Prenatal Yoga: 6 poses for the AM

morning yoga

Some of us hate mornings, some of us love them, and some of us are too busy and frazzled during the morning to think much about how we feel - yet most of us will noticed feeling stiff. That's perfectly normal - we don't move a lot while we sleep, we spend hours in the same position, and our body temperature drops. Stiffness during pregnancy is exacerbated - an increase in weight/water weight puts more pressure on our joints and our changing bodies decrease the versatility of our sleeping positions. Gentle movement in the morning can ease feeling stiff and sore. It can be also be really entertaining for your furry friends!

You don't need much for this - a yoga mat or a comfy blanket and a bolster or a pillow (of two). Begin by sitting comfortably on your mat/blanket - maybe you feel better with your bottom on a bolster/pillow(s) - give it a try and pick whatever feels best. Once comfortable, take a few consciously deep breaths in and out then settle on a steady breath pattern. 

1) Bound Angle Pose

From your seat, bend your knees and touch the soles of your feet together - allowing your knees to open wide. Pause and asses. Do you need to come off your prop if your bottom is higher than your feet? Do you need to put something underneath each knee?

You may hold this pose as it or you can slowly hinge forward, with a long spine, until you feel a gentle stretch. 

Spend 5-10 breaths here. 

2) Head-to-Knee Forward Bend

Despite the name, many of us don't actually get our heads to our knees - especially if pregnant. From a seat, stretch your right leg in front of you. Bend the left knee and bring the sole of your left foot inside your right thigh. Pause and assess. Do you need something under your right knee( (like a rolled up blanket)? 

You may hold this pose or slowly hinge forward, with a long spine, until you feel a gentle stretch. If your belly in the way, turn a little to the left. 

Spend 5-10 breaths here. Repeat on the left leg. 

3) Sitting Cat/Cow

Sit in a comfortable crossed legged seat with your hands on your knees. Inhale to hinge forward and gently arch your upper back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Be mindful to gently hug baby in as you do this. 

As you exhale, hinge back, rounding your back and curling your spine. Hug baby in more. 

Repeat 3-10 times. 

4) Side Stretch

From a comfortable seat, inhale and lift your arms into the sky. As you exhale, release your right arm by your right ride and take a gentle side bend to the right. Soften the right shoulder. 

Hold for 3-5 breaths. Repeat on the left side. 

5) Gentle Twist

From a comfortable seat, inhale and lengthen your spine. As you exhale, hug baby in and twist to the right side. 

Hold for 3-5 breaths. Repeat on the left side. 

6) Shoulder and Neck Stretches

From a comfortable seat, inhale to lengthen your spine. As you exhale circles your shoulders backward and forward a couple of times. 

Inhale deeply once more. As you exhale, drop your chin to your chest. Spend 3-5 breaths here. Roll your head to the right, spend 3-5 breaths here. Roll your head to the left, spend 3-5 breaths here. 

Bring your head back to centre - inhale and lift your arms above your head. Interlace your fingers and press your palms up, giving yourself a nice deep stretch. 

You're done! This routine can be done prenatally and during the postpartum period as long as your health care provider has cleared you for movement based practices. 

We hope you enjoy it!


The Spectrum Doula Team

Winter Walking: 4 options to walk in Toronto


Movement is so important for promoting health and wellness in pregnancy and yet busy lives means that many of us have difficulty meeting our exercise goals. Thankfully there are many movements that can be incorporated into our daily lives. Such as walking!

Walking is often overlooked as a form of physical activity. It strengthens your legs, back and pelvis and improves your alignment and flexibility. These can help relieve prenatal aches and discomfort and prepare your body. It’s great during labour too!  A 2013 Cochrane Review showed that upright positions, such as walking, lead to greater comfort for the birthing person and a shorter length of the first stage of labour.

