The Pregnancy Wellness Guide: Movement + Bodylove
The Pregnancy Wellness Guide: Part 3 – Movement + Bodylove
Honestly, before I was pregnant (and I’m talking years ago) I would’ve thought I’d be the girl who would stubbornly insist on exercising in the same way I always had, despite the changes in my body.
Being a yogi – that is my main form of movement – I’ve tried every style of yoga under the sun. That is until I really honed my own personal ‘home’ practice.
BTW: If you would like to do the same check out my recent post on Starting a yoga practice at-home.
Today though, well and truly on the home-stretch to birthing this bub, I attribute the much more nourishing, soul-satisfying and body-loving movement practices I’ve been enjoying during this pregnancy to that home-practice. Why? Well it taught me how to be INTUITIVE.
Being Intuitive is EVERYTHING when you are pregnant
Have I mentioned yet how freaking mind-blowing the changes that unfold in your body are? Well if not, read that sentence again. They ARE!
You have the hormone relaxin course through your body softening your pelvis, your joints and even the valve that keeps your food DOWN.
Progesterone is slowing down digestion so baby can absorb more of the good stuff. It’s also causing membranes to swell (hello stuff nose) and helping you store extra weight to grow bub but for breast feeding down the track. There is more blood pumping, your heart rate is going faster, your breath is shorter (squashed lungs) and on it goes.
Now I’m not telling you this to scare – most of it is manageable. But I am share this to really drill home how much more vulnerable your body is. It’s doing a BIG thing – building and growing a human being is a miracle. And because of this miracle your need to move and breathe in a way that always feels good and supportive.
Let me say this loud and clear: This is not the time to be pursuing and reaching new exercise goals. There is no need to run further, lift more weights, push harder.
Soften. Surrender. Nurture.
You get me?
Accept that your body will change (I’ve put on 10kgs!) Accept that things will look and feel different. Accept that it’s all part of this divine process.
Despite everything I just said, pregnancy is not a license to blog out. Countless studies have proven that movement and exercise during pregnancy is vital for the long-term health of bub and for your strength and recovery.
You would never enter a marathon without training, right? So the same goes for pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
Now this is where your intuition comes into play. The key to striking the balance between Softness + Surrender with Inspired Action is to use your own body and mind as your navigational system – your guidance.
- How do you feel?
- What would support you best?
- What is your body craving
You must embrace movement + exercise during your pregnancy in a way that feels supportive – that helps you maintain good health and that ultimately makes you feel really freaking good.
If you are a runner, and it still feels good to run – then RUN. But do not take it up just because you are pregnant. Same goes for anything else. I would say Yoga + Swimming are probably the two things you can safely start if you never have before.
And please note that everything you do requires modification. There is NO way that my yoga practice looks anything like it did before. It’s much more fluid and less dynamic. I don’t practice deeper backbends and inversions only come out every now and then. Arm balances just don’t feel right.
There is so much I CAN do – physically my body still is able to lift into a crow pose or a backbend – but mostly I don’t do them because they intuitively feel ‘wrong’ in my body right now. They feel damaging, harsh… and luckily I am not so attached to the ‘poses’ that I can’t go a few months without them.
For me my ‘movement routine’ has looked like this:
- 1 x Prenatal Yoga Class per week
- 1 – 2 x Barre Body Classes per week
- 3 x Personal yoga practices (at-home, at the park by the beach or using an online video)
- + Regular walking + swimming
I’m going to break it down for you here:
I’ve been attended Prenatal Yoga with Lauren at The LifePod. But I’m sure you can find many options in your area too.
Now, it’s not that the sequence in Lauren’s class isn’t something I could do on my own – as a yogi and teacher sequencing is something I’m comfortable with. But it’s the energy held within the space that is so vital.
Being in a room full of women, going through the same thing (in their own personal way) and who are willing to open, connect and explore… well that is why I keep going back.
