Back in 2005, barely three months after moving to Vancouver, I woke up and could move. I wasn’t tired, hard-worked or stressed, I literally couldn’t move. I had an incredible pain all through my back and the only thing I thought it could’ve been from was from moving our boxes full of stuff that had recently arrived from Australia. New friends in Vancouver recommended me to a physio who has since been a great help, but he alerted me to the fact that I have Scoliosis as well as an abnormally long and slender torso which would mean I’d would likely be faced with a life-time of back pain… gee thanks. So, all it takes is for my husband to give me an extra tight hug and within 24 hours I am in excruciating pain. However, 5 years ago when I got pregnant with #1 a lot of my pain went away during the pregnancy. I was doing pre-natal yoga and after his birth, I continued, with post-natal workouts. Since then, my back pains have come and gone. Most recently though, over the last Christmas break, I had the most pain I’ve ever experienced. I tried seeing my physio but nothing worked. Eventually I just rested and instead of going to my usual “power” classes at my gym, I attended yoga and only yoga for a month. And, voila, the back pain disappeared and as yet hasn’t reoccurred. I’m sure it will rear it’s ugly head again in time but at least I know that yoga is a proven method of pain relief. While I’m not crazy about the deep meditation and chanting, I absolutely love the physical side of it: the stretches, the poses and the peace.
Local yoga studio director and Mom, Danielle Mika Negel of Chopra Yoga concurs that yoga is imperative for Moms. Our days are filled with back-breaking activities: wearing our children, carting heavy loads of laundry up the stairs, running from place to place pushing a stroller with one hand and balancing a child on your hip with the other…
Here are Danielle’s
top five poses she believes a Mom should do everyday:
1. Easy Seated Pose with “Success Breath”
Multitasking can easily become overwhelming. Try this simple posture for a few minutes to ground your thoughts and slow your heart rate down.
- Sit in a comfortable position, either on the floor or a chair.
- Rest your palms on your thighs or place your dominant hand on top of your non-dominant hand.
- Close your eyes.
- Take a couple of minutes to let go of what has happened prior to this moment and what is going to happen after this moment.
- Relax your entire body, including your jaw, neck and shoulders.
- Start to take a deeper inhalation through your nostrils as you constrict the throat muscles slightly. This will be an audible breath.
- Exhale completely through your nostrils as you constrict your throat muscles again.
- Keep your awareness at your breath as you continue to take these long, slow deep breaths through your nostrils.
- Keep it gentle, relaxed and maintain the intention of letting go, each time you exhale.
2. Cobra Pose
Carrying your children, groceries, laptop, diaper bag, yoga bag, etc. can start to wear you down. Take a few of these gentle backbends to counteract the heavy lifting and back rounding we do each day.
- Start lying down on your belly with your legs extended back, tops of the feet on the mat.
- Root through the tops of the feet and legs and spider your fingertips off the mat onto the floor.
- Lengthen your tailbone down towards the earth, inhale and slowly start to peel your chest off the floor.
- Unclench your buttocks and your teeth and lift your heart.
- Roll the shoulders back and down, keeping the shoulder blades hugging in towards one another.
- Keep the back of your neck and forehead relaxed.
- Exhale and slowly lower back down towards the earth.
- Repeat 5 times.
3. Standing Forward Bend
Let gravity support you as you lengthen out the backside of your body. Enjoy the benefits of an inversion with increased circulation and oxygen to the brain.
- Stand with your feet about hip-bone distance and somewhat parallel apart.
- Lift all your toes and fan them out.
- Release your toes back down to the earth with space in between each toe. (make a mental note to yourself to make time to take care of your feet)
- Root through all four corners of your feet.
- Inhale and reach your arms overhead.
- Exhale to forward fold, hinging at your hip crease, keeping the abdominals drawn in and your knees bent.
- Bring your fingertips down to the earth. (bent knees are fine and good for supporting your lower back)
- Let go of your head, neck and shoulders and keep your jaw relaxed.
- Hold here for a few deep breaths, keeping the abdominals engaged to support the low back.
- Put a slight bend in your knees, if you haven’t done so already, and slowly roll yourself up to standing, one vertebra at a time.
- Engage your core center to lift you all the way back up.
- Take a couple breaths in a standing position before moving back into activity.
4. Supine Spinal Twist
Spinal twists promote flexibility in the spine while improving digestion. As mothers, we are always concerned about feeding our kids healthy snacks but we often forget about feeding ourselves!
- Start laying down on the floor with your legs extended.
- Take a moment to just relax and do nothing.
- Hug your right knee in towards your chest and take your leg towards the left.
- Keep your shoulder blades on the floor and extend your arms out into a “t” shape, palms up.
- Gaze towards the right hand and close your eyes.
- Take a few breaths here to lengthen out the right side of your waist and nourish the ascending colon.
- Inhale to come back to center, using your abdominals and release the right leg down.
- Take a moment to notice the difference between the right and left sides of your body.
- Repeat on the other side.
5. Legs Up the Wall (with or without the wall)
Try this restorative posture, especially if you have been on your feet all day. Use a block, bolster or pillow for support. This pose is a passive variation of Shoulderstand. (avoid during menstruation)
- Start by laying down on the floor with your legs bent, feet on the floor.
- Take your prop and place it underneath your sacrum. (make sure that it is comfortable there. If not, remove the prop and continue without it)
- Hug one knee in towards your chest and then the other.
- Extend your legs up towards the sky without engaging your abdominals, legs or toes.
- Keep the back of your neck relaxed and avoid turning your neck.
- Keep the gaze towards your toes and breath.
- Stay for about 5 minutes.
- Come out slowly by bending one leg, then the other and placing the feet back down to the earth.
- Lift your hips and remove the prop.
For all these postures, make sure that they are comfortable and relaxing. They are here to support your busy life as a mommy!
Today’s giveaway: For one lucky Vancouver Mom, Chopra Yoga is offering you a free month of yoga! Simply comment on this post and for extra entries ‘like’ them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter (tell me you’ve done this!) This is an amazing giveway – their classes include hiphop yoga, yoga barre, pilates and hatha. What a great belated Mother’s Day gift!
Congrats to Tracey who won last week’s giveaway of a family pass for Vancouver’s International Children’s Festival!
image c/o spiritvoyage
Congrats to Zoe, the winner of this fantastic giveaway!