Monday, March 28, 2011

Yoga in Diapers

Here is my 2-year old having fun with some yoga poses. 

In her "meditation pose"
Toddler Padmasana

In another "meditative" pose


In a deep forward bend

Tree Pose

Snack Time: the hungry yogini takes a break and eats a banana

Downward facing dog - woof woof!
Adho Mukha Svanasana

Here's the noisy crocodile!

In between  poses, we read some of her favorite books together.

Great joys come in little packages! :)

Books: Daddy Hugs 1-2-3 and Mommy Hugs (both by Karen Katz) and From Head to Toe (by Eric Carle)
Mat: Manduka Black Cherry Pro from Certified Calm

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Yoga Break: Saturday in the Mall

Weekdays are reserved for family. And that means, no practice and no teaching.  Found these amusing buys while strolling through the mall.

Double-duty: Stuffed rabbits that transform into eco-friendly totes

Bite-sized treats: Mint and orange Kit Kats to satisfy your sweet tooth. Love the mint flavored ones!

Happy weekend!

Monday, March 21, 2011

ToeSox and Handstands

Say hi to Kathryn Budig. She is an LA-based yoga teacher, a foodie and a writer. You may recognize her face (and her body) from her awesome poses in the ToeSox print ads.

Among her many activities, she also writes for Yoga Each week or so, she breaks down a challenging pose. Two weeks ago, she dissected Handstands. See it here.

You gotta love someone who stays home on a Saturday night just to practice against a wall.

Thanks for the tips, Kathryn!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Yoga, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Got a couple of questions from expectant mothers about yoga, pregnancy and breast feeding and I thought of sharing my experiences here.  I don't have a medical degree or anything even similar to it so the opinions I'm sharing are purely personal. 

Is it safe to practice yoga while I'm pregnant?
Before anything else, consult your doctor. If he/she gives the go-ahead, then it is up to you to exercise restraint and moderation. 
My decision was to refrain from any form of yoga for the first 3 months. I didn't want to take the risk during the delicate 1st trimester. That being said, there are women who run, bike, and yoga during the first 3 months and who have not reported any adverse effects.

Until when can I practice yoga?
If you have a normal uneventful pregnancy, you can pretty much yoga until the day you give birth. 

What yoga poses should I avoid?
Avoid poses that place any pressure on the abdomen (ex: Chaturanga), have you flat on your back (ex: Supta Padangusthasana) or call for twisting of the abdominal area (ex: Marichyasana). Twisting from your shoulders is ok. Headstands are ok. But to  be on the safe side, do headstands only if you have been comfortable doing them pre-pregnancy. 

What classes should I take? 
Try out a prenatal class. If you want more class options, you can always try a light Sivananda Hatha or Flow class. Just inform the teacher of your pregnancy and ask for the appropriate modifications.
Use props! Chairs, bolsters, blocks, straps and pillows will help steady your pose.

How long after giving birth can I practice yoga again?
Restart your practice when you feel well enough. A normal delivery will usually have a shorter recovery period than a C/S procedure. I gave birth through Caesarean section, and I started doing very light Sivananda Hatha poses after 1 month. I gradually built up the length and intensity of my practice over a 5 month period.

Can I practice yoga while breast feeding?
Definitely! Just pump or feed before practice so that your breasts are empty. Use breast pads to catch those surprise leaks. I used Lansinoh.
Poses like Cobra or Locust may be uncomfortable due to the pressure on the chest area.

Should I throw out my breast milk after yoga practice? 
Some articles say that breast milk produced after exercising tastes sour and contains toxins squeezed out from your system. I consider breast milk precious and didn't want to throw out a batch just because some Google article said so. One day after practice, I decided to taste my own breast milk. *ick* Long story short, it smelled and tasted ok to me and my baby accepted the milk as well. So ladies, don't throw out  your milk even if you have a particularly intense practice. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

BIGGEST Full Moon Coming???

On March 19 Saturday, the world is about to see its biggest full moon in two decades. Check out this article. The moon will be 14% larger and 8% closer to Earth than usual.

According to Tim Miller, practicing Ashtanga Yoga makes us more attuned to natural cycles. Observing moon days is one way to recognize and honor the rhythms of nature so we can live in greater harmony with it.  Human beings are composed of 70% water and thus affected by the phases of the moon. The full moon makes us feel stronger and more inclined towards physical exertion. The series can be finished in less time; troublesome poses can be achieved with more ease. The downside is that any injury sustained during the full moon is greater than the usual and can take longer to heal.

Does this mean that we should take a longer (officially sanctioned) break from our practice? ;P

* Also check out this article (via Stillpoint Manila). 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How Lotion Helped My Supta Vajrasana, and Other Tips...

Supta Vajrasana is on my list of poses that are "coming". Practice, practice but still my elbows refuse to slide over each other. As a result, I always let go of my bind. One day, for reasons based on vanity, I placed lotion on my arms before practice. And lo and behold! My elbows slid over each other and I held my bind! *dance of joy*

This little miracle inspired me to list other tips and tricks, learned from my wonderful teachers and from our beautiful yoga community.

Eka Pada Sirsasana and Dwipada Sirsasana
Women with long hair will have a bit of help in these poses. When putting a leg behind the head, a ponytail can help keep the leg in place instead of having the leg slide up over the neck.

Urdhva Mukha Paschimattanasana
After rolling up on your sitbones, keep eyes gaze firmly on the toes. Keep them there as you move your hands to the heels of your feet. This will keep you steady on your sitbones for the 5 counts.

Lagu Vajrasana
As you bring your head to the floor, keep your intention on mulabandha and manipura (navel chakra). Also keep your gaze on your nose. Big inhale, then engage navel and mulabandha when coming up. 

Keep your gaze about a foot or two away from your nose. Since the floor is a vast monochromatic expanse, I sometimes put a clip or a hairpin in front of my mat to make sure my gaze is fixed at one point.

Happy practice!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Yoga in the Olympics?

"USA Yoga is a non-profit organization formed for the purpose of developing and promoting Yoga Asana (yoga postures) as a sport."

"USA Yoga's goal is to join with similar organizations in other countries to form an international yoga federation and to qualify Yoga Asana as an Olympic sport."

Check out

I love competitive sports and I love watching the Olympics but I probably won't join this organization. Competitive yoga somehow seems an oxymoron. I agree that the competition will encourage yogis to improve their practice and entice more newcomers to yoga. But does it mean that someone who can twist herself into a pretzel is a better practitioner than one who cannot? I don't think so.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mummy Musings

As a mother to a willful 2-year old, here are some things I cannot do without

  • Moist wipes
  • 2-piece puzzles
  • Sticker books
  • iPad
  • Yoga

In the craziness created by breastfeeding, sleepless nights and household responsibilities yoga has kept me sane. Prenatal yoga kept me from sinking into a black hole of boredom during the 9 moths of pregnancy. Hatha yoga one month after delivery helped me rediscover my body. Ashtanga yoga two months hence helped me develop my confidence and my strength.

Yoga can be many things to many people. In my case, it gives me a peaceful retreat in the midst of a riotous existence. When I get on the mat, there is nothing but me and my breath and the endless possibilities that exist in between. 

Yoga has reaffirmed my identity as  woman. I was not just a housekeeper or a caretaker or a milk source. When the tummy was sagging, the eyebags were darkening and the once-carefree girl was nowhere to be found, yoga helped me get my spark back. 

For that, I am forever grateful.

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