Not to mention that Lauren facilitates the class with so much love and respect for each of our journey. The room is flooded with her understanding, compassion and appreciation for pregnancy. She invites us to dig deep yet to be soft, to grow, yet to be present and still… She cultivates inspiration, motivation, passion and release (emotionally and physically!)
Prenatal Yoga is a beautiful way to enter yoga if you’ve not done so before. It also will carry you through the journey in the most loving way. I’ll be sad when Prenatal yoga is no longer part of my week!
Barre Body is a Barre studio founded and directed by my bestie – Emma Seibold. The classes I attend are a hybrid of Yoga, Pilates and Barre work. And I love them!
They provide me the dose of dynamic energy, strength work and power that I need to stay fit and strong. I, of course, can’t do any of the core work, but the teachers are more than happy to throw in suggestions or I just use the time to stretch.
Barre Body has studios in Sydney and Melbourne, but if you are interstate/international you can check out their online classes or purchase their incredible DVDs. I HIGHLY recommend.
Emma – a mum already and now pregnant with her second bub – previously told me that Barre is great for active labour but also to help your body bounce back post-baby. Can’t say no to that.
Personal Yoga Practice
If you head to my You Tube Channel you’ll see a few past videos I’ve created for you. However today my Personal Yoga Practice is a little different. It’s slower… it’s more fluid. It’s feels like a warm embrace.
I’ll often roll my mat out and just ask my body what it needs. I use my mat time to iron out any aches and pains that Pregnancy brings. I’ll use it to focus on breathing through ‘pain’ and staying in a pose that feels intense. I’ll also use it to ‘massage’ out any fears or concerns I have… it’s a little therapy session.
A lot of my practice is self-guided, but when I feel like some support I’ll hit up YogaGlo for a Prenatal Class or a Kundalini Class. I don’t bother with ‘regular’ classes anymore because I prefer to modify as my body requires and I don’t want to get caught up in doing something I shouldn’t be doing – for me, or for bub.
A favourite online class of mine is by the beautiful Kundalini Teacher Gurmukh from Golden Bridge Yoga in LA. Her DVD has been put online by some divine soul and I’ll often do this practice. It’s heavily influenced my own!
Walking + Swimming
I’m not a ‘swimmer’ – meaning I don’t do laps. There is a lot of floating, and bouncing on the spot – aqua aerobic style. But that’s what feels good. I love imagining the baby feeling the rocking and rolling as I float over the waves
And when it comes to walking my pace is slower, my breath more deliberate and conscious. It has to be – you get easily puffed when you are pregnant! But I walk to the beach, I walk hills and inclines, and I really focus on the strength in my legs.
Of course there are so many other forms of movement and bodylove that you can safely enjoy during pregnancy. I know many women that still enjoy a weight session with their PT or cycling and swimming laps. Do what feels right for you, but make sure it’s always in context of your pregnancy – ask yourself if this is right for your body AND your baby.
As a treat for you, whether you are a yogi or not, here is a delicious guided yoga class that you’ll all adore! This sequence features regularly in my week. It’s soft, it’s juicy, yet it gets the body working and moving.
Set me up in your living room, roll out your mat and let’s call in some deep bodylove (and respect).
FINAL HOT TIP:
In my opinion we need to have equal parts strength and softness to birth our babies. If your body is too hard and rigid and you don’t know how to let go (particularly your pelvic floor!) Then that bub might not get the opening and release it needs to enter this world.
At the same time, you need strength and endurance to cope with labour and the intensity that (I hear!) comes with it.
I’ve seen hardcore Yogis not able to have a natural birth because (maybe) their bodies were too tight and too strong. Get me? I’ve also seen women who can’t get through hours of labour because they didn’t have enough energy and strength. NONE of this is concrete, but it’s just an idea to consider.
Make sure you are focused on movement that loves your body from a Strength-meets-Softness perspective.
Mix it up. Don’t be so fixated on harsh, tough and rigid exercise. Learn to embrace SOFTNESS but build mental and physical endurance.
What did you think? Share with me in the comments below how you are (or did) moving + embracing bodylove during your pregnancy.
Or any comments and questions, fire away!
Love + light,