most amazing place I have ever visited and hiked. The Amalfi Coast in Italy is another favorite where everything is flavored lemon and the Italian food is amazing. I am also learning to play the Ukulele. I am so honored to be apart of Lil Omm. This studio has so much heart and I am happy to become part of the community! I want to know more about you too so, come say hi after class and tell me something interesting about your life!


Meet LO's Krista Mason

Get to know LO's Krista Mason!  Krista teaches Weds 8am Gentle Hatha & 9:30 Open Yoga, Thursday 12:30pm Energetic Flow, and some Tues/Thurs in our Barefoot Bootcamp @6:15am.


I began my yoga journey with a Shiva Rea DVD in my living room while my baby boys napped….I take that back.  I began my yoga journey when I used my breath to get through the birth of both my boys……I just didn’t realize, at the time, that I was doing yoga.  What drew me to the practice was the connection of breath with movement of the body, the deep emphasis on breathing in the fullness of life and on allowing the breath to be the cornerstone of movement.

Grace has never been a strong point of mine, and I am downright laughable when I dance (it doesn’t stop me from dancing though!), but yoga made me feel graceful, beautiful, fluid in spite of myself.  It allowed me to move and connect with my body and with my surroundings in a way that I hadn’t done before.

I wish I could say from that very first Shiva Rea DVD in 2006 I have had a faithful practice, but I cannot.  Life would get in the way, kiddos and work would get in the way.  Although I did not have a faithful practice, I always loved when I was able to get on my mat.

I had an on and off practice until 2012, when I decided to go to my first training with Yoga Fit.  After that I started teaching at gyms and fell in love with both practicing and teaching yoga.  In 2013 I was able to take my 200 hour RYT with Ashley Litecky and Sky House Yoga in Silver Spring where I received a wealth of knowledge from my teachers.

I love to teach many kinds of yoga.  I teach Hatha, Yin, gentle, vinyasa, post-natal with babies, kids yoga and yoga hikes and I love them all, although I especially love the gentle classes.  I have a great affinity for giving assists that allow students to relax even a little further into their practice and to find a little more rejuvenation in their day.
krista fam

When I am not teaching, I adore adventures with my husband, our two boys, and our dog Shelley.  I crave backpacking, hiking and just being out in the wilderness, I love to go canoeing and swimming in any body of water I can find, and I have a deep and abiding love for riding my bike both with my family and by myself, for cross country skiing whenever there is enough snow on the ground.  I have an affinity for getting lost when I don’t have anywhere to be and I also have a tendency to jump off any cliff I can find, which, I recognize, is probably not the smartest decision.  I am a wanderer at heart with a deep love for travel and adventure and a great desire for any and every road trip.  Concerts are just about my favorite thing in the world and I also love to cook and bake anything and everything with a penchant for finding new and exciting recipes to try out… long as I have time for it. 

I was drawn to Lil Omm because this place is uniquely focused on kids, families, and doing what is best for the family.  This place has such a beautiful atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion that is also unique in this area.  I feel at home when I am at Lil Omm.  I feel loved and accepted, and, in this place, Washington DC, where who you are and what you do sometimes feels overwhelmingly important, the feeling of love and acceptance often feels like a unique experience, one that Lil Omm does so well.


What is the Best Way to Prepare for Childbirth?

What’s the best way to prepare for birth? 

By: Michelle Cohen

Radical commitment to yourself.

Does that answer surprise you? Its seems to go against the counter culture--with all the birth preparation classes, birthing philosophies and copious amounts of gear for baby that promise you the perfect birth and ease of mothering.  Of course, there’s an important context for education and understanding the birthing process (just exactly how is the baby going to come out? How can you best cope through the intensity of labor? How can you make informed decisions around your birth choices?) But in my experience as a doula and prenatal yoga teacher, it isn’t the mamas who read the most books, troll all the forums and blogs, or attend the most classes that have the most graceful, ease-filled births.  

The mamas that are most prepared to cross the threshold into motherhood are the ones who turn their focus inward during their pregnancy, rather than let themselves be influenced by all the external pressures of family, friends, care providers, and society.  

