prenatal

Getting to Know Your Body with the Alexander Technique

 [The Alexander Technique is an educational method used worldwide for over 100 years. It begins with the premise that the human organism is perfectly designed for an expansive range of activities. It is our own faulty postural habits that get in the way of this potential, but by teaching how to change those habits, the Alexander Technique improves mobility, posture, performance and alertness.  A student learns to use conscious control to relieve chronic pain, tension, injury and stress.]

Simply put, we are in control of our bodies.  Well, duh.  But what do we do in an Alexander Technique class?  Is it like yoga?  Is it like physical therapy?  And how does it pertain to my pregnant/new mom/experienced mom, body?

Yes and no.  Yes and no.  And just wait, I'll tell you. 

The Alexander Technique was created over one hundred years ago by a Tasmanian fellow named F.M. Alexander.  The long and short of it is, he was having throat/vocal/breathing issues and after seeing lots of doctors and specialists who couldn't help, he decided to take a looksy in the mirror at what he was doing that could be harmful.  He realized that he threw his head back and down, which contracted his spine and cut off his breath and vocal chords. He noticed himself and recognized these habits. The technique was born: 1st step, Awareness.  The 2nd principle, Inhibition - simple.  He would just stop throwing his head back and down. The 3rd idea in the process, Direction, meant that he channeled, or directed, his head to release forward and up.  His throat and breathing issues ceased and his body overall began to fare better.  Which is how your body will respond if you start to pay attention to it, inhibit its habits, and direct these habits in a different way.

We've already created bad habits in our bodies over the years without the added conditions of pregnancy, a newborn, or raising a toddler - habits like, locking your knees, extending your hips, swaying your back, or humping your shoulders.  And, it's these physical habits that can not only make daily activities rough - sitting at a desk, waiting for the bus, pushing a grocery cart, but can make it even worse, more pronounced, when you're pregnant or breastfeeding or picking up and carrying a kiddo. 

Pay attention to yourself next time you perform one of these daily activities, use Awareness and notice whether one of these takes place.  Then allow yourself to Inhibit that habit; stop yourself from doing it. Then try Directing yourself to an easeful place out of the habit with a breath.

Breath is a big part of the Alexander Technique considering it was breath that F. M. was losing.  It is a great part of all three tenets described above (Awareness, Inhibition, Direction).  If you don't understand the steps, at least understand breath in the same way F. M. did: we need it.  In the Alexander Technique Workshop, you will learn how to become aware of your breath, inhibit your habits that may constrict or hinder it, and learn to Direct your body.

Great.  Sounds good.  But wait, how is it like yoga? How is it like Physical Therapy?

There's a meditative quality to finding one's breath and the philosophy of bettering one's body is much the same as in Yoga.  Both methods want to reveal a stronger, more balanced entity.  And it's like Physical Therapy in the sense that some people come to this workshop looking to fix a particular physical issue.  But, unlike some Physical Therapy practitioners, Alexander Technique teachers don't focus on the specific area but rather the body as a whole. 

There are so many layers to the technique. These are just the very basics. Dive deep into the technique with me at my upcoming Alexander Technique Workshop at Blooma. We will focus on the three principles, feel them through our bodies, and practice them in the space. Join me!

Written by Eli Sibley, AmSAT certified Alexander Technique teacher and Certified Laban Movement Analyst (or CMA) and a mama

Eli's Alexander Workshop is Friday, May 5th in St. Paul. Learn more and sign up HERE.

 

Deep, Quiet, and Full: Restorative Yoga and Massage at Blooma

I have been taking classes at Blooma for a few months now. This month I decided to explore beyond my normal yoga class and take advantage of one of the many different workshops at Blooma. It was hard for me to choose which one! With our family's busy spring schedule (and nesting before new baby comes), the one that worked best was the Restorative Prenatal Yoga and Massage Workshop with Brook Holmberg and Stacy Seebart. And, let me tell you, it was incredible!

