Mums & Bubs Yoga and Baby Massage

My yoga journey began as a mum, although I’d been a bit curious about yoga for quite some time there was never the motivation to seek it out. It was on my “I’ll get there one day” list. Then while taking my son to his toddler gym class I saw fliers for new yoga classes starting at the rec centre, they were on in the morning on Thursdays, which were my husbands day off at the time, so I could actually go. That might sound dramatic but the life of many a mother of young children is very much tied into her children’s routines, activities and needs. Thinking about it even though now my kids are much older my life still pretty much runs around their commitments. It is nowhere near as intense now as it was then though. When I read that flier for yoga I was exhausted, stressed, run down and unable to go anywhere without taking my baby girl with me. She didn’t sleep much, which was familiar as neither did her older brother, but she was very much Mummy’s girl, she’d never settle for anyone else, she screamed at a pitch that pierced your very heart. My maternal instinct was to give her what she needed – the reassurance that I was there and loved her. I felt she really needed this as she’d had a rough start to life, been born 8 weeks early and was in the special care nursery for nearly a month before we were able to take her home. I think she was just making up for lost time, not wanting to be separated from me again.

So, long story short, I was barely functioning, getting by just making it through the day and trying my hardest to provide what my family needed. The problem was I didn’t have the time, energy or opportunity to look after myself which is not sustainable for anybody. Those Thursday morning yoga classes offered me both the opportunity to have a break from the demands of mothering and the gift of yoga, which I sometimes think could have been designed to meet the needs of mothers with babies or young children.

So all these years later, after a long and winding road exploring, studying and eventually teaching yoga, I find myself offering other mothers the same gift of yoga in my mums & bubs classes. These classes are places you can bring your babies to, classes that offer practices tailored to fit into the busy routines of a mother. We work gently yet effectively to tone, stretch and connect with our bodies. We work with the breath to share ways to restore energy, overcome fatigue and bring a sense of calm into the often tumultuous days of parenting.

They are amongst my favourite classes to teach as I remember all too clearly how helpful yoga was in my early parenting days. Plus I sometimes get to have a cuddle with the beautiful babies!

I teach alternating 5 week  Mums & Bubs Yoga Courses and Baby Massage Courses on Thursdays, 10:30-11:30am at Harvest Yoga in Kensington, where I also offer private Baby Massage tuition to parents. 5 week blocks cost only $110, for bookings please email info@harvestyoga.com.au

The next courses are as follows:

Mums & Bubs Yoga  02/03/17 – 30/03/17

Baby Massage 06/04/17 – 04/05/17

I’ll finish with the news that my daughter did eventually let me out of her sight and is now an amazing, confident, independent, responsible 15 year old who continues to amaze me with her insightful and caring personality. She does still sometimes cling to me when we have a cuddle and not let me go though, and she’s much stronger now!

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

 

Circle of Joy

One of my favourite areas to work with in my own practice is my shoulders. They tend to be the first place that I feel tension and I have learnt over the years to be aware of that. When my shoulders are a bit tight it is my bodies way of telling me I’m doing too much. I use this as an opportunity to pause and take stock of what is causing the tension, reassess my priorities and hopefully rearrange things so I can avoid it escalating.

Sometimes in life however it isn’t easy or possible to just let go, things need to be done, unexpected challenges can arise and everything can seem like a priority. To get through those challenging times it is helpful to remain aware of what is happening and the effects it is having on our bodies and minds. If we do this and take a little time each day to release the tension that can build up it means we are much better equipped to tackle all of those other tasks without risk of burning out.

The Circle of Joy series is one of my favourite practices for times like this, it is short so can easily fit into a busy day, doesn’t require warming up so can be done anytime and never fails to release tension through my shoulders and arms as well as calming my mind. The flowing movements with the breath allow it to become a moving meditation which is easy to fit into 5 minutes

I first experienced this practice during my teacher training when the lovely Fiona Hyde from Williamstown Yoga shared it with me. Since then I have come across a few other versions and played with it a lot so it may well have evolved from what Fiona shared with me. I am including it here with a few options which I’ve developed over the years. This sequence can be practiced seated or standing, you will need room around you – about your arms length out in front, behind and to the sides. Hope you enjoy it…

  1. Start with hand together in Namaskar Mudra, palms together in the heartspace. Inhale fully here.
  2. On the exhalation interlock your fingers and open your palms out in front at chest height, lengthening the arms without locking the elbows.
  3. Inhale and float the hands up above the head, palms still facing away from you.
  4. Exhale and separate your hands, taking them out to the sides and behind your back where the palms come together again.
  5. Inhale and once again interlock your fingers and lift your arms, opening through the chest and collarbone.
  6. Exhale and fold into a forward bend, continuing to lift the arms behind you. If you are standing keep your knees soft as you fold forwards.
  7. Inhale to come back upright from the forward bend.
  8. Exhale to relax and release your arms and hands and bring them back to Namaskar Mudra in the heartspace.

