Class Theme for the Week: Your Pelvic Floor

This past week, I was so very thrilled to bring the theme ‘Your Pelvic Floor’ into each of my prenatal yoga classes.  I learned quite a lot in the process and hopefully inspired some awareness amoung my students.  I even had a few come to me later in the week saying they booked in for a prenatal appointment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist!  Woot!

In a couple of my classes the intro question was: Have you heard of, or are you seeing a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist?

The range of answers was rather astounding.  In one class, out of 11 people, 10 were seeing a PFP.  In my next class, out of 7 people, every single person was not!  That’s quite a difference if you ask me.

I started off each class sharing a little from this blog post from the Blooma Blog.  I then took a solid 15 minutes to do a few incredibly powerful pelvic floor/abdominal exercises, adding in layers of depth after each grouping of breath.  I think it’s incredibly important to include these exercises (to some degree) into a prenatal yoga class!

A few of my students asked the following questions about seeing a Pelvic Floor Physio:

Do I need to go before baby is born?

My suggestion on this is yes!  It can’t hurt!  I wish I went before my first son was born to learn more about my own pelvic floor, what my strength level was, details about birth and how the baby descends, and to get exercises to strengthen and relax the muscles beforehand.  Mostly though, I wish I went in order to learn about/talk about how to ‘push’ ahead of time.

What does the physiotherapist do in a session?

Most PFPs go in and do an internal, manual exam to check out your pelvic floor and determine if you need to work on relaxing or strengthening the muscles.  In my case, we had to practice ‘awakening’ my pelvic floor and figuring out the cues to get this mind-body connection to turn on.  After figuring out the right cues for me, I could go home and have a better idea of how to do the exercises and how it was supposed to ‘feel’.  It all was incredibly eye-opening and encouraging to get to know this part of the body on a different level.  I feel like after the experience of birth, with my core and pelvic floor ‘falling apart’ in a way, building it all back together has taught me in unthinkable ways about how my body works.  This knowledge has changed who I am.

Doing this special and important core work will also help you with incontinence after birth.  It’s true mamas, you needn’t suffer in silence when coughing or sneezing – there is much you can do to avoid these issues and any pelvic pain you may have!

The PFP also will check your diastasis (the degree of separation of your abdominal muscles) and help you to do your best to minimize this separation and rebuild your core in a safe and healthy way.  There are many common exercises that are done in yoga (or even throughout our daily lives) which should be avoided for potentially up to a year postpartum in order to properly rebuild the core.  For this reason alone, I recommend seeing a PFP!  A PFP is like a personal coach in rebuilding your core and body after birth, now who can say no to that!

Thank-you to all the people out there who are practicing pelvic floor physiotherapy.  Your work is inspiring to me and I will do all I can to spread the word of pelvic health.

If you have any questions or live in the GTA and would like a referral to a GOOD PFP, please leave me a message.

Love and Life,

Megan

New York, New York


Manhattan, one of my favourite places on the earth!

My little family and I just took a short little jaunt over to the Big Apple for a mini getaway before the new baby comes after Christmas. We had some good times!

The purpose of the trip was pleasure, but as of late, all our trips end up being about two things: coffee and yoga.

I find a studio to take a class or two at and my husband finds a couple, (or 3 or 7) coffee shops to try out.

Since I’m not really the coffee drinking type (I don’t drink it at all actually), I’m going to leave the coffee business out of this post. 🙂

I was blessed to visit two yoga studios on this trip. I thought the first was going to be a prenatal class, but in the end it wasn’t so. It was a kundalini class at Golden Bridge Yoga NYC. They also have a studio in LA. This is the studio founded by Gurmukh, a fantastic prenatal yoga teacher in America. I use her book ‘Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful’ as a resource in my prenatal classes very often.  It was a joy and honour to practice at one of her studios! The studio was wonderful and truthful, the class was interesting and different than anything I’ve ever done. I’m definitely glad I visited.

The second yoga class I took was a parent and toddler class in Chelsea  (the above photo was taken at the Chelsea high line – so beautiful!) at Karma Kids Yoga. We had the lovely and inspiring Amanda as our teacher and we were happy to have two other kids in the class!

I just began teaching a family yoga series at the studio I work at, so Amanda’s class served as a little R&D for my burgeoning kids/family teaching practice. We practiced to sweet songs and read one of my favourite books for story time at the end – Eric Carle’s ‘From Head to Toe’. I really felt like this class was right up my alley and it was so wonderful to see my son growing his own yoga practice. He learned so much in that 45 minutes that he’s still using today. 🙂

The next day of our trip we spent some time in Brooklyn which has more options for kids yoga. I didn’t want to hijack my son’s NYC experience, so when we asked him if he’d rather do yoga or art, and he picked art, I let go of doing more yoga with him. Hard to do,  but a good thing in the end I think.  We enjoyed an art activity with him at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, it wasn’t too bad actually.

After three sleeps, it was hard to leave Manhattan, aside from my low back being tired from all the walking!  New York will always be close to my heart, and I still hope one day my family and I can spend an extended period of time there – that has never changed.

Happy Baby-Mooning!

