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Tighten Your taco! 5 tips for strengthening your pelvic floor

If you ask your mother if she could jump on the trampoline without using the bathroom first, chances are she will say, “no”.

There are generations of women who think just because they’ve carried and birthed a baby, that their body will forever be broken. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With proper information and practice, you can gain strength through your pelvic floor during and after pregnancy, and once again be free to sneeze without needing to cross your legs…I’m talking about incontinence here!

Besides incontinence, your pelvic floor muscles are also responsible for other factors, such as sexual pleasure…um, important, right? Strengthening these muscles can also help to relieve constipation, restore/prevent prolapse, reduce low back pain, hold in tampons/menstrual cups and decrease frequent urination. Holy smokes!

As a woman’s belly becomes more bountiful during pregnancy, pressure gets put on the pelvic floor, which can weaken the area. During this time, you want to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles through specific connection exercises (see below) and avoid any pose or movement that could put added pressure on floor. Postpartum, it’s important to continue with these specific exercises to maintain strength and connection. So, how do you tighten your taco…big wink*!?

Below is a description of the Connection Breath Exercise, but make sure to read these 5 tips first:

  1. ALIGNMENT. Samantha Jones in Sex and the City does a lot of things well, but I don’t think she gets her strong pelvic floor muscles by engaging her bits  while sipping cosmos at the bar! Her posture is all out of whack! Alignment is key as you prepare for these exercises, ensure you’re sitting up tall before you begin (ears stacked over shoulders and shoulders over hips).
  2. BREATH. Forget everything you know about breathing. But don’t stop breathing…dear god, what I mean is breathe sideways. As you prepare for the Connection Breath, take a few breaths and focus on your inhale. Imagine your belly is a balloon and swell through the front, back AND side bodies, opening up the rib cage and pushing your breath deep down to your belly.
  3. RELEASE. Don’t just Kegel to contract! Actually what’s just as important is the release! Women can hold a lot of tension in their bits so simply focussing on the contraction, or lift of your pelvic floor, can often do more harm than good. Inhale to release mama!
  4. VISUALIZATION. Sip a milkshake through your vagina..one of those thick creamy milkshakes that you have to get going by sucking vigorously on the straw half a dozen times before it wells up. Exhale to lift your pelvic floor, as if you’re stopping the flow of urination.
  5. CONNECT. This exercise is a practice of connecting you with your pelvic floor, the muscles that sit at the base of our pelvis, and the transverse abdominus muscles, located deep below the navel. So, at the end of your exhale, draw your lower belly in 10%. THAT’S how you connect the pelvic floor (aka: mula bandha) and transverse abdominus (aka: uddiyana bandha). Be aware…don’t do more than a 10% engagement because then you’ll be contracting your rectus abdominus (aka: six pack).

Here we go…

CONNECTION BREATH

Sit up tall and bring your hands to rest under your belly.

Gently close your eyes and start to take your focus inward, tuning into your breath.

Inhale, slowly breath in and feel the expansion through your front, back and side bodies.

Exhale long, feeling the belly and the ribs gently draw in.

On your next inhale, focus on releasing the muscles of the pelvic floor, those that prevent the flow of urination and passing gas. 

Then on your exhale, start to lift these muscles up, imagine picking blueberries up with your vagina.

Inhale again, breathing sideways into your ribs and soften and release your pelvic floor.

Exhale, contract your pelvic floor, this time, imagining you’re sipping a milkshake up through your vagina.

Inhale, and again, fill yourself up like your filling up a water balloon, releasing between your bits.

Exhale, lift up, and at the end of this exhale, pause…and connect with your lower tummy muscles (transverse abdominus) giving baby a very gentle hug from below the navel.

Repeat this for three more cycle on your own, pausing in between cycles to steady your breathing if necessary. 

After your solo cycles, gently open your eyes and steady your breath.

 

Lots of sweet love,

Salina

Prevent & Restore…What is Diastasis Recti?

OMG, what is wrong with my belly?”. That’s what I thought when I first saw a ridge form down my tummy in my first trimester, pregnant with my first babe. I wanted to investigate further and was surprised that more people weren’t talking about this very important topic! I had to share! Check out this video to see what I learned about Diastasis Recti.

 

VIEW VIDEO HERE

 

 

*This video is for informational purposes only. Kukoon Yoga is not directly affiliated with products promoted in this video. We simply want to share what we learned and what we loved about postpartum wraps and care.

