Monday, October 1, 2012

3 RESTORATIVE YOGA POSES FOR NEW MOTHERS

The 3 poses presented here are gentle, supported poses geared towards new mothers. Heavy breasts, breast feeding and holding your baby for long periods, can cause a lot of strain and discomfort in your shoulders, back and hips.

The first 2 poses are supported backbends. The 3rd pose is a supported twist.

SUPPORTED BACKBEND POSE
PROPS
1 rolled up mat
1 bed pillow

SET UP
















ENTERING THE POSE
Sit in front of the pillow. As you lie back, position the rolled up mat under your neck for support.
















THE POSE
















EXITING THE POSE
Roll onto your side and then push yourself up to a sitting position.
















BENEFITS
This pose is a lovely chest opener that can counterbalance the effects of the rounded forward posture of cradling your baby and breast feeding.

CAUTION
This pose may not be suitable for those with certain spinal conditions.

SUPPORTED BRIDGE POSE
PROPS
2 firm bed pillows

SET UP



ENTERING THE POSE
Sit on one end of the pillows. As you lie back, make sure that your shoulders and and head rest on the floor, with your ribcage and pelvis supported at a higher level.



 THE POSE


EXITING THE POSE
Roll to your side before pushing yourself up to a seated position.



















BENEFITS
This pose is a great shoulder stretch and chest opener and it is a mild inversion.

CAUTIONS
Do not practise this pose when you have lochia (post natal bleeding) or if you are menstruating.

SUPPORTED RECLINING TWIST
PROPS
2 firm bed pillows

ENTERING THE POSE




















THE POSE

















BENEFITS
Spinal muscles and intercostal muscles between the ribs get a stretch in this gentle twist.

CAUTIONS / MODIFICATIONS
If you have sacroilliac dysfunction, take care when entering and exiting the pose and avoid long holds.



Monday, September 24, 2012

PRENATAL YOGA FOR BABY LYING BREECH OR TRANSVERSE

The terms breech and transverse refer to the position in which your baby is lying, in your uterus. Most babies move into the head down position around 32 - 35 weeks, stay in this position, doing their final growing there. So when it is time to give birth, your baby is where it needs to be. Some babies, for whatever reason, find themselves either in the head up position (breech) or lying sideways (transverse) around the 32 - 35 week mark. Most Obstetrician / Gynecologists in our country will not deliver a breech or transverse baby naturally. So if you find yourself in this position, and you strongly wish to have a natural delivery and avoid a Caesarian Section, the following poses may help provide the conditions for your baby to turn.

THE BENEFIT OF THESE POSES
All the following poses are mild inversions. Practised in a restorative way, you can hold them a longer period of time without straining. The theory behind this practice is that your baby may not have enough room in your pelvis to turn. So turning upside down will cause your baby to move out of your pelvis into the pliable area of your belly. As long as the position is comfortable for you, you can hold them for  a few minutes at a time and repeat them a few times a day.

THE POSES
PUPPY POSE
PROPS
None
1 firm pillow

SET UP / ENTERING THE POSE
Move onto hands and knees and then bring your elbows and forearms to the floor. Keep your hips over your knees and move your forearms forward until you can put your head on the floor. You can support your head on your hands / folded forearms.

THE POSE
















CAUTIONS
If kneeling hurts your knees, kneel on a pillow.
If you have high blood pressure and you feel nauseous and dizzy in this position, lift the level of your head, resting it on a block instead of the floor.

WALL ROPE DOG
PROPS
A long piece of rope
A column or burglar bars
or
A door knob
A long strap with a buckle

SET UP / ENTERING THE POSE
I have demonstrated this pose using ropes. At home you can use a long strap,  securely buckled at its longest loop and wound around a doorknob as shown below.
















THE POSE

















CAUTIONS / MODIFICATIONS
Take care when stepping into and out of the loop.
Raise your hands onto blocks if one or more of the following apply to you:
High Blood Pressure with dizziness and nausea
Stiff Shoulders
Tight Hamstrings
















VIPARITA KARANI
 PROPS
4 blocks
the wall

SET UP / ENTERING THE POSE
The most difficult part of this pose is moving into it, especially when you are pregnant. For a very short moment you will be lying flat on your back.





















