To yoga or not in the first trimester?

To yoga or not in the first trimester?

Great news! In all likelihood your heart skipped a beat when you glanced at the double line or smiley face on your pregnancy test. And as the little wee embryo settles into your womb, you’ll start considering how to modify your wellness plan. I’ve had mammas connecting lately enquiring about attending Prenatal Yoga sessions at the Nest on Silas in the first trimester. While some prenatal yoga teachers prefer you wait until after first trimester before joining class, I like to err on the side of enthusiasm, and here’s why:

Prenatal Yoga is one of the safest forms of movement you can do.

Ok, yes there is much more to yoga than movement, but without getting into the other beautiful elements of a yoga practice I believe it is one of the safest things you can do for your body both physically and energetically while the pregnancy establishes. Prenatal yoga is designed to be safe for all pregnancy stages, and it’s much better to attend a specifically designed class from the get-go. If you’ve not practiced yoga regularly before, this is not the time to start out in a non pregnancy-specific environment. Established yoginis have to consider a few safety principles if they wish to continue their regular practice in the early days; I’ll post on that another time.

The longer you practice pregnancy yoga, the stronger those positive effects will be.

You can safely yoga in your first trimester.

You can safely yoga in your first trimester.

The more consecutive weeks you attend class and incorporate elements into your personal practice, the more you and your baby will reap benefits through pregnancy and beyond. Breath work, mudras, relaxation, meditation and asana’s potency surges with dedicated focus and practice. You also get the extra juju of mamma magic being in the space with other pregnant ladies. With each class I try and disperse little seeds of advice with the intent that you keep the kernels that resonate, leaving you with your own little basket of self-informed wisdom to draw upon as needed.

You can build your mamma networks.

I love it when mamma bears discover they are at the same gestation with their wee ones. It’s even better when they are able to stay connected after the little bubs make their entrance. Having a network of like-minded women can be a sanity-saver in the early mamma years; making these connections before the birth will certainly take the pressure off when you have other things on your agenda.

A prenatal yoga session may help with mild to moderate nausea.

While pregnant with the girl I was teaching three classes a week. For about two months I was intensely ill; I had an unpredictable, rogue-style pregnancy nausea that could see me running for the toilet in seconds. Several times I would get ready to teach asking myself how I was going to get through it, dreading something that I once enjoyed.

But every time, without fail, I would start to feel better about a half hour into the practice, and the effects would last for a good few hours. I do believe that regular movement, and the kind offered through a pregnancy yoga class, can be a balm to those challenging weeks. So even if you wake up telling yourself you don’t feel like it; make sure you try once, and just see if it makes a difference.

Prenatal yoga will not put your pregnancy at risk.

A conservative estimate for the miscarriage rate is 25%. In my own travels I would say that rate is likely higher. And as awful and devastating as a loss is, prenatal yoga is not the reason a pregnancy doesn’t work out. Having experienced two losses myself, I look back on those pregnancies and know that while I was a mama to the little souls who didn’t make it earth-side, that by engaging in a regular pregnancy-specific yoga practice I was creating a loving environment for them while they were there physically. I believe mammahood begins before conception; taking care of yourself and respecting your body with appropriate movement and nutrition is a major component. While my heart goes out to every woman and family who have experienced pregnancy loss, I think that if anything, a safe physical practice would be better than nothing regardless of how an unpredictable pregnancy might go. And if you, goddess-forbid, do lose your beloved, call upon the relaxation, breathing and gentle yoga postures you learned in prenatal yoga to ease your aching soul.

Whether you’re seven or 27 weeks pregnant, I would like to cordially invite you to a luscious little practice in an intimate space full of amazing resources for you and your family. Prenatal yoga sessions at the Nest on Silas run from 10 -1130 on Saturdays.

Much love to you mamma, I hope to see you on the mat soon!

Experienced yoga mammas I would love to hear from you! What was your prenatal yoga pregnancy practice and when did you start? Do you believe it helped or hindered?

Laying a Fit Foundation

Laying a Fit Foundation

Apologies for the delay in posting. Her Royal Turd Bird-ness has been ill and I’ve been a bit preoccupied changing the site, which I could not have done without the help of a very smart and kind lady. More changes on the way as I play with the new layout.

Anyhooo, I finally got brave the other morning. Chiclet woke up in the middle of my early morning yoga routine, and I figured it was time. Once she was sorted with her baby and blankie I made my way back to the mat. I was impressed, and would call it a success, we made it 20 minutes! She even tried a couple of the poses (down dog and half moon) which was beyond cute. Even though it was a bit abbreviated, I felt ready for the day despite the staggered, scattered and lop-sided at times routine with a toddler running in between my legs and under my body.

