Mommy and Me Yoga Poses

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Double Butterflies

Our kids just want to spend time with us.  They want to come to work with us, join our date nights, and help with errands.  In my household, I am always doing yoga, so therefore my kids want to do yoga with me all the time!

Teaching our kids yoga can provide them with so many benefits including: having healthy exercise habits, learning body awareness, and building strength and flexibility.  In addition, kids learn emotional skills such as: determination, patience, and focus.  Perhaps the most important lesson is learning how to breathe, and teaching our children to take slow deep breaths when they are faced with challenges to stay calm.

Next time you step on your mat at home, instead of practicing alone, try out some of these fun mommy and me poses!  I guarantee you will both love your time together!

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Double Upward Facing Dogs

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Double Planks

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Double Boats

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Double Chairs

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Double Trees

And one more if you are feeling adventurous… have fun!

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Supported Cobra Pose

 

Prenatal Yoga Dance to “How Long Will I Love You,” By Ellie Goulding

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Mother’s Day just passed two days ago, and at times I am still in disbelief that Mother’s Day is now a celebration for me too!  How much changes in 5 years… from never sleeping in anymore, to taking 1 hour to get out of the house in the mornings versus 15 minutes, to having stuff… just stuff… all over the house.   And now… to having endless kisses and snuggles, to having a helper put away dishes or laundry, to knowing a love that is so deep and so great that my heart actually hurts thinking about my kids.

Motherhood has been a wild ride, starting with being bedridden for 3 months in my first pregnancy!  Fortunately, my second pregnancy was smooth sailing and I was able to teach my fitness and yoga classes literally until the morning of my labor.

18 months ago, I shot this impromptu yoga dance video with Jamie Ginsberg at Marin Power Yoga when I was pregnant with my second child.  I am so grateful I have this footage.  My heart is full.

Some other yoga dances I’ve made:

Yoga Dance – “Make You Feel My Love”

Yoga Dance – “Amazing Grace”

 

Other pregnancy posts I wrote:

Prenatal Yoga For Experienced Yogis

I Am Going to Miss Being Pregnant!

I Am Going to Miss Being Pregnant!

  37 weeks pregnant

Well, I’m 37 weeks and 4 days pregnant and according to my OB, baby is starting to make her way down and has dropped into the pelvis. As the reality sinks in that I’m about to have my second child, I find myself holding on tightly to staying pregnant as long as I can. Part of the reason is because I don’t plan on having a third child, so I know I won’t experience all the joys and pains of pregnancy again. And that makes me a bit sad. Pregnancy is truly a miracle… and I don’t want to forget what it’s like.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the exhaustion, the sickness, the anxiety, watching the numbers on the scale going up and up and up… and by the third trimester, the troubles falling asleep, needing to pee, carrying a tennis ball in my purse so I can relieve my back and rib aches, and religiously taking a bath every night just to feel weightless and pain free for a few minutes of the day.  But there are some wonderful sides of pregnancy, and I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5 blessings of being pregnant:

1) I Love Eating

Average weight gain during a normal single pregnancy should be between 25 to 35 pounds.  With that said, when a pregnant woman has a craving… let her indulge in it.  With my first child, I craved curly fries.  That turned into craving eggs and cheese on toast every morning, and then I just wanted anything dairy.  Yogurt and ice cream, specifically.  Everyday.  Every night. (Note: I also ended up with 9 cavities and 2 root canals after that pregnancy…).  With my second child, I started craving Mexican food in the first half of pregnancy.  Guacamole, cheese, sour cream, steak… and then the remainder of my pregnancy has been CHOCOLATE.  Peppermint hot chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, and all types of cheap to expensive chocolate candy… I just can’t resist.  And I can’t stop either.  For example, I ate this box today.  Just in the past 12 hours.

Pregnancy CravingsNot good… and definitely not looking forward to my next dentist visit.  But the best part is, who cares?  Normally I try to eat pretty healthy, but since I’m gaining weight anyways and I’m within the normal weight gain range, I might as well eat what I want to eat!  I love it, this is my time to indulge and I don’t feel guilty at all!

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2) Why Hello, Stranger

Pregnancy is one of the rare socially acceptable times when strangers are just friendlier… and not in a weird or creepy way.  Every few days or so, I’ll be out at the grocery store or just walking through the neighborhood, and a kind stranger will just say, “Congratulations,” or “You look beautiful,” or simply smile when their eyes make contact with my belly.  People make more effort to hold a door open when I walk by, or pick up something I dropped on the floor.  Even friends or acquaintances often ask to touch my belly.  Of course, this would normally be very awkward and my shy self would probably quickly turn away.  However, I love that being pregnant breaks down barriers and instead, sparks up conversations.  Everyone just seems happier and more friendly around pregnant people.

