A Guide To Choosing Props for Online Prenatal Yoga and Pilates

A Guide To Choosing Props for Online Prenatal Yoga and Pilates

So you’ve been enjoying your online prenatal yoga and pilates classes and you’re hooked. You’ve realised how much more convenient it is to do classes online rather than go to the studio. You might be considering investing in some props but you’re not sure where to start looking. So I’ve put together a guide for you including both eco- friendly, budget and DIY options. As a studio owner for 11 years, I’ve tried and tested most of the items on my list so that hopefully the only decision you need to make is what colour.

YOGA PROPS

MAT

 

Eco- Friendly: I love Manduka mats because they last a lifetime so no landfill. The brand stands firmly behind this by offering a life- time guarantee. I’ve had my Manduka mat for 10 years and it’s been used almost daily either indoors, on the grass, sand, concrete, in dirt and in the rain (I’m pretty hard core just like the mat!) and it’s still got many years of yoga ahead of it. These mats are like the BMW of yoga mats- soft, luxurious and non- slippery.

Budget: I don’t recommend a “fitness mat” which is usually narrower than a yoga mat, thicker and is a bit of a tripping hazard. I’m not a fan of the cheap PVC mats mainly because they’re thin, slippery and release toxic gases in production, in use and in it’s disposal. So if you’re on a budget but can afford to spend a little more, these TPE mats from Stretch Now are a good option.

DIY: a towel on the carpet

BOLSTER

What For: In prenatal yoga we use a bolster for baddha konasana (Bound Angle Pose) or resting our head and chest in Balasana (Child’s Pose) or Malasana (supported squat) and for supporting the knees and ankles in side- lying for deep relaxation.

Eco- Friendly: I love the oval organic cotton bolsters made by Stretch Now They’re filled with organic cotton and encased in a zippered, washable 100% organic cotton cover. And they come in the most beautiful patterned or plain designs.

DIY: Staggered folded blankets or a firm pillow wrapped in a blanket.

YOGA BLOCKS

What for: In prenatal yoga we use blocks under the bolster in Supta Baddha Konasana  so you’re only semi supine (and not flat on your back). If your knees are high off the floor in this same pose, you can put a block under each knee to bridge the gap between the knees and the floor. We also use them as an extension of your arms- that is, to create more length and space for your belly and chest in a low lunge or Prasarita Padottanasana (standing wide legged forward bend) or you can sit on a block to help you sit with a neutral pelvis (for optimal foetal positioning) in seated postures.

Eco- Friendly: I love the cork blocks made by Stretch Now. Cork is renewable, sustainable, non toxic and long lasting.

Budget: These foam blocks from KMART come with a strap.

DIY: 2 x 400ml cans 

YOGA STRAP

What for: In prenatal yoga we use a strap for shoulder and chest stretches, to bridge the gap between the hands when we can’t reach or to assist us in seated forward bends.

Eco- Friendly: I love the organic cotton strap from Stretch Now. It’s durable and it comes in lots of beautiful colours.

Budget: this cotton and polyester one that comes with the block from KMART

DIY: a Theraband (latex band), your partner’s tie or belt, a sarong or a skipping rope.

EYE PILLOW

What for: to enhance your deep relaxation at the end of the class (and for yoga nidra throughout pregnancy and in your postpartum while your baby is sleeping).

Eco- Friendly: I love these 100% bamboo eye pillows from Stretch Now They’re so soft and luxurious and filled with flax seeds and dried lavender which work to block out light and provide gentle weight to the pressure points around the eyes and temples. They’re available in some gorgeous colours.=

DIY: an eye mask, a clean sock or a piece of clothing.

PILATES PROPS

BIRTH BALL (Fit Ball/ Stability ball/ Swiss Ball)

What for: It has many useful functions in pregnancy, postpartum and beyond.

In pregnancy it can be used to sit on instead of a chair to optimise the position of your pelvis (for optimal foetal positioning), in yoga and pilates to sit on and do wall squats, to lean over in the later stages of your pregnancy to relieve back pain and to give your baby space to come into a good position, sitting on or leaning over whilst on your knees in labour, for sitting on in the shower or leaning against in the bath during labour.

