Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pregnancy & Yoga

Yoga is an amazing tool for women to get in tune with the 3 major cycles of our lives.  Menstruation, the Childbearing Years, and Menopause.  I am passionate about helping women discover this and learn to get in tune with their bodies' individual rhythms, and learning to live more naturally with what that is to them.  I've now been through the first 2 cycles and have had 12 years of a yoga practice and continuous buildup of awareness with my body and how I treat it.
That being said, I've had lots of women coming to my classes recently who have been asking questions about yoga in regards to both menstruation and pregnancy.  Today, I will cover pregnancy, and soon, I'll tackle how to practice when we are on our moon cycle.

When you've discovered you are pregnant, a world of uncertainty, new expectations, and completely new feelings in your body/spirit are released.  Yoga is so important in helping to keep you sane during this time.  There are a variety of opinions on what you should/should not do while pregnant.  My thoughts on it all goes with my yogic teaching style, and that is to simply tune in to what your own body feels like, and try not to worry what people are telling you.  This is the hardest and most profound thing about our yoga practice.  To let go of expectation toward our beautiful selves or what we think others think we should do.  That being said, do always consult with your midwife or doctor about any concerns or questions with your pregnancy and the activities you're doing.

If you can't make it to Prenatal Yoga classes, or simply want to continue going to regular yoga classes:

-rapid breathing or breath retention techniques
-vigorous twists
-vigorous and deep backbends
-putting full pressure on the belly, once you're into the 2nd trimester
-intense core work
-inversions, unless you are an experienced yogini practitioner and it stills feels good
-deep forward bends, once in 2nd trimester (always fold forward with knees bent and legs at least hip width)
-trying anything new
-pushing to your edge (yes, time to get less goal-oriented in your practice)
-overheating and dehydration (skip those hot classes!)
-teachers that push a fast-paced class and might not know what's it like to be pregnant  ;)

-breathe very slow, deep, focused, and evenly (this will become more and more important as you near the actual birth!)
-welcome a more restorative, gentle practice (this is a time for more surrender in your life, and less Go-Go-Go)--especially if you're feeling extra fatigued or nauseous
-attend regular classes that are either: all-levels (or slow) vinyasa, hatha, or gentle/restorative
-in your first trimester, keep doing the same practice as long as you feel good.  Core work is still fine at this point.  Once your belly starts to stretch and you are into the 2nd trimester, then begin to modify more intensely and be mindful in all movements of the core.  All yoga will help keep the core strong for the birth, but just don't add additional abdominal exercises at this time.  Allow your belly to stretch naturally and the pelvic floor muscles to begin to soften.
-mindfully check-in with yourself every time you're on your mat.  Some days will be better than others. Take it slow and listen.

Prenatal Classes in the Cambridge/Somerville area:
Barrett Lauck Reinhorn-- she is one of the prime prenatal teachers in Boston.  If you're looking for a public class or workshop, she always has them.  This coming Saturday, she's leading a special workshop at Samara Yoga in Davis Square!
Lakota Sandoe--one of my dear friends and mama of 2.  She teaches a prenatal class on Saturday mornings in Watertown at Inner Strength that will keep you strong and fresh.  No "let's bliss out just because we're pregnant" here.  The bliss will be there by the end, but she'll keep the challenge alive.
Bristol Maryott-- an experienced and wonderful teacher at Karma Yoga Studio-South End.  If you end up trekking that way into the city, she is offering prenatal on Sunday mornings at 9:00am.

Private Sessions with moi!  Yes, I have been teaching private or small group 60-75 min. classes up in my home studio to my pregnant yogini friends...that means YOU.  I have a special deal for you pregnant gals.  Instead of the usual $100 for a private, you can come for 10 classes at $35 each.  If two of you don't mind taking together, then I knock it down to $25 each.  My latest yogini mama-to-be is coming on Friday mornings, so message me if you want to join!

Prenatal Massage with Christina Francis-- I went to her a few times during my pregnancy and she always helped me get the kinks out.

Check out Prenatal Yoga DVD's from:
Elena Brower, Shiva Rea, Collette Crawford

Watch my Video for more thoughts and some modification tips for those poses to avoid:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Start to Summer Strong Balancing Sequence