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3) It’s OK To Accept Help

In the third trimester, the belly is obviously reaching its maximum, and physically, you feel weaker and less capable of doing everyday things.  For example, I bought two 2.5 gallon Arrowhead dispensers along with my normal groceries.  At checkout, when the cashier asks if I need help to my car, I always answer, “No, thank you.” But when someone’s pregnant, the cashier asks in more of a “We’d really like to help you, and you should let us” tone, and they’re right.  Pregnant woman shouldn’t be taking extra risks like carrying 40 pounds of water when our balance is completely off, and we should allow ourselves to have some help during this time.  It takes a while to get used to, especially if you are like me and don’t ever ask for help… but when it is offered, I’ve learned to say, “Ok, sure.”  At home, this has even translated to my husband offering to wash dishes after work at night to my 3-year-old daughter offering to help me put on my socks and shoes (which, by the way, is probably one of the hardest tasks of my day!).  Just say yes, ladies.  Let others help you!

Help with Socks

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4) Relax

Pregnancy is a time to slow down.  That is something hard for me because I usually pack my days with activities and go go go.  However, especially in the first and third trimester, pure fatigue kicks in and all you want to do is sleep.  In the first trimester, I would sometimes arrive at my daughter’s preschool 10 minutes early, and I would instantly be able to take a 10 minute nap in the car.  At home, I sometimes just fell asleep on the couch as my daughter worked on a puzzle next to me.  I learned that I couldn’t pack my days as full as before, and now in the third trimester, I try to sleep whenever I can… sleeping soon after I put my daughter down, taking naps on the weekends, letting my husband show my daughter a video so I can close my eyes for an hour in the middle of the day.

If this is your first pregnancy and you don’t have to chase a toddler around, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR FREEDOM!!!  Go to the movie theater, go out to fancy dinners that are not kid-appropriate, get a pre-natal massage, watch 5 seasons of a show non-stop, sleep all day if you’re tired!!!  Splurge and get as much rest as you can!!!  When we are pregnant, we need to listen to our bodies and rest.  I think it’s our body’s way of preparing us before the newborn arrives… storing up as much sleep as possible!  So don’t fight it.  If you are pregnant, you have a very valid excuse for needing to relax!  Enjoy it!

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5) A Little Alien

By far, the best part of being pregnant is during the third trimester, when you can really feel your baby moving in your belly.  There is no doubt when you feel a kick, or you see an elbow or knee gliding under the surface of your skin.  Yes, it does seem a little strange and alien-like at first, but it is absolutely what I will miss most about being pregnant.  A physical reminder that you are literally growing a tiny miracle inside of you.  A real, human being.  It is so amazing to feel that connection with your baby, knowing they can hear your voice, they can feel your warmth, and already sense your love and emotions for them.  I wish I could capture more of my baby’s movements, but it is actually pretty hard since the movements are sporadic.  Here is a short glimpse of my little one:

Technically, I have two and a half more weeks until my due date, but I think this one is going to come early.  Hopefully only a week early.  Of course, I can’t wait to meet her in person and hold her in my arms.  However, until then, I am cherishing every single second having her inside my belly.  I am going to miss being pregnant!!!

Prenatal Yoga For Experienced Yogis

Prenatal Yoga Modifications Anjali Mudra

If you had a regular yoga practice for at least one year before getting pregnant, than this post is for you.  Maintaining your yoga practice throughout your pregnancy will help you feel better physically by stretching out areas that are achy, keeping your body strong and limber, and allowing you to sleep better at night.  More importantly, yoga will help you let go of stress, worry, anxiety, and will help you learn how to use your breath to stay calm, whether it is during a pose where your legs are shaking, or during your actual labor!

Pregnancy is not really the time to be trying to push new limits and explore new advanced poses.  There are many classes specifically designed as “Prenatal Yoga” and will ensure that every pose is appropriate for all level students.  This is a perfect option for any pregnant woman, especially beginning yogis.  However for experienced yogis who may want a slightly more vigorous practice, you can easily continue practicing yoga in your regularly scheduled classes using the modifications below:

#1) Widen Your Stance

Since pregnancy can throw off your balance and center of gravity, create a more stable base by standing with feet almost mat-width apart versus together, such as in Mountain PosePrenatal Yoga Modifications Anjali Mudra Mountain

This will also help during the transition into sun salutations, creating space for your belly during your Standing Forward Bend.  Prenatal Yoga Modifications Forward Bend

