Thursday, September 8, 2011

First class teaching in four months!

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Yesterday I taught for the first time in four months!  I'm so grateful to have had the chance.  The class was small and full of seasoned practitioners.  It was nice to see these friends and show them a really cute picture of my little guy who is 3.5 months old.

I had many doubts about teaching.  I plan to return to regular teaching in October, so this was a test balloon if you will.  It was no problem and was great fun!  Lots of dialogue rolled off my tongue.  There were a few places where I didn't have the words I sought but it was certainly not evident to the students.  Places I want to brush up on: Standing Separate Head-to-Knee pose, Triangle (always), Cobra and the entire spine strengthening series... and Rabbit.  I actually forgot the pose name of rabbit.  The students reminded me.

I believe my tone has changed a lot since training and now since motherhood.  I knew there were those in class who hadn't been in a while and who needed encouragement but not too much pushing.  I think I hit a great balance, because one woman who was nervous before class said she felt lucky that she picked this class for her return.

I made it to class myself before teaching which was wonderful.  My body has been crying out for yoga which I'm able to supply only some of the time.  I've been rebuilding my strength at the gym when possible.  All the relaxin has left my body and the ligaments have tightened right up!  In one sense, it is great to feel that rigidity of structure again.  On the other hand, I feel all kinked up from three months of being hunched over the baby breastfeeding.

I kicked out in Standing Head-to-Knee pose for the first time in over a year I think.  Man did it feel great.  Last year at this time I had just found out I was pregnant and was having the first trimester ickies.  What a long hard rewarding year it has been.  I still have a long way to go with my physical goals but I do feel a sense of emergence.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Yoga with a babe.

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 Needless to say everything has changed; here I am posting at 2am because it's my "free" time - I'm hooked up to the pump with a hands free bustier on!  So I have a bit of time to type before heading back to bed and snagging as much sleep as I can before the 5am feeding.

I have been practicing Gary Kraftsow's Viniyoga Series for Hip Therapy found here:
I think it's a great series to help restore things around my c-section area, both in terms of scar tissue and just general hip and stomach fitness.  It gets in nice and deep and is not too challenging when I'm so drained that I can't do much more.

I am headed back for my third bikram class tomorrow - I'm very excited to get into the studio.  Last class I did was quite hot and it totally left me drained... but in a good way.  It's so wonderful to work hard like that and my body craves it.  I did most of class, even added the situps in the floor series.  However I did sit some sets late standing series and was very much "done" by the end of class.

We will see what tomorrow brings.

So the first few months with a babe is so hunched over!  And so much time parked under my little man, sitting.  My hips and lower back don't feel great I'll just say that.  I would be doing bikram every day if I could but I'm still pretty sleep deprived and unless he sleeps during the day, I don't have a chance to practice, even in a non-heated way (like just dabbling.)  Still, I will get my practice and my body back.  It's just a matter of time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

first class back

wow. don't have much time so I'll keep it brief.

Manny was born via c section. his umbilical cord was tied in a true knot. when the cord knot cinched, thankfully my hobby saw the heartrate drop and flagged someone down, we were in the operating room in 10 minutes. Hubby may very well have saved the baby's life. I also came down with bells palsy before the birth and still half of my face is not moving. this is supposedly temporary.

so it was not the birth I imagined and recovery has been slower than I have liked. Still I made it to class today. Manny is four weeks old. Class was challenging and I won't get into it except to say I feel better than I have in ages. I am so grateful for my practice.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Third Trimester on the Mat

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Do you notice the neutral title of this blog post?  If you don't have anything nice to say... don't say anything, right?

I'm just kidding.  Let's start with saying some nice things about practicing Bikram in the third trimester.

  • In general, I'm free of back pain
  • In general, I'm free of hip pain
  • Class leaves me feeling less pregnant and more human
  • Many students offer me words of encouragement for even being there, which I drink up.
  • Exercise is good for me and the little one on board!
  • My blood pressure is great.
As one gets bigger, everything gets harder.  Balance is a dream best left behind.  The lung capacity shrinks, standing bow is a wibble-wobble fest... etc.
I tend to try my best through the standing series and depending on the teacher and the heat, I usually make it through the postures.  Triangle, which used to be my nemesis before training, is now one of my favorite poses, though I don't hold it for all four sets every class.  Second part of awkward and the standing balancing poses are kind of a joke.  I do them, I do my best, but I spend way more time falling out and getting back in than I do in the actual poses.
When I get to the floor, I do my best but at rabbit (which we substitute with seated butterfly pose), I don't go down on the floor for savasanas - I just stay upright seated between the poses.  At that point I don't need to be racing to the side-lying savasana and getting back up.
I've also substituted a wide legged twist that allows for the belly - I learned it in an Iyengar class and it's just way better than trying to do some sort of ardha matsyandrasana with the belly in the way.  Oh I so wish I could find a picture of it - if you have a burning desire to see it email me and I will be happy to snap a pic and send it to you.  It's a wonderful way to twist while pregnant.

