There is so much conflicting information out there about what you can and can not do during pregnancy. The real problem I think is that people who don't understand pregnant anatomy is trying to draw conclusions about what is safe and what isn't. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, prenatal yoga is one of the safest forms of exercise during pregnancy.
I wanted to share with you some of the ways yoga can benefit you during your pregnancy.
Focusing on your breath can be your single greatest tool to find a moment of rest and relief during your pregnancy and in labor. Yoga practice can help you bring awareness to your breath, bringing increased oxygen to your blood and brain. It can help you energize the body while focusing the mind.
Yoga mindfulness practice can help reduce anxiety, depression and stress associated with pregnancy. Yoga offers mindfulness benefits through movements of yoga postures, but also in stillness and meditative yoga practices.
As your body changes during pregnancy, you can start to feel out of balance and overwhelmed. Your body begins to change shape and your strength, digestive system, senses, sleep, and energy follow. It's during this time that you needs extra love and support to feel good. Your body is dedicating resources to grow your healthy baby and preparing your body for birth. Yoga can help with keeping the body strong, balanced, and lead to self-love and acceptance.
Sending love to your baby through a dedicated yoga practice can help build a healthy emotional connection. Through yoga we mindfully send positive energy to baby, opening space for love to flow and bring joy and awareness to the beauty of pregnancy. Prenatal yoga offers space for connection.
Many women have shared the sentiment that childbirth is like a marathon. Whether you're planning a natural birth, a cesarean section or other medicated options, it's best to prepare your body and mind for an intense experience. Yoga during pregnancy offers benefits to hip flexibility, strengthening your pelvic floor, building physical endurance and offering breath and mindfulness practice that pay off big time on the big day, as well as supporting you with a quick post-birth recovery.
Prenatal yoga helps prime your physical body and your mental state for what's coming and gives you a solid foundation for recovery. Post-natal yoga classes focus on healing, strengthening and connection safely.
Last year I caused some damage in my knee that required surgery. With my knee being injured, it became unstable and other muscles jumped to the rescue. The body likes to be in balance, and when it’s not it will try to get itself back into balance. My hip began hurting, then my back, and then my shoulder. My body was creating a chain reaction of compensation to counter the instability in my knee. When I was given permission to use my knee again, it began with rehabilitation.
It’s similar to what happens to our bodies during pregnancy. As the baby grows, our core muscles become weaker and more strained. As a result, the spine and pelvis become more unstable and other muscles kick in to compensate. Our paraspinal muscles (muscles that support your back), take up the slack and become tight. The psoas (muscles that helps move your legs) begins to start stabilizing the spine, causing your hip flexors to get really tight. Your TFL (a muscle in your hip that helps stabilize your hip and knee with help from your glutes) starts working hard to stabilize the pelvis. With its attention going elsewhere, your glutes are no longer firing and they get weak.
Fast forward to after birth, and now you have a weak core, weak pelvic floor, and your back, hips, and glutes have taken up other jobs and none of its working like it’s supposed to. If this were any other injury, your physical therapist would tell you to balance out the other muscles before going back to “normal” so that you don’t injure yourself. In pregnancy, we are told to rest for 6 weeks and then just go back to normal. If we try to go back to normal without strengthening the core first, the compensating muscles have to work even harder and become strained. This leads to injury down the road.
Be gentle with your recovery. Rebuild muscles in your core that have become weak. Stretch and release tension that has built up in the hip flexors and back. Once you get muscles working the way they are supposed to, it’s then safe to return back to normal. Yoga is a great way to recover safely. If you’re interested in working with me to create a customized plan to rebuild your core safely, let’s chat! You can set up a free 30 minute consultation here!
My yoga journey has taken me some interesting places. I started yoga to deal with anxiety. Then I used it to help recover from knee surgery and pelvic issues caused by a car wreck. I learned how to calm my mind and strengthen my body.
While going through my teacher training, I did a class on prenatal yoga. There's not a lot of information provided in a regular 200 or 300 hour yoga teacher training about prenatal yoga. However, what I did get, was a desire to learn more. The moment we set our hands on our bellies and were told to connect to our babies and send an intention, I felt something shift. I wished I had this when I was pregnant. I read so many books (I'm a researcher, AKA nerd) about what I could and could not do during pregnancy. There were a lot of mixed results and little based in science. I remember hiking and then not being able to walk for days after because my ligaments had loosened and my muscles were taxed trying to hold my joints together. I also remember being completely overwhelmed with anxiety and having no one to talk to that understood what I was going through.
I decided to dig deeper. I researched and found a program that dealt with prenatal and postpartum yoga. I was hooked! Anatomy, biomechanics, and how it applies to the pre and post pregnant body. This is what I had been looking for. I knew immediately I wanted to educate and help pregnant and new moms mentally and physically with their changing bodies and emotions. While receiving my certification, I also became super interested in the pelvic floor.
I have friends who have organ prolapses, incontinence, and pelvic pain (and I've been known to occasionally pee my pants if I sneeze hard enough). This is from age, pregnancy, and/or just pelvic instability. Again, there's so little information out there. I began to find that most doctors don't even know anything about the pelvic floor.
I'm loving this new journey I'm on. Soaking up the knowledge, processing it, and helping women get back in touch with their bodies and minds. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. Also, keep posted. I'll be sharing lots of info in the future about the changing female body, how yoga can help, and even the misconceptions of pregnancy and the pelvic floor.