THE POSE
On 1 level of blocks



















On 2 levels of blocks



















CAUTIONS
Stick with one level of blocks if:
You have high blood pressure with dizziness and nausea
The weight of your baby puts too much pressure onto your diaphragm making breathing uncomfortable.




PRENATAL YOGA FOR AN UNSTABLE PELVIS

I am writing this post to address 2 specific health issues that have been arising for some of my pregnant students. Students have been telling me about their pelvic pain, sometimes so severe that they need to be put on bed rest.

From a physical perspective, 2 things are happening. Firstly the hormone called Relaxin makes the muscles and more importantly the ligaments more stretchy. This means that certain joints that are not moving joints begin to have some mobility and play. This happens to the joints of the pelvis in particular, which need to move to accommodate your growing baby. Secondly, large strong muscle groups like the chest muscles, spinal muscles, buttocks and deeper hip rotators, thighs and calves are getting tighter due to the extra weight. Tightness in these areas will put further pressure on these joints. 

The 2 conditions that can arise are Sacroilliac Dysfunction and Symphysis, Pubis Dysfunction. To get a better understanding of these conditions, we need to understand the anatomy of the pelvis. The pelvis is made of 3 bones, the 2 hip bones (the coxal bones) and the sacrum (the second to last fused bone of your spine).  The coxal bones come together in the front to form the central joint of the pelvic girdle called the symphysis pubis (the pelvic seam). At the back of your pelvis, there are a pair of joints called the sacroilliac joints (SI joints for short) where the coxal bones meet the sacrum. In pregnancy, there is a risk of these joints becoming strained and the following symptoms occurring.

SACRO-ILLIAC DYSFUNCTION
SYMPTOMS
* Soreness or pain over the SI joint usually just one side at a time though the sensation may shift sides
*Some numbness running down the thigh
* Tightness in the buttock muscles on that side
* Tightness in the lower back and waist muscles on that side
*Tightness in the hamstrings on that side

SYMPHYSIS PUBIS DYSFUNCTION
SYMPTOMS
*Pain in and around the groin - in the lower back, hips, groin, lower abdomen, and legs
*Pain and difficulty walking
*Walking gait changes to a characteristic waddling
* Pain / difficulty when climbing stairs, when moving legs apart ( leg abduction) or together (adduction), pain when carrying out weight bearing activities

POSES THAT MAY HELP
It is important first of all to acknowledge that everyone's body will respond differently. These poses are meant to feel restful and supportive. You should feel a MILD stretch. At no time should you feel any pain or instability in your joints. 

CHILD'S POSE
PROPS
2 firm bed pillows
1 rolled up mat if ankles are tight

SET UP / HOW TO ENTER THE POSE
Make sure knees are wide enough to accommodate baby and leave a space between knees.
















THE POSE















BENEFITS
This is a gentle stretch for your spinal muscles and stretches the back of your pelvis symmetrically . Baby can hang out of the confines of the pelvis.

CAUTIONS / MODIFICATIONS
If ankles are tight, use a rolled up mat under your ankles to support them.
If your groin hurts here, you may need to narrow your knees.
If knees hurt, place a firm pillow between hips and heels.

















SUPPORTED RECLINING TWIST
PROPS
2 firm bed pillows

SET UP / HOW TO ENTER THE POSE
















THE POSE
















BENEFITS
Spinal muscles and intercostal muscles between the ribs get a stretch in this gentle twist.

CAUTIONS / MODIFICATIONS
If you have sacroilliac dysfunction, take care when entering and exiting the pose and avoid long holds.

SQUAT POSE
PROPS
A wall
3 blocks
1 firm bed pillow

SET UP / HOW TO ENTER THE POSE





















THE POSE
Make sure that the back of your head, your shoulder blades and the back of your pelvis are in contact with the wall.





















BENEFITS
This supported squat gently relaxes the muscles of your lower back, hips and pelvis.
The squat position increases your pelvic outlet by 1/3 in diameter, making it a good position for giving birth.
This is a good position to practise your Kegel (pelvic floor) exercises.
When practised in late pregnancy, babies often move into position for the birth.