Megan

Bawling Like A Baby

You may or may not know I teach a prenatal yoga class on Friday mornings at Toronto Yoga Mamas, a pre and post-natal yoga studio in downtown Toronto’s East Side.

This past week we focused our practice on The Spine and our theme was ‘Tension’.  I have been taking some pride in planning and theme-ing my classes the past few weeks, aiming to build in structure and cohesion to the poses, breath-work and meditation.

To start class, each Mama got into a comfortable position and I read this little blurb on Motherhood that my fancy and beautiful friend Rosilee wrote.  I am glad to say that I almost couldn’t get through it for the tears screaming forth.  Something took over me.  I held it together, but I more or less could have bawled like a baby.

Here it goes:

Being a mother has not come easily for me.  I grew up dreaming about becoming a mom and had always believed I was well-suited for the role.  After seven fabulous years as a couple, our first  pregnancy and birth were more wonderful than we could have hoped and my expectations were soaring as I dove head-first into my life as a mother.  As we’ve changed and grown as a family, it isn’t hard to embrace my three children whole-heartedly; I am overwhelmed by their incredible capacity for wonder, curiousity, magic and love.  In the midst of the magic though, if I’m honest, there is still a certain sadness as I mourn the loss of the life I had, and loved, before my kids came along.  There is always a tension inside me between letting go and embracing, needing and meeting needs, welcoming the new and letting the old slip away.  This tension that I feel brings a certain fierceness to the love that I have for my family because I know that the incredibly meaningful moments that we share and the life we have together takes hard work and a lot of sacrifice from each of us.  We have each given ourselves to this family, and together we are writing an incredible love story.  

Bless you Rosilee.  Thanks for sharing your gift of writing and your experience in Motherhood.  🙂
May each of you have light and acceptance in your tension.
Love,
Megan

29 Classes in 2 Months

At the yoga studio I work at, we recently had a competition to see who of the teachers could be the most inspired to attend as many class as they could through April and May.
Turns out I won, with 29 classes in 2 months!  I live close, didn’t have another yoga membership at the time, and the opening quality of the spring really drew me to my mat!

I just wanted to post this little thank-you note to those who supported me along the way and sacrificed for my spring training success.  I also publicly admit that one day I attended 3 yoga classes which was completely unnecessary and I’ve learned my lesson. 😉

To Jamie – for providing this opportunity to do what I love and at a time which seemed perfect for my family and my post-natal body, thanks for providing the space for me to practice.
To Maggie and Sunny and the regulars at the Tuesday morning vinyasa class- for sticking it out with my glorious and wonderfully-attached-to-me son at the age of 20-21 months. Through all the tears and screaming, and turning up the volume on the music. ;). Maggie – He just loves you now, and I don’t blame him!
To all the teachers whose classes I was blessed to attend – for nurturing the connection of my body, mind and spirit. The things I learned from you are endless and I will continue to bring them into my teaching and my body.
To Liz – for cheering me on. 🙂
To my husband Andrew – for your constant support and my many missed nights of putting our son to sleep, your devotion and care towards our family is never ending, thank you! Also for bringing my yoga pants to work so I could bike straight to class. 🙂
To my son Jadwin – thanks for giving up time with mama so she could get to ‘Yogaga’, for sticking it out with Maggie, and helping to change Sophie’s diaper that one time. I love you.
I look forward to continuing to attend more classes at the studio and be inspired by my lovely co-teachers. There is so much to learn from everyone.
Lots of love,
Megan

My Core 

Alright. In the last 20 months I’ve learned a LOT about core rehabilitation and the post-natal body. Mainly because I went through it!  And let me share with you that it was nothing like I thought it would be.

I had high expectations of myself, as a new yoga teacher who had just gotten acquainted with her body on a deeper level than ever before.

I started back to yoga 3 weeks post-partum, most people who found this out were surprised. For me it wasn’t anything at all about ‘getting my body back’. It was about learning about this new body, taking time to slow down, go inside and do a little self-care.

(Part of this learning involved me doing a deep squat too early which left me a little sore.)

And yet, I would see other yoga teachers post-partum and wonder why they weren’t quite as ‘put back together’ as I thought they should be. (Clearly disregarding the non-judgemental tenets of my discipline.)

It has been 20.5 months since I gave birth, and I finally feel like I’m able to call my core home again. I can feel it working well when I stand up and sit down, do the dishes and carry J. This is far from the length of time I imagined it would take, in fact, a year or more longer.

It has dawned on me that this newfound strength came about largely because toddler J’s sleep started to normalize. Actually it was about a month after he started sleeping well and predictably-enough time for my own sleeping rhythms to normalize.

Now, of course this has been a journey. From birth until today. Ups and downs, more sleep and less sleep, patience galore and strength-building the whole way. But I’m here to say that it just simply isn’t realistic for us new moms to be working out like crazy just weeks or months after birth. Even worse is when we force it – we don’t want to be physically active but we push through anyway to meet some unrealistic ideal. I’m a believer in waiting until we’re ready, waiting until our whole bodies are ready. And being honest with our energy levels and willingness to exercise.

So this is a call to you to be true to yourself and listen to your body. There is good reason it is what it is in this very moment, and embracing that is your best option.

Health and peace,

Megan