The description on Blooma’s website definitely gave me an idea of what to expect, but I didn't realize that I would love it so much, or that my 39 week pregnant body would need it so much. When the roughly 25 women the dark yoga studio, it was lit by candlelight and serenaded by calming, quiet music. We could choose from a spot that was set up for us, with a bolster propped up by two blocks, a blanket and a couple pillows. Brook explained at the beginning of class that we would really only move through four postures in the entirety of the 90 min class and that there would be plenty of massage by one of the three instructors circulating the room. I have never been to a restorative class before. My experience of yoga is constant movement and flow, so I wondered how much I would really like this. Often, when I am guided into quiet, it's hard to quite my racing mind brain - especially when I am so close to my 'guess' date. There's a never ending to-do list running in my head. But, with each pose we were guided into, the warmth and quiet of the room, ALL of the yoga props (especially for my insanely pregnant body), and the gentle prenatal massage, helped me to be so completely relaxed. I am not sure I have ever really experienced relaxation in this way. It felt deep, quiet and full.

This workshop is offered monthly, and I wish that I had made an effort to go prior to the week before this baby comes. And, although it's aimed toward pregnant women, anyone can participate. I am hoping to come back after baby and I am grateful that I was able to fit this workshop into my last days of this pregnancy!

The list of workshops at Blooma is extensive. There are so many that I want to try! I truly love the variety of what is offered - for those pregnant or not, those struggling with loss or wanting to try something new. On my to-do list for after this baby is born is the Abdominals: Before and After Birth workshop. I have had a lot of ab issues after my other pregnancies and would really like to focus on healing postpartum. You can take this class while you are still pregnant, it just didn't work for me to attend!

Although it may feel like your schedule is jam packed with prepping for a baby, caring for a newborn, school schedules, and/or upcoming summer plans, I truly encourage you to take a look at this list of upcoming workshops offered at Blooma. Grab a friend, your spouse, or just spend some alone time and take advantage of something beyond your weekly yoga class. You never know what you may learn about yourself or for another in your family.

Upcoming Restorative Prenatal Yoga & Massage Workshops:

Wednesday, May 3

Wednesday, June 7

Wednesday, September 6

Written by Shea Olson- Wife & Mama Trying to Make it All Work

My Blooma Journey: Motherhood, Yoga, Community and Beyond.

On the journey of parenthood, there are many things that divide us; but I like to believe that there are many more things that unite us. When it comes to parenting, we all long for community, desire acceptance, and need a safe, sacred space where we - and our choices and experiences - are heard and understood. 

Years ago, I was new to the Twin Cities area and was also newly pregnant with my second child. I had worked in the health care sector for years and could help support my family financially. But, I wasn't in love with what I did and I struggled to find the balance I knew I needed. 

One of the biggest problems in finding balance was that I wasn’t great at carving out time for myself, and certainly, not in a way that encouraged me to “connect” with my baby. It wasn’t uncommon for days to pass without a single thought of my pregnancy, the baby, or what I needed for myself. This only left me feeling more drained with each passing day. I knew this wasn’t sustainable for myself, my family, and my new baby. I needed a change. 

It was around this time that I hesitantly walked through Blooma’s doors. To clarify, I was no yogi. In fact, I was fairly convinced that yoga was not for me. Frankly, yoga seemed like a waste of time. Even so, I left the treadmill at the gym and stepped into the Blooma studio. I moved. I flowed. I breathed. I listened to my heart. I listened to my baby. I found intention. I found community. I discovered how to simply BE. I was hooked. 

From that point on, my yoga mat became a near permanent structure beneath my feet. I clung to every word relating to birth, empowerment, fear, love, and everything in between. I valued the brief interactions post-practice with instructors and fellow mamas alike. I raced out of my corporate office at the end of the day to be greeted by the calming energy that the yoga studio brought to my day and my heart. Blooma was my breath of fresh air amidst an ocean of uncertainty, fear and letting go…

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Months went by. The Prenatal Yoga Classes, that I attended so regularly, prepared me for one of the biggest moments of my life. After much anticipation, I birthed my baby on a pale Christmas Eve morning in runner’s lunge, a pose I had practiced so frequently that my body recognized it as familiar. The woman - my doula - who held my hand, hair and heart throughout my birth experience was the same woman who had guided me through countless yoga practices. Her voice brought me comfort and confidence. She was exactly what I needed during my birth - and Blooma had brought us together.