Yep, mums and bugs yoga might just be up your alley.

Yep, mums and bubs yoga might just be up your alley.

I was never big into the mums and bubs yoga. I did try a few times but it just didn’t work for us, and I found I got much more enjoyment out of the yoga if I could do it by myself while she slept. If we have another I’d like to see if he or she would be game, maybe the second time around I would be in a different frame of mind for it, but I liked keeping practice as part of “me” time. It was what I needed during my first foray into motherhood, though I may need to get more creative if I’ve two little souls about.

There’s a common comment I hear from many fabulous and busy mums. One of the first things to fall or diminish with the new addition is the fitness routine. I get it, I definitely am not as free as I was to zip to the gym, or go for a run when the whim strikes, so I’ve had to work harder than usual to carve out time. Here are a few suggestions for getting and keeping your fitness regime going:

  • Get started as soon as you can
    Yes, six weeks post birth, in the haze of breastfeeding, sleeplessness, recovery and dealing with the myriad visitors who stop by to meet your little blessing, find time, if only ten minutes at first, to get back into it. Maybe it’s gentle yoga or a quick walk, but despite how tired you are you will feel recharged with a bit of physical activity. Gradually increase until you’re back to a pre-pregnancy duration. You will get there.
  • Don’t look to exercise as something to get back your pre-baby body
    A lot of mum’s worry about the changes post birth, but everyone is different, and if you’re feeding a little squawker, it’d be dangerous to deprive yourself (your baby) of much-needed nutrients. For the first few months of getting your groove back, view it as a mental health break as well as a practice towards re-establishing your life-long commitment to health. So maybe delay the marathon training for post-weaning and savour the time you can enjoy some walks in the fresh air.
  • Get babe involved early on and talk about it
    I’ve only just let the girl in on the yoga routine but from very early days I’ve kept up a walking and eventually running habit with her in the pram. I talk to her about this, and tell her that mummy is getting some exercise, we walk by the park and she points and I tell her that her turn will come when mummy’s walk or run is finished. And yes, this is a regular family outing too, it’s a nice way for our family to reconnect
  • Daddy special time
    Once you’ve sorted out the nap and feeding schedule, or as soon as you’ve put your little soul down for a rest, let hubby(or another family member) take over for an hour or more and head out the door, guilt free for a yoga class, gym session, or other physical activity. Having some true alone time, out of the house will have you coming back in a better frame of mind, which will benefit your whole family.
  • Use the creche
    A lot of community centres and gyms have affordable childcare that gives you both a great time out. Your kids get to play with some cool toys and new friends, and you take care of yourself. I felt more comfortable with this once my daughter was independently mobile.
  • Re-adjust your girlie session
    Made some cool mum friends? Great, catch up over a walk. Find a nice trail in your ‘hood and have a goss session while getting your blood pumping. As the kids get older stopping at a playground post walk rewards good pram behaviour.

We all know how important regular physical activity is, and regardless of how active your little cherubs are, running around after them should not constitute your fitness routine alone. For me, it’s important that my girl understands from an early age that daily exercise is just something that we do. It’s important you find something that you love, and share this enthusiasm with your kids; in time this will rub off and you’ll be glad you committed to this from the start.

I guarantee a good walk or work out session has put me in a better space on those challenging days when I wanted to call time-out on the whole mum deal. But I’m in it for at least a couple decades, and I believe in addition to eating nutritious food that regular physical activity is the best thing for everyone. I hope you’re inspired by this post, and would love to hear what other tips and tricks  mums have managed to work into the routine.

 

The Periphery Perspective

(part one of a four-part series on expansion)

We naturally focus from our body’s frontal, or anterior, plane. The bulk of how we exist, engage, sense and interact naturally and logically occurs from this perspective. Nifty things like eyes, mouths, faces and limb orientation might have something to do with it.

With today’s lifestyle it’s no wonder our bodies and minds can get a bit cramped. Us corporate types can sit desk-bound for hours on a deadline whilst tradies like my husband spend the day bent over in weird positions troubleshooting and fixing. As a mum, life feels like its in a perpetual forward bending motion. Add to that time spent commuting, hunched over devices and books plus all the leaning in for the good stuff like a cup of tea with a friend, hugs, cuddles and very important toddler conversations and the front body works overtime.

