Postnatal Mum and Baby Yoga – Self Care for New Mums

As a mum and a yoga teacher I know first hand your normal pre-baby self care can be a challenge when you have a new baby to look after. I find that small acts of self care are so needed when you are looking after a baby as it can make a real difference to how you feel about yourself, give you a small boost and help you to recenter.  If you can fit a five minute self care practice into your day, or even a few times a day it will add up to make a big difference to how you feel in yourself over time.  It can be as simple as just acknowledging how you feel inside and doing something kind and joyful just for yourself.  How can some much needed self care be fitted in to a day with a precious bundle around who needs you all of the time?  Here are some bite size self care treats to try when you have five minutes free:-

Five Minute Self Care practices for New Mums

  • Ask your body how it would like to move and then take a big stretch, just like you would when you wake up in the morning, but bigger and more luxurious, enjoy it and maybe have a big yawn too.
  • Eat something nourishing for a snack, stock up on fruit, nuts and seeds so that when you have a snack you are eating goodness.  Take time to taste it and savor it.
  • Sit still for five minutes with a cup of tea – no phone, no tv, just you and maybe your baby too, breathing and notice with kindness and understanding how you are feeling right now.  Listen to your thoughts with compassion as if you were your own best friend and rest deeply.
  • Sing out loud, a song that you love and that lifts you.
  • Dance, put on your favourite music and move to it. Your baby will love to join in with this too!
  • Shoulder stretches – Everyone needs a good shoulder stretch every day, especially new mums!  Here is a simple one and a favourite of mine…  Place your fingers on your shoulders and rotate your elbows up to the ceiling, behind you, down to the floor and back towards each other.  You may find that you can easily link this movement to your breath. Try breathing in as your elbows come up and out as they come down again.  If it feels good you can look up to the ceiling as your elbows come up and down as your elbows come down.  This will also add in a stretch for  your neck and upper back too.  If you don’t have time for a long yoga practice just try fitting in this simple movement before you brush your teeth every day so it is part of your daily routine.

Time for a longer Yoga Practice

A longer yoga practice can work wonders, but it can be impossible to have that time to yourself every day as a new mum and you may not want to leave your baby to go to a regular yoga class.  My practice has changed a lot from before I had children, to being pregnant, to have a baby and now to having two little ones around and my body has changed a lot too! Yoga has always been my space to come back to how I am feeling in myself, whether it is exhausted, joyful, hurting or stressed or all these things at once, and to move in the way my body needs to at that time and somehow that can often make a shift, a new perspective or just offer a breathing space to be more fully aware, alive, present and connected to my own internal wisdom.

Postnatal Mum and Baby Yoga Classes

As a new mum and a yoga teacher I decided to practice yoga with my baby beside me at home.  I feel passionately about the benefits of yoga to new mums as I know how beneficial it is from my own experience. This is why I trained with the British Wheel of Yoga to become a postnatal yoga teacher.  The classes I teach are a lovely way for new mums to take some time for self care with their baby right beside them if they need a feed or a change or a cuddle.  In these classes offer movements that are safe, strengthening and nourishing to support women’s recovery after pregnancy and the birth of a baby.  In the classes you will learn lots of other ideas on how you can move in a nourishing way for your body if you just have time for a five or ten minute mini practice every day.  If you are interested in coming along the first one is always free so you can test it out for yourself.  Please drop me a message if you would like more info.

Vegan Banana Bread

I have been running Women’s Circle for Meditation and Relaxation in Braunton now for just over three months.  In that time we have celebrated three full moons, made rituals to let go as the moon wanes and committed to something that makes our heart sing as the moon waxes. We have chanted, moved with our breath and held a safe space for each other to fully relax and to just be.  I always end the circle with time to chat, a cuppa and a nourishing treat, which I sometimes make myself.  Of all the things that I have made for the circle so far the vegan banana bread has been a strong favourite and it’s also a family favourite too.  I love being creative with recipes to make them vegan and reduce or remove the refined sugar and to try get an extra special twist on it too.  Here is a recipe that I have adapted from the BBC vegan banana bread recipe in this way.  I have also converted it to cups as I often bake with a toddler and it’s so much easier to use cups than scales with little helping hands around.

