Alignment tips for mamas to be

 Guest Posts, Health, Yoga  Comments Off on Alignment tips for mamas to be
Jul 232015
 

Guest post by Bill Boland and Anita Halton at BodyFix Method

breathYou’re excited to feel your baby growing inside you. But you also feel the physical stress that extra belly weight is causing. Your body is constantly adapting and not always in good ways. You feel it in your back, your neck, and your legs. These aches and pains are the result of postural changes caused by the developing fetus. Along the way, your body’s natural alignment is being compromised.

Here are 4 potentially damaging postural changes to be alert to and a few simple exercises you can do to correct them and avoid pain.

 1. Swayback (Hyper-lordosis)

This is excessive curvature of the low back spine. We all have a natural amount of lordosis or curve in our low back (lumbar) spines, but when this curve becomes exaggerated, or hyper-lordotic, we are at risk for lower back pain, disc herniations, or sciatica. Pregnancy exacerbates the natural lordosis or curve of your lumbar spine. The added weight of your baby in your belly is pulling your pelvis into a forward pelvic tilt; this puts the back into a position of hyper-lordosis.

In order to keep your spine in the most neutral curve possible, focus on these things alignment principles and try these exercises:

a. Butt Strength.  A strong butt is critical to keeping your pelvis from going into more of a forward pelvic tilt. Muscles in front and in back need to balance each other and keep the pelvis level.
b. Thighs Too Strong. The big thigh muscles, known also as quadriceps, are the strongest muscles in the body and they will easily pull the pelvis into a forward tilt if they are too tight. The tendency is going to be for your quads to get tighter and tighter as your baby grows and as you gradually gain weight during pregnancy, so you need to stretch them!

c.  Supple Hips.  Hip flexors are muscles that bring the knee to your chest. The psoas is a deep hip flexor, the only muscle that connects your lumbar spine to your legs. It gets tight when your knees are turned out and you walk with your hip and thigh muscles instead of your leg and butt muscles. It’s easy to do when you’re pregnant. When the deep hip flexor, the psoas muscle, is tight, it will pull your pelvis into an increased forward tilt, making delivery more difficult. It is very important to stretch those deep hip flexors.

This Simple Lunge is safe to do all the way through your pregnancy.

 

2. Abdominal Separation

Abdominal separation (diastasis recti) is a separation between the left and right side of the muscle covering the front surface of the belly (rectus abdominis). Pregnancy puts so much extra pressure on the belly that sometimes the muscles in front can’t keep their shape, causing a separation of the abdominal muscles. You’re also more likely to have the problem if you’re over 35, or if you’re having a heavy baby, twins, triplets, or more.

This condition can occur if your abdominals are either too weak or too tight. What’s your best strategy? Avoid compression in the abdominal area (no crunches!) and keep your abdominals long, strong, and supple. Avoid planks, or sit-ups, swimming or any positions on all fours.

Do these exercises, instead:

a. Standing Overhead Arm Extension

b. Hero’s Pose (Virasana with block)

c. Backbend over Bolster

d. Abdominal Corseting: Imagine that you are wearing a corset and practice engaging your abdominals and holding them while breathing for 10 breaths. Then release. This will gently strengthen your deepest abdominal, your transverse abdominal.

 

3. Rounded Shoulders, Forward Head Posture & Shallow Breathing

Forward Head Posture is a postural condition that affects millions of North Americans and pregnancy only increases your chances of suffering from it. The added weight of your growing breasts can begin to create a tendency to round your shoulders and sink your breastbone. As your shoulders come forward, your head follows and you wind up slouched. There’s a lot of fatigue in pregnancy, but sitting in a slouched posture will only add to that when you diminish your ability to breathe. Oxygen is a primary source of energy. You need more energy now than ever, and you will need more energy after your baby is born for sure, so here are some exercises to help you stand and sit tall, breathe more easily, and relax.