Even Chair Pose may feel better with the legs wide.  Prenatal Yoga Modifications Chair

On the floor in Child’s Pose, separate the knees extra wide to allow the belly and chest to sink towards the floor.  Prenatal Yoga Modifications Child's Pose

And in seated poses, such as Seated Forward Bend, I often take a Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend since that just feels so good.Prenatal Yoga Modifications Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend

#2) Stay Off The Belly

Most classes will have students move through a Baby Cobra or Sphinx Pose, especially as part of a sun salutation.  Obviously after the first half of pregnancy, it just doesn’t feel right “smooshing” the baby, so great modifications include doing Cat and Cow Pose, or if your spine and core feel strong, doing Upward Facing Dog.Prenatal Yoga Modifications Cat

Prenatal Yoga Modifications CowAnother example of a common pose in class that lies on the belly is Locust or Bow Pose.  Cat and Cow Pose can again be an alternative, or some yogis who may feel comfortable in deeper backbends can do Camel Pose.Prenatal Yoga Modifications Camel

#3) Open Your Twists

As the baby gets bigger, the belly can get in the way during some twists.  The general rule is to prevent the belly from compressing into another body part, i.e. usually your front or top leg.  An example is in Twisting Chair, we normally bring our hands together and twist the opposite elbow to thigh.  However, the belly will eventually have no room to twist, so a modification is to keep the torso upright and stay in an Open Arm Twisting ChairPrenatal Yoga Modifications Twisting Chair

A similar example is in Revolved Crescent Lunge.  Simply keep the torso upright and stay in an Open Arm Crescent Lunge Twist. Prenatal Yoga Modifications Twisting Crescent Lunge

Some yogis may prefer not even twisting towards your midline, and will change the pose completely.  For example, if in class the instructor says to do a Revolved Triangle, just perform a regular Triangle Pose, which opens the belly away from the rest of the body.  Prenatal Yoga Modifications Triangle

Similarly in any kind of Seated Twist, twist outwards to give the belly plenty of breathing room.Prenatal Yoga Modifications Seated Twist

#4) Is Supine Right For You?

Lying on your back when pregnant is comfortable for some, and absolutely unbearable for others.  Abdominal and Core Work on the back may feel fine for a few individuals, while other yogis may choose to hold a Supported Boat Pose in order to stay more upright.  If either of those options are not appealing, skip abdominal work completely.Prenatal Yoga Modifications Boat Pose

In Savasana, I prefer rolling to my left side for the last few minutes of class, but I have friends that have no issues lying on their back for 5-10 minutes.  If you want to get really comfortable, take a Side-Lying Savasana.  Those with access to props can try lying on your left side with a blanket underneath your head and a bolster between your legs, maybe even a blanket over your whole body and something to cover your eyes… Ahhh…Prenatal Yoga Modifications Side Lying Savasana

#5) Use Extra Support When Needed

At any point in your pregnancy, don’t be shy to use whatever extra support you may need.  Blocks are commonly used in Prenatal Yoga classes such as during Sun Salutations when stepping back and forth from a Standing Forward Bend to Lunge.  Prenatal Yoga Modifications Halfway Lift Forward Fold

During balance poses, it’s ok to move to a wall and allow yourself to have a little more assistance and stability.  As the baby grows, our core also gets weaker.  So if you are straining to keep good form in a Plank Pose, come to a Kneeling Plank and you will still work your core.  In fact, the knees can always lower to the mat such as doing a Low Lunge versus a High Lunge, or during Chaturanga.Prenatal Yoga Modifications  Low Lunge With Blocks

#6, 7, 8, 9, and 10) Listen To Your Body!!!

There are all sorts of recommendations for prenatal yoga “do’s and don’ts.”  I am not an expert besides what I have experienced in my first pregnancy 3 years ago and what I am currently experiencing 8 months into my second pregnancy.  But I do know that everyone is different and only you know what feels right and what doesn’t.  All of the modifications above are safe and generally agreed upon by most prenatal yoga teachers.

However, traditionally, these would be off limits: Backbends, Jumping, and Inversions.  As a yoga teacher, I would recommend avoiding all three to be on the safe side.

As a pregnant yogi currently… I admit to doing all three of these in my own practice, simply because I always move slowly, consciously, and am 100% sure of what I am doing before I do it.  For the most part, if you were able to do Backbends like Wheel Pose before you became pregnant, then it is still fine to continue doing them.  I personally love doing Extended Puppy Pose to stretch out my back.Prenatal Yoga Modifications Extended Puppy

Of course, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!  Plow Pose is an example of something that I could do before, but as my abdominal muscles and core have been disappearing these past few months, I am more and more carefully moving into Plow Pose without using any momentum, ie. swinging the legs.  What we want to do is be careful not to force our bodies into a position because then we stop practicing with mindfulness and intention, and that’s where injuries could happen.