Walking for thirty to sixty minutes each day or several times a week is great option for meeting movement goals. As it gets colder and the days shorter, we often tend to become less active and its harder to find the time or space for movement. Luckily, there are many options for walking within the city even on the coldest days:

1. Art Gallery of Ontario

It’s easy to walk for an hour or more while enjoying exhibits from classics to contemporary canadian art. There are four levels all accessible by elevator, but if you’re looking to increase your activity use the winding ramp to move through the gallery.

Every Wednesday from 6-9 pm the AGO collection galleries are free for the public!

2. Allan Gardens Conservatory

One of our favourite winter activities is visiting Allan Gardens, a greenhouse conservatory in Cabbagetown. It is a perfect way to escape the cold, grey winter days into the warm, tropical plant gardens.

Every December, the conservatory hosts their Christmas Flower Show with hundreds of flowers and holiday plant displays. On weekend evenings the conservatory can be enjoyed by candlelight.

3. Holiday Markets and Pop Up Shops

All throughout December, there are holiday markets and pop shops that let you shop while being active. These markets are great for finding unique gifts and crafts, many of which are made locally, and your favourite holiday drinks and treats!

A full list of holiday markets is available here

4. Brave the Cold

We can understand why so many chose to stay indoors during these winter months, but bundling up and heading outdoors has its benefits. We love the freshness in winter air and the beauty of the sun shining through bare trees and grey skies.

Green spaces, such as High Park or Evergreen Brickworks, are great options for outdoor walks. On those cold days, we opt for routes where we can stop in shops and cafes along the way, such as the Distillery District, Queen Street West, or Roncesvalle Avenue.

** Walking is one activity that many can incorporate to their daily activities or holiday plans, however we acknowledge it and the above suggestions will not accessible for all. Of the ideas listed above, Allan Gardens and Art Gallery of Ontario are accessible for those requiring mobility assistance.  


The Spectrum Doula Team

Movement: Spynga

Prenatal Fitness

"I never really got into yoga"

We sometimes hear this from our clients whenever we bring up intentional movement prenatally or during the postpartum period. Some people miss a certain intensity when practising prenatal or postpartum yoga or they would like something more...

If this sounds like you (or if you're looking for an amazing, supportive new studio) we would like to introduce you to Spynga, located at 477 Eglinton Avenue West. 

Spynga is a cycling, yoga, and strengthening studio offering empowering classes to support you during your perinatal journey - from antenatal to prenatal to postpartum and beyond. You can find classes for your little (and not so little) loved ones as well! 

Not sure where to start? Regardless of your level and stage in your perinatal and movement journey you can find something at Spynga - the lovely folks at front desk and the instructors are always happy to help. You can choose from yoga classes, indoor cycling (spinning), the spyngaFlow (an all encompassing combination of spinning and yoga), weight and circuit training classes, prenatal and postnatal classes, and kids and preTeen classes.

Pregnant? Spynga's prenatal yoga classes offer a balanced mix of gentle and dynamic movement, celebrating your changing body and life. These classes have a little bit of everything for everyone (even if you never really got into yoga) - the meditative practice, breathing techniques, gentle stretching, and endurance as well as strengthening poses and flows. If you've been spinning for a while before your pregnancy, the spinning classes might be a great option for you as well (with the OK from your health care practitioner). They're low impact, good cardio, and tons of fun!

Postpartum? There are many options for postpartum mamas (and their babes) at Spynga - including spinning, strength-building, and conditioning. Instructors lead you through a safe and challenging class while your baby is besides you. Interested in other classes? You can absolutely join in - just make sure you chat to the instructor before hand and let them know how far postpartum you are and any injuries or conditions you may have! 

If your little ones are a little bigger (3+ years old) - they can join a yoga kids class (while you're taking a class yourself!). 

Regardless of the class you take, you will be in good hands - a big part of the Spynga philosophy is moving in a safe and sustainable way! If you'd like to learn more about this, check out their blog posts about prenatal and postpartum movement! 

