Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What Not to Wear: Yoga Mamas

Note: I thought I had scheduled this post to be published the day before I went into labor. I guess it still might be relevant to any pregnant yoga students everywhere. :)

Prenatal Yoga Pregnancy Yoga Clothes
I promise. I'm ALMOST through with the pregnancy yoga posts. But I couldn't let such an amazing opportunity to speak to yoga fashionistas out there about their pregnancy yoga wardrobes, now could I? Obviously not.

Here's my two-cents on prenatal yoga fashion, and how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls pregnant yoga students make when they try to dress their new, ever-changing bodies.

1. Baggy tops. You're not fooling anyone, lady. We know that little bump isn't a beer gut--so you might as well show it off. I was actually amazed that most all of my pre-pregnancy yoga tops worked just as well for pregnancy yoga. Since yoga tops are longer anyway (to accommodate for riding up in Down Dogs and inversions) and are made of stretchy fabric that holds its shape--I didn't buy even one maternity yoga top. Of course, I have a feeling they might be less forgiving when I've reached the "postnatal" phase ... I'll keep you posted on that one.

2. Tops that are too revealing for your new, awesome boobs. There are yoga tops that are great at keeping boobs in place and then there are those that are made for bodies that don't really have boobs. Luckily, I had a few of the later in my yoga wardrobe because when my girls started growing ... they became a lot harder to contain. (And it was just luck, because I didn't have to worry about that so much before, if you know what I mean.) So here's my advice to anyone who finds themselves with a little more boob than they once had--make sure you do a few Down Dogs at home before you head to the studio just to be sure you don't have any potential embarrassing slips. And opt for fuller coverage tops with high neck lines and high back lines (because when boobs grow, they are more likely to fall out the sides of your top, too... Who knew?).

3. All black. This one isn't SUCH a fashion no-no.. but a lot of people think that just because they're carrying a few extra pounds they need to try to hide in the back row of class in thinning head-to-toe black. Ladies, your pot belly is adorable. And, trust me, people want to see that. They also want to touch it. And ask you when your due date is (I hate due dates...) If you wear all black because you like the way it looks--fine. But don't do it because you're trying to hide--We see you, and we think you look radiant!

4. High-waisted yoga pants or leggings. I'm not talking about those stretchy maternity yoga pants--which are actually way more comfortable than the non-yoga variety maternity pants. I'm talking about squeezing your new belly into leggings or yoga pants that were meant for stick-thin yogis who like that "skinny pants" look. This is more of a comfort issue than anything, because while I'm sure the fabric still stretches with you unless the waistband is low enough to sit BELOW your belly, it can't possibly be comfortable. And there are just too many options that roll down or sit low to wear anything even slightly uncomfortable.

5. Maternity yoga clothes. Again, this is more of a personal preference than a fashion don't. But I couldn't bring myself to buy one garment of maternity athletic wear. (Admittedly a couple of the pieces I borrowed from friends are quite comfy.) It turns out, most of my normal yoga clothes continued to be comfy throughout my 40 + weeks of pregnancy so it just wasn't necessary for me to buy more. My advice? Pull out your high neckline tops and low-waist and roll down variety yoga pants and wear them as long as you feel comfortable in them. If you get tired of wearing the same pieces over and over, rock the accessories so you feel like the yoga goddess you are.

Whatever you do celebrate your new curves, rock that baby bump (because you know it looks good on you!), and never EVER let yourself think that your new body can't look just as fierce in that stretchy Spandex-like material as it did pre-pregnancy. Your body is growing a PERSON )which is freaking amazing!) and you should feel great, confident, and yes, even sexy, while you do it--whether you're at the yoga studio or the grocery store.

P.S. Specific pieces that I loved throughout pregnancy are:
No Limits Tank by Lululemon -- The mesh fabric let my belly breathe, but band at the hip kept me covered up
Ava Skirt by MeSheeky -- Soft jersey fabric and a low waist band are comfy for daily wear and as a pre- and post-yoga cover up
Jala Tank by Devi -- You'd think this fitted top wouldn't be comfortable when you're big and pregnant, but the fabric is supportive with just enough stretch -- and it keeps its shape.

See also
5 Poses That Should Induce Labor (But Don't)
My Toddler is a Yogic Sage
3 Ways to Wear Yoga Leggings

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Letting Go of "Expecting"

Due dates suck. I'm adding them to my list of grievances against the American medical system, and you should, too..

Here's why.

Not only is the thinking intrinsically flawed that every child should reach gestation and be ready to enter the world in exactly 40 weeks time, but the idea every woman's body should be prepared and ready to go on that same schedule is completely ludicrous. I think it's even harmful. When this arbitrary date (which at best, can be off by 2 weeks from the get-go) isn't met, it throws everyone into a frenzy making said woman question her body's natural abilities to give birth.

