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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.

Doing Yoga Online Doesn’t Have To Be Daunting

Doing Yoga Online Doesn’t Have To Be Daunting

With news of yoga studios around the country temporarily closing their doors due to COVID-19, many studios are moving their classes online. But for someone who’s only ever done yoga in a studio, the thought of doing it in your living room via Zoom can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

My first yoga class, 20 years ago was via a yoga video (yep you heard right, a VHS!) in my living room when I was living in rural Japan. I was quite isolated as I’d often get snowed in and couldn’t drive to the gym. I’d read an article that Madonna credited her sculpted arms with Power Yoga so I ordered a Bryan Kest video from Amazon. From the first time I followed along, I was hooked. The rest of my yoga journey is history. Whilst I’ve attended many classes over the last two decades, my home yoga practice has been a godsend, especially in times when I couldn’t make the class times at a studio like after Banjo was born or when he was on the move and could no longer come along to Mums and Bubs classes and I had no childcare.

Here are my Top Tips for Doing Yoga at Home

1. BOOK IN
Some studios are live streaming their regular classes so you can use your class or pay as you go. If you book it in and you’ve paid for it, you’re more likely to show up.

2. PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR AND SET A REMINDER
Make a commitment to yourself. Treat this date with yourself just as you would a doctor’s appointment or business meeting.Share the calendar entry with your partner so they know it’s your yoga time.

2. CREATE A SANCTUARY 
Most of us don’t have the luxury of turning our spare room into a yoga sanctuary but you don’t need much space. Even in the smallest of houses, you can find an area to clear out a nook and cranny for your yoga sanctuary. You only need enough room to carve out a clean, open, and inviting area where you can roll out your yoga mat or towel. Ideally it has a door so you can shut out the outside world for an hour or so, but not essential.

Some of the places I’ve done yoga at home include: at the end of the bed, beside the bed, in the hallway (usually the least cluttered spot!), in the living room between the couch and the TV, on the back verandah, on the front path, in the park beside my car while my baby slept, under the shade of a tree while my baby was asleep in the pram, in my baby’s room beside his cot….you can do yoga absolutely anywhere! It just requires a little creativity.

It’s ideal if you can store your yoga mat in that area too otherwise, store it in the same spot each time so you don’t need to waste time looking for it before the class starts.

3. PROPS
The only prop that’s essential is a yoga mat, everything else is optional. For props, you can improvise with things around the house

Here’s some make- shift yoga props:

Yoga mat: a towel

Yoga blocks: 2 thick books of the same size

Meditation cushion: a cushion off your couch or a pillow from your bed

Bolster: a pillow wrapped up in a blanket.

Yoga blanket: a blanket or throw from your linen cupboard

Eye pillow: a clean sock, an eye mask or any item of clothing (I’ve even used one of Banjo’s stuffed animals before).

If you want to invest in props, my favourite, eco- friendly yoga props are from Stretch Now or if you can buy more budget friendly options from KMART (and they have free shipping for orders over $45).

4. Ask for Support
Have a conversation with your partner and ask him not to disturb you for the duration of the class, this includes not putting the TV on while you’re in the living room etc.

If you have older children, ask your partner, friend or family member to take them for a walk or a play at the beach or in the backyard.

5. Watch the Replay
If you miss the Live class and your studio is recording the class commit to a time to watch the replay. And if you did the live class, make time to watch the replay and do the class again later in the week.

We all need yoga more than ever right now. There’s so many uncertainties with COVID-19 but getting on your mat each day or  once a week can help you to feel grounded, calm your nervous system, strengthen your nervous system, prepare for welcoming your new baby, reconnecting with yourself after having your baby and being more calm towards your older kids who are home from school.

Mamatoto Live Classes

I’ll be teaching two LIVE classes with more on the way. For now, join me for Monday 5pm Prenatal Yoga and Tuesday 11am Mama and Baby Yoga and Massage Circle. Get your first 2 weeks free. You can register online by following the links on classes page, HEREhttps://mamatotoretreat.com/ Once you’ve registered you’ll be sent a link to Zoom. I’ll be recording the classes and sharing the link with you so if you miss the class you can do it later in the week (or do it again!). Any questions, please reach out HERE