It’s getting harder and harder to silence the noise these days, to slow down, to carve out time for ourselves to really learn to know ourselves.  It even feels a bit radical to do so.  But how else can you hope to have the birth you desire unless you get quiet and begin to learn what it is that you truly desire?   Unless you get to know {and trust!} your body and your baby.  What impact would it have on us as women and mothers if we learn to listen to what our own intuition is whispering in our ears about how to best manage our care and the ways in which we need to mother—which could (and should!) look completely different than those around us?  

The mamas who are best prepared for labor, and the journey that follows, are the ones who put themselves and their self-care first.  Who are dedicated to time on their yoga mat, meditation cushion, or walks in nature.  Who feel the impact of healthy eating, regular exercise and stress-relief techniques.  Who engage in their passions with a joyful heart.  These mamas practice over and over again the concepts of surrender, trust, self-compassion, sitting with uncertainty and perhaps the biggest one of all—acceptance.  This is deep soul work.  This is work that does not happen overnight and requires every minute of the ten months you have to prepare for baby’s arrival (and then some!).  It’s a lifelong dedication to yourself so you can give your best love to your children and partner.  

It is my mission to help mamas turn inward to shine their best selves outward. If you’d like to make a declaration of your radical commitment to yourself, I highly encourage you to join Pleasance Silicki and me on retreat at Meadowkirk in Middleburg, VA the weekend of October 23-25.  In the beauty of nature, we will slow down, find and trust our breath, practice both restorative and flow yoga, use creative practices for self-inquiry, and ultimately nourish mind, body, soul and baby.  I promise you, it’s not to be missed and it will be amazing.  I really, really hope to see you there.  Go here for information about the retreat and to get your FAQs answered.


Massage for Holistic Family Care

Let your love become an active ingredient in your family’s health care.


Parents, grandparents, and anyone caring for family members or children can use calming, comforting touch as part of their strategy for creating a healthy family life. With training, continued use and support, this approach can become a tangible application of yoga and meditation practices and a way to bring mindful intention to the day-to-day needs of children and families.

Massage for Holistic Family Care classes give beginners an overview of this approach and hands-on tools to use right away. Each class includes techniques for entering a relaxed-alert state, use of receptive touch, imagery, and a few acupressure points for a particular need.

Each workshop is led by Barbara Goldschmidt and costs $40.

Address Stress: Massage Techniques for Back-to-School
Sun 9/13 @ 1-2:45pm

Going back to school is a time of new challenges and new stresses for kids and parents alike. Gentle massage can help support the transition to a new school year and create the time needed to relax and wordlessly connect to your child at the end of the day.
This class will target stress reduction by teaching:
  • Receptive touch
  • A five-minute abdominal massage
  • Breathing techniques and imagery exercises to do with your child
  • Ways to integrate these approaches into your daily routine
Register by 9/10

Flu U: Be Prepared for the Test of Chills and Ills
Sun 10/25 @ 1-2:45pm

Many parents dread the start of cold and flu season. Think there’s nothing you can do? There is—especially if you have a plan.  Gentle massage is a crucial tool for family caregiversto help comfort a sick child, aid their recovery, and avoid getting sick themselves. Learn what to do at the first sign of a cold, and what do when colds strike.  This class targeting colds and flu will include:
  • Massage for the start of a sore throat
  • Regulating the sinus area to alleviate congestion
  • Acupressure points to clear the upper body
  • Essential oil use, dietary and lifestyle changes to boost immunity
Register by 10/23

Rest and Digest: Massage Techniques for Great Digestion...Despite the Holidays
Sun 11/22 @ 1-2:45pm

We may worry about our weight as the season for celebrations begins, but focusing on healthy digestion instead can help us make it through the holidays in good health AND good cheer.
Promote good digestion and elimination for everyone with:
  • Abdominal massage
  • Focused touch on acupressure points for the stomach and large intestine
  • Deep breathing and imagery
  • Herbal remedies

Register by 11/20 


About Barbara

Barbara Goldschmidt is an author, educator and licensed massage therapist who has been working in the field of integrative health care for 30 years. Her passion is to educate people to the power of touch accessible to everyone.

