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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.

Top 5 Tips For Coping With Sleep Deprivation

Top 5 Tips For Coping With Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is inevitable for new mamas Parents of a newborn will lose anywhere between 400-750 hours sleep in the first year alone. 

Here’s my Top 5 Tips for Coping with Sleep Deprivation:

1. Guided Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra)

Don’t get put off by the name. Despite the word “yoga”, it’s as easy as lying on the floor or your bed and listening to a guided relaxation. Research suggests that a 20 minute Guided Deep Relaxation known as Yoga Nidra is equal to 3 hours sleep. During Yoga Nidra, your mind and body go into a state of deep relaxation unlike regular sleep so it’s the ultimate way to combat sleep deprivation. 

Yoga nidra is for everyone including beginners, pregnant women and new mamas. You don’t need any props, but you can use an eye pillow or eye mask, a blanket and earphones to make yourself comfortable. If you’re pregnant and in your third trimester, lie on your side with a pillow between your knees and under your head. 

Here’s How:

Begin by lying on your bed or the floor. Turn your phone onto “Do Not Disturb” so you won’t be interrupted by a call, text or alert. Choose a yoga nidra from YouTube (search for “postnatal yoga nidra”), put your headphones on, cover your body with a blanket and your eyes with an eye pillow or eye mask, close your eyes and enjoy. 

Best time to do it:

  • When your little one has a nap. 
  • If your partner is home, ask them to play with your little one(s) while you do it in your bedroom with the door closed and earphones in.
  • If you’re struggling to get through the afternoon and wondering how you’ll make it to bedtime, give your baby a toy or if they’re older let them watch an episode of Playschool while you do it nearby.
  • If you’re the passenger in the car on a long road trip.
  • If you get insomnia, do it before bed. It’ll help you fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep.

Yoga Nidra for Mums

2. Legs Up The Wall (viparita karani)

If you don’t have time for yoga nidra, this is a good second best way to cope with sleep deprivation. As the name suggests, it’s as easy as elevating your legs. When your heart is lower than your feet it doesn’t have to pump as hard to return blood from the lower body. Your resting heart rate will fall and after 5 minutes you’ll feel relaxed and recharged. 

Legs Up The Wall is for everyone including beginners, pregnant women and new mamas. You don’t need a yoga mat- just a wall or a chair. If you’re pregnant and you feel light headed or breathless, stop. Instead sit on a chair or the couch and elevate your feet with a pile of cushions on the coffee table (great for getting rid of cankles).

Here’s How:

  • If you’re using a blanket and an eye pillow, have them close by. Sit on the floor with your right hip close to the wall. Using your hands to support you, lean back, swing your legs up onto the wall and slowly ease your shoulders and head down onto the floor.
  • If your hamstrings are tight, wriggle away from the wall and bend your knees a little so that your buttocks is on the floor.
  • Drape a blanket over your legs if you like.
  • Put your eye pillow or eye mask on and close your eyes. 
  • Rest your hands on your belly. After pregnancy, it’s soothing to reconnect with this area but also a reminder to breathe into your belly. 
  • Lay here for about 5 minutes (stay for longer if it feels good and your feet haven’t fallen asleep).

Best time to do it:

  • After your put your baby to bed.
  • Once your baby has good head control, sit your baby on your belly with their back against your legs (support them with your hands).
  • While you’re breastfeeding.
  • Before you go to sleep, lie on your bed and put your legs up the wall.

Legs Up The Wall

3. Gentle Stretching

After birth, the general rule in regards to returning to exercise is 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery and 8 weeks for a c- section. But gentle stretching isn’t in the same category as running or going back to the gym.

Birth, sitting for hours feeding your baby, walking with your baby in a carrier and lack of sleep can leave your lower back, hips, neck, shoulders and wrists very tight and sore. Gentle stretching can help to ease your pain and help you cope with sleep deprivation. 

Here’s How:

If your baby wants to be held, do my Baby Wearing Yoga sequence with your baby in a carrier or wrap HERE.

You can ease back into yoga when you feel ready. Yin Yoga will give you an incredible stretch and recharge your batteries. Going to a yoga class may not be possible, but doing a class online while your baby naps or with them playing alongside you is a good option. Check out Yoga Glo

Best time to do it:

  • While your baby is asleep in a carrier or wrap.
  • When your baby is napping.
  • Ask your partner, a friend or family member to look after your baby for an hour.
  • While your baby is asleep in the pram, walk to a park or the beach and stretch in the shade while you get some fresh air.
  • If your baby is awake, do yoga with them on a rug beside you while they soak up their surroundings. Check out my Baby Yoga sequences on my YouTube channel for some fun for them too.

Stretching for Mums

4. Essential Oils

Instead of reaching for coffee when you have a 3pm slump, use essential oils for an instant pick- me- up.

Here’s How:

Place a drop of peppermint, wild orange and frankincense in the palms of your hand, rub them together, close your eyes (otherwise the oils will sting your eyes) then cup your hands over your nose and inhale deeply. Then rub your hands on the back of your neck (wash your hands thoroughly before you pick up your baby). 

Best time to do it:

  • Whenever and wherever you need a pick- me- up. Carry them in your nappy bag so they’re always on hand.

 

To find out why I choose doTERRA essential oils and how to get your hands on them at wholesale prices, CLICK HERE

5. Ask for help

You know the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well it also take a village to raise a mama. Filling your cup isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. In the first year of mamahood, this doesn’t mean going for a pedicure or buying a scented candle. It’s the small things that recharge your batteries so you can get up to your baby multiple times a night and still be a loving partner, sister and friend.

Have the courage to ask your partner, a friend or family member to take your baby for a walk while you have a shower and wash your hair, do a 20 minute yoga nidra, do some stretching or go for a walk. It’s not selfish, it’s a necessity. It might help if you think of it as a way for someone else to spend some quality time with your baby without you looking over their shoulder.

Postpartum Support

There’s always something to do as a mama; cleaning, washing, laundry, cooking etc. but it can wait. Use the small pockets of time throughout your day for self- care. Rather than scrolling facebook or instagram, do a yoga nidra or enjoy a hot cup of tea. Make YOU a priority.

If you’re pregnant, start building your village now. Create a postnatal plan and have a think about who you can call on for help.

Are you pregnant? Get your free Guided Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra). Fill in your details HERE and I’ll send it straight to your inbox for you to download.

I’d love to hear your comments and questions in the COMMENTS below.