As for Jumping such as from a Standing Forward Bend into Chaturanga, continuously ask yourself how you are feeling and if it feels light and smooth, or not.  That will be your answer to when you should stop jumping.  And finally, Inversions… just be 100% confident that you know how to move in and out of the pose safely.  OK, be 150% confident, or else use the wall, or skip them entirely.

One note about heat: Make sure the class you take is heated to a temperature you are comfortable in.  Avoid becoming overheated, as this could cause additional dangers such as dizziness or even pre-term labor.  Always stay hydrated before, during, and after class!

Listen. To. Your. Body.

I cannot emphasize this enough.  No matter what you read or what anyone tells you, pregnancy is unique to each individual and you have to use your own intuition during your yoga practice.  If it feels good, keep going!  If it doesn’t feel good, stop!  Let go of all ego, habits, and expectations, especially if you had a strong practice before pregnancy.  Respect the changes your body is going through and approach each yoga practice with the simple intention of feeling better and staying healthy, and then let your body guide you.

Wishing you a happy, safe, and yoga-filled pregnancy!!!

Prenatal Yoga Modifications Lotus Pose

All photo credits in this blog are given to Marin Power Yoga. Thank you Jamie Ginsberg for taking the time to help me not only capture this miraculous phase of my life, but also share my love of yoga with other pregnant women!

 

Halloween Pregnancy Costume 2014: Turtle

Halloween Front Door Decorations

Last year, we dressed up as a family around my daughter’s choice of being a “fish” for Halloween, which specifically turned into a “Finding Nemo” family costume theme.  This year, my 3-year-old daughter chose to be a “turtle,” so of course we had to find a way to create a “Turtle” family costume theme.  One factor that makes this year different than any other Halloween is that I am 7 months pregnant… so I began brainstorming how to incorporate my pregnant belly into our costume theme.  I found other pregnancy ideas where people painted their bellies, but I didn’t want to expose my belly to the cold, rainy, weather, and also I’m  not much of an artist!  Here’s what I came up with instead:

1) Find a Green Shirt and Black Outer Layer

I was lucky that I had one green t-shirt, which had now become tight-fitting around the belly.  There were logos on the front and back, but fortunately they got all covered up by my outside black jacket.  I was able to zip the jacket on the top half, and I folded the bottom edges back towards my waist to create an open space to work with.

Halloween Pregnancy Costume Making a Turtle

The first step: finding a tight fitting green shirt and a black jacket that could zip halfway open!

2) Create a Turtle Shell Pattern

The easiest thing I found were sticker felt sheets at Michael’s Arts & Crafts store.  They had many shades of green, but I liked the sparkly ones the best.

Michaels Green Sparkly Felt Sticker

8 1/2 x 11 sticker sheet of green sparkly felt paper.

I only had one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, so I just tried to maximize the space by cutting 6 circles and 1 larger oval (cut in half for the center piece).  I arranged them as symmetrically as I could on my belly to create a turtle shell.

Halloween Pregnancy Costume Turtle Shell

Love these sticker felt sheets. Just cut and stick!

3) Create a Turtle Head, Arms, Legs, and Tail

I also bought a plain green sticker felt sheet which I used to cut out a triangle head, 2 arm flippers, 2 legs, and a small triangle tail.  Get some fun wiggly eyes too!

Green Felt Sticker Sheet Michaels

8 1/2 x 11 green felt sticker sheet from Michael’s Arts & Crafts.

I placed the head at the base of my black jacket, right above the turtle shell, and the two arm flippers on the side flaps of my black jacket.  The two leg pieces fit under my hip bones on my pants, and the tail in the center of my pants.  Again, stickers are awesome.

Halloween Pregnancy Costume Turtle Snorkler Diver

4) Snorkler Finishing Touches

I had our snorkling/diver mask set from last year’s costume, so it was perfect to reuse.

Scuba Diving Snorkel and Mask

Wear black from head to toe, put on the snorkeling set, and place your hands around the belly as if you are “holding” the turtle… and there you have it!  A Halloween pregnancy costume using the belly as a turtle!

Halloween Pregnancy Costume Snorkler and Turtle

Look what I found while snorkeling! A 7 month old (female) turtle!

See the rest of the family dressed up all as turtles here: Halloween Family Costume 2014: Turtles!