When is it time for Power Classes?

We are not a studio that aims to “get you fit after baby”. No, no, no. We strive to get you feeling body strong!

With the introduction of our Power Yoga class, we want to ensure that mama’s body is ready—physically. We always suggest seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist before and after baby is born because without taking such precautions, mama could cause permanent damage to her body (i.e. pelvic floor, transverse abdominus, diastasis recti, etc.).

Together with Bump Physio, we’ve developed a series of questions that mama can use to help determine if she is indeed ready for the challenges of a full power class! If she answers YES to one of the following questions, it’s not time for Power Yoga, it’s time to book in to see your pelvic floor physio! We will be there waiting for you on the other side of that appointment. So take time to heal and meet us in class feeling ready to get STRONG!

<3 The Kukoon Team

Tips + Tricks…coping tools for birth

Birth Tips + Tricks

Birth…what an astronomical journey, ride, rush…whatever you call it, your baby’s birth is a momentous time! Without the use of certain coping strategies that I learned prior to delivering, I am not sure I would’ve managed as well. I’ve personally explored the following tools during my past three births and, holy cow, they DO really work! Whether it’s to take the edge off of your next contraction or to simply tune inward, pushing through the distractions in and around you.

Explore, practice and OWN them because, when you’re in the thick of birth, and you don’t think you can possibly get to that next contraction…maaaaaaaaaaybe a Mantra will get you there! It’s worth a shot. So, will you choose to fight or flight? If you choose to fight, read on! 

Body Melt

This scan from head to toe allows to to tune into the areas in your body that frequently cling to stress. Take note of those places so you can quickly access them during your birth. Here’s how to do a body melt. Close your eyes to help tune inward. Start from your forehead and scan all throughout your body, releasing anywhere that is clinging to stress. Spend a lot of time in your face (tight jaw, furrowed eyebrows, flared nostrils). These areas connect to your bits, which you only want to be open during your birth! Spend a lot of time scanning your vagina! We women can hold a great deal of stress in there and in the pelvic floor muscles. Continue scanning through to your tippy toes. Let it all go with each loooooooong exhale, feeling the tension and stress melt away.

Mantra 

A mantra is filling that inner voice inside your head with the right words. Birth brings challenge, there’s no doubting that. Sometimes those words of encouragement or strength can help tremendously. Repeat positive affirmations to yourself to find the fight within! Choose words that bring you power, strength, courage and peace. Some favourite examples I’ve heard over the years are, “There is an end, There is an end” or “Strength, Serenity” or “I trust my baby, I trust myself”. Find words that have an impact for you, then share them with your birth partner so they can remind you when times get tough! 

Movement

Always remember this tip…dance your baby out! Movement is an incredible and effective way to get baby moved down into the optimal position for birth. While pregnant, your body releases a hormone called relaxin, which helps your joints become more loose and open. Your pelvis is made up of four bones, which need to open up as baby progresses down during birth and for the pushing stage. Your movement helps the pelvis open up and get baby nicely positioned. Also, studies show that upright birthing positions can reduce your labour time…nice, eh? So move, walk, climb stairs, squat, lunge and dance that baby down and out! Also, try to change positions every 30 mins, if possible. This also helps move things along. Giddy up!

Visualization

Close your eyes. This immediately mitigates about 30% of distraction into the brain. Take your focus inward and imagine yourself in a safe place. It could be anywhere…somewhere real, like your big cozy bed or someplace totally made-up, like the top of a rainbow! Experience this place with all of your senses, looking, touching, smelling, hearing and maybe even tasting things around you. Spend as much of your time there in that place of complete safety and serenity. Visualization has a powerful effect on a stressed brain. You may practice it at home and think there’s not much power there, but when you’re moving through each stage of labour, visualization can sometimes be the tool to help you escape and focus that energy inside to get the job done. 

Third Eye Focus

The Third Eye is also referred to as the Sixth Chakra. It is located on the forehead, between the eyebrows. Start by rolling your eyes into back of your head, focus there in the middle of your forehead. This sensation can help invite a calming sensation to the muscles surrounding the eyes. It’s a powerful and simple meditation to maintain your energy and focus inward. 

Birthing Breath

Practicing, what I like to call the Birthing Breath, will likely become one of your most powerful tools during birth. The breath has the capacity to reduce pain and relax the body/mind. This tool is about connecting your breath down to your bits during your contractions in both early and active labour. Remember, you want your bits, or pelvic floor muscles, to remain open through each rush, or contraction. The breathing techniques below will help achieve this. Here’s the dilly:

Firstly, focus on loooooooooong out-breaths, which is an exhale that is longer than an inhale. Imagine for a moment, that someone cuts you off in traffic…you let our a big, hard, maybe noisy sigh! That’s your body’s intrinsic way of inviting calm and peace inside when in a stressful situation. Secondly, you’ve probably seen many Hollywood films portraying birth via mom on her back, legs up and screaming at the top of her lungs. Nope, try to avoid that scenario! Besides the unhelpful position of being on your back, which we will get into in another Blog, the high-pitch screaming is also not useful during birth. So what should we do instead?

Try different out-breath sounds that promote an open jaw and relaxed frame. Horse lips is a great example that you can practice. I like it because it helps to keep your jaw open/loose, which also speaks to your bits. Clenched jaw = clenched bits (says, Ina May Gaskin). Another sound you can try is, chhhhhhhhh. Remember, draw that exhale out as long as you can! And, the last, but most powerful sound you can practice is the low moan (from the chest). This sounds similar to an Om in yoga…or an orgasim sound. Ha, yes indeed! Labour and orgasims are related too, if you can believe it! But I digress. Always try to vibrate the sounds from deep within your chest. This action helps keep your bits open during the contraction. Take a slow inhale, then let out an audible exhale, nice and long! These vibrations help guide baby down into that optimal position for birth. Don’t be afraid to be noisy now, because sounds will come out of you during labour that you did not know you could make! So rock this birth like the powerful goddess you are! You got this!

My final note here is to say that if you went into your birth with a vision of how it should end up, but it didn’t go that way, that’s ok! It’s more than ok. If you feel you owned every decision during your birth, that you were supported and that you were informed, then that detour in the plan is, well, is how your baby was meant to come into this world…whether that be at home in the water or at the hospital by cesarean! It’s all part of the journey!

Lots of sweet baby love,

Salina

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 the 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