The morning sickness, achy lower back, and fatigue of pregnancy have passed. But for new mamas, a whole new set of physical conditions can accompany the bliss of loving your little creation. Luckily, a few simple yoga poses can address the most common concerns.Our bodies are always in transition, so don’t think that you have to be exactly the way you were before pregnancy. You can expect to be healthy, vital, and strong again so that you can fulfil your new role as a mother.Poses for Post-Natal MamaWeakened Pelvic FloorAll of that pushing during labor understandably makes for a compromised pelvic floor. After birth, it’s not uncommon to experience lessened sexual sensation or an annoying leakage of urine after a sneeze or a hearty chuckle. But it’s no laughing matter: A serious weakness can result in an organ prolapse, which often requires surgery.Solution: Kegel ExercisesThese contractions strengthen the pelvic floor to help correct incontinence. Pick your position: cross-legged position, child’s pose or lying on your back. Then quickly squeeze the muscles that stop the flow of urine. Make the contractions progressively longer: squeeze for five, hold for five, and release for five. Repeat 10 times.Aching Neck and ShouldersWhether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, many new mamas experience neck and shoulder aches—the result of many hours spent bending forward to feed the baby. The resulting hunched-over position can lead to the dreaded “forward head” position that may cause other problems such as headaches and back pain.Solution: Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) ArmsWhile feeding, focus on keeping the shoulders away from the ears and the shoulder blades down the back. For a more active approach, try gomukhasana Arms: Bring the right arm overhead and turn the palm inward. Bring the left arm out to the side and parallel to the floor and turn the palm outward. Bring palms together behind the back, using a strap if they don’t touch. Hold for five breaths, release, and repeat to the other side.Loss of EnduranceAfter your baby is born, you might notice that running up the stairs isn’t as easy as it was a year ago. With your body recovering from labor, fatigue from caring for a newborn, and a change in your exercise routine while pregnant, a shift in endurance level makes sense.Solution: Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose)Standing poses like Warrior II build stamina and are highly accessible to most women. New mamas like to feel they are building strength, and with standing poses they can feel it in their body.Try Warrior II, named after the fierce warrior Virabhadra: with legs four feet apart, turn the right foot in and the left foot out 90 degrees. Bring your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor, as you bend the left knee over the left ankle. Reach out with your arms and hold for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.Weakened Abdominal MusclesAlong with growing and birthing a baby comes weakened and stretched Abdominal muscles. Make sure to ask your doctor before starting any ab work: the standard recommendation is to wait four to six weeks after a vaginal birth, and eight weeks after a cesarean birth. The importance of strengthening your pelvic floor before starting abdominal work is vital otherwise you could create too much pressure in the pelvic floor, which could lead to pain and complications.Solution: Pelvic RockingThe key to maintaining a healthy abdomen after birth? Starting gently and moving slowly. lying on your back and tucking your belly button in toward your spine; exhale and tilt your pelvis up, inhale and tilt your pelvis back. Continue to rock your pelvis back and forth for gentle strengthening of the abdomen. Repeat 20 times.FatigueWaking up every few hours to tend to the little one doesn’t exactly make for a well-rested person. Although you won’t cut out all of your sleepless nights, you can deal with fatigue to make your waking hours more manageable.Solution: Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose)When you feel exhausted, your breath becomes more shallow. A restorative pose helps open the chest, encourages you to take deeper breaths, and aids relaxation and rejuvenation. Lay with your right hip against the wall and a pillow under both hips. Then slowly swing your legs up onto the wall, bring your arms out to the sides, and breathe deeply. Hold for two minutes.The postnatal period is up to three years and we welcome all Mamas to our class from 6 weeks postnatally for a normal birth or 8 weeks for C-section once medically fit.Non crawling babies (ideally in car seats) are very welcome and the class is very relaxed to allow for nursing mothers.Please discuss with Laura if you would like any more details.
I’m not ……… to do arm balances.
I hear this all the time. I’m not strong enough. I’m not flexible enough. I don’t have enough upper body strength. My body is the wrong proportions. The list is endless. One of the reasons I am running a workshop dedicated to arm balances is because most people ‘can’t’ do arm balances because they haven’t been taught. It’s kind of like DIYing without the manual. This often results in brute force and an insecure structure. How do you expect to be able to do crane pose (aka crow/ bakasana) if you don’t understand the pose and your body isn’t prepared?
They might be called arm balances but they sure as hell use the whole body! When you know how to use a balance of strength and flexibility, when you have the tools to explore transitions in and out, stay safe and avoid injury it’s much easier to overcome your fear of face planting and feel empowered.