That is the whole sequence, here are a few notes on how to practice it and adapt if needed for yourself.

  • I usually practice at least four rounds of this sequence but even just one or two can help soften the whole shoulder region.
  • I have given the instructions to flow with the breath but it can also be very nice to pause in each stage for a breath or three, or if you have a favourite part of the sequence to stop there for a few breaths then resume the flow for the rest of the practice.
  • If you can remember it is helpful to swap the interlock of your fingers each round that you do. This might feel strange but will become less so with practice.
  • If your shoulders are very tight or you are working with or recovering from an injury instead of joining the hands behind your back you can keep them shoulder distance apart and lengthen them up and away so you still get that lovely feeling of opening through the chest without causing any discomfort.
  • For my prenatal students I often leave out the forward bend, if you have lower back issues you might like to do the same or just keep it very gentle.

Hope you enjoy this sequence as much as I do. It is one that I will be sharing at my next yoga retreat Mother Nature, Mother Nurture on May 6th, 7th and 8th at Clearview Retreat.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

Yoga for Pregnancy

Today’s post is for my pregnant students… some helpful hints for your yoga practice during pregnancy.

One of the best things yoga offers pregnant women is the opportunity to really tune in to their body and their baby, to move in ways that support the growing baby and changing body. To notice how you are feeling, what your energy levels are like, working at a pace and depth in your practice that honours each stage.

There are so many beneficial practices that it is hard to choose which ones to include in a post so instead I am listing some general guidelines which can be applied to all yoga practices.

  1. Never forget to breathe, during pregnancy you need to breathe both for you and your baby, so just keep that breath flowing and work in your physical practice at a level that feels comfortable and allows you to breathe easily and freely. Some pranayama practices such as belly breathing and ujjayi can be really useful however don’t underestimate the power of simple breath awareness, tuning in and remaining conscious or the coming and going of your breath can be relaxing, energising and very calming.
  2. To be gentle or not to be gentle… many people treat pregnant women like they are fragile or unwell. In fact pregnancy is a normal life process so as long as you stick to a few general rules there is no reason why you can’t work strongly, in fact building up strength and endurance during pregnancy helps women to get through labour with less interventions. Those general rules are to keep open space in front for growing babies, legs a little wider during forward bends, no closed twists or strong backbends and if anything doesn’t feel right or creates discomfort then come out of it and let it go. Also to work at a pace and a place that feels comfortable for you on the day, a rule for all of my yoga classes – not just pregnancy yoga!
  3. Pelvic floor work is very important to support the increasing weight of your baby and placenta and to aid in recovery post birth. Your pelvic floor supports all of the abdominal organs and regulates the flow when you go to the toilet – those are the muscles you use to hold on and release urine. Keeping it gently active during standing poses and working with it in a variety of ways to build up both strength and stamina means that you are less likely to have issues after baby arrives.
  4. Attend pregnancy yoga classes. While I do allow pregnant students into my regular classes as I am a qualified prenatal teacher I really enjoy teaching specific pregnancy yoga classes where each practice is selected for the benefits it offers to pregnant women. We work on practices that strengthen and relax, work with the pelvic floor, ease some of the discomforts that can occur during pregnancy, prepare for labour and babies arrival and share each others experiences. Being a part of that journey is a privilege for me and the community that is created amongst the students has built some enduring friendships over the years.
  5. Have fun, enjoy the miracle that is occurring within you. Take time, either in a prenatal yoga class or at home to stop and tune in to your baby, whether they are still very tiny and not yet showing or running out of room and wriggling around. Talk to them, sing to them, tell them everything you are feeling and thinking and hoping. Keep a journal and write down what you experience, you will look back on it in years to come with a smile as you try to remember what life was like before your baby was born.

I wish you all the best for pregnancy, birth and beyond. My prenatal classes run at Harvest Yoga in Kensington on Wednesday evenings, 6-7:15pm. To book or enquire go to www.harvestyoga.com.au.

Love and light,

Belinda

 

 

 

Couples Pregnancy Yoga Workshop

I love teaching prenatal and mums & bubs yoga classes, sharing a part of that wonderful journey with women as babies grow within, arrive earthside, and then continue to grow and thrive is a very special privilege. It is an amazing journey, not just for the women but for their partners and support people as well.

