As another year rolls around, my birthday wish was fairly simple. It's not a significant birthday this year nor do I need much.
But what was a must-do on my birthday was a yoga class.
I swung my yoga bag on my back and jumped on my bike, pedaling down to my local studio. I knew I had to get out of the house for this birthday wish to come true. I quietly paid and walked into the hot room. My option was a hot class, which is not always my number one choice but nonetheless, it was yoga.
When prompted to place an intention for the class, I silently chose to focus on me and only me. This is my one day of the year (and even moreso since becoming a parent!)
I lucked out for this "me" practice as the studio space included mirrors. I intently watched each pose (as the pose allowed) and focused on a well-positioned body. Listening not only to the teacher's cues, I also zeroed in on my body cues. Honestly, I must have looked like I was figuring out a hard sudoku puzzle. My face reflected back at me with a very concentrated look.
The best part of this birthday wish was a supported savasana. It's like a regular savasana but super sized. Two foam blocks under the hips and head allowed for a glorious torso stretch. I literally and figuratively melted into my body.
How do you focus on yourself? Do you use a mirror in your practice?
What are ways you honour yourself on your birthday?
Are you taking care of yourself?
One year older,
So the fatigue and stomach distress can only mean one thing, I'm pregnant!
Yoga has been a blessing each week as I transition into my second trimester. But with the transition, I am now moving a new body where I have to ensure my yoga is adaptable to my ever growing belly!
Here is what I remember from before (and from my other hat of being an exercise physiologist who specializes in pre/postnatal exercise):
1. Avoid overheating so no hot yoga for now.
2. Modification to supine poses (elevating torso by 20 degrees or so with a towel, block, blanket etc.) after 16-20 weeks due to the compression of the vena cava (large vessel that carries blood back to the heart) when lying flat on my back.
3. Stand close to a chair or wall with balance poses...just in case I feel like I'm going to fall.
4. My joints are more flexible because of the release of the hormone relaxin, which increases joint laxity...everywhere...not just through the pelvis. So, no being a hero with the poses and not to overdoing the obvious increase in range of motion.
When I was pregnant last time through, I was able to take a weekly class with Judy. However, I am on my own this time. As I listed, I recall some poses that need modification but this pregnancy brain of mind isn't always clear.
What do I need to be watchful of and how does my practice change? And, the overarching theme of what can pregnant women safely do in a yoga class?
Yoga Journal has a four part series that outlines a basic overview of modifications in pregnancy then an article for each the first, second and third trimester. With further investigation, I also found an article specifically on contraindications. All five articles are very comprehensive as a student but also for the future teacher in me.
So rather than rehashing the detailed articles, here are a couple more key things for me to remember!
1. Controlled breathing will be very helpful for labour but also ensure I'm not holding my breath during any of the poses. Obviously, not good for babe.
2. No head stands, hand stands or plow poses. Okay, this is pretty obvious that my physical body probably won't let me do such poses but it is really about blood flow and not having blood shunted away from babe. Makes sense!
3. Limit abdominal contractions (i.e. flexion and extension) such as in full boat pose and abdominal stretching such as in bow pose or full cobra pose. Having a strong pelvic floor is much more important than overemphasizing abdominal work right now.
4. Yoga is a great place to practice and ready my body for labour. Holding chair pose for about one minute is challenging just like a contraction. Practising hip opening poses such as bound angle pose will help keep the adductors (inner thigh) flexible which is essential for natural birth.
So, there we have it, a refresher for me and a learning opportunity with my changing body. I'm positive I will stumble on more gems of wisdom over the next 24 weeks!
16 weeks done, April 25 is sure coming fast! Yoga is essential to my prenatal care,
Image: Me at 8 months pregnant...last time around...and more blonde than I remember!
I sort of feel "behind the times". This is sometimes the case - if you only knew I just recently got my first ever cell phone and considered staying with a film camera. Hot yoga has been a craze for some time and for whatever reason I've stayed away.
I wonder if I have not done a hot yoga class because of the preconceived notion that it would totally suck...for the lack of better words. The heat and intensity would be awful and I saw myself needing to leave the room for reprieve from the heat.
This is so not the case!
I entered the room at Yoga Central and the first things that jumped out to me was the warmth (not heat) and the red floor! I settled on to my mat and waited for the class to begin. I did some initial low back stretching with child's pose (balasana) and let my body (and mind) get use to the warmth. I have to admit that I panicked a little bit and my breath shortened. But then class began...
It was a practice much similar to a regular Hatha class. I anticipated that the poses would be rapid fast and my body would be drenched within the first five minutes. Not at all. The pace was perfect and I was, let's say, glowing in the first five minutes. We practiced many downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) poses and I felt I finally could get the release in my calf muscles that I so needed. I felt strong and stretched all at the same time.
The other real benefit beyond what a normal class provides for me is the focus on the breath. It wasn't emphasized to a great extent but for me it was how I coped with the extra warmth of the room and my body. It was something I could control in an environment I couldn't control. Interesting...
At the end of class, I felt little rushes of cool air over my body as I lay in corpse pose (savasana). Was it my mind playing tricks on me or did the teacher lower the temperature in the room? I'm not sure but it was the most refreshing end to a class I'd been avoiding for years!
Curiously, after class, I wanted to know why the class was not referred to as a Bikram class. It seems that hot and Bikram are not necessarily one in the same (kinda like all Catholics are Christian but not necessarily all Christians are Catholic). Bikram yoga has a specific prescription whereby the temperature is standardize as well as the poses, 26 of them, are completed every class. Who knew? So many things to learn!
Hot in Edmonton and ready to try it again,
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.