prenatal health

Move: Prenatal Yoga at Work

Sometimes you may not have the time (or energy) to mindfully move everyday - maybe you’re tired or busy after work and maybe you want to sleep as much as possible before work. Maybe you just don’t feel like it. And that’s OK - it happens.

For those days when going to a class or doing your own movement practice is just too much - but you’d still like to soften those creaks and stiffness, we bring you a few gentle yoga based movements that you can do anywhere! You can do these at home, at work, you can even do some of them on your commute or the grocery store (no props necessary)! You can also do them at any stage of your perinatal journey - especially during your pregnancy!

Check them out below:

1) Centering Breaths

Make sure you are comfortably seated or standing with both feet planted on the ground - your weight evenly distributed between them. Take a deep breath in and lengthen your spine - as you exhale let go of your jaw. Soften your gaze and take 6 more deep breaths like this - be mindful of softening the muscles of your face, your shoulders, your belly, your hands, and your hips.

2) Move those feet!

If possible, remove your shoes (this works well if you have an enclosed desk!). If you’re seated inhale and point your toes, as you exhale flex your feet - drawing your toes towards you. Repeat this 3-5 times. Circles your ankles in one direction - then the other, repeating once more 3-5 times. If you’re standing, hold onto something and do one foot at a time.

3) Side Stretch

Inhale and lift your arms towards the sky. As you exhale, release your right arm by your right side (you can anchor that arm to your seat/whatever is stable around you) and take a gentle side bend to the right. Soften the right shoulder. 

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

4) Gentle Twist

If you are sitting, inhale and lengthen your spine. As you exhale, hug your belly in and twist to the right side. 

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

If you’re standing, as you twist to the right, use your left arm to grip onto sometime (a desk, shelf, pole, etc.) and hold your twist. Repeat on the other side.

5) Sitting or Standing Cat/Cow

If you are sitting, bring your hands on your knees. Inhale to hinge forward and gently arch your upper back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. If pregnant, be mindful to gently hug baby in as you do this. 

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

If you’re standing, place your hands on your hips - follow the rest of the instructions above.

Repeat 3-10 times. 

6) Move your Neck!

Inhale to lengthen your spine. As you exhale circles your shoulders back and forth a couple of times. 

Inhale deeply once more and lengthen your spine. 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. Release.

7) Centering Breaths

Finish with 3-7 centering breaths. Notice how you feel.

We hope this little sequence helps!

XO,

The Spectrum Team

Winter Walking: 4 options to walk in Toronto

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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.  

Love, 

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!

Love, 

The Spectrum Doula Collective

 

 

 

 

Movement: Imprint Pilates

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“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. 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, they also have restorative classes, which are suitable for the prenatal and postpartum period.

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.

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!

Love, 

The Spectrum Doula Team

 

Movement: How and where do you move?

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You have probably heard of the the 3 Rs that benefit labour: Rhythm, Relaxation, and Ritual. Like all things in life; however, practice makes better! So how can you incorporate the 3 Rs into your life? And how can this help postpartum? Mindful and sustainable movement! 

Mindful and sustainable movement can be anything you want it to be - as long as it's done in an intentional and deliberate way. It can be a long walk (at the beach, in the park, in your neighbourhood). It can be yoga, Pilates, spinning, body conditioning, swimming, playing sports, and so on. You can do it at home, in the park, at your community centre, at the gym, or at a studio. You can customise any movement for your perinatal journey based on your experience, preference, and ability!

HOW YOU MOVE

How you move matters. If you are pregnant or recently postpartum and you're planning on taking a class or following an online movement video it's important to find an instructor with prenatal and/or postpartum training (depending on what they teach).

Prenatally, this training should go beyond "there's a belly in the way so we don't do as wide a variety of exercises". A pregnant person's body undergoes a tremendous amount of change, both internally and externally. Classes should be based on mindful movement specifically designed for this and enriched to take into account these changes. Postpartum, the training should take into account the changes in a postpartum body, including the potential effects pregnancy and birth may have had.

Movement is so important both prenatally and postpartum - not only because it helps ingrain the Rs into our bodies and consciousness but also because it makes us happy.  Some types of movement make us happier than others, so move however you can and like, but do move! 

WHERE YOU MOVE

It may not seem like it - but where you move is important, beyond the instructor's expertise and proximity to your home or work. Is it a safe space - do you feel safe, acknowledged, represented, and included? Is it a community you can and want to be part of? Is the space accessible and accommodating? Moving however you like is important and so is moving where you like! 

There are several places in Toronto that offer prenatal and postpartum movement classes (maybe you already have your favourite!). Stay tuned for our next blog posts where we feature some of Toronto's studios offering prenatal and postpartum movement classes! 

Love, 

Spectrum Doula Collective