I had given birth, but I continued to crave Blooma’s energy. In my postpartum days, I religiously attended New Mama Group and BYOB, all creating community and new friendships with fellow mamas who were in the trenches right along with me. Blooma was the one place I could openly breastfeed my baby (because openly was the only way I knew how) and that was enough reason for me to show up, day in and day out.

baby-and-me

 

Before I knew it, my baby was crawling and we were attending Little Movers and Crawlers Classes together, and then Tots Classes. My oldest son enjoyed Little Kids Yoga and I hit up Vinyasa Classes when I could, in an effort to fill my own cup and focus on myself.As time continued to pass, I felt that my coveted community, my place of prenatal and postpartum solace, was slipping through my fingers. I still had Flow and Barre Classes, but my prenatal and postpartum connection was swiftly ending. My baby was growing. I had spent nearly every day at Blooma. I didn’t want LESS of my Blooma community, I wanted MORE. I grieved at the thought of slowly removing myself from Blooma’s walls. 

I began to seriously reflect on how much I wanted to give back to the community of other new parents, birth workers, and instructors that had selflessly given to me when I needed it most. I wanted to be a part of providing a loving, open, sacred space for prenatal/postpartum mamas to show up, find themselves and connect with their babies, just like I had done in the years before.

Of course, I continued to work the 9-5 job I always had, but I took risks. I didn’t have much of a plan and had no idea where I would end up, but for the first time in my life, it didn’t matter because I knew I had a hell of a lot of passion behind the momentum that was driving my decisions. I dove head first into the numerous training's Blooma had to offer including the BYOB Yoga Teacher Training, DONA Birth Doula Training, DONA Postpartum Doula Training, and Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training. I also pursued, with encouragement from my Blooma tribe, the training needed to become a LAMAZE-Certified Childbirth Educator.

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I originally pursued the training's to give back, but I've discovered that I've received so much more. In the end, I left my job in health care and dedicated my time to serving women as a Birth and Postpartum Doula, a Yoga Instructor, a New Mama Group Facilitator, and a Childbirth Educator within the Blooma community and beyond. Originally, I stepped through Blooma’s doors to say “I gave yoga a try” and instead I found what I had unknowingly been seeking for far too long: deep-seeded desires around acceptance, community and sacred space. 

buddy-yoga

 

I’m grateful to say that Blooma has showed up for me in ways that I least expected. It is a yoga studio but it is much more than that. Because of Blooma and all that it is, I have discovered the foundation to help confidently build my family, my community and my inner self.

 

In love, light and gratitude, Sarah Bach-Bergs

Blooma Yoga Instructor, LAMAZE-Certified Childbirth Educator, DONA-Trained Birth and Postpartum Doula, Mama of two crazy boys, wife, friend, and wilderness lover.

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Photo Credit:

First image and Black and White Photo: Meghan Pate

New Mama Group Image: Danica Donnelly

 

 

6 Yoga Poses Prenatal Mama’s Can Rock!

Pregnancy is such a transformative time. The word 'Birth' is basically synonymous with the word 'Transformation'. Your body is changing, emotions and hormones are in flux, and life may feel chaotic and out of control. Just as pregnancy and birth are transformative, so is Prenatal Yoga.

At Blooma’s Prenatal Yoga Classes, we UNDERSTAND. We get it. We acknowledge it all - the waves of the ups and downs, the way you feel unfamiliar of your own body, and the fear change can bring. Our intention at Blooma is to educate, support and give you the BEST yoga postures to comfort your pregnant body and mind each class. Coming to class can help you perfect your form to gain the most from your practice.

Here are our Top 6 Favorite Prenatal Yoga Poses for Expecting Mamas.

1. Cat/Table Pose (MARJARYASANA / BHARMANASA)

cattableposeGet on all 4’s! This rocking movement back and forth from Cat to Table is my # 1 all time favorite. As the baby grows, more weight and tension is put on the lumbar spine and muscles of the lower back. The entire spine will benefit from gliding easily back and forth and this movement can encourage baby into “optimal fetal positioning” for delivery. It could very well be a position that supports you in labor!

*Replace cow pose with table to avoid added pressure to the lumbar spine and to avoid over stretching of the abdominal muscles.