As yoga practitioners our first impulse is often to counter the forward hunching with back-bending. But what if we started this lengthening and un-scrunching with a more subtle approach? Months of parenting and lugging her highness around have been the perfect yoga lab to test out some different techniques, and I believe our side bodies hold the key to the natural expansion we desire. Come join me Tuesday as we test this hypothesis out together.

We’ll build the foundation on expansion with deliciously simple side bends and rhythmic lateral motion incorporated into basic postures. We’ll also play with modifications and twists that strengthen the connection to our entire periphery. Your body will sing thanks to small tweaks that are easy to incorporate into your home practice.

Once we slip into relaxation and meditation you’ll be attuned to those natural waves emanating, giving a pleasant soft focus point for our closing meditation on the crown. When you walk out of class, my hope is that you feel a natural lengthening and expansion radiating from your beautiful being.

For those of you tuned into the blog, I’ll share a few tips with you later in the week.

Over the next four weeks we’ll look how we can use yoga to bring greater space and openness to our bodies. Please join us tonight at Sevenergy, 7pm for this small suite of classes on expansion, I’d love to see you on the mat.

Yoga on, lovelies. x

The eye of the storm

The eye of the storm

eye of stormThe “schedule,” as I loosely call it these days, was more akimbo than usual last week thanks to hubby’s and my work commitments. By the time Saturday arrived I was in a mildly catatonic state. Though I accept the occasional flux, the hectic pace served as a reminder that guarding my time and interests within reason isn’t an option. Though another demanding week awaits, I’m going to be more vigilant about boundaries that free me up for running, yoga practice, meditation and creative time. Without my beloved outlets, I become sub-par at everything else.

Given the nature of this beast we call modern life, how can you restore and resettle when obligations rev to full throttle? We all run into encounters where a simple, “All righty folks, this is fun but I really need to slip away for a little me time” won’t fly.

What can we do when demands press and life starts to feel a little more whirly, stormy and unstable than desired? I reckon it has something to do with reconnecting to the centre, and there are surprisingly simple ways to do this.

So where is the, or more appropriately, your centre? It’s where your unique energy emanates from. When you reside in this place, it enables you to maintain stability and ride the waves of whatever life throws your way. Whether it be demanding work schedules, the big important race or presentation, the pivotal game, a tense conversation that needs to happen, snatching the toddler from dangerous heights on a distressingly regular basis or a glorious melange of all the above, residing fully in your centre fortifies you to absorb, ride, decide and live from an authentic and powerful position.

In Tuesday’s class at Sevenergy, we’ll explore reacquainting with your centre through a series of asanas that help you discover, challenge and restore. We’ll finish off with a meditation I devised that will recharge your body and spirit so you can handle life’s turbulent times, empowering you to confidently circle into the eye of any storm.

For the beautiful blog readers, what are your thoughts on this idea of the centre? Where is it for you? How does life feel when you firmly plug into that place, and what can you do to reconnect when there’s a short circuit?

Well gorgeous people, I hope to see some of you on the mat this Tuesday in South Freo, and don’t forget about the winter special, where you can yoga your way to a private session with me. Keep yoga-ing on and stay healthy! ~Ange

Staying in your lane

The other day I drove to a meeting and ended up stuck in traffic where I: one, was supremely grateful for the great tunes they were playing on triplej, and two, thanked my lucky stars that a daily commute is not part of my life.

While I and fellow travellers crept along the freeway at breakneck speed averaging 25 kilometres an hour I noticed a few drivers who decided where they were going was more important than the hundreds of other drivers stuck in a mid-morning jam along with them.

Mostly to my amusement I saw the odd driver duck out of the freeway lane and try to get ahead a few hundred metres by cheekily jutting over to a merging lane if it wasn’t all ready occupied. So a few people in a really big hurry got ahead by about a minutes’ worth of travel time. Which I guess more power to them, but really, wouldn’t it just be nice to give your neck and blood pressure a break and wait while respecting everyone else? Even if there was somewhere that you “needed” to be, would the world keep turning if you showed up 20 minutes late?

Alas, there will always be people determined to get to where they want to be and willing to endanger themselves, and sometimes others, to create the illusion they are “getting ahead.” It reminded me of what I like to call sticky-beak-itis that we can all be prone to in yoga class. Admit it, you’ve raised your eyebrow a time or two maybe admiring someone’s asana practice, or felt a twinge of jealousy seeing someone’s strength, or even smugness in noticing another student hasn’t quite gotten to where you’re at in this or that posture.

