yoga

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

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!

Love, 

The Spectrum Doula Team

Beyond the Bio: Meet Kira . . .

*Since writing this blog post, Kira decided to go back to school to be a social worker! We are thrilled that she will continue supporting people in her new career!

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...!).

TorontoDoula.jpg

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 . . .

Colour

Blue

Animal

Sloth

Season

Spring

Toronto Cafe

The Common

Birth Book

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

Beyond the Bio: Meet Corina . . .

When Corina is in your space you just somehow feel calmer. An incredible listener, a humble spirit, and an eternal student, makes Corina one of those people you meet and you just can't resist to get to know better. She will continually surprise you with the things she's done... but you have to be a good listener because she's a modest one and would prefer to learn about who you are!

TorontoDoula.jpg

What drew you to doula work?

Nothing specifically drew me to doula work - I started teaching prenatal yoga and absolutely loved it. One day, a student asked me if I would be interested in supporting her during her birth. I agreed and fell in love with birth work. It was like coming home to a place I never knew existed and fitting in perfectly. Since then, I immersed myself in birth (and birth-related) work.

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

Medical Anthropologist.

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

Store cashier (since they got all the money).

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

The Romanian delta - we used to have a beach house there (but I am really not a fan of travelling and I'd be content staying home).

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

Tea and breakfast on my deck, a yoga class, a trip to the farmer's market, followed by baking (a lot).

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

Medical dramas and fantasy fiction - but especially new adult fantasy fiction (I am obsessed with the Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas).

 

Name One Thing . . .

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

I can't control what people say to clients.

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

Choosing my current career - it was a difficult decision since most of my life I had aspired to be in academia.

. . . that usually surprises people about you:

I used to be an archaeologist working with geophysical methods!

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

Cheese.

 

What's your favourite . . .

Colour

Burgundy

Animal

Cat

Season

Autumn

Toronto Cafe

Rooster (on Broadview)

Birth Book

Birthing From Within by Pam England