prenatal yoga

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: PRENATAL AND POSTPARTUM YOGA

Happy Thursday everyone!!! ūüôā This week’s Community Spotlight is highlighting the wonderful Marlene McGrath!! Not only is she an amazing mother, but she’s also an incredible prenatal and postpartum yoga instructor. We HIGHLY recommend checking out her classes. Plus, she’s located right here in Ann Arbor!

MARLENE MCGRATH

To find balance in her job as a hospital social worker, Marlene began studying and practicing yoga in 1991. Now, Marlene is the mother of 3 teenagers, and teaches yoga full-time to students ages 18-99 with a specialty in prenatal and postnatal yoga. You can find her full class listing at: yogafocusannarbor.com !

What brought you to support moms and babies?

I was a yoga teacher before having children, but during my first pregnancy realized how much yoga helped me stay connected to my changing body and cope with labor, birth, and recovery. I then decided to pursue more training to specialize in teaching yoga to pregnant and postpartum women.

If there was one myth you could “bust,” what would it be?

The myth: that pregnant women just need to deal with significant discomfort and pain during pregnancy, that it is just part of being pregnant.

What do you enjoy doing when not working? 

Working in my garden, walking my dog, having outdoor adventures with my children, family, and friends.

What moment are you most proud of? 

I am most proud of the moments when I see my children negotiate difficult experiences.

Tell us about something in your practice you would like everyone to know. 

My hope is that women who practice yoga during their childbearing years develop a knowledge of and relationship with themselves that will serve them through parenting and all the transitions to come later in life.

 

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: PRE AND POSTNATAL YOGA

Happy Thursday everyone! ūüôā This week’s Community Spotlight will be shining on the founder of Sweet Momma Yoga, the fabulous¬†Elise Bowerman!!! Elise is truly one of a kind. When¬†she’s not busy running the Sweet Momma Yoga studio, she’s spending time with her family and instructing incredible Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga Classes.¬†Within the walls of her studio, she facilitates parents finding peace, empowerment, resilience, and reassurance within themselves and between each other as a community.¬†So if you’ve been feeling the pressure of pregnancy, parenting, or just life in general lately, look no further!

ELISE BOWERMAN

Elise Bowerman operates the¬†only¬†Southeast Michigan Registered Prenatal Yoga School (RPYS) offering teacher training for anyone who’d like to specialize as a Prenatal (and Postnatal) Yoga teacher. As founder of Sweet Momma Yoga, she provides a one-stop-shop for those looking for Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga classes, and for the RPYS graduates a platform to build their business faster than if they were starting from¬†scratch. Elise has been practicing yoga for 20 years, teaching (even Prenatal Yoga) for over 10 years, and holds the following credentials¬†with Yoga Alliance: E-RYT 500, RPYT, YACEP. You’ll find Elise in Livonia (the city she grew up in) every Monday night for Prenatal and ‘Me Time’ Momma Yoga classes; and twice a year offering the 85-hour Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training at her home in Bloomfield Hills.

What brought you to support moms and babies?

The women in my life, including my mom, weren’t capable of offering the emotional or physical support I needed to feel normal, healthy, and confident as a mother; and as a woman. Plus, being depressed and anxious left me feeling alone and afraid most of the time.

Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga classes was where I found practical information and connected to other birthers to help figure out what the heck I was doing! It gave me reassurance to keep going through the long days.

Basically, on a deep level – I’m offering what I never received. I know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed and afraid becoming a mother. By¬†offering time to tune-in, connect with the breath, the pulse of self + baby, and community in which we all belong¬†– I’m breaking the broken cycle women in my family were unable to tap in to, in hopes my children are empowered if they become parents one day.¬†

 

If there was one myth you could ‚Äúbust‚ÄĚ, what would it be?

The myth: one must be ’zen’ or athletic to participate in Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga. These classes are designed for our busy lifestyles and all fitness levels! In fact, most participants are brand new to yoga!

You wouldn’t expect to go to the gym¬†before¬†you get in shape, right? Same thing for the yoga practice… it’s called a¬†practice¬†for a reason. We meet ourselves on the mat to see what we’re bringing in that moment. Observing how we feel mentally and physically. Then we explore! We notice our thoughts, invite some new thoughts in, move our bodies to see if the movement provides support, a challenge, or simply curiosity to explore more. There’s no need to be ‘calm’ before coming to class. There’s no need to touch your toes, either. It’s the process of the practice that keeps us coming back for more.

 What do you enjoy doing when not working?

Now that¬†our¬†kids are nine and seven a greater sense of time apart¬†has¬†developed¬†compared to the five and under years… So, I‚Äôm basking in it! These days I love watching movies with my hubby and kids on the weekends. During the summer I‚Äôm outside tending¬†to¬†our yard; staying¬†connected with nature, and appreciative to all it has to offer. I love our home and yard. Maintaining it keeps me grateful for all our the blessings. During the school year¬†a morning highlight is¬†enjoying¬†breakfast or lunch with mom-friends after a yoga practice together.¬†Then coming home to no one else around… I really love that part. After school hours I’m running around with the kids ūüôā¬† #momlife

What moment are you most proud of?

On a personal level my proudest moment was birthing my daughter with no interventions. I knew I could do it, and when I did (peacefully), it ignited a passion to share with other birthers the possibility to birth with trust, understanding, and peace. 