But how does comparing yourself to others actually serve you? Some might say a little bit of healthy competition is a motivator, but why compete with someone who has a different history, body and set of life circumstances than you? It reminds me of something that a fitness educator said to me years ago: There will always be someone “worse” than you and someone “better” than you. Instead of getting caught in the comparison game, the drishti, or focus as we say in yoga, should reside within and on yourself. This focus, though sustained, should be soft, pliable and realistic.

Pushing your practice too far beyond comfortable limits on a given day, and especially on a regular basis, can cause injury or permanent damage. If you are not attuned to how your body is feeling in a given moment because you’re sticky-beaking it before speeding into the wrong yoga lane, you can’t respond to its’ needs appropriately.

So use your yoga practice as a time to develop compassion and reverence for what your body does and how it feels, instead of keeping up with the yoga Joneses. The majority of us don’t practice yoga for the modelling gigs over at Yoga Journal. We come to feel better, have functionality in our bodies and stability in our minds. Devote your energy to that, and watch your yoga practice flourish.

The next time you’re in class, see if you can keep your focus on yourself; yep, stay in your own lane. Observe what really feels right for you, and respect that by modifying your practice to work with any limitations or goals. Of course it is natural to check out what is going on in our surroundings, but true depth comes with self-observation.

Broadly speaking, poke yourself in the backside the next time you feel those familiar twinges off the mat. So your friend just moved into a bigger house, your colleague just got an incredible promotion, a Facebook acquaintance just posted a pic with Ryan Gosling. Sop comparing, and instead assess and be grateful for all you’ve been blessed with.

I believe we all have a unique path that is ours alone. It is easier to find it if you’re not wasting energy measuring your achievements against anyone else. Instead, respect where you feel the natural zing, joy and ease in whatever you are doing in each moment and keep your focus there.

Out of curiosity, when was the last time you were figuratively doing a sneaky lane change, and what did you do to soothe the symptoms?

Cloudy Days

Well. The amazing week passed and I have floundered into a fog of inertia and sadness. Despite this, I did my best with what was on the agenda. Darling and I got our walks in in the morning and it helped; yoga practice was smattered into the nap mix and I even managed the gym a couple times, but I’ve felt rather lacklustre of late. There have been bursts of happiness and optimism, we’re still laughing in our house (how can you not with turd bird?) but truthfully, things are just kind of meh.

I’m not sure if it’s the weather or an underlying shift, more than likely, just a cloudy period mood-wise; maybe the reality of mom’s departure has sunk in. I’m trying to be patient with the funk, not wish it away even though I miss my sprightly side, but rather observe and allow.

I think it’s natural to desire the happy state, we just need to be mindful of where an authentic buoyant feeling comes from. I’ve learned, over time, that a trip to the mall doesn’t make the blech-y feeling go away (well mostly). These moods are a natural part of life’s ebb and flow.

I wish I could write from a place of being on the upswing, but no. In the name of honesty I’m being real about what’s happening, without, I hope, dragging you down along with me! I go through the motions, with the odd inflection of inspiration and lightness. I take each day as a huge victory because I am still doing what needs to get done; still connecting and seeing wonderfulness around me. I’ll get to the other side of this, any day now. I have faith.

I’ve had ample opportunity and little nudges reminding me of how friggin good I really do have it. Intellectually I understand. Emotionally and psychologically, I am stuck in a place that is not doing me any favours. But if I dwell on the slumpy grumps too much I then get mad at myself for wasting time in grouchyland, which then invites the whole scenario to reside longer. So I just keep trying to release, accept, release. I’m in the middle of it.

While I’m down here, shout out and great big love to the girl, because what can make your heart open more than the unfettered energy of a glorious young’n? And even bigger smooch to my man for his patience and goofiness while he waits for my sunny self to return.

So, in the name of our yoga practice, how can we work with these “down” days? If there’s one thing I can’t emphasise enough it’s the importance of moving your body. I know it feels like the last thing you want to do. It was most definitely the last thing I wanted to do Saturday morning; the grey skies were telling me to take it easy and have a curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and the newspaper while dragon darling napped. Despite the urge I knew if I got my butt out the door and went to yoga class I would be so much better for it. And I was.

Even though I’m in a bit of a blue phase it’s given plenty of inspiration for this Tuesday’s class. We’ll be working with some flow focused on uplifting spirit and opening our hearts before settling into a sweet restorative practice to nurture the soul and finish up with a heart healing meditation. I look forward to seeing you all there and hope you walk out the door with some tools for your own yucky days.

For those of you who catch up on the blog, what’s your go-to when your mood takes a nose-dive? Do share your wisdom so we are all inspired to accept but proactively manage the blahs.