After you bring your baby home, you can sit on it and rock, do hip circles or gently bounce to settle your baby (and relieve your sore lower back) and finally for exercise (with or without weights). It has many functions and is a great investment. 

When choosing a ball, keep in mind your hips should be higher than your knees so your pelvis is in a neutral position. If your knees are higher, your spine will be in a posterior tilt (rounded). If you’re over 165cm I suggest the 65cm ball but if you’re between 150- 165cm I suggest the 55cm.

Built To Last: these ones from Stretch Now are durable and anti- burst. I used these in my yoga and pilates studio for 10 years and they don’t look a day older.

Budget: the ones from The Reject Shop and Kmart are both similar quality. They’re not designed to last and they’re not anti- burst but they’re ok for the short- term.

THERABAND (Resistance Band)

What for: building strength in the upper and lower body, stretching and as a tactile cue in pilates.

Built To Last: they come in different colours which means different resistance. For prenatal yoga I would suggest the green one which is level 3.

Budget: I would suggest the green ones from Kmart which are medium.

HAND WEIGHTS

What for: building strength in your upper body. I would suggest 1- 2kg for pilates and nothing more. Whilst it might seem light, the more repetitions we do, the heavier they become.

Budget: You can’t beat the 1kg or 2kg weights from Kmart.

FOAM ROLLER

What for:  like the birth ball, it has many useful functions in pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. In pregnancy it can be used in Prenatal Pilates for support and gives the best hip and glute massage. Postnatally it can be used to challenge core exercises and to massage your neck and upper back.

There are half size rollers you can get from Kmart that you can use in pregnancy to massage your glutes but you’ll get more use out of a full size one. When choosing a roller, go for the softer smooth one without the spikes or lumps and bumps like this one from REBEL.

My new Mama Retreat At Home Membership starts May 1. Enjoy a LIVE Prenatal Yoga and a Prenatal Pilates class every week and more. Find out more HERE

 

Are you a tired, pregnant mama? Get your free 20 minute Guided Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra) to take you from exhausted to energised. Fill in your details HERE and I’ll send it to your inbox for you to download.

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A Step By Step Guide to Planning Your Virtual Mother Blessing

A Step By Step Guide to Planning Your Virtual Mother Blessing

Social isolation doesn’t mean you can’t have the Mother Blessing you dreamt of. Thanks to the power of technology, you can gather your closest family and best girl friends for a Virtual Mother Blessing.

A Mother Blessing is similar to a baby shower but instead of the women in your Village celebrating your baby by showering them in gifts, they celebrate you and your transition from maiden to mother and instead of playing games, you practise beautiful rituals. A Mother Blessing is inspired by a sacred Navajo ceremony, called a Blessingway but as a sign of respect, we call it a Mother Blessing or a Baby Blessing.

Here’s my Step- By- Step Guide to Planning Your Virtual Mother Blessing:

4- 6 WEEKS IN ADVANCE

1. Choose Your Organiser/ Host
Ask your mother, sister or best friend to help you plan your Mother Blessing and to be the Facilitator (Host). If you’d prefer to organise it yourself, at least let her be the Virtual Facilitator so you can relax on the day and be showered in love and support.

2. Set a Date
Any time between 32- 38 weeks is an ideal time to have your Mother Blessing.

3. Choose a “Venue”
Your virtual “venue” will depend on the number of guests and the duration of your Mother Blessing. Skype allows up to 50 people and unlimited time, Zoom allows up to 100 guests but only 40 minutes on a free account (100 people and 24 hours on a Pro plan), Facetime allows up to 32 devices and Google Hangouts allows you to see 10 people at once.

4. Create a Guest List
Add to your guest list all the women in your life who love and support you including your grandmother, mother, sisters and best girl friends.

5. Decide on a Theme
Anything positive and uplighting that relates to motherhood for example, Matrescence,The Joys of Motherhood or Motherly Love.