I'm officially 33 weeks now and my belly is WOW - HUMONGOUS.  I'm quite proud I've kept up with my practice and teaching.  I do teach still, though I teach the floor series seated, getting up to help people with corrections.  I find that practicing then teaching is still something I can do but it leaves me drained the following day.  At this point, anything that gets me out of my own head and burns hours of the third trimester is a good thing.  I love seeing the students at the studio and talking about yoga, I love giving a good hard bikram butt-kicking to these dear students, leaving them feeling all sweaty and wrung-out and recharged.

I look at their practices with sheer envy - just missing the ability to work hard like that, to do all the poses, to do situps and compression poses.  I cannot WAIT to get back to my practice for real.

Soon enough!  Soon enough.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Getting harder.

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Bikram practice is definitely getting more challenging!  My third trimester officially started yesterday which means I'm in the twelve-week countdown period until my due date!  This coincides with a greatly enlarged belly, decreased lung capacity, and all the requisite lack in stamina that goes along with those conditions.

I have found myself sort of huffing and puffing my way through the floor series which has always been the easier part of class for me.  Just moving up and down from pose to savasana is awkward and tiring by the end of class so I've made some adjustments.  There are times that I stay sitting up from rabbit through the end of class since situps are out at this point as well.

Yesterday was my marathon take then teach two classes back to back as I do most Mondays.  I did not work my hardest in the standing series because I knew I needed the energy left to teach.  Normally, when I practice, I emerge energized and ready to blast the students with my energy - but during pregnancy especially the back half of pregnancy it doesn't really work that way.  There's not a bunch of extra energy floating around to tap into.

Not maxing out meant honoring my heartburn and not going too deep into forward bends (hands on the floor in front of me for padahastasana and sep legs stretching) and for the first time, and this is sad to me, but I put my elbow on my knee for the first set of triangle.  I did do the second set.  Still, even with all of these modifications, I was sweating and working hard in class.  In our studio, we substitute full wheel (backbend) for bow pose as an I'm-feeling-awesome-and-strong modification.  We also can do the standard hip raise instead.

I tried to push up into wheel and it didn't feel very good in my mid-back.  So... I'm going to try to be flexible (ha ha) and allow myself the chance to do/not do what feels right at that point for the rest of my pregnancy.  There was a time where I felt like the pregnancy modifications were taking away from my class but now as I approach the end I couldn't practice without them.

With the entrance to my third trimester I'm looking forward gratefully to the days when my babe is on the outside of my body and I can return to practicing real Bikram!!!!  Even if it's in a hot closet in my house early in the mornings when I've had no sleep, I'm craving those forward bends and compression poses like no one's business.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In the mix... Third Trimester is here!

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I'm plugging away at this pregnancy, it seems... on Valentine's Day my third trimester will start.  Yoga is my savior now and I greatly appreciate and need all the pregnancy modifications to the Bikram series.  I've had some days where I've needed a nap more than a yoga class - days where the heat seems like the wrong place for me to be, and I trust those instincts.  However, my body really needs and wants the practice, having missed classes due to snow and exhaustion for the better part of a week.

Today I get to practice!  Woohoo!  And I don't even have to teach to go along with it.  It's truly a gift when I get to be "just a student" in the studio.

The aspects of practice that I feel are benefiting me the most are as follows:

The Heat:
Being in a nice warm humid room for ninety minutes is wonderful in these cold New England winter days.  The heat stimulates detoxification of the skin.  I'm not leaning on the heat to gain flexibility these days, I am instead working strength in the poses and breathing.  But the heat feels so good.  As a pregnant person, hot tubs are contraindicated.  But since my bikram practice is consistent, my body has the ability to regulate core temperature while doing the series.  So it's like being in the sauna or hot tub, which I'm not supposed to do.

