In addition to my love for yoga, you may (or may not) be surprised that Pilates has been a part of my life for almost as long as yoga. And normally when you think of Pilates you think abs...which is true, but there is so much more to it. I had a great reminder of that today when I went to my first private session of the new year. I have been having major hip pain since Friday and was doing everything I could to figure out WTH was causing it. I used my Yoga Tune-Up balls, I was doing yoga poses that I knew could help but NOTHING was working. It got to the point yesterday that I couldn't even carry my 8 month old. I almost cancelled my Pilates class but I didn't because I knew I was in good hands with Lauren at Studio Technique Pilates.
Lauren is amazing. AMAZING. She knew I had this injury and she tailored the practice for it. And my hip pain subsided BIG TIME. We did very little ab work (I still have a bit of diastasis so I need to avoid crunches and planks) but did a ton of leg work on the reformer. It turns out that all my stretching likely aggravated my hip and I what I needed was to strengthen the muscles around it. (I feel kind of embarrassed that I didn't realize this...after all, all my yoga training has taught me this. But. I blame my mom brain!) . Moral of the story is, don't underestimate the value of those workouts that don't seem intense...because sometimes less turns out to be more! THANK YOU LAUREN for making me like a normal human being again!!!
If you are in the Burlington area, you will definitely want to check out Studio Technique. Lauren and her team of instructors are excellent and the studio offers and a wide range of classes (including barre classes and mommy and baby classes!)
I honestly thought I would be able to jump back into to doing yoga NO PROBLEM within a couple of weeks of having a baby. I WAS WRONG. And I'm sure my friends out there reading this are telling me, I told you so! But honestly, who listens to people when they give you advice?? :) And for the anatomy geek that I am, I am embarrassed to say that I really didn't quite understand the impact of having a baby did to my body.
I am so lucky to have met Stephanie Riley-Sookram of Warrioress Fitness a couple of years ago. She is a certified personal trainer who specializes in pre and post-natal fitness and is also a Core Confidence Specialist certified by Bellies Inc. meaning she can train women who have diastasis recti and/or pelvic floor dysfunction. I signed up for her Mommy and Baby Core 6 week series a mere three weeks after my little guy was born. People thought I was crazy but a) I needed to get out of the house and b) I wanted to start incorporating some gentle movement back into my life. Contrary to what you may think, her core series isn't all about sit-ups and planks. In fact, we did none of that. The movements she took us through incorporated core breathing to strengthen your pelvic floor (which hello, after 2.5 hours of pushing took a bit of a beating!) and reduce the diastasis I had (I started off with a 4 finger separation!!). For more information on diastasis recti, click here.
Now, after the 6 weeks, my pelvic floor was MUCH stronger (I no longer leaked upon sneezing or coughing) and my diastasis was reduced to a 2 finger separation. BUT I wasn't very good about incorporating my core breathing throughout my daily life and I returned to doing planks and vigorous exercise earlier than I should have.
So, here I am, back at Mommy and Baby Core for round 2! And I am doing my core breathing exercises daily. More importantly, I have modified my yoga practice so not to aggravate the diastasis further - no planks, no navasana, no sit-ups/crunches and a whole lot of yin and restorative! And so far, I am feeling MUCH BETTER.
If you are in the Halton or Peel region and are interested in attending the Mommy and Baby Core class, please reach out to Stephanie here and if you are interested in postnatal yoga that focuses on healing the core, I will be running a 4 week session starting in February! Details are here.
Ok so this isn't a yoga related post but it is a wellness related one! After my little guy was born, I was on the hunt for less chemical laden beauty products. Although I am a minimalist when it comes to makeup, I love moisturizers, cleansers, exfoliants (although I don't use them as much as I should) and lip gloss! So when I came across Beautycounter and learned of their commitment to a health and safety standard that goes beyond what is legally required in Canada and the US. They exclude over 1500 questionable and harmful chemicals from their products (The Never List).
Based on the products I have used so far, these are my top 5 recommendations:
1) Cleansing Balm - If you are looking for an all-in-one cleanser, moisturizer and make-up remover, this is it! I'm usually a foamy cleanser type of gal but this is one exception to my rule. Bonus: It comes with a cotton muslin cleansing cloth!
2) Charcoal Cleansing Bar - I will be the first to admit that I was unsure about using charcoal on my face (I mean, it's used to BBQ!)...but I'll admit that my skin has felt "cleaner" and my sun spots aren't as noticeable!
3) Dew Skin Moisturizer - I am not huge fan of foundation. It could be that I'm not using the correct brand but regardless, I have found my solution. This moisturizer is tinted and gives your skin a "dewy" glow (hence the name!) - and it is really quick to put on. A must for someone with kids!!
4) No. 3 Balancing Facial Oil - I know...facial oil? I thought the same thing. But...this has been a godsend in this dry, cold weather. I put 2 drops on under a moisturizer both in the morning and before bed.