Barbara has taught hundreds of people how to use skilled touch as a valuable tool. She has worked with health care center staff—including nurses, nursing assistants, food providers and janitorial staff—to bring aware touch into their lives, the lives of their patients, and to the care community at large. She has taught advanced classes for massage therapists and college nursing programs, as well as private courses for the New York City Alzheimer’s Association and SEIU 1199. She has also taught many community workshops for parents and other family caregivers. And she has used these techniques in her own life as a mother and grandmother.

Barbara holds a B.A., University of California, Los Angeles and a Diploma in Massage Therapy, Swedish Institute, New York, NY. In addition, she has spent years studying Body-centered imagery, with Catherine Shainberg, School of Images, New York, NY; Classical Chinese medicine, Jeffrey C. Yuen, New York, NY; and Transfer of energy bodywork, Jack Gray, Los Angeles, CA.


Meet Sandy Kavalier!

lil omm is excited to welcome back Sandy Kavalier this fall!  Join Sandy every Tuesday @ 9:15-10:30am for an all-levels vinyasa class starting in September!  Childcare available by reservation, $5/kid (passes available).

Sandy Head 4x6 shot 2015

I began practicing yoga in 2001 as part of physical therapy after a bicycle accident. After two years of Iyengar yoga, I tried vinyasa style yoga and was hooked! I was energized and calm and I couldn’t wait to return to my mat. I fell in love with vinyasa style yoga and completed teacher training in 2005 in Washington DC and another training with Max Strom in 2015. I have studied with Annie Carpenter, Erich Schiffman, Jamie Elmer, David Keil, Leslie Kaminoff and Doug Keller.

Pleasance and I met in our 2005 Teacher Training. When Lil Omm opened I taught a vinyasa flow class. It has been wonderful to watch the studio grow into the family embracing place it is. It’s great to be back at Lil Omm; we share the same love of yoga and philosophy of teaching.

Yoga should feel good and yoga should be fun. There is no “one size fits all” with yoga. Everyone’s body has it’s own special circumstances and needs.

I teach a breath initiated movement style of yoga with modifications and challenges. My teaching style is one of inquiry. We look for new actions, sensations and variations with in our poses. It never gets old!

I have four grown children and 5 grandkiddos with number 6 due in November. I live in Chevy Chase with my supportive, loving and understanding husband of 44 years.



Introducing Jynaya Joiner, Kinderdance Instructor!

We are thrilled to welcome Jynaya Joiner to LO's Kids & Family team as our new dance instructor!

Kinderdance® (3-6yrs) teaches the basics of ballet, tap, acrobatics and creative movement while blending educational concepts including numbers, colors, shapes and songs. Students are treated with respect and given individual attention to ensure they have a positive experience while moving and grooving in this fun and upbeat class. This program is developmentally designed specifically to meet the needs of our lil ommies.

Please note our class size is limited to 12 students so please be sure to register online in advance.  You may cancel your reservations online or by using our app up to 5 minutes before the start of class with no penalty.

Don't miss our Kinderdance® free demo class on Tuesday August 4 @ 4pm.

Regular classes will start Tues 8/11.  Drop-in ($20), purchase a class pass, membership, or iCommit pass. Sibling rate is $10/additional sibling (purchase in studio). Learn more about pricing options here or contact

About Jynaya:

Originally from San Diego, CA, Jynaya moved to the Washington, DC area to attend college at Howard University and become a CPA.   However, after 15+ years of working in finance and accounting, the avid admirer of the Arts and new mother chose to forgo her career in public/private accounting to chase the dream of owning her own children’s dance education enterprise.  Thus, Kinderdance® of Washington, DC, a franchisee of Kinderdance Int’l, was born. 

Kinderdance® of Washington, DC provides nationally recognized dance and movement programs to boys and girls ages 2 - 12.  The classes are designed to develop a child’s total mind and body by blending physical skills such as the basics of ballet, tap, gymnastics and fitness with educational concepts such as numbers, colors, shapes and songs.  Special emphasis is placed on developing self-confidence and self-esteem in all participants of the programs.

Designated a Certified Early Childhood Movement Specialist, Jynaya now enjoys teaching/administering the Kinderdance® programs to the children of Lil’ Omm and on-site at child care centers, schools, fitness centers and other viable locations throughout the District of Columbia.

With a niche for business and a strong passion for dance, fitness and working with young children, Jynaya is finally enjoying her career and doing what she loves to do – educating our future through dance!