A few years ago I trialed inviting partners along to one of my prenatal classes and it was wonderful! The opportunity to meet them, practice some partner yoga and support tips for the big day when baby arrives, connect with the whole family unit was great and the feedback from those who attended was all positive. I always fully intended to do it again more formally but with one thing and another that hasn’t happened. Until now that is…

Harvest Yoga & Yoga to Grow

are delighted to present
 
COUPLES PREGNANCY YOGA CLASS
Due to popular demand Harvest Yoga and Yoga to Grow are running a Couples Pregnancy Yoga Class
Sunday 8th November
1-2.30pm
with Belinda Blackburn
This will be a specialised class for prenatal students and their partners or support people.
Practices will include partner work, preparation for labour, massage and relaxation.
Open to couples at all stages of pregnancy
COST
$50 per couple for regular Harvest Yoga Pre Natal Yoga students
$60 per couple for others & for students who have attended classes casually
__________________________________________________________________
spaces strictly limited
book early to avoid missing out
please note
This will be the first in a regular series of these events
Because there is going to be more demand than supply for this
  • your payment confirms your place
  • no refunds (unless we are able to find a replacement for you – often difficult at the last moment)
__________________________________________________________________
PAYMENT OPTIONS AND BANK DETAILS
PLEASE NOTE
FUNDS TRANSFERS is our preference for payments
Please write your name onto transfer memo
AND let us know via RETURN email:
Ø  date of payment
Ø  amount paid
Ø  receipt number
Ø  what exactly you are booking
Your assistance in this is greatly appreciated.
ACCOUNT DETAILS
RICK HARVEST
Credit Union Australia
BSB 814 282
ACCOUNT NO 1016 9185 
So here I am, years after the initial seed was sown, excitedly planning for the first of what will become a regular event, Couples Yoga Classes at Harvest Yoga. I often have these marvelous plans and often feel a little discouraged when they don’t happen immediately. Life gets so busy and energy needs to be prioritised so these grand plans get put onto the back burner. As long as they are still there, bubbling away and popping up in my mind every now and then it is only a matter of time before the opportunity arises, as it has here and now for the Couples Classes, for them to surface and bloom.
Love and light,
Belinda
xxx

16 years ago today…

16 years ago today I gave birth to my first born child. A son named Mitchell. 14 years ago yesterday I gave birth to my second child, a daughter named Kelsea. Interesting timing and resulting in a crazily busy August week each year since but that was the way it happened.

We celebrate birthdays as the day we were born but as a mother I often find myself reflecting on and celebrating the day for me as well as my child. Remembering the moments, the excitement, the challenges of each birth. Looking at the clock throughout their birthdays and thinking about what was happening at this time on that life changing day. What I was feeling, where I was, what I was doing, those memories are so poignant, the years have passed but the depth of the emotions remain and there are crystal clear memories of the first time I saw my children, or held them, or was separated from them. The anticipation, the anxiety, the pain, the emotions, the intensity surrounding birth are so powerful that these memories remain strong and clear as others fade away.

16 years ago today my son was born and his birth was not as I had planned it. I suffered complications afterwards resulting in the need to have surgery, complications that I now know could  probably have been avoided had things gone differently during my birth experience. At the time I was happy that he was okay and healthy and we got through it all in the end, the busyness of getting to know him and life with a baby meant I never really thought about it much. Many years later when undergoing my prenatal yoga teacher training I realised just how much grief I had over how it all happened. I can see with hindsight what went wrong, I thought I was prepared but due to a combination of factors – my lack of empowerment, the inconvenient fact that he was born during a shift change at the hospital and my much faster than expected labour my carefully prepared birth plan remained packed and unread in my overnight bag while events unfolded as they did.

Now when I teach my pregnancy yoga classes I encourage my students to become empowered during their pregnancy, to ensure they have in place the support and knowledge required for a positive birth experience. Happily things have changed greatly over the last 16 years but we still have a long way to go in order to provide women with the optimum opportunity to give birth with less intervention and more confidence. So that when they look back on their children’s birthdays they can do so with pride and joy free of any grief or sorrow.

16 years ago today my life changed forever. Not only was my son born, 16 years ago today I was reborn – as a mother. I look back on that day with such happiness, remembering all of the moments that led to his birth, my holding him in my arms, feeding him at my breast, loving him with all of my heart right from the very beginning…it was a wonderful day.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx