prenatal yoga

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

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


Beyond the Bio: Meet Kira . . .

Kira is passionate about birth, reproductive justice and building body-positive spaces. She is a sensitive soul always rooting for the underdog, and a total goofball exactly when you need her to be - you definitely want to get to know this peanut butter loving lady (and if you're lucky she just might share one of her homemade birth snacks with you...!).


What drew you to doula work?

An interest in reproductive justice and health initially drew me to the field. I became really interested in birth from a social justice lens and when I discovered what a doula was, it wasn't long before I was enrolled in my first training.

If you weren't a doula what would your alternate dream job be?

I'm so passionate about this realm of work that my dream job would totally be in the field. Both a dream and a job I hope to eventually have, I would love to offer perinatal mental health support.

What did you want to be when you were in elementary school?

I went through a LOT of phases. I can quite clearly recall wanting to be a designer, a journalist, a teacher... I'm sure my mom would have a few more to add.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

Columbia! I have spent a bit of time in Central America, and can't wait to start exploring South America. My godmother always used to talk about bringing me to Columbia (her home country) before she passed.

What would the perfect off-call day look like for you?

Hiding my phone in a closet, going to a yoga class, hanging out with some friends and a glass of wine (or three).

Favourite vice (or two) that you have no guilt about?

Peanut butter.


Name One Thing . . .

. . . you learned the hard way about birth early in your career:

That labour can be looong. I learned that even if a client tells me their labour has begun, to ask more questions and make plans accordingly, but not to call all my backups and drop everything until labour has been fully established.

. . . you look back on in your life that makes you feel proud:

I hope to look back on the relationships that I've created and feel proud of the love and care I put into them.

. . . that usually surprises people about you:

That I'm actually pretty introverted. I consider myself an introverted extrovert, so it's usually my extroverted personality that presents in social situations.

. . . that's always in your fridge or pantry:

Coffee, chickpeas, cheese, almond milk, peanut butter, CHOCOLATE... Enough food that when the apocalypse comes, I will be fully stocked for a year.


What's your favourite . . .







Toronto Cafe

The Common

Birth Book

The Birth House by Amy McKay (fiction) or The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin (non-fiction)