Post-Natal vs. Babe & Me Yoga. What’s the difference?

I am often asked what the difference is between Post-Natal Yoga and Babe & Me Yoga. The truth is, they are very different in style, intent and mood. To better grasp these differences, I interviewed one of our amazing yoga teachers, Jessica Blissett, who specializes in these classes.

 

Me: What’s the main difference between Post-Natal Yoga and Babe & Me Yoga?

Jessica: Both of these classes are unique for different reasons. In Babe & Me Yoga, we focus on connecting with baby through movement, music and play. The practice can be quite challenging, but I wouldn’t compare it to what you experienced in your pre-pregnancy practice. As we know, our babes can be distracting. Whether this is welcomed or not in class, it means that the movements don’t always get the targeted attention you might want or expect. Overall, this class is about nurturing the bond between you and babe, as well as the surrounding community of new mothers.

In Post-Natal Yoga, we are able to focus more on movements and address a proper routine for the postpartum recovery. We bring our attention to the breath, abdominals/core, upper body openings and general strength. It’s a time just for mamas to get away and receive the self-care they need, but rarely give themselves when caring for everyone else around them. There is, surprisingly, no Post-Natal Yoga classes offered in the area beyond Babe & Me Yoga, which as I described above, is entirely different. After receiving my training in this specialized class, I felt there was a need to fill that gap and provide a class tailored specifically around postpartum exercise. This is a class for anyone who has experienced pregnancy and birth, whether you’re 6 weeks or 20+ years postpartum!

 

Me: Why practice yoga after I’ve had a baby?

Jessica: Yoga allows you to channel your inner wisdom and intuition. This helps you understand your body’s new limits and avoids pushing you beyond your comfortable edge. After pregnancy and birth, your body needs plenty of time to recover. Although you may feel ready for your pre-pregnancy 10km run, bootcamp or Zumba class, a more gentle regime can benefit you inside and out.

Yoga helps to connect our body, mind and breath. In class, I try to keep the movements fluid to honour the transition the body has undergone as organs slowly begin to move back into their place, which can take up to one year to settle. Yoga also helps to strengthen areas of the body weakened by pregnancy and birth, such as the pelvic floor (mula bandha) and core muscles (uddiyana bandha). Lastly, most yoga classes incorporate breathing exercises (Pranayama), something that has vastly changed since your bump arrived. Body, mind and breath connection—that’s why yoga compliments postpartum exercise.

 

Me: Why should women slowly ease into an exercise regime after baby arrives?

Jessica: Your body has undergone vast changes after pregnancy and birth. As your bump grows, areas of your body can become weak, such as the pelvic floor muscles that sit at the base of the pelvis. These important muscles help avoid ‘pee’ accidents (because no one wants to continue to cross their legs when they sneeze), as well as makes sex more pleasureful *wink*! Bountiful bellies can also weaken the core muscles (not talking six-pack abs here, rather the inner layer of abdominal muscles under the belly button). You’ve probably heard of the dreaded “mummy tummy”? Minimizing, or eradicating this bulge means your “team” of muscles (pelvic floor, core) need to be working together. If you push yourself too hard, too soon after baby arrives, you can create permanent damage to these already weakened muscles. It’s important to honour the shift our bodies have made in creating life for nine months, then delivering that light into the world. Take your postpartum exercise regime slow and mindful. There’s absolutely no rush here ladies! You are all beautiful, goddess mama warriors!

 

For more information about Post-Natal Yoga, click here.

For more information about Babe & Me Yoga, click here.

“The Time I Pushed Two, Tiny Pregnant Women” ~ by Gillian Rowinski

A very cool perspective from a mama at one of my Prenatal Yoga Class. One of my favorite classes to teach, the theme that evening was focussed on Sisterhood, Community and Support! I love how Gillian captured the moment in class when we moved into a standing balance pose in a circle, supporting each other. Check it out here…Unlearning Supermom

 

KiDS Yo-Guide

Celebrating BIG Emotions!

Kiddos can have difficulties working through their BIG emotions. Movement is one amazing tool that helps the little ones re-direct their brain into new patterns of thinking (i.e. creating a ‘yoga flow’ of 3-4 poses when feeling mad, sad, frustrated and annoyed). The trick is to not block these emotion, rather, to allow them to be felt in a healthy and non-harmful way.