Class settings often don’t have the time to devote the time to fully prep and explain arm balances which is why the workshop setting is a great place to dive in. Workshops offer more time for playing and exploring. To make progress we need the time to practice and fall out and feel the joy of getting back up and trying again. Don’t forget that arm balances have a much shorter falling distance than in inversions like handstand.
The great thing about teaching arm balances are that there are so many layers to them. As teachers we get to unpack how the body works in the poses and prepare using a combination of opening and strengthening over a longer period of time. It is really amazing how we can practice poses with a real sense of lightness and energy when the pose is set up correctly for us.
So, why practice arm balances?
- We generally spend all day on our feet – switch it up!
- Weight bearing helps to increase bone density.
- It’s a great balance of strength and flexibility.
- Develops focus and discipline.
- While we don’t want to focus on the ascetics, we do know that these poses are really beautiful.
- It’s pretty hard to be mentally on the ‘to do’ list when practicing this set of postures.
- Experience the falling down and getting straight back up.
Fancy practicing some arm balances? Remember you don’t have to be able to do them yet. Come learn and develop your practice. Feel embodied! BOOK HERE
Join Sarah at Alternative HealthCare Saturday 11th February 2-4pm (£24/£20)
Contact email@example.com/07796345404 for enquires.
By Dr Mathew.
HOLISTIC HYGIENE AND SPIRITUAL FITNESS
In the previous article, we discussed the concept of viewing hygiene in a deeper and more holistic manner. This time we will bring to perspective the concept of the spirit or soul or inner energy and the way it is important in the case of illness and healing as a vital factor behind both.
Spirituality is mostly misunderstood as something religious or sometimes as a superstitious concept. But I would see it as an important quality which would differentiate living beings from the most advance artificial intelligence and may be as the ability to engage in a greater cause by giving it more importance than the self.
Ayurveda, being an ancient and holistic method of healing, focuses not just on the symptom but on the imbalance which causes the symptom. This imbalance here is not one just pertaining to the physical body and its functions, but is of the entity called “chikitsa purusha” or literary: “The one who is getting treated”. The one who is getting treated according to Ayurveda is a combination of four factors. Body (realm of action), Sense Organs (realm of objects), Mind (the realm of thoughts and emotions) and Spirit (the pure consciousness), the body and spirit is at both ends of the axis. Many years before conventional medicine accepted and studied psychosomatic issues, Ayurveda had a clear understanding of these four factors, its qualities and its role in the formation of various disease conditions and healing it.
The body is that entity which is driven by our senses and sensual objects, which is subject to pain and pleasure, that which is perishable. While the spiritual aspect is understood as the opposite, it is that aspect which is driven by pure awareness and avoiding distraction from the sensual objects, which has no experience of both pain or pleasure, where there is pure consciousness. Some of us may have had some glimpses of pure consciousness while quietly praying or meditating which made us feel that these are momentary experiences. Ayurveda believes the opposite way that; Chikitsa Purusha is a spiritual being having a momentary human experience. The mind is the factor which is in between this physical and spiritual plane, but always pulled towards the physical pain and pleasure aspect due to the material affinity of the senses. Now you can see that the concept of spiritual fitness, is not about making the spirit stronger but about getting the mind closer to the ever-present energy within yourself.
It is not about increasing the spiritual energy but more about being more aware about it and feeling the immense potential of this energy within us. Below I’ll mention a few tips to achieve spiritual fitness
1) Practice detachment – Let go of some material affinity may be (coffee or sugar or cakes) that you crave for and observe its effect on yourself. The idea is to reach a stage where you may still be able to decide whether to have it or not from a situation where you are addicted to have it.
2) Practice to be content – learn to be content with something one step short of it reaching your level of expectation. Cook a new recipe and decide to be satisfied with the outcome irrespective of its taste before you even start making it.
3) Be aware of practicing Mental Hygiene – See my previous article for details.
4) Go on a pilgrimage – It doesn’t have to be to a religious place, just go on a walk in the park or hiking; sacrificing your precious regular weekend roast or television program or eating out routine. Or else spend that time with someone in the family or a friend whom you haven’t spoken with for a long time.
5) Harness the power of silence. Praying or meditation in silence is now understood as something that help brain initiate repair and regeneration, reduce production of stress hormones and improve focus.
6) Regain control over your physical body and breathing. Achieving spiritual strength without having control on your body balance, flexibility, stamina and stability is impossible.