Pranayama Breathing:
As the baby takes up more and more room, my lungs are taking a hit.  I'm out of breath from little things like walking into work from my car and even from putting on shoes and socks.  In bed, sleeping can be uncomfortable because of reduced lung capacity and increased weight.  So for the seven minutes at the beginning of class where I take deep, deep breaths and use the body shapes to create more lung capacity, I'm in heaven.  Well let's be honest... sometimes it's hard but by the second set I'm feeling the increase.

Standing Series Workout:
The standing series is such a wonderful cardiovascular, strength and flexibility workout all rolled into one.  My heart pounds more now than ever in the past.  By the time I hit the floor I'm always so grateful for the chance to have participated.

Floor Series Stretch:
The floor series during pregnancy is not nearly as challenging as it is non-pregnant.  However I do enjoy practicing in a more mindful and meditative way.  It's quite appropriate for pregnancy.

Some specific notes about the series: because of the constant change of my body shape now, the second part of awkward is really hard for me to hold my balance!  I'm always tipping one way or another.  I finally held the pregnant (ashtanga) version of head to knee for more than five seconds on a side last week.  It's quite a hard pose.  I always enjoy my downward dogs even as I miss all the head to knee poses.  Can't wait to do cobra and rabbit again.

I taught a back to back last week (teaching the 4 and 6 pm classes) and I will not be doing that again while pregnant!  Teaching is quite challenging as the lung capacity decreases.  I've mellowed quite a bit and am not in rapid fire mode.  It's just gotta be that way.  I'm currently trying to lighten my already light teaching load to allow for full focus on practice these last few months.

That's all for now... much love!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Good Class = Bad Class = Just Class

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I'm currently 23.5 weeks pregnant and I can feel our little guy kicking up a storm inside me as I type!  I've definitely popped out a bit and have a nice round bump which is quite fun.  I've been practicing 3-4 times a week still and I am quite certain it's helping with back and pelvis discomfort, and also helping me sleep well on days that I practice.  Other days... preggo insomnia is crazy.  You go to sleep, get up to pee, then have to go BACK to sleep... therein lies the problem.

Anyway, with the baby bump comes all the joys of the physical expansion side of pregnancy.  I've stopped even trying to do a deep backbend in half moon.  It doesn't feel right.  Same with Camel - just inflating the pose with the breath is the way to go.  I quite enjoy the pregnancy modifications for spine strengthening series.   I miss the head to knee poses a bunch though.

I've started working with two other preggos in my studio which has been great fun.  Important points I share with them:

  • In general, as the relaxin kicks in, focus on strength in poses rather than using the relaxin to go further in the poses.  
  • 6 inch foot separation in the half moon backbend always, and be gentle as the shape of the spine changes
  • do NOT crank "stomach thighs hips forward" (in any backbending pose)
  • add 6 inch foot separation in any pose at any time if it feels better in the pelvis
  • eagle may start to feel a little scrunchy in the pelvis, if it does, don't go as far with the leg wrap (this pose is contraindicated in some yoga traditions - esp. Iyengar)
  • Head to Knee modification is difficult, so don't forget to focus on the standing leg first
  • Down dog replaces separate leg head to knee, have someone check your form if you have questions
  • Locust Pose - on hands and knees - do not collapse in the belly area as you lift the leg.  Keep the spine relatively parallel to the floor
  • Tailor sit for both sets of rabbit.  Watch Rabbit.  Miss it. :)
  • Don't scrunch anything in last two poses.  This is harder than it seems.
  • Kapalabhati Breathing is contraindicated for pregnancy.  Just do six counts in and six counts out.
  • This is not a total list of modifications by any means!! Check with a qualified teacher.

And, when you need to rest, do so.  When you feel overheated or nauseated, stop and if it doesn't pass quickly, step out of the room if you need to.  The other day I was done before camel.  I had wanted to stay home and nap so I considered it a win just to get through the standing series.  Also I taught the class afterward and needed my energy!  Non-pregnant, practicing fuels me for teaching.  While pregnant, it's always up in the air.  There have been two classes where I needed to leave the room when I knew the heat was normal.  It was just me.  Some days in the second trimester, I'm rock solid and can practice balls-to-the-wall.  But I assume nothing.

You learn at training... good class, bad class, it's all just class.  You go in without preconceptions and practice, and check your ego at the door, doing the best for you that day.