Yoga Poses

Dancing makes all of us feel great inside! Try this Sun Dance over and over with your little ones and get them to recite it along with you, starting with a few words at a time, “sky”, “toes”, “bunny”, and so on. Start by “gluing” your feet to the mat with whatever sticky, gooey substance your child can imagine (honey, gum, glitter glue, slim, sweat, we’ve heard it all!).

Our Sun Dance
Reach up high, touch the sky. Bend down low, tickle your toes.
Bounce back like a bunny (plank pose), then come down to your tummy.
Look up, see the clouds (cobra pose)?
Now find your down dog, then hop up like a frog (squat pose)!
Reach up high, smile to the sky (mountain pose).

Guided Meditation

The following is a guided meditation that allows the child to get lost in the story, creating stillness and concentration. Start by getting them to lay on their backs, arms and legs spread wide and eyes closed.

Starfish on a Beach
Imagine that you are a sleepy starfish resting on a sandy beach. You feel the warmth of the bright sun shining down upon you. Take a deep breath in…and out ahhhhh, again.
Stretch your arms and legs long as you rest in the sand, listening to the sounds around you…children laughing, wind blowing, water flowing…
Now imagine you feel cool ocean waves tickling your toes and up, up, up, all the way to your nose! You feel safe here, comfortable and very peaceful.

You could have a tasseled scarf to sweep across their body, like waves. Try it at home and adapt the story, adding or editing it to suit your child. Ask them to keep their eyes closed and body still for as long as possible. Aim for 2 mins at first, then maybe work up to 5 mins!

Good luck!!!

Love,

Salina

 

Living Room Yoga: Wild Thing Flow

Whether you’re new to the practice, or a seasoned yogi, always ensure to move in a way that respects your body’s limits. During practice, you should never experience pain in any way. Slight discomfort in targeted muscles; above all, always listen to your body.

The following sequence is one of my favourite flows that I like to play with at home! I start by running through the sequence on each side (right and left), holding each pose for 5 breaths. Then, for the next round, I flow through it a little faster at a one breath rate. Do this to your heart’s content! It feels awesome and liberating once you build that fluidity and strength! Enjoy!

Start each flow with one Sun Salutation A, ending in Downward Facing Dog.

Downward Facing Dog

Downdog

  1. Ensure that your hands are shoulder width apart and check that all your fingers are rooted firmly into the mat.
  2. Let your head hang heavy in between your arms, drawing your arm pits towards your toes to create length up the side body.
  3. Open up space between your shoulders and ears.
  4. Raise your tailbone skyward and then take your energy down the backs of your legs. Attempt to draw your heels to the floor, feeling a beautiful stretch through the hamstrings and calves.

Three-legged Dog

3-dog

  1. On your inhale, raise your right leg up and point the toe towards the sky. Raise your left heel up to help open the legs a little further. Attempt to stack the hips as you open up your right side body.
  2. Bend your right knee and point your toe towards the floor.

Wild Thing

Wild Thing

  1. Put the weight into your left hand and begin to soften your shoulder blades, allowing your upper back to curl into a backbend.
  2. Look up through your left armpit. Can you see your foot? If so, slowly continue to stack the hips as you guide your right toes towards the floor. Very softly settle the right foot down and roll onto the outer edge of your left foot as you rotate the left toes towards the back of your mat.
  3. Extend your right arm forward and reach it towards the front of your mat. If comfortable, allow the head and neck to hang softly.

Downward Facing Dog

Downdog

  1. Draw your lower belly in toward your back to engage your core muscles.
  2. Guide your extended arm back in place alongside the left arm, followed by the right leg and slowly start to roll back over into Downward Facing Dog.
  3. Walk the dogs, wag your tail and settle into the pose, tuning inward to ‘feel” it.
  4. Notice the difference between the right and left sides of your body.

Hanging Plank

Hanging Plank

  1. Ripple forward into High Plank, aligning your shoulders over your wrists and your heels over your toe mounds. Ensure that your upper back is lifted and your hips are in line with your shoulders.
  2. On your exhale, bend your right knee and tuck the leg into your belly. Bow your head, drawing your knee towards your nose.

Fallen Warrior

Hanging Plank

  1. Extend the right leg underneath your torso towards the left and settle the outer edge of your foot down on the floor.
  2. Root down your right hand and slowly lift the left arm skyward, attempting to stack the shoulders on top of each other.
  3. Settle your shoulder blades down your back and soften your face.