As you can probably tell, we really like Spynga and it's not just because of their amazing classes! The owners of Spynga, Casey Soer and Sari Nisker-Fox are both mamas and wonderful teachers - they put their heart and soul into the studio and genuinely care about everyone (students and staff alike!). You can feel this care whenever you're at Spynga so if you're ever in the area (or looking for a studio) we highly recommend giving it try!


The Spectrum Doula Collective





Movement: Jaya Yoga Center


If you've been practising yoga for a while there may come a time in your prenatal journey when you may want to switch to prenatal yoga. Living in North York (uptown Toronto)? Jaya Yoga Center (Sheppard Ave E and Willowdale Ave) may be the perfect fit for you! 

Prenatal classes at Jaya Yoga Center are every Thursdays 5pm to 6pm and are taught by the amazing Tatjana - a yoga teacher and a Thai Massage practitioner. As an added bonus, all of the wonderful Jaya teachers are trained in prenatal yoga and some are also trained Thai massage! These classes are suitable for any stage in your pregnancy and yoga journey. These classes are suitable for any stage in your pregnancy and yoga journey. 

You start every class in a restorative pose (sometimes, the teacher will include more restorative poses throughout the class - a sure treat!). During this practice you are guided through series of movements and poses for strength building (especially for legs, core, and arms), improving balance, and releasing tension and back pain (a common prenatal complaint!).  During the class, you often use props such as the wall, blocks, bolsters and straps as well as tennis balls for release of myofascial tension, especially for the feet and shoulders. Everyday class you will also be guided through gentle breath exercises for calming the nervous system, connecting with you baby, and creating pelvic floor awareness.

Interested in Thai Massage? Jaya yoga Centre offers this modality in-studio and can the practitioners can modify the practice to suit all stages of the perinatal journey!   

Jaya Yoga Center is both welcoming and accessible. There is a ramp at the building's front door and an elevator to the third floor and Tatjana is experienced in working with folks with mobility problems. We hope you'll give this "northern" jem a try! 


The Spectrum team



Movement: Imprint Pilates


“I believe that a strong and flexible body is the key to living a long and pain-free life, and I work in a compassionate way to make moving and understanding your physicality an inspiring and enjoyable life-long endeavour.”
– Anita Ivic, Imprint Pilates owner

If you live downtown Toronto you have probably seen a lot of movement based studios and gyms around - maybe you even have your favourites! If you live downtown Toronto and you're pregnant or recently postpartum though, you may not find appropriate classes or sessions at these same places. Some studios  and gyms suggest that you can join their regular classes and the instructor may give you modifications but as we mentioned in our last blog post, that may not always be appropriate. 

If you're looking for specific prenatal and postpartum classes (or private sessions) look no further than Imprint Pilates, located at 101 Spadina Avenue (near Spadina and King). 

Imprint Pilates is a holistic studio offering both private and group Pilates and yoga as well as physiotherapy, massage, fascial stretching therapy, and acupuncture. They work with a wide range of people: athletes, people with injuries; people who may want to become stronger and/or more flexible; and both pregnant and postpartum people. 

Pregnant and looking for a group class? Imprint Pilates offers weekly prenatal Pilates and yoga classes every Tuesday at 5:30pm. This class is great for relieving everyday pregnancy aches and pains as well as for preparing your body for labour. If you're looking for something gentler and more introspective, there are is a restorative class twice a week (Tuesdays at 8:30pm and Fridays at 6:45pm) suitable for pregnancy as well. 

If you're looking for a private or a semi-private session (bring a friend!), all Imprint instructors are well-trained and experienced in working with both prenatal and postpartum bodies. Both Pilates and yoga session are available (Corina, one of our doulas, teaches private and semi-private yoga at Imprint!). 

Beyond movement-based sessions, at Imprint Pilates you can also find registered massage therapists, physiotherapists, and acupuncturists who can focus on prenatal and postpartum concerns.

If you're pregnant or postpartum and live or work downtown give Imprint Pilates a try, you may really love it!


The Spectrum Doula Team