5) Lip Conditioner (in Calendula) - I get chapped lips almost year round but obviously more frequently in the winter when the weather is cold and dry. I'm pretty sure I've used this 542094 times so far (and it's not even technically winter yet!). Also comes in Peppermint!
So there you have it, my top 5 Beautycounter products. Since it was hard to narrow it down to 5 products, I'm going to note the following honourable mentions:
Any questions you may have, feel free to ask away!!!
As part of my Yoga for Athletes teacher training (with Sage Rountree, who by the way is an excellent teacher), I had to write a blog post about yoga and how athletes could benefit from it by incorporating it into their training. So naturally, I chose baseball but this can obviously be applied to many other sports!
By the way, I am teaching a Yoga for Athletes class at Liberty Life Yoga on Oct 14th at 12:15pm...would love to see you there! And now, the blog post:
I have been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember. After becoming a yoga teacher, I began to watch (Major League) baseball with a more critical eye. I started to take note when players got injured, their types of injuries and whether or not they would continue to play through their injuries. I found myself wondering if baseball players incorporated yoga into their training routine - could it help reduce the likelihood of injuring and minimize the “burnout” feeling towards the end of the season???
I would recommend the following poses to help complement their training program by maintaining strength, increasing flexibility (when needed) and helping a player develop focus during a game.
Pose for Pre-Season - Alternating Downward Dog and Plank
Downward dog is a great pose for the pre-season as it strengthens and stretches both the upper and lower body. Plank helps to build core strength, which will be especially beneficial for catchers whose low backs have a tendency to become overstretched from holding the crouched stance for long periods of time. Plank also helps recruit the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint as well as the quadriceps to assist the core.
Pose for Season – Alternating Low Lunge and Runner’s Lunge
This is great pre-game stretch as it warms up the quads, hamstrings and hip flexors without compromising muscle strength. The key is to stretch dynamically – holding the poses for no longer than 2-3 breaths. Arms can either be raised toward the ceiling during the low lunge or for an added stretch for the front of the body the arms can be clasped behind the low back.
Pose for the Post-Season – Legs up the Wall
This pose should be done after each playoff game as it has both physical and mental benefits. Physically, it relieves tired leg muscles and helps reduce swelling in the legs and feet. Mentally, it helps calm the nervous system (which can be in overdrive especially during a playoff game) and it helps quiet the mind.
The poses above are just a small sample of the many possible poses that can help limit a baseball player’s time on the disabled list. It is important to note that the types of yoga poses that will benefit a baseball player will differ at each point in the full training season – from pre-season to the playoffs.
I have been on the fence about doing the Energy Makeover since I was in my second trimester of pregnancy at the beginning of this year. I finally decided to join, but not necessarily for the reasons you would think. (I mean, ok, I do want to get stronger and eat better and if weight loss is a by-product, then who am I to complain?)
1) It Will Help Reduce Injuries
What?? You may be thinking - won't it potentially cause more injuries? Potentially. But yogis love to lay in their joints. They love to sink into their hip joints in pigeon. They may mistakenly sink into their shoulder joint during side plank. You get the picture.
This is why, contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of yoga injuries. When you lay/sink into a muscle joint, ligaments may stretch. Ligaments are not meant to stretch and because they lack blood flow, they do not heal very quickly. (Think the infamous ACL injuries many athletes suffer from.)
The Energy Makeover will help build muscles that are weak - especially those areas around the joint - and therefore reduce the likelihood of injuries.
2) It Will Identify Muscular Imbalances
We all have them. We are more dominant one side and therefore, stronger on one side. Identifying muscle imbalances is important because it will allow you to strengthen that weaker side. And you guessed it, help reduce injuries (see #1).
3) But What About My Flexibility?
What about it? I think it will indirectly increase my flexibility because it will actually allow me to identify those tight (vs weak) muscles and actually create a yoga sequence that will address those muscles.
So there you have it. A yogi's perspective on the Energy Makeover. I will try to post weekly updates on my progress (i.e. likely pics of me lying in a pool of sweat). To learn more about the Energy Makeover, click here. To learn more about Anne Matthews, creator of the Energy Makeover, fertility focused acupuncturist, personal trainer and all around awesome lady, click here. You can also find her on Instagram at @energytreeanne.
As a yoga teacher, it was almost a given that I would practice yoga while pregnant. I naively thought I would be able to continue my vinyasa flow style practice with modifications to accommodate my growing belly. HOWEVER, that was definitely not the case. I did practice throughout my pregnancy my practice was so different in each of the trimesters.
Poses where you can’t go wrong during all trimesters pregnancy:
While everyone is different, practicing yoga during pregnancy helped me stay somewhat energized, kept my weight in check (I gained about 30lbs – however my son arrived 3 weeks early so keep that in mind!) and really helped calm some of the anxiety that can come with pregnancy. You really can’t go wrong!
Note: Please consult your OB and/or midwife prior to starting any exercise routine (yoga included!)
If you want to learn more, I will be teaching a 5-week prenatal series at Liberty Life Yoga starting September 30th! For more info, please contact email@example.com