CAUTIONS OR MODIFICATIONS
Do not practice this pose if your baby is in the breech or transverse position at 32 - 35 weeks. Wait for your baby to turn into the head down position.
If you have Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, you may have to narrow your foot placement.

HERO'S POSE
PROPS
2 or 3 blocks

SET UP / HOW TO ENTER THE POSE
Assume a hands and knees position with your ankles in line with the blocks. Then sit back placing your pelvis on the blocks.




















THE POSE




















BENEFITS
In this pose, your thighs are internally rotated in your hip sockets. This creates more openness across the back of your pelvis.
The strong quadriceps, the muscle group at the front of your thighs get a good stretch here.
This pose can prevent varicose veins and swelling of the lower leg and ankles.

CAUTIONS OR MODIFICATIONS
At no time should you feel pain or strain in your knees or ankles. If you do raise your seat with an additional block and separate your knees.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

PRENATAL YOGA TESTIMONIALS

Teaching prenatal yoga has provided me with the opportunity to share in the unique and precious experience of pregnancy. In there classes, I teach postures and breathing exercises to help women alleviate the discomforts of pregnancy as well as teach them techniques to make their birthing experiences less painful and more joyous

I have asked my students to give me their feedback as to what they found most useful about the classes. Here are their responses


AMI
"The breathing techniques were phenomenal! The vowel sounds kept me calm and focused. It was an excellent tool during contractions to release the build up of energy; helping my body and mind remain relaxed and without tension throughout my entire labour."

LESLEY
"The morning of delivery, my water bag broke, but no contractions started on their own for 12 hours.  Eventually, the doctor induced labour, and after 6 hours, my baby was born.  Two things in particular I learned in your yoga class were very helpful to me.  The sound breathing, and positioning myself in child's pose when the contractions got really hot.  I had a natural delivery with no pain medication.  What an experience!  Now I have a healthy baby boy to show for it!"

NJIDEKA
"The yoga helped a great deal during the pregnancy in relaxing me mentally and physically, especially through a really rough time in my life. During the labour I was surprisingly very calm and was able to listen well and follow what needed to be done." 

DAYNA
"I was only able to attend one class before my son arrived a week early. However I have a very strong feeling that the one class gave him the final push to get into position. With that squatting position I think he moved right into place. I found the class very relaxing and even though I was not afraid of labour before, it showed me that there is a way to get through it all by staying calm and breathing through the contractions."

ANUSHKA
"The yoga classes eased tension and pains in my back. I found the cat pose particularly helpful, and I still use it. The classes also gave me an opportunity to connect with my baby in a way not ordinarily possible in my busy life. It was one hour that I put aside every week to focus on my body and my baby." 

GINESSA
"I must say that although I ended up having a c- section, I do not regret attending any of the yoga classes. They surely helped keep me calm during labour… the sound breathing especially. More than that, my body remained in great shape even post pregnancy, without over 4 months of exercise after the baby (because of the post c-section rules)! I was shocked to see that my flexibility is still incredible. What I found most amazing though was when my baby first started making noises, it was as though she was imitating the same sounds we used to make in sound breathing exercises! At first I thought it was mind over matter, but when my mum, who had watched us during one of the classes, made the same comment, I realised that it’s true. I guess while in the womb she enjoyed the classes as well. She makes those same sounds while she is falling asleep, and holds the notes just as long as we used to as well. It’s incredible."

GILLIAN
"I actually labored at home until I was 6 cm dialated and it was quite bearable because I was doing the sound breathing. My doula (Lorraine O'Connor) also thought it was a great technique and I continued with the sound breathing until I was 10 cm dialated."

HALENA
"We gave birth on Monday night quarter to ten to a 8 lbs, 13 oz baby boy, 55 cm in length. No wonder I was so big! Also, thanks to yoga, I had so much amniotic fluid and my womb was so big that baby turned head down during labour. The nurses were all surprised and said that this was very rare indeed. Once the pain started my yogic breathing became my pain management technique. When the pain was intense, the doctor late and the nurse said not to push, I went into a very calm state almost sleep in between contractions humming omn but it was almost a buzzing guttural sound with the syllables almost inaudible." 