6. Decide How You’d Like to Decorate
You may like to invite your guests to attend your Mother Blessing in a special room in their house or backyard, to set their table with special items like flowers from their garden, to diffuse a particular essential oil blend and use the cutlery and crockery they save for special occasions. You could ask your Host to send or drop off a Care Package to your guests before the event with a special candle, an essential oil blend, flowers and anything you’d like them to use to decorate their space.

7. Consider Gifts
Traditionally at a Mother Blessing, guests create an artwork, do some craft or create a keepsake for you to have with you during birth or for your fourth trimester. It’s challenging virtually, but here’s a few ideas:

  • Create a Playlist: on Spotify for your birth, share it with your guests and ask them to each add a song that reminds them of you. At your Mother Blessing have them explain why they chose this song for you.
  • Organise a Meal Train:for the first 6 weeks after birth: You can create a meal sign- up sheet and assign days and meals to your guests using Meal Train. At your Mother Blessing have your guests tell you what they’re going to make and why they’ve chosen this special dish. After birth, leave an esky on your doorstep for your ‘Village’ to leave meals. Have them text you or your partner to let you know it’s there. If any of your guests don’t cook or consider themselves a good cook, they can organise home delivery from their favourite restaurant and tell you why they think you’ll like it too.
  • Create a Virtual Doula Fund
    Instead of gifts, ask your guests to contribute money (Crowdfund) towards a Virtual Postpartum Doula. Postpartum Doulas aren’t doing in- home support due to social distancing but some are offering their services virtually. They may offer support via facetime, zoom, on the phone or text. Postpartum Doulas can help you plan your postpartum, provide emotional support, help with feeding or sleeping issues with your baby, meal plan or help you be the mother you want to be.

8. Choose the Food
Choose a meal and treats and share the recipes with your guests and have them prepare them so you can enjoy together. Include the links to your recipes on the invite.

9. Send out the invites
Personalise your invite, send them free via text, email or a shareable link, track RSVPs, send messages to your guests and include a link to your virtual Mother Blessing using evite. You can invite your guests to Crowdfund for your Virtual Postpartum Doula on your evite.

P.S Include links to recipes and the details of your gift choice on your invite.

2- 3 WEEKS IN ADVANCE

10. Plan 2- 3 activities for your Mother Blessing. Here’s some ideas:

  • Send each guest a candle and have them light it at your Mother Blessing, share a blessing or a few words about what she wishes for you and then you can blow them all out together. When you start labouring at home, have your birth partner send a message to your ‘Village’ to light their candles so everyone is thinking of you and sending you love.
  • Write a Letter, Poem or story to you and read it to you at your Mother Blessing. Ask them to post them to you afterwards (or email them to the host who can print them out for you) so you can read them anytime you need a reminder that you have a village of women who love and support you on your motherhood journey.

There are plenty more ideas for activities online.

A WEEK IN ADVANCE

11. Plan your Mother Blessing
Create a rough order of events for your Mother Blessing. It should have an opening, middle and a closing. For example;

Opening: ask each guest to introduce herself, “I’m (name), daughter of (her mother), granddaughter of (her grandmothers).” This honours those who came before us and the matrilineal nature of birth.

Middle: present their gifts (as outlined above) and do your chosen activities.

Closing: sing a song, read a poem or quote or do a meditation together.

12. Have a practise run on your “venue” of choice with your host so you’re confident with the technology.

THE DAY BEFORE

13. Send your guests a reminder via evite and include instructions on how to access and use the Virtual Venue.

ON THE DAY

14. When guests “arrive”
The host explains to the guests what they can expect and will ensure everyone knows how to turn on their camera or mute/ unmute themselves and how to use the chat box. Arrange for the host to press “Record” so you can keep a recording of your Virtual Mother Blessing as a reminder of the love and support of your Village.

15. Celebrate
After you’ve done the closing for your Mother Blessing, enjoy your food and drink together and chat freely.