These exercises will keep your chest open and your breath deep and powerful.

a.  Standing Chest Opener

b. Standing Arm Circles

c. Seated Shoulder Blade Squeezes

 

pillow

Seated knee pillow squeeze

4. Turned-out Feet and The Waddle  

Because your belly is growing out, there is less room for the legs to find the ground straight ahead. Your legs and feet will have the tendency to point out or “evert”. This alignment habit will result in a gait pattern of the pregnancy waddle.

If you are accustomed to walking straight ahead, you will now somewhat roll side-to-side because your toes are no longer pointed forward. This alignment pattern will tighten the hip flexors and contribute to a sore low back. A waddle is also inefficient way of walking. It can be avoided.

Do these exercises daily:

a. Seated Knee Pillow Squeezes

b. Walking in Place

The Body Fix Method creates custom plans for therapy clients. If you’d like the full descrption and photos from this post, Anita has offered to send you a copy. Just contact her at anita@bodyfixmethod.com
Apr 132015
 

yoga roomAs part of my requirements for becoming a yoga therapist, a have a number of case studies to complete on my topic of choice. I chose Diastasis Recti, or Ab Seperation, something that affects many moms.

I wanted to create a space in my house to receive these clients, which was welcoming and comfortable. We live in a 4 1/2 or maybe 5 1/2 depending who you ask. It’s actually quite big, with a semi-finished basement, a backyard and three closed rooms. We use one as a bedroom, one as a playroom and the third is where we keep the TV and lots of games and books.
We also have a huge entrance  to the house, and though it seemed awkward at first, this is where I decided to make my cozy yoga room. First step was to move the piano! Then Papa happily arranged his extra drums (he has three kits!) in a nook beside the front door, and installed a bright orange curtain. The drums are beautiful, but they don’t exactly give a mama that “Ahhh, I’m feeling so relaxed” vibe.
I arranged a small shelf where I keep some yoga mats, bolsters, straps and blocks.
I moved in a few plants, candles, incense. I could use some more ambient lighting, but let’s be honest, the kids demolish my sacred space to build bridges and airplanes with the props. Best to have unbreakables!
To me the art on the walls was very important. I wanted it to be special but didn’t want to invest hundreds at this point in time. I borrowed some artwork from the other rooms, including the Gustav Klimt canvass I bought for Bug’s birth room. It became a joke, as the lights were off and my eyes were closed the whole time. It’s been better appreciated in the yoga room. I also happily hung the Waldorf Doll tryptic that I’d commissioned Australian Artist Nadine Mullins to make for my Yoga Mini Mantra business cards and website. What a perfect home for it.
I left the large mirror that was already there, added my yoga calendar, yoga and doula certificates and a dream archer painting a friend gave me for my wedding. But one spot remains. And if you’ve made it this far, that’s where you come in!
While searching online for something original and affordable, I rediscovered minted.com. I’d come across them in the last when I was making my wedding invitations and business cards but I somehow missed that they also have prints. There are a number of prints the would fit absolutely perfectly in the one spot I have remaining, but… I only have one spot.
I was having a hard time choosing just one print, and when I talked to the generous people at minted.com, they offered to offer one winner a $50 credit to the person who helps me choose a print for my studio. The gift certificate can go towards your own print, wedding invitation, stationary, birth announcements or whatever this site has to offer. There are many options to print on recycled paper and the company ships to Canada. So, if you’d like to enter to win your own print, please leave a comment on this post letting me know which of the following pictures you think would best suit my wee yoga studio. If you happen to see another option on the minted site that I haven’t picked, please feel free to suggest! I’ll pick a winner Monday, April 20.
Thanks in advance for your help and good luck!
limited edition print by Sara Shashani

limited edition print by Sara Shashani

by Kiana Mosley

by Kiana Mosley

 limited edition print by Olive Wicherski

limited edition print by Olive Wicherski

limited edition print by Kelly Ventura

limited edition print by Kelly Ventura