Let's think about this from a yoga perspective. First of all, look around the next time you go to a public yoga class and you'll see dramatically different body shapes, sizes, and abilities. Some students are naturally flexible and  have no problem bending into most any shape. Others are strong and stable--maybe they can't touch their toes, but they can lift into a handstand in the middle of the room with ease. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle with a tendency toward one or the other. One isn't better than the other--just different. Yoga teaches us to just experiment and do the practice without judgment from wherever we are. The emphasis is on how far you've come over time, not how flexible or strong you are. That's why it builds confidence and self-esteem at the same time as health and vitality. This is key for opening the body, because the second you start to fill the mind with judgments and self-doubt, the body hardens making it almost impossible to make progress. If you want to open your hamstrings, you relax and breathe and gently fold forward. Why on earth would opening your cervix be any different?

That's where due dates, and the doctors and midwives that assign them, really miss the mark. They start looking for things that are wrong causing already nervous moms-to-be to panic. (If first-time moms tend to "go late," I'm convinced this is why.) They order extra ultrasounds to make sure there's enough fluid and non-stress tests to monitor how well the baby is handling being crammed in your deteriorating placenta. They tell you all the reasons they won't "let you" stay pregnant past yet another arbitrary date ... You start to wonder, is my body just not capable of doing this? That's when the progress stops. That's when the drugs come out. That's why our C-section rate in this county is 33 percent.

Yoga has helped me come a long way in accepting and loving my body as it is. It's amazing how a nine-month period of seeing doctors, being weighed and measured, and hearing how I stack up (for medical reasons) against thousands of other people's measurements and statistics has really undone so much of that work on my mat.

Now at four days past my "due date," I'm going to stop Googling natural ways to induce labor. I'm going to meditate using the mantra "soften to open." I'm going to clean out my bathtub, light some candles, and listen to some soothing music. Then, the rest of the day, I'm going to curl up on the couch with a good book and my sweet animals. I'm going to stop looking at the clock and/or the calendar, and I'm going to trust my body to do what it was designed to do ... in its own time ... Thankyouverymuch.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dear Baby

Dear Baby,

The outside world isn't so bad. I think you're going to like it. There are more good people than bad. (And I really believe that even the bad people are mostly just confused.) It's perfect spring weather here right now, we live close to the beach, and you have your own room!

It feels really REALLY good to stretch out your arms and legs, and it's kind of Mommy's specialty. Most mommies can teach their babies how to do normal things like walk and talk, but I can teach you how to stand on your head. Well, maybe not right away, but once your bones fuse together and stuff.

Speaking of heads... if you're worried about yours coming out a little cone-like, it's not a big deal. I promise to put a hat on you until it gets round again, and I won't let Daddy take any embarrassing pictures. (And he'll want to! Which is why I don't think it's fair that you already have so many more things that say "I <3 Daddy" and only ONE thing that says "I <3 Mommy" ... but I promise not to bring that up again if you'll just come soon.)

And did I mention that you have a closet full of adorable clothes already? You're going to be WAY better dressed than Mommy OR Daddy. The only problem is... I'm worried if you put off making your appearance too much longer, you're not even going to fit in a lot of the cutest outfits you have! That would be a shame because I'm sure you're going to look cute in them.

I don't know if you've noticed or not, but I've been practicing my rocking skills a lot lately. I'm still new at it, but our sweet dog Penny hasn't complained, and I think you'll like it, too.

I'm not saying we'll be perfect parents. In fact, we're probably going to screw up a whole lot. (See? I don't think you're supposed to say "screw" to a baby.. I'm sure we'll mess up.. is that better?) Anyway, nobody's perfect, and we'll figure out the whole parenthood/kid thing as we go. But what we do know is that we love you already, and we can't wait to meet you--even if you have a cone head.

Also... I won't post any naked baby pictures of you on Facebook. I'm not going to name you anything weird. I'll let you eat candy once you grow teeth. And if you want to wear a tutu and a cape to the grocery store, you will get no argument from me.

See you soon (tomorrow maybe?)!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

5 Poses That Should Induce Labor (But Don't) ...

Or at least haven't so far for me.. 

OK. To be fair.. most of these poses are designed to open the hips, which should prepare the body for labor but not necessarily "induce" it.. but people say squats particularly and hip openers might help if you're at term and ready to go. (I am!)

See also Dear Baby

Without further ado, I give you 5 Poses That Should Induce Labor (But Don't Work If You're Me Because My Baby Doesn't Want to Come Out and I'm Going to Be Pregnant Forever)

1. Malasana (Garland Pose)
Prenatal Yoga to Induce Labor: Malasana Garland Pose

2. Goddess Pose.
Prenatal Yoga to Induce Labor: Goddess Pose

3. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Legged Forward Bend).
Prenatal Yoga to Induce Labor: Wide Legged Forward Bend

4. Baddha Konasana (Cobblers Pose) while pressing the "trigger point" between your ankle bone and heel.
Prenatal Yoga to Induce Labor: Baddha Konasana Cobbler's Pose

5. Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Compass Pose). A milder modified version of this to open my hips.
Prenatal Yoga to Induce Labor: Compass Pose

Other things that don't work...
Spicy Foods
Long Walks
Bouncing on a Yoga Ball

Not yet tested...

See also ...
What Not to Wear: Yoga Mamas
Baby Yoga? This is How We Do It
6 Reasons Every Mama Needs a Yoga Ball
3 Surprising Reasons Every Mama Needs a Yoga Mat

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