"I won't be afraid any-mo-r-e..." --Sin Fang sings it well in his new song Walk with You, from his latest EP Half Dreams.  It's become my latest fave, and it inspired this sequence!  Gotta love allowing tunes to inspire and challenge your yoga practice.
So, my home studio is up on the 3rd floor, and when it's warm out, it starts getting sizzlin' up there.  Makes for some nice sweat time!  And I must say, that I never  bare my belly when I teach, and rarely ever when I practice in public.  I just usually find it distracting for all.  Don't get me wrong, I love cute yoga clothes (hello Be Present, and Kira Grace...).  And I love yogis being proud of their bodies.
For me, personally, I love seeing all of the different shapes and sizes walking into class and practicing with me.  And so, especially for women, I feel like we have plenty of other body image stimulation to deal with.  Our mats are one of the few places that are supposed to get us away from those thoughts.  Plus, people that might appear weak from the outside, often end up surprising all with such profound strength.  Or those that seem like they'd be super bendy and fit, might actually be super tight in more ways than one.  A glance at someone's body doesn't say s#*& about their practice, much less who they are.  But do I really need to say that?!  We forget sometimes...
Our yoga community both here and everywhere you go with it can be a constant look at how beautiful we all are when giving up the body image hype and giving in to the reflective and deeper meanings behind the reason to practice and how it makes you feel.
So check it:  I am a former athlete, and naturally muscular gal.  Doesn't mean I can do every asana in the books.  Far from it.  However, 12 years of practice has kept me pretty strong, and flexible for the average gal, I suppose.  After having Isak, it did take around 7+ months to get back into some old favorite asanas (and old sizes).  And though I'm strong in some ways, I have lots of work to do in other ways both physically and spiritually.  Plus, my belly sticks out a little more, and with some extra skin...and well, I kinda like it!  So I say, if you want to practice bare-bellied from time to time...go for it!  Especially in the summer.  And practicing yoga means you already are, or are on your way to health and joy both inside and out, so why not own it, be it, breathe it how you please.  It can feel liberating and loving to know that you are who you are and it's awesome.  Sin Fang sings it right!

The Sequence in plain english:
-Standing hand to big toe pose, into hip opener
-Dancer's Pose
-Half Moon
-Deep forward fold into halfway lift into chair...switch sides

*Make sure to warm-up before with lots of sun salutes and lunges to warm the hips.  And to cool down after with a variation of forward folds, seated poses, and maybe a few backbends before your final rest.

Heading out this lovely day to practice with visiting LA teacher, Kathryn Budig for some ultimate body image inspiration and strength guidance.

Summer Solstice is Wednesday (6/20), and I'll be teaching 6-7:15pm at Karma Yoga Studio in Harvard.  Bring it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Herbstalk and time with friends

This last weekend my friends and I were at the first ever event of it's kind around these parts: Herbstalk.    My dearest friend, Steph, created and organized this top-notch event here in Somerville that brought together herbalists from all over New England to spread knowledge about the uses of herbs for our health and well-being.  It was a huge success!  Families, plant lovers, yogis, nutritionists, animal lovers, and people of all backgrounds gathered to take classes, peruse the wonderful marketplace, have lunch from the Clover food truck, listen to local musicians, and just have a great time here in early summer.  I scored some new herbal/mineral eyeshadow, hair rinse, reishi tincture, elderberry elixir, rose moisturizer, and luxurious body butter to name a few.  There was even a fun children's corner with some friends reading stories on the hour, and teaching the kids about plants.
Plus, our dear friend, Mel, flew in all the way from Alaska for a long weekend of re-connecting with this place she used to call home, lots of much-needed gal time (I got to go out 2 nights in a row!!), and healthy eating/living.

 The herbal marketplace with 30 vendors of informative herbal teas, healing remedies, beauty treatments, honeys, and beyond.
 Congrats to the Herbstalk Goddess herself, Steph (Naz) Zabel, on all her amazing work and we just can't wait til next year's event!
 My Isak enjoying the kid's corner.
 Mel with her beautiful plant-dyed scarves all the way from Alaska.
 Yum yum...those rosemary fries...
 My talented friend, Maribeth Swan, and her band Terra Sophia.
Steph's Flowerfolk Table.  Always a lovely and soothing sight to the eyes.

Me and Mel having fun in the afternoon as volunteers.
My friends Nina Fuller and Brad Byrd in the cafe.  
 Afterpary with some of my gals: Mel, Maribeth, and Nina.
 Bff's for 20 years?!  Wow.  SO incredibly proud of this beautiful, healing, hip, herbal woman.  Our celebratory dinner out post-event at Casa B.

Monday, June 4, 2012

New June Playlist, and baby savasana

Amazing new music came out this spring.  I'm still trying to compile it all and figure out the best ways to incorporate it into yoga playlists.  All of the songs listed below are from the new releases by Sigur Ros, Sin Fang, Theresa Andersson, Norah Jones, and Beach House.  Here is the first one:

1. Sigur Ros: Daudalogn
2. Beach House:  Myth
3. Sin Fang:  Walk with You
4. Norah Jones: Happy Pills
5. Theresa Andersson:  Street Parade
6. Beach House:  Wishes
7. Sigur Ros:  Varud
8. Sin Fang:  Shine for Me
9. Beach House:  Lazuli
10. Sin Fang:  It's Not There
11. Theresa Andersson:  January
12.  Beach House:  The Hours
13. Sigur Ros: Rembihnutur
14. Sigur Ros: Valtari
15. Sigur Ros: Fjogur Piano

Hope you can join me to flow to these special tunes this summer!  And check out my little guy this past weekend.  I had him in my studio so I could try to practice, it was a rainy day, and I had the new Sigur Ros on...he took the best savasana ever.