I was talking to a friend this week and she was expressing a lot of self-judgement. She told me that she goes to bed thinking about all of the things she hadn't completed on her to-do list for the day. She told me that she will try to "reward" herself by allowing herself to do something she enjoys, only after she does all the stuff she doesn't want to do.
I listened as she talked about how she doesn't feel good enough. I remember the book "The Four Agreements" by Miguel Ruiz. It was a game changer for me. Not that I don't struggle with these four agreements every single day myself, but it is nice to come back to.
I shared with her one of them: Always Do Your Best. Your best today may be very different than your best tomorrow. After a good nights sleep, a healthy breakfast and a cup of coffee, my best is going to be way better than if I am recovering from Covid (this happened) and am exhausted and healing. It is not fair to judge ourselves every day from one standard. If we wake each day and offer ourselves just a little grace and do our best (whatever that is on that particular day), then we can go to sleep at night without the self-judgement and self-abuse knowing that we did our best and there was nothing more than we could. Maybe we'd learn to be a little bit kinder and more forgiving to ourselves.
I, like many people, struggle to sit still with meditation. My mind wanders (damn monkey mind)! My hips start to hurt, I get bored, I get itchy and then I give up. I recently discovered meditation that involves rocking the body with the breath. It was a game changer for me. It helps me to focus on the movement and my breath and gives me less opportunity to start wandering. It also keeps my back and hips from locking up.
I thought I would share a short rocking meditation with you.
I’ve been recording yoga videos to share this week. I catch myself being super judgmental of my body. Like many women, I am not comfortable with the way I look, but I’m trying real hard.
My body has a story. A year and a half ago I sat and drank beer every day for 11 weeks with my dad who had throat cancer. He could not swallow food so the only calories I could get him to consume was beer. So we drank. And the pounds started piling on.
The week after he passed I took a job that required travel and eating out three meals a day. I was too tired most of the time to exercise by the time I was back to my hotel and grief sucked away anything that was left.
In March my job was eliminated due to the pandemic. I started making positive changes and dropping weight when the quarantine started. I turned to yoga to deal with my anxiety and began making healthier choices. Then I got Covid. I am fortunate I didn’t get as sick as many, but for two weeks I could barely move. ￼As I do start to move my body again I’m finding that I’ve lost some of my strength. I don’t like what I see in the mirror or on videos I made.
But here’s the thing: all of our bodies have stories. I am strong and getting stronger. I can hug and play with my son. I can go on adventures with my husband. It serves me every single day. I’m learning to be gentle and trying to love this body that gives so much.￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ So, I will share the imperfect photos and videos because I know I’m not alone. It’s hard, but I will learn to love my body.
After completing my initial yoga pose deck of 55 beginner yoga poses, I knew without a doubt I would be making an advanced deck. I enjoyed hand-illustrating these poses as I studied and learned them. I created the advanced deck with 50 poses. There are some intermediate poses thrown in and definitely some poses that will take awhile for me to master. The deck was made so that it would blend seamlessly with the first deck.
You can find the new deck on my Shop page, and it will be available on Amazon within the next week!
I woke up this morning with the words running through my head "Unplug and then plug back in". It wasn't from my IT guy, it was the answer to a client I spoke to yesterday.
We were talking about anxiety and stress. Right now we live in a world with a whole lot of chaos. We need a way to turn it off and remember to breathe. Then the answer came, "unplug and plug back in".
So I got up and I made a 5 minute meditation. You don't need anything fancy. You can sit right where you are and be guided through 5 minutes to unplug and plug back in.
Last time I shared about My Quarantine Project. Today I would like to mention where to find the tools I’ve created.
With a heart full of gratitude the reaction to the Yoga Art Card Deck has been overwhelming. I have set up a fulfillment service (to print/ship) the decks. I am currently working on additional Yoga tools and will come back with updates as soon as they are ready.
Today I would like to mention where to find the tools.Choose USA or International Delivery
For USA orders you can order from my website here: Yoga with Anastacia Yoga Art Cards
For International Orders you can order here: Anastacia Drake on Amazon
For Affiliate Link Sharing: Through Amazon Affiliate Program, you can find the tools to links share here: Anastacia Drake on Amazon
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It feels a little bit like the world has flipped upside down in the last few months. I thought I would share something positive that has come out of it for me.
After a few weeks of quarantine I got completely stir crazy (like many out there). I tried to find secluded trails to hike but they were closed. Camp grounds were closed. I found myself struggling with anxiety and feeling a bit trapped.
As serendipity would have it, an ad came across my computer advertising yoga teacher certification. It’s something I’ve always thought about doing but the time commitment away from home was always too much being a mom. Due to the quarantine they had moved teacher certification online for the first time ever. I promptly signed up.
As I worked through the poses I began sketching them all. I made flash cards so that I could memorize the Sanskrit and English name. I looked online for similar flash cards but couldn’t find what I wanted. I decided to just make my own. I added Sanskrit pronunciation, literal translation, anatomy, sequencing tips, and benefits to the card. It gave me something to focus on and I felt my body and mind getting stronger as I worked my way through the program.
With a heart full of gratitude I showed my new yoga art cards to my fellow classmates. The reaction was overwhelming. Everyone was asking to buy them! I had no idea that a project I did for myself would have such an amazing reaction. Within the first few days I sold over 100.
Now I’m super excited to announce that within a week they will be up on Amazon and within two they will be going into bookstores including Barnes & Noble! What started out as a project for myself has turned out to be a project that helps others!
If you’re interested in seeing them! Check them out here!