My Favorite Third Trimester Yoga Poses

by Boon and Boys

By 35 weeks in my first pregnancy I was in debilitating pain and needed a wheelchair and/or walker to get around.  I needed to sit on a yoga ball to teach yoga and spent most nights sleeping on the couch to try and find some relief.

This pregnancy, I am 37 weeks and still feel good overall.  I attribute the difference to be incredibly proactive this pregnancy.  I have avoided most hip opening, especially poses like bound angle, warrior II, warrior I, extended side angle, and even goddess.  While I know these poses are beneficial to some pregnant women, I decided they were not right for my body.

I have also focused on pelvic stabilization, especially clams, bridges, and some squats like malasana.  So, all that said, here are my favorite poses at 37 weeks pregnant:

Pelvic Tilts (from all fours, from a modified lunge, and on a yoga ball)

Cat Cow

Modified Bird Dog

Malasana (with a yoga ball in front, sitting on a bolster, with my hands placed behind me for support, and doing malasana squats sitting on the yoga ball)

Down Dog and Wide Legged Forward Fold Stretch

Yoga Ball Work (pelvic tilts--pictured above, pelvic circles, marching, leg lifts--pictured)

Clams (I do a million different variations of these using a light resistance band)

Seated Wide Leg Forward Fold with Ball

Child's Pose Back Stretch on Ball

Side Stretch

How My Yoga Practice Evolved Pre-Pregnancy to Postpartum

by Boon and Boys

My yoga practice has evolved immensely through the years.  I first found yoga after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia in high school.  A yoga teacher taught a weekly class at my dance studio and after I couldn't dance anymore, yoga allowed me to continue connecting to and moving my body in a way I enjoyed.

I practiced yoga and other fitness classes throughout college and graduate school and then after moving to California my mom suggested doing a teacher training program while I was looking for a job.  On the first day of class I knew I had found my calling.  I began to tear up and remember thinking "this is what I am meant to do with my life."

After I graduated, I taught at yoga studios until I realized I wanted more.  I wanted a place that represented my beliefs about yoga, health, fitness, and wellness.  So I made the leap and opened my own studio.  It was hard, but oh so fulfilling, especially in hindsight.

I taught multiple classes a day--both group classes and private lessons--and I taught six days a week.  My practice was teaching.  I was known for my challenging classes, but also for making people feel good both on and off the mat.  I created a community that I am still proud of.

At my studio, I taught throughout my pregnancy.  During the last month when I could barely walk, I sat on a stability ball while I taught.  My students knew my language and I could guide them through a class with just my words.  In fact, I taught until the day I went into labor.  As I sat in my hospital bed, after coming in because my water had broken, I was texting my private clients to cancel their sessions, and reaching out to teachers to cover my classes.

I taught a handful of times at my studio after giving birth.  At this point, my studio was no longer "mine" as I had sold it to one of my students in preparation for us moving.  The sale date was set for a few days after Henry's arrival since he came earlier than expected.

After moving I began teaching again with Henry when he was about half a year old.  Even though we've moved again since then, we still teach together.  Though, rather than teaching up to seven classes a day like I once did, I only teach one class a week.  There are times I really miss it.  I miss teaching and doing what I am really good at.  I miss pushing people and challenging people, helping people grow, devoting myself to them, nurturing them, helping them build confidence, seeing their health and lives change for the better, and I miss my old students and my studio.

At the same time, I realize how much bigger my yoga practice is these days.  I rarely practice the yoga I used to.  Mostly I stretch and meditate in the evening before going to bed.  Other than that, my yoga is practicing presence with my son.  It's breathing, it's slowing down, it's practicing gratitude.  My yoga is not the strength training caloric burn it used to be, and that's okay.  I like to think that one day this yoga will help me be a better teacher.  When I am able to return to what I love and what I believe I do really well, I will be better because my yoga is more rounded thanks to its evolution.

The greatest thing about yoga is it can meet us where we are.  It doesn't have to be practiced on a mat and it doesn't even have to entail moving.  I used to tell my students that "as long as you are breathing you are doing yoga."  That stands so much today.  As long as I am breathing I am doing yoga.  It may not look like much from the outside, but I am grateful for my practice--both as it was in the past and as it is today.

Teaching Mommy And Me Yoga

by Boon and Boys

I've taught mommy and me yoga with my son for exactly a year.  That means that for more of his life than not he has taught yoga with me.  It's amazing how much he's grown as a co-teacher in that time.  I remember when we first started teaching together he was jealous of the attention I paid to the other students.  I would cry and beg for all my attention.  He didn't want to share his mama.  Now, he comes to class, does down dog on his mat, plays with other children, climbs on me, ALWAYS returns to my lap when it's time to sing our closing song, brings his hands together to say namaste, and then immediately jumps off my lap eager to grab blocks, knowing it is time to clean up.

I also realize that I have grown as a teacher in that time.  The hardest part of teaching mommy and me classes is being a mommy and an instructor.  I always tell my students that (almost) anything goes in class.  They can nurse, feed their babies, change diapers, take potty breaks, and their children can do yoga, play, or cry.  I want the mothers to feel comfortable.  I want them to know that it is okay for their children to meltdown because we've all been there.  But, my child needs to those things too.  He is no different.  Yet, my role is.  I am not just a mother.  In those classes I am also the teacher, I am the leader, I am the guide.  I can't drop everything to attend to my baby because then the class stops without me.

Learning to manage my baby and my class was a growth experience.  One I'm grateful for.  I think it made me a better teacher as a result.  I've never claimed to be a good multitasker, yet it's forced me to.  I can nurse and do yoga, I can nurse and teach.  Sometimes I have to use my words to demonstrate when I can't use my body (I also got this experience at the end of my pregnancy, I guess a version of mommy and me yoga in its own right).  It's helped Henry as well.  It's taught him that he can't always get my full attention.  It's shown him that yoga is part of our lives.  It's something he will grow up with.  It's given him the opportunity to watch me work.  And, it's given him the chance to interact with other children.

Even with it's challenges, I am so grateful for this opportunity.  It's crazy that my son who was once one of the youngest in every class I taught is now one of the oldest in some of my classes.  He will always be my favorite assistant.

Workouts at Playtime

by Boon and Boys

It's been quite a while since I've posted a workout video to YouTube (I tend to go in spurts), but I wanted to remind you that it's possible to workout with little ones and that workouts are more fun when you incorporate play into them.

I've actually been dedicating time to working out for myself for the past month by putting Henry into his highchair near me and giving him some toys to play with (and putting on the TV--gasp).  He enjoys watching Daniel Tiger, and I enjoy my workouts.  He is still right next to me, but I can focus more attention on getting an intense session in.  That being said, playtime workouts are wonderful too.  Plus, nothing beats the smiles and laughter they bring.