Vegan Banana Bread with Added Goodness

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour (or use Self-raising flour and reduce the Baking powder to 2 heaped tsp)
  • 3 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice
  • 3 large black bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/4 cup nuts
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (I like dates and goji berries)
  • 1/4 cup dark vegan chocolate
  • 1 or 2 tbs plant milk (if needed)

This is so simple to put together.  Start by mashing the bananas up, then sift the flour and add in the baking powder and spice, then stir in the oil.  Finally, add your preferred combination of nuts, dried fruit and chocolate.  These will help to sweeten the banana bread instead of using white sugar, so make sure not to leave them out or it will be a bit plain.  Add a little plant milk if needed to make the consistency a bit softer then transfer to a lined tin.  It will need about 45 minutes in a 220 degree C preheated oven, remember to check it is done before you take it out.
Let me know how you get on if you have a go yourself!

Hypno Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth

Yoga is inherently hypnotic.  It moves you into a state of relaxed focus where you can connect to a deep part of yourself.  There are lots of words for this  state, and different ways of arriving in it.  This state of awareness belongs to all of us, it is part of ourselves that we can access either intentionally through practice or sometimes unintentionally it just occurs.  Sometimes we don’t even realise we are doing it, but perhaps afterwards we may feel clearer, fresher and more ourselves somehow.
In pregnancy a deeper connection to your own body and its amazing capabilities can be forged.  It is a time of great change, both physically and mentally and it can be so nourishing to have the space and time to be present to this and explore it.  In hypno pregnancy and birth classes, there is an opportunity to find your own power, wisdom and creativity in this midst of all the flux and change happening in your body and mind and life at this time.  By using the breath, flowing postures, deep relaxation and focus this opportunity can be harnessed and the pathway to this connection is made clear, so that it can be found again outside of the class.  In this way I foster trust in each women’s own intuition and self belief.  I believe that each women knows what is best for her own body and baby at a deep level and this inner awareness can be so useful to support a healthy relaxed pregnancy and an informed and calm birth.
If you would like to come along and try a hypno yoga for pregnancy and birth class, here is the timetable:-
Monday 6.30-7.30pm The Arts Centre, Bideford
Thursday 7.30-8.30pm St Brannocks Church, Braunton
Please use the contact form to book your place.

 

New Yoga Classes in North Devon

I have recently moved down from Edinburgh to Devon and after a few months of figuring out where we would like to be as a family, we have settled in the lovely village of Braunton. I am delighted to be teaching some new classes here, including yoga for pregnancy, children and two general hatha yoga classes. I hope to start a post natal yoga class when the time is right. If you are lucky enough to also live in North Devon please check out my new schedule for open classes, which will be effective as of 6th June.
Monday evenings at Bideford Arts Centre
6.30 – 7.30 Pregnancy Yoga
7.30 – 8.30 Hatha Yoga
Thursday mornings at Kendra Pilates, Braunton
8.30 – 9.30 Hatha Yoga with Meditation
I would also like to add that I have some availability for private yoga classes, which are very useful if you need to focus on a certain aspect of your practice, you are recovering from an injury or have limited mobility.
If you are interested to come along to any of these classes, please text me to book in on 07907508624 or use the book yoga classes entry form on this website.

Your First Rib

Here is a simple, yet one of the most effective ways of staying in a more balanced and upright posture all day, even when sat at a computer.
First of all, put your hands on your collar bone and then feel down underneath them to find your first rib. See if you can imagine the structure of this rib running around your rib cage horizontally, how it connects via the ribcage to your and to the rest of the ribs below. I have included picture below to help out work this out. Notice how interlinked it is to the whole of the rest of your body. Now your can use it to anchor yourself in to a more helpful posture that is beautiful in its simplicity.
Just think of your first rib as incredibly light, as if it were full of helium and trying to float away from your spine both forwards and upwards. Follow through with that instinctive lift of the chest both upwards and slightly forwards that results. Notice how this also makes you sit or stand taller through the whole of your body and how your shoulders are at the same time easing down your back freely. Amazingly, this little posture adjustment can have a massive effect which radiates around the whole of your body including impacting positively on your pelvic floor health and the way you use your feet to walk upon the ground. Take your time to feel how different it may be for you to sit or stand in this way as opposed to how you were a few moments ago. I hope that it may also make you feel more spacious both in your body and mind and can help to brighten your spirits.
Please let me know if this worked for you.

Foraging!

This weekend I spent the day walking round the woods and beach near Tyninghame collecting wild plants, flowers and seaweed and learning how to use them in cooking and for healing in herbal medicine. I was taught to look a fresh at many weeds that are abundant in their healing properties and numbers. Who knew that nettle seeds can be plucked right off the plant and eaten for a mental boost of energy, just have to be careful to avoid getting stung! For loads of interesting recipes and foraging inspiration take a look at Wilde in the Woods website. Connecting to our own traditional herbal knowledge gave me a sense not only of a deep history of the uses of plants but also to the infinite ways in which human are connected with and can be healed by the Earth.

Autumn Yoga


The air is rich with Autumn smells, damp earthy leaves, bonfires and ripe apples . Longer nights, cozy jumpers and a slower more relaxed yoga practice are welcomed back. In the ayurvedic system Autumn is the season of vata, which translates as wind. This means the qualities of vata dominate at this time of year.
Vata is a drying force and you can feel this in your hair and skin. Vata is cold, light, irregular, dry, and always changing. To balance Vata, make choices that bring warmth, stability, and consistency to your life. It is the element of elimination and change, which makes autumn an excellent time to detox, to clear out your life, to start something new or decide what you want to preserve.
In this season of change and transformation, too much vata can leave you stressed out, restless and unbalanced. You may experience dry skin, anxiety, insomnia, an inability to make decisions and cold hands and feet. Here are some suggestions to regain your balance:-

Try to get to bed before 10pm, awaken by 6am, and eat your meals at regular times.
Avoid becoming chilled. Wear adequate clothing appropriate for the season and keep your head covered when the weather is cold.
Take a more relaxed yoga practice
Add warm spices in your food, and try to eat seasonal goods – energy rich and grounding root veg and cleansing apples
Listen to soothing music and practice meditation to calm your mind.
Get regular massages treatments with oil. This will sooth your dry skin and the aches and pains that this time of year brings.
Copy the trees and wear warm earth colours, reds, browns, and yellows which radiate heat and connect to the grounding base chakras.

If you need some inspiration for something seasonal to preserve, here is a lovely recipe for beetroot chutney as well as some other tasty beatroot ideas mmmmmmmmmmmm.

I took the road less traveled by…


Whenever I wonder through paths in the woods, (as I have been doing all weekend this weekend whilst staying at Marthrown of Marbie in a Yurt). I think of this poem that I discovered whilst travelling in India. It was written on the back of a old compass that was being sold on a street stall. And I am glad for all of the times that I have followed my heart and ‘took the road less traveled by…’

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Gormukasana



Gormaukasna is known as the head of a cow face. The arms are the horns, the space between the knees is the mouth and the feet are the ears! Make sense?!
It is a pose that I hold a certain fondness for not only because of its bodily benefits – which are huge – a powerful hip and shoulder opener! But also because of this resemblance to the face of a cow. During my travels in India I grew to love the sight of the sacred cows roaming the streets, standing in the middle of the streets whilst traffic whirled around them, horns huge and often painted, with an unshakable calmness amongst the constant chaos. If we can learn to practice that awareness, as the cows do, to observe the madness that is going on all around us – either on or off the mat, and stay centered in our own sacred space, holding our ground and embodying our truth then we are in yoga.

Ardha Chandrasana



In the improvers classes in July we have been focusing on Ardha Chandrasana or Half moon posture as it translates from Sanskrit. The Sanskrit word chandra refers to the brilliance of the moon. In a pose like Ardha Chandrasana, the extension of your torso in one direction and the uplifted leg in the other draws a line that represents the flat edge of a half moon, while the energy in your extended arms and standing leg radiate out like beams in the night sky.
We have been playing with the balance element in this posture that comes from strong roots through the feet. As those of you that come to my classes will know, I put a lot of emphasis on Tadasana as I know that feeling of stability and uplift that is accessed in this pose will lend insight in to every standing pose. I like to remember that it is always a process of balance throughout the practice, that there is no one point that we are trying to reach but paying attention to the continual unfolding of movements along the way to learn more about our bodies and ourselves.
We have also been opening the hips and gently encouraging the hamstrings to relax. In this way the lifted leg is able to extend towards 90 degree and this makes for a long spine, which means that the chest is free to stay parallel to the wall and this in turn encourages open shoulders, with one hand rooted in to the ground and the other extending upwards. Therefore in all directions the limbs of the body are extending like rays of the moon and there can be a feeling a great expansion within the posture.
The benefit of Ardha Chanrandrasana are:-

Helps with some kinds of lower back pain
Strengthens back, legs, hips, and abdomen
Increases flexibility of spinal muscles and shoulders
Eases premenstrual tension
Increases balance, co-ordination and concentration

This has been a very fitting time to practice Ardha Chandrana as we have been experiencing the third big bright super moon of three in 2013 recently, with the full moon falling on July 22nd – 23rd.