Downward Facing Dog

Downdog

  1. Take your left hand gently back to the mat. Guide the right leg back through and settle the foot down alongside the left.
  2. Ensure that your hands are shoulder width apart and check that all your fingers are rooted firmly into the mat.
  3. Raise your tailbone skyward and then draw your energy down the backs of your legs.
  4. Let your head hang heavy in between your arms and find length up the side bodies.
  5. Walk the dogs, wag your tail and settle into the pose, tuning inward to ‘feel” it.

Repeat the same sequence on the left side.

End each flow with one Sun Salutation A, ending in Mountain pose. Connect to the sweet energy you just created, allowing Prana flow throughout your body.

Intensity Meter (out of 10): ♥

Prenatal Yoga…not your typical yoga class!

After a wonderful pregnancy and the birth of my daughter in 2010, I realized my passion for anything and everything to do with bumps, babies and beyond. This fuelled my decision to become a yoga teacher and specialize in prenatal! Since then, I have become a Doula, teach Prenatal Yoga and host Prenatal Workshops (or ‘Bumpshops’) that support pregnant women and their families.

Enough about me now, let’s talk about you!

Fantastic news! You’re pregnant, but now what? What modifications should you make to the way you work out? Should you take specialized prenatal classes or stick solely to your original fitness program?

Sticking to your usual fitness regime is great (as long as it doesn’t include bull riding or sky diving), but supplementing that with a specialized prenatal class is key! These classes help you to learn about the physiological changes happening inside you, such as, increased relaxin, expanding uterus, rapid hormone changes, shifts in centre of gravity, etc. and the pre-cautions to take to honour those changes.

Understand, you’re not ‘weaker’ because you’re pregnant, not at all in fact! You are a fearless, powerful Goddess capable of amazing feats! Always remember to celebrate your beautiful, bountiful self!

Prenatal Yoga classes do just that! They help you connect to with your self (breath, body, mind), your baby and with other mamas. Classes can enhance comfort, calmness and flexibility. Conscious breathing and supported physical movement are at the core of most prenatal yoga classes—these elements are crucial in prepping you for labour and delivery.

Below are 10 Reason’s why I love Prenatal Yoga.

  1. Connect with other women experiencing the journey of pregnancy—build community and sisterhood
  2. Deepen connection with your baby and your self
  3. Learn effective breathing techniques to aid in the birth process
  4. Improve sleep, relaxation and comfort—calms the nervous system
  5. Reduce pregnancy symptoms—shortness of breath, swollen ankles, nausea, tiredness, headaches, moodiness, carpel tunnel syndrome and more
  6. Improve physical strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for the birth process
  7. Empower your fearless Goddess—tapping into your intuition and inner wisdom
  8. Provide clarity and insight while creating your birth vision by useful learning tips and tricks
  9. Create a space for ‘you’ time—nurture yourself by slowing down and settling inward
  10. Learn helpful tools to aid in pain relief during the birth process

Every Prenatal Yoga class is different—find one that suits your needs with a teacher to whom you can connect. Passion, information and a love for ‘bumps’, I love this stuff!

Lots of sweet baby love,
Salina

 

Babe & Me

Nutrition for Pregnancy

Nourishment during pregnancy in the form of good food, friends, family, support, and love are key ingredients needed for development of a healthy & balanced child.

Sadly, there are findings that have shown over 200 toxins found in the umbilical cord blood of some babies. Yikes!! This is where education and support from your health care team comes in; knowing what to avoid in your diet & lifestyle and what to add in, is important information for Mother’s to know in order to increase baby’s chances of optimal health!

WHEN DO I START MY HEALTHY PREGNANCY REGIME? The best time to start a healthy pregnancy diet, and make positive lifestyle changes is before you conceive! By starting early you can help to increase the likelihood of a healthy conception and quite possibly even help to reduce any chances of common pregnancy discomforts. That said, babies happen! We can’t always plan ahead. So the best
time to start is as early as possible.

13 WAYS TO BE NOURISHED BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER PREGNANCY…

Click here for full blog post.

Birth Talks

Movie | Panel Discussion

Pregnant or soon to be? Come join us on Feb 26 at 7:00pm for our premier event at the Inlet Theatre, Port Moody. We’ll be showing a fascinating movie, “The Business of Being Born” followed by a panel discussion! The movie will be followed by a panel discussion by a Midwife, Doula and Doctor where we will open it up to the audience for questions. Come to get informed, empowered and for a lot of fun!

Love,
Salina

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