If you’d rather be pampered and leave the Mother Blessing planning and hosting to me, please get in touch HERE

I’m a fully qualified and experienced Women’s Circle Facilitator and can tailor your Mother Blessing to your unique needs.

Are you a tired, pregnant mama? Get your free 20 minute Guided Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra) to take you from exhausted to energised. Fill in your details HERE and I’ll send it to your inbox for you to download.

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Finding Certainty In The Uncertainty During Pregnancy

Finding Certainty In The Uncertainty During Pregnancy

“It all begins and ends in your mind. What you give power to, has power over you, if you allow it”

No doubt you’re grieving at the moment for the baby shower you can’t have, the babymoon you can’t go on, the face to face birth education classes you planned to do with your partner, your in-laws coming from overseas to help out, your family and friends meeting your new baby and joining a mothers group.

Your world as you know it might feel like it’s spinning out of control. But there’s two things you can control…your mindset and your actions.

You get to choose:

  • how you feel
  • what you think
  • how you act
  • how you respond
  • what you eat
  • how you move
  • what you listen to
  • what you watch
  • who you follow on social media

What if you shifted your perspective and viewed this time and space in isolation as a gift to you and your baby? Use this bonus time to prepare for your birth and postpartum.

Here’s some ideas for your Birth:

  • Educate yourself about your birth options and your choices. Hospital antenatal classes have been cancelled but there’s some fantastic online Independent Birth Education courses like Hypnobirthing Australia. Hypnobirthing ensures you have a positive birth experience, no matter how your baby comes into your arms.
  • Keep a positive mindset: Listen to podcasts, read books, watch positive birth stories, write affirmations, listen to self- hypnosis tracks and put them where you’ll see them often.
  • Write your birth preferences: once you’ve educated yourself about your options, write them down. Share them with your birth partner and your care providers. We ultimately don’t have the final say in how our babies arrive, but there’s power in writing them down.
  • Set up your labour circuit: so you can stay at home for as long as possible once you’re in labour. To prepare, create a space in your house with a birthing ball, yoga mat, chair, yoga bolster, cushions and pillows, a wall clear of furniture and a birthing pool or bath. As you approach your due date, practise using this equipment. Choose positions which allow you to be in an upright position to make the most of gravity to help with the descent of your baby. Choose comfortable positions to rest in between surges. You can learn more about these positions on a Hypnobirthing Australia course, in my prenatal yoga classes or Active Birth by Janet Balaskas.
  • Create a birth playlist: of all your favourite songs using Spotify or Apple Music and listen to it when you’re feeling calm and relaxed so when you listen to it in labour, it will invoke these same feelings. You can check out my birth playlist here (it’s also the music I play in my prenatal yoga classes). 
  • Practice: if you’ve learnt tools like self hypnosis, acupressure, light touch massage, breathing, practice with your partner daily so they’re second nature when you go into labour.
  • Exercise: go for a walk in nature, swim in the ocean or sign up to prenatal yoga classes on zoom.
  • Plan your postpartum: Most women don’t give this a second thought. They finish work just a few weeks before baby’s estimated due date, catch up with friends for coffee and before they know it their baby is here.

Here’s some ideas for your Postpartum:

  • Plan your virtual Baby Shower or Mother Blessing.
  • Have conversations with your partner about household responsibilities once your baby arrives and your parenting goals.
  • Create your virtual village: research online mothers circles, virtual mama and baby yoga and massage classes, facebook groups, zoom or facetime with friends who listen and don’t judge.
  • Write a list of your favourite meals that you can cook and freeze.
  • Make double servings of your evening meals and freeze a portion.
  • Create a MealTrain for family and friends to drop meals on your doorstep.
  • Create a directory of local restaurants that are delivering.
  • Create a feeding sanctuary for when you bring your baby home.
  • Download books onto your Kindle or get a Audible account.
  • Save your favourite shows or ones you want to watch to your Favourites in Netflix, Stan or Amazon Prime.
  • Create a playlist of your favourite podcasts on Spotify or Himalaya.

Use this time to focus on what you can control. Don’t waste energy on what you can’t and view this extra time as a blessing. 