Remembering what H M Tomlinson said – “We see things not as they are, but as we are”
We’re passionate about promoting optimal health and improving all aspects of your fitness at The Alternative Healthcare – and this extends to all ages.
Kids and teenagers get the chance to join in the fun of our classes with the seemingly diverse – but also mutually compatible – disciplines of Yoga and Kung Fu.
Both sessions are run as term-time courses, Yoga classes on a Wednesday and Kung Fu on a Thursday. Click on this link for more details on how to book a place in these classes.
Despite being quite different in most people’s eyes, it is quite likely that Kung Fu developed from Yoga practices.
Legend has it that the Indian monk Bodhidarma (known as Da-Mo in China) introduced exercises to the monks’ practice of meditation at the Shaolin monastery after travelling from India to China. These developed to become the legendary Shaolin Kung Fu, which is well known to this day.
Training in both or either of the classes at the centre will greatly improve your child’s physical fitness through a wide variety of exercises performed in both sessions. They complement each other greatly too, both requiring and improving coordination, balance, strength and flexibility.
There is a meditative aspect to both disciplines. That is not to say we expect children to be sitting in a full lotus position, quiet and still for any length of time but the practice of holding postures in Yoga or repeatedly performing techniques in Kung Fu develop the concentration keep the student in the moment as they focus on things like the correct position to be in, posture and intent.
We all want our children to learn new skills and develop good habits both physically and mentally, ones which will equip them for later in life as well as in the present. Ingraining good habits at an early age, as we all know, is clearly very important.
What’s more…. The Yoga and Kung Fu classes are great fun!!
Despite the ubiquity of games consoles, tablets, phones and other gadgets that it seems our kids are constantly plugged into sometimes, they love being physical and moving around in new and exciting ways, rising to new challenges – whether it’s balancing and holding fun animal postures in Yoga or learning how to do jumping kicks in Kung Fu.
So give the centre a call for more details, or book online. Also feel free to pop in and chat to reception about the classes or even bring the children to join in and see how they get on. We’re sure they’ll love it!
Skin (Twak in Sanskrit) is the biggest organ of the human body. Ayurveda describes seven distinct layers of the skin. It is located not merely peripherally but extends itself to the deeper levels of the body. Hence skin diseases have deep rooted causes; therefore its remedies also have to be penetrative. Ayurvedic formulations for the skin, both internal and external, seek to combine herbs to positively influence multiple layers of the skin.
Ayurvedic skin treatments may take a few weeks to show up signs of cure but you can be sure about its permanent solutions. Ayurveda can help you in two ways:
1.Help to maintain healthy and glowing skin
2.Help to get rid of skin problems like Psoriasis, eczema and acne by eliminating the root causes of the disease
Causes of Skin Diseases :
Two of the main causes of diseases in Ayurveda are a wrong diet and lifestyle. Following a diet or life style that is against the season or the prakriti(nature) of a person, creates an imbalance in bodily energies, thus contaminating the body tissues or dhatus to produce a skin disease. Skin diseases are caused due to imbalances in all the three doshas (vata, pitta, kapha). The main dosha involved in skin disease is pitta. Pitta symbolizes heat or digestive fire. Allergies, over exposure to hot conditions, genetic disorders and mental stress and fatigue can also aggravate skin problems.
Other main causes are:
• Sleeping during the day creating mucus toxins
• Regularly working near a fire, and excessive exposure to the sun
• Physical exhaustion
• Worms or disturbance of intestinal flora
• Genetic tendencies and familial history
• Toxins accumulating due to low digestive fire
Remedies for Skin Disease:
Removing the root cause is the main line of treatment in Ayurveda. Therefore eliminating/reducing all the foods and activities that increase the doshas is highly recommended.
In Ayurveda treatment starts with purification to clear the excess body toxins. This is followed by a period of rejuvenation with nutritive massages, food therapy and internal medications with an aim to:
• Normalize the digestive fire
• Clearing toxins
• Improving liver function
• Reducing high pitta
• Calming stressed vata
• Liquefying and clearing kapha.
Purgation (using laxatives) holds a special place for the treatment of skin diseases, offering a quick relief from acute exacerbations, the removal of the accumulated toxins, and purification of the channels and the tissues. It also strengthens agni (digestive fire) at the digestiion, liver and tissue levels and therefore will prevent the formation of ama, the primary causative factor.
At The Alternative Healthcare, your Ayurvedic physician can help you follow an Ayurvedic skincare routine and treatments.