2. Child’s Pose (BALASANA)

childspose

Child’s pose is the great pose of surrender. Allow your knees to go wide to make room for baby and bring your toes in towards each other. Fully let go with the support of either a blanket or pillow under the knees, and a bolster under the chest. This posture can help fight off nausea, relieve stress and anxiety, and help to quiet down the mind. Your head can go to either side or forehead down. Eyes closed. Deep breath. Let go.

3. Squat Pose (MALASANA)

squatposeTake a yoga block underneath your sitting bones, take your knees wide and have a squat! You can put a blanket underneath the heels for more lift. Squat pose will help to open the hips and lengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. Constipation is common in pregnancy and this pose can help aid in digestion. For more support, you can try a squat while leaning against a wall. *Don’t hold squat pose if your baby is breech and you are 34 weeks or more.

4. Warrior 2 (VIRABHADRASANA II)

warrior2

The pose of confidence! This hip-opener, leg-strengthener, heart-opener, mind-bender is a must for every prenatal yoga mama. Finding strength, balance, breath and inner confidence in Warrior 2 will help create that same confidence on your birthing day. Learn to breathe into all parts of your body here. Check in with your front knee and make sure it is guiding towards your front foot’s pinky toe side. Open up that front hip, ground down in the back foot just as much. Feel baby snuggle up and in while your tailbone lengthens down. Heart open with your hands reaching wide - and breathe!

5. Goddess Pose (UTKATA KONASANA)

goddess
At Blooma we call this the “Mothership of all poses." In this pose we get to tune into sensation. We get to see what shows up in our minds as we face challenge. Goddess pose is not only an endurance builder, but a confidence maker. Open the hips, lengthen the inner thighs and pelvic floor muscles and goddess pose will create an opening in the pelvis. This pose is a strengthens the muscles in the legs. We often have a tendency to internally drop the knee, so line it up with your second toe for proper placement. Imagine your scratching your back against a tree behind you to keep the shoulders and torso up tall. Glide side to side, then come back and find your center. Let your fire-y goddess shine! With every exhale you can sink down and create a mini micro-bend in the legs to feel your strength!

6) Final Resting Pose (SAVASANA)

final-resting-pose
It’s time to allow your body to soak in all of your hard work. The MOST important pose in yoga- savasana. When you prepare to lie down, sit on the left side of your hips and slide your arm down until you reach the side seam of your body onto the mat. Laying down on your left side (again to promote optimal fetal positioning) let your left leg stay extended long. Place a bolster underneath your right knee, bent at 90 degrees, with your right foot on the bolster as well. A second pillow can go underneath your head. Close your eyes and rest mama. You deserve it.

During every prenatal yoga practice be compassionate and kind to yourself, listen to your body, and most of all know how loved you are.

**Please consult with your health care provider before starting a prenatal yoga practice.

Written by Stacy Seebart E-RYT500/ RPYT Stacy-Seebart
Director of Blooma’s Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training

Let's Go To The Barre - in the morning!

I'm not a morning person.  The proof is in my college transcripts, or my employment records. If I had a job that required me to work early in the morning, it never lasted long.
 
Then I became a mom, and again, and again. And soon my afternoon workouts were first on the chopping block under the pressure of nap time, or groceries, or doctor appointments. I resented putting myself on the back burner. Then I noticed that resentment was getting worse, because I was tired and at a loss for an outlet.
 
Enough was enough and I made a plan. And so I took my first 6 am class.  And I survived, AND I felt great! And by noon I had completely forgotten I had already worked out, and wasn't beating myself up for missing yet another thing.  Then the next day I did it again, and again, and two years later I am getting up and making ME the priority.
 
How did I start, and how do I keep it up? Each night I make sure to:
  • Set my workout clothes in the bathroom before bed.
  • Set my alarm for a ridiculously early time (who are we kidding though, I'm up at that time anyway with kiddos most nights!).
  • Establish a routine that my partner and I agree on so I can have that time to myself.
It isn't easy, but neither is being a grumpy mom, wife and co-worker. With my 6am workouts, I am able to handle the sideswipe of everyday life with a bit more grace.
 
See you in class! 

Jessie Seehof Carlson is barre, yoga, and prenatal yoga teacher at Blooma. She has been part of the family since 2008 and is incredibly grateful to teach and take classes in such an open and loving community. Click here for Jessie's class schedule!