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The One Thing I’d Gift To All New Mamas

The One Thing I’d Gift To All New Mamas

If there was just one thing I’d gift to all new mamas it’s Yoga Nidra, otherwise known as, “Yogic Sleep”. It’s the perfect antidote to lack of sleep.

Don’t get put off by the name. Despite the word “yoga”, it doesn’t involve dynamic vinyasa flows or long holds. Instead, you lie completely still on the floor or on your bed for about 20 minutes. It’s similar to a relaxation where you’re guided by a voice but rather than going on an imaginary journey, you’re instructed to bring your attention to all parts of your body while your body rests.

5 Benefits of Yoga Nidra for Mamas:

  1. It requires very little effort. Just lie down and listen.
  2. It’s for everyone including complete yoga novices, pregnant and early postnatal women.
  3. It’s ok if you fall asleep. Sometimes you’ll stay awake, other times you’ll drift in and out of consciousness and other times you’ll fall asleep- none of it’s wrong. Even if you fall asleep your subconscious is listening.
  4. Research suggests that a 45 minute yoga nidra equals 3 hours sleep. It’s not a substitute for sleep but it’s a good alternative when you’re not getting enough of it.
  5. It reduces stress, anxiety and overwhelm. Deep abdominal breathing and rest stimulates your body’s relaxation response. 

Carving out time to do yoga nidra with little ones requires a little creativity.

Here’s my tried and tested tips:

  • Use one of your pockets of time sprinkled throughout the day to rest. Put your bits and pieces for yoga nidra in one spot in the area you normally do it so that when an opportunity arises you’re ready to go. I have my headphones, eye pillow and woolly socks in a box under my bed.
  • On long drives: while your partner is driving (and your little one(s) is asleep in the backseat), put your seat back, headphones in and close your eyes.

Working Mama: 

  • On your lunch break either in a meeting room (lock the door behind you);
  • In the park under the shade of a tree;
  • Or in your parked car. 

Mama Working Part Time or SAHM: 

  • While your little one(s) nap: as soon as they fall asleep, grab your phone and box of bits and pieces for yoga nidra and start. 
  • When your Toddler skips their nap: give your little one(s) some quiet toys or books to “read” or let them watch an episode of Playschool. Remove potential hazards or if it makes you feel more comfortable, put your toddler in a secure high chair or playpen. Give them a snack and some water to eliminate anything they may need you for for the duration of yoga nidra. 

Before you start, tell them what you’re doing and why. “Mummy is just going to meditate now so that she can be a nicer mummy. I’ll be right here if you need me. Let’s see if we can both be really quiet”.

Have an open mind and very low expectations. Be prepared to be interrupted to find your little one(s) lost toy, get more snacks or wipe their bum. When this happens, you’ll feel frustrated and disheartened and think, “What’s the point?” or “Why bother!”. But tend to your little one(s)  and go back to yoga nidra. It’s not perfect but neither is mamahood.

yoga-nidra-for-mamas-with-a-toddler

They’ll be curious the first few times you do it but persist. Exposing them to meditation and quiet time and watching you practising self- care is not only beneficial for you but it’s teaching your little one(s) some very powerful tools.

  • In the car: if your little one falls asleep in the car, park the car in a quiet and shady spot (by the beach, the park or in your driveway). Put your seat back, headphones in and close your eyes (Hot Tip: keep an eye mask in the glove box).
  • Ask for help: ask your partner, friends or family to play with your little one for half an hour while you find a quiet place to rest. Ideally they’ll take your little one(s) for a walk or to the park so no one bangs at your door asking for you for a snack but if not, lock your bedroom door, put your headphones in and turn up the volume. As long as you tell your little one(s) where you’re going and what you’re doing, they’ll be ok and if not the first few times, they’ll get used to it.

Making rest a priority and a habit while you’re pregnant will make it much easier to squeeze in once your new baby arrives. Motherhood and sleep deprivation go hand in hand so making rest a habit while you’re pregnant will make it easier when you have your baby in your arms.

