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Yoga for Pregger Mamas

59702698 - set of 9 yoga poses for pregnant women. prenatal exercise.Sometimes I’m one of the first to know.  A student pulls me aside to share the happy news of their pregnancy.  It’s often in the early stages, less than ten weeks.  I’m so grateful they feel comfortable confiding in me.  It’s an honor to share their joy and be their secret keeper.  It also gives me the opportunity to guide them through a safe and modified practice.

Yoga can be a great activity for pregger mamas. But, not all types of yoga or all poses are a good fit.  If you are pregnant and practicing yoga, I highly recommend the following:

  1. Check with your doctor or midwife and make yoga or any other physical activity is okay for you and your baby.  As your body and pregnancy evolves, be sure to check in again with your health care provider if you notice any concerns or discomforts that develop.
  2. Consult the ACOG’s (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) information on Exercise During Pregnancy.  ACOG recommends modified yoga, but to avoid hot yoga.
  3. Find a teacher with prenatal yoga experience and training. (Not all teachers are trained or feel comfortable modifying for pregnancy, be sure to ask about their experience and comfort level.)  You can visit Yoga Alliance and search for a teacher with the RPYT – Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher designation.  This indicates they have completed prenatal yoga specialty training and have at least 30 hours of prenatal yoga teaching experience.
  4. Attend a prenatal specific class taught by an experienced teacher.  These classes are generally a more gentle and included modified poses.  Some of the poses, breathing techniques, meditation practices can be helpful with childbirth.  You can also get great ideas for modifying the practice on your own at home or in a general population class.
  5. Make sure your instructor knows that you are pregnant.  It’s not always obvious!

Here are a few general guidelines for practicing yoga while pregnant:

  • Entire Pregnancy
    • Reduce intensity and soften practice.
    • Open twists or isolate twists to the upper torso.
    • Avoid overheating.
    • Be cautious when balancing.
    • Lie on the left side, supporting the head and top leg for savasana/resting pose.
  • First Trimester
    • Eliminate inversion (hips over heart).  This includes down dog, headstand, and handstand.
    • Eliminate cross body twists.
  • Second Trimester
    • Gentle inversions can be reintroduced.
    • Eliminate belly prone poses.
    • Avoid lying prone on your back.
    • Minimize depth/compacting of forward folds.
    • Minimize depth of backbends.
  • Third Trimester
    • At about 35 weeks, especially if baby is head down, minimize time spent in inversions to about 5 breaths.  This includes downward facing dog and wide leg forward fold.

Pregnant yogis have a special place in my heart.  When I was pregnant with my first baby, I really began to appreciate the practice of yoga.  For me, it was the one activity that I could do that felt good on my body.  Yoga always seem to fit and change with how I was feeling.  It became a staple through all three of my pregnancies.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy pregnancy.  Namaste!

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Connection

Sometimes it’s freaky, but most times it’s comforting.  It’s happened to me a lot and it’s probably happened to you too.

Recently, I was teaching a class, the flow lead us to Urdhva Dhanurasana or Upward Bow Pose.  After class, a student came up and share a story.   He had just been talking about that very pose with his sister just a day or two before.  He’s been practicing yoga for a little while and she was the person encouraged him to try it.  They discussed the pose, but he told her that he hadn’t worked on that pose in a class before.  He was surprised that in the very next class after that conversation that we worked on that very pose.

Hands - Nov 2005A connection.  A shared experience.  A shared energy.

Things like this happen all of the time when I teach.  Someone specifically connects to a theme, a song, or pose, so much so that they wonder how you knew what they were thinking.  It probably happens in your life too.

Have you ever been thinking of someone and a few moments later a text pops up from them?  Have you ever craved a meal only to get home and find out that’s exactly what’s on the menu?  Have you ever met someone for the first time, but felt like you’ve known them your entire life.  Connection.

It can seem that we are alone and disparate, just going about our daily business, but in fact we are part of a complex tapestry of energy.  We share DNA, we share the air we breathe, we share the frustrations of traffic delaying us from our destination.  There are lots of ways to look at it, but there is no denying that we are connected.

So, as you find your way to the mat or throughout the day.  Take a moment to acknowledge connection.  Appreciate the magic of that complex tapestry.  Imagine the thread that links you to the people you know personally and those who may pass briefly through your life.  By acknowledging and honoring these connections the tapestry becomes even more beautiful.

Namaste.

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Revolutionary

“Being yourself can be a revolutionary act.”

-Luvvie Ajayi

Revolutionary Act Ajayi.jpg

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Roads of Genius

“Improvement makes straight roads, but crooked roads are roads of genius.”
-William Blake

Roads of Genius Blake.jpg

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Turn to the Light

Afraid of Light Plato.jpg“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
-Plato

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Goodness Flowers

“Set your heart on doing good. do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy. A fool is happy until his mischief turns against him. And a good man may suffer until his goodness flowers.”
-Buddha

Goodness Flowers Buddha.jpg

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Personalize Your Practice

IMG_1363Yoga is for everybody.  That said, not everything yoga is for everybody.  Have you seen some of the crazy things yogis do on instagram ?  We are all so unique, with differences including the proportions of our bodies, our emotional experiences, our level of injury/health, and why we practice.  It’s easy to see that a one size fits all approach may not be the best way to practice.

Thankfully there are lots of ways to practice and make the practice your own.  From the facet of yoga (breathwork, meditation, poses, etc.) to the endless number of styles, you can start by selecting the path that works best for you.  After that there are other things you can do to further personalize.  Here are just a few suggestions:

Intention:  One way to look at intention is to think of it as a rechargeable battery.  Your thoughts and focus help to fuel and motivate your practice.  In return, throughout your practice, energy is created that boosts your thoughts and focus.  When you drop in, turn inward and select a sentiment or energy worthy of your focus.  Selecting an intention that is unique to your needs helps to define your practice and create a sanctuary, a special vessel just for you.  An established intention can help inform your decisions during practice including intensity, breathwork, and variations you choose to employ.

Vinyasa/Transitions:  In a vinyasa or flow class, there is traditionally a transition sequence inserted between series.  For example, a portion of the traditional sun salutation (caturanga, urdhva mukha svanasana, adho mukha svanasana, or push-up, up dog, down dog) is frequently used in between sides or before the start of a new series of poses.  There is no law that says you must used a traditional “vinyasa”.  If you need a little grounding, step to the top of the mat and stand in mountain to reset.  If you need a little hip opening, squat down and swivel.  If you need some stabilizing core work, hold plank.  Customizing the transition allows you to be mindful of your needs and can vary throughout the practice.

Props:  Based on personal anatomy, past or current injury, intention, and other factors, using props can help to create poses that are the perfect fit for our bodies.  While we may aspire to achieve every pose pictured in “Light On Yoga”, the truth is, very few of us ever will.  So, we have to create expressions of the poses and energies that are best for our bodies.  Use props to mirror the shape and the actions of the poses.   If it’s challenge or intensity you’re looking for, props can help facilitate that too.

Ask Your Teacher:  An experienced teacher can be a great resource to help you with these and other facets of personalization.  There are a lot of instructors our there, so be sure to find one who is willing to work with you and offer suggestions to optimize your practice.  Share your feelings, challenges, and goals, and your instructor can guide you on your journey.  If you need extensive assistance or want a longer consultation, be sure to schedule a one-on-one session, so you can get the attention you deserve.

You are your best teacher and advocate.  Celebrate your uniqueness and create a customized practice.  This is how we can really make yoga for everybody.

 

 

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