Professionally I am most proud of the moment Рactually moments Рwhen former Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga students join in my Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training course so that they may provide the empowerment they received when they were students. When students become the teachers they are such a force of nature thrilling to witness!

Tell us about something in your practice you would like everyone to know.

Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga is open to all birthers; well, that’s not completely true… I have students who haven’t given birth join in ‘Me Time’ Momma Yoga because it really isn’t about parenting or birthing… it’s about the desire to spend time to decompress and connect with the ‘core’ of the body and self. In our classes¬†we are focused on building confidence through education, the practice of yoga, and the connection to one another. This yoga supports however and wherever someone births. As teachers, we are holding a light to help our community birth and parent with love.

MAMA ON THE MOVE

We interrupt your daily internet adventures to bring you a video of this amazing pregnant mama kicking butt on the dance floor:

 

We wish we could dance like Chachi! When this video first came out, there was some controversy about whether or not it was safe for a pregnant mom to be shaking her tail feathers (flawlessly, we might add) out on the dance floor like this. Well we’re here to debunk some myths and share some fun facts about prenatal workouts and exercise!

FUN FACT #1: It is completely safe to exercise during pregnancy

Especially if you were active before you found out you were pregnant. In fact, doctors actually encourage it regardless of how active you were before pregnancy! Not only will exercising build up your endurance for labor, but it will also improve blood flow, help position your baby, and decrease the risk of birth complications. So essentially, Chachi’s got the right idea! If your body can push out a baby, it can handle a little exercise ūüėČ

FUN FACT #2: Labor is like a marathon.

¬†Especially if you have a long labor, fatigue from contracting and pushing for so many hours can easily become your Mount Everest during childbirth. You would never run a marathon without training, so why do it with labor?¬†When it comes to carrying a tiny human in your uterus for 9 months, there’s a lot of stigma around prenatal exercise and it’s incredibly common to become overly cautious. Some caution is good, but there’s no reason to keep you confined to the sofa for the whole 9 months. Unless your doctor has explicitly instructed you to do so, that’s actually one of the worst things you can do!¬†Gotta keep those muscles nimble and flexible ūüôā Pregnant parents need at least 2.5 hours of exercise per week to facilitate a healthy pregnancy, so it’s actually pretty important to keep moving and to stay active during each trimester. As far as pregnancy-friendly forms of exercise go, we highly recommend swimming, walking, dancing, yoga, pilates, strength training, or riding a stationary bike! Whichever form of movement makes sense for you and your body ūüôā

FUN FACT #3: Prenatal exercise can help alleviate unpleasant symptoms and help you have a smooth labor

Whether you’re walking for 15 minutes a day or jamming it out at zumba, keeping your body in motion has been known to have amazing effects on the pregnancy/labor experience. Including the following:

  • Easing back pain¬†by strengthening the muscles that are usually strained/thrown off-balance by your baby growing so quickly
  • Relieving any swelling in the limbs¬†by ramping up the movement/ use of fluids throughout your body
  • Easing constipation by increasing blood flow around the body which causes the intestinal muscles to contract and push more waste through
  • Sleeping better¬†(because who isn’t tired after a good workout? ūüėČ )
  • Increasing strength for labor¬†which will allow you to explore more birth positions and improve your comfort while you’re birthing your baby
  • Shortened labor¬†by equiping your body with extra flexibility, strength, and endurance for the more taxing parts of labor
  • Developing breathing/mindfulness techniques for labor
  • Decreasing the likelihood of an emergency C-section¬†

AN IMPORTANT REMINDER: Listen to your body!!

Your body will tell you very clearly when it’s time to take a break or call it quits for the day. If you’re someone who is already very active and athletic, your normal workout routine should be fine for the majority of your pregnancy as long as you’re not over-exerting yourself or doing risky activities. If you haven’t exercised for a while, try building up to it by doing 10-15 minutes of exercise per day. When we say “stay active during pregnancy” we don’t mean that you need to build a 6-pack over your baby bump (if that’s even possible – what a strange image). All you need to do is get moving enough to work up a sweat and get those muscles moving! You should absolutely not be in pain, feel shaky, or have any incontinence due to exertion while you’re exercising. If you feel any pressure in your lower pelvis, or are experiencing incontinence when you move/exercise, please contact your doctor!

FUN FACT #4: As long as your doctor has not said otherwise, exercise does NOT increase the likelihood of miscarriage or premature labor

Staying active actually DECREASES the likelihood of developing preeclampsia (high blood pressure) and gestational diabetes, which are two of the big causes of pregnancy complications and premature labor.¬†We definitely want you to avoid activities that put you and your baby at risk though, so unfortunately it’s time to put the skiing, horseback riding, basketball playing, scuba diving, heavy lifting, hot yoga, gymnastics, and other high-impact sports away for the next 9 months (so sorry for all of you dare devils and adrenaline junkies out there). But as long as you’re in the clear with your doctor, you are good to indulge in the safer forms of exercise!

There are, however, a few scenarios in which exercise is NOT safe during pregnancy.

This includes if you are currently or have previously experienced: certain cervical conditons, certain heart or lung conditions, anemia, gestational hypertension or preeclampsia, placenta previa after 26 weeks, bleeding during the 2nd or 3rd trimester, if your water has broken, or if you are having multiple births.

But as long as you’ve gotten the OK from your doctor,

 

It’s time to move that body!