If you’re not pregnant, try a Yoga Nidra on Youtube. If you’re a tired, pregnant mama, get your free 20 minute Yoga Nidra to take you from exhausted to energised HERE. Fill in your details and I’ll send it to your inbox for you to download.

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The Best Prenatal and Postnatal Care Providers in Milton Ulladulla

The Best Prenatal and Postnatal Care Providers in Milton Ulladulla

As a Birth and Postpartum Doula, my job is to help you find the physical, emotional and educational support you need throughout your pregnancy and postpartum. I’ve created an easy- to- use Directory of the best prenatal and postnatal care providers in Milton Ulladulla. I’ve spent the last few months meeting these incredible people and trialling some of their treatments and hand picked the best for you.

The Directory includes acupuncturists, breastfeeding support, childbirth education courses, chiropractors, massage therapists, osteopaths, naturopaths, reflexologists, Womens’ Circles, Playgroups, postpartum doulas and Prenatal Yoga and Mums and Bubs Yoga and Massage classes.

For the best Prenatal and Postnatal Care Providers in Milton Ulladulla, CLICK HERE

Are you a tired, pregnant mama? Get your free 20 minute Guided Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra) to take you from exhausted to energised. Fill in your details HERE and I’ll send it to your inbox for you to download.

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6 Ways to Avoid Leg Cramps

6 Ways to Avoid Leg Cramps

Leg cramps often strike in the middle of the night when you least expect them and can be painful enough to make you sit bolt upright and cry like a baby (speaking from personal experience).

My first leg cramp was so painful that I wondered how I could cope with the pain of contractions during labour. After the second one I decided I’d use future cramps to practise my labour breathing to ride out the pain while my hands- on- husband massaged the pain away.

Despite having an action plan in place, I was curious as to why I was getting these god- awful cramps and wondered what I could do to prevent them. I spent copious amounts of time searching google and asking health professionals and to be honest, no one really knows the answer. The following are the findings from my research and my own self- discovery.

There are a number of causes of leg cramps in pregnancy:

  • Tense or stiff muscles
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Dehydration
  • Pressure of the growing foetus on the nerves and blood vessels
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiency

Here’s 6 Ways to Avoid Leg Cramps in Pregnancy:

1. Epsom Salts: Have a bath with 2 cups of epsom salts or soak your feet in 1 cup of epsom salts before bed. Not only will it prevent leg cramps but it will help you to relax and get a good sleep.

Pregnant woman in bath

2. Elevate your feet: Up until 30 weeks (or as long as you’re still comfortable lying on your back) try Legs Up The Wall. If you’re not comfortable lying on your back, elevate your feet on a chair and some cushions while you’re sitting on the couch. This will help with circulation, tired aching legs and reduce swelling.

Legs Up The Wall for Leg Cramps

3. Stay Hydrated: it’s recommended you drink at least 2 litres  of water a day during pregnancy. Herbal tea such as Raspberry Leaf or Pregnancy Tea is also a good source of hydration as are fruit and vegetables high in water content like watermelon, strawberries, oranges, cucumber and celery. More hearty foods like broths and soups are also a good option.

Pregnant woman drinking water.

4. Take a Magnesium supplement before bed or rub your calves with magnesium lotion or oil or perhaps ask your partner to massage your feet and calves. Magnesium relieves muscle tension but also promotes sleep and prevents constipation. 

Woman massaging calves to get rid of leg cramps

5. Eat a banana: are a great source of potassium, magnesium and calcium which helps your muscles relax. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body to produce serotonin that aids your body to regulate sleep.

Woman eating banana

6. Stretch your legs before bed: Click the link below for my 10 minute prenatal yoga sequence to get rid of leg cramps. Do it before bed to help with circulation and muscle tightness.

Tell me in the COMMENTS below.….what have you found helps you avoid or get rid of leg cramps? 

Are you a tired, pregnant mama? Get your free 20 minute Guided Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra) to take you from exhausted to energised. Fill in your details HERE and I’ll send it to your inbox for you to download.

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