CLAIRE
"I thoroughly enjoyed the prenatal yoga classes with both of my pregnancies and looked forward to it every week. I even did the exercises at home! Not only was it relaxing, I also found it a good mother-and-baby bonding experience. I think it made me much calmer during labour and I was able to cope with the pain well. That is until I hit the delivery room! I had to push for a long, long time and I'm sure the yoga helped with my focus and stamina. 
The class sizes are small and intimate and Suzie is always willing to customise the class to suit individual abilities and specific needs. It's also a great way to share experiences and tips with other mums. I used the techniques I learned to breathe my way through 2 natural labors and would highly recommend the class to all expecting mothers."





PAINTING BY SUSAN DAYAL

Monday, January 9, 2012

CLASSES RESUME TODAY IN THE NEW STUDIO SPACE

All classes resume today, January 9th 2012 at the new studio space. The new studio is now downstairs at ground level. Here are some pictures.

The first 2 pictures are of the recycled bottle wall. My husband Johnny collected hundreds of bottles, rented a tile cutter and spent 3 days standing up in his swimming trunks, raincoat, ear protectors and goggles, cutting bottles. 

I am truly grateful to all the people that turned this from a vision in my head into something real - Johnny, my Mum, Michael Lee Poy the architect, Wesley Clarke the contractor, Lenny and Percy the electricians. 



Detail of the Recycled Bottle Wall



Bottle wall next to the pond


Stan the skeleton's new home


View out


Friday, December 30, 2011

EXPLORATIVE (LEVEL 2)




MID MORNING CLASSES
Wednesdays 9.00 to 10.30 AM


EVENING CLASS
Mondays 6.00 to 7.30 PM
Fridays 5.00 to 6.30 PM

This class is suitable for students who have no injuries or conditions that impair movement or balance and experienced students. The focus of this class is to direct the student’s attention inward, helping them to cultivate mindfulness, body and breath awareness, curiosity and confidence. 

In this class, we will explore breath awareness exercises, classical pranayama and a variety of postures such as supine and prone warm up poses, standing poses, beginner backbends and beginner seated poses. Inverted poses will be introduced in these classes.

Breathing awareness exercises
Breathing is essential for life. In yoga, breathing exercises are called pranayama, with prana referring to life-force energy. Breathing awareness exercises help us to relax, release tension and return to natural easy breathing.

Classical Pranayama
Formal Pranayama is different to natural breathing. In these exercises we control or extend some element of our breath. The objective of these exercises is to develop mental focus and release deeper mental and emotional tension.


Supine Warm up Poses
Supine poses (lying on your back) are passive warm up poses that gently release your spine shoulders and hips.


Prone Warm up Poses
Prone poses (belly down) are active warm up poses that bring mobility to your spine, flexibility to your shoulders and hips and offer some weight bearing through your arms and legs. 

Standing Poses
Standing poses bring awareness, flexibility and strength to your hips, legs and feet.  

Backbends 
Backbends teach us how to move your whole spine. Your spine can be divided into 4 sections, the neck or cervical spine, the thoracic spine that attaches to the ribs, the lower back or lumbar spine and the pelvic spine comprising of the sacrum and coccyx. Successful and intelligent back bending creates more mobility in your thoracic spine so that your neck and lower back don't do all the work.  

Seated Poses
Seated poses require and develop a degree of mobility in your hips.

Beginner Inverted Poses 
Developing strength and flexibility in your shoulders, abdominals and spine is the key to inverted poses. Thoughtful preparation develops confidence.

WALL ROPE DOG

VIPARITA KARANI - LEGS UP THE WALL


PINCHA MAYURASANA - FOREARM BALANCE




SENIORS CHAIR YOGA
















MID MORNING CLASS
Tuesday 9.00 to 10.30 AM

This is a very slow, gentle class suitable for older students with limited balance and mobility. A chair is provided to help students get up and down from the floor and will be used in some of the exercises.

The class will begin and end with breathing awareness exercises in the supine position called the corpse pose (savasana). From there, we will practise stretches, breath-co-ordinated movements and supported poses lying on your back, seated in the chair and standing using the wall or chair if necessary.