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

 

 

 

Guilt free confessions

I have been meaning to write a new post for weeks, even months!, but have somehow not managed to do so. I have even got as far as sitting down and logging on once or only to be interrupted by one thing or another and not managed to get back to it.

If anyone has been really missing my posts, please accept my apologies however also take some inspiration from the fact that we all get caught up like this. Whether it is your weekly yoga class, time set aside for a task or pleasure, one of those lingering jobs which you know need to be done but they are not quite high enough priority to get to the top of your list.

Setting aside a time each week to get to these things can make all the difference but, as we discussed on the retreat I led over the past weekend, there is some freedom to be gained from not tying yourself down to a schedule – being more open to living in the moment and dealing with whatever is arising then and there. Of course we all need to be in certain places at certain times and there are things that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly. Having some kind of system in place that works for you and allows all of that to happen is a necessity – for me it is a two calendar system – one old fashioned one that hangs on the wall and contains all of the families appointments and activities. Then there is my phone calendar which I enter all of the same info onto but which travels with me everywhere I go so I can refer to it. Beyond that my time tends to be spent doing what needs to be done as it comes up, there are days and times that are more productive and days and times that are set aside for rest and yoga practice but there is a lot of flexibility to shuffle these things around. Obviously my blog posts have dropped out of the system in the new year but not that I am here tapping away at my keyboard they are coming back!

It is hard not to feel guilty when this does happen but after much practice I have mastered the art of accepting that I do what I can and I can’t do more than that. Guilt free, though I do need to remind myself sometimes!

We had a wonderful time at Clearview Retreat, a beautiful group of students, beautiful bushland surroundings and a great topic rather relevant to this post – Slowing Down – Tuning In. It is always a pleasure to be there and share the joys of yoga in such lovely surroundings. I have another retreat coming up in May titled Mother Nature – Mother Nurture, details can be found at www.clearviewretreat.org.au.

Can’t resist sharing a couple of photos including the cutest little echidna I came across and spent some time with during one of my walks…

Echidna

Echidna

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

IMG_2851

I’m here for the presence…

Christmas is only a week away as I write this, a time which for some people is joy filled and for others can be quite difficult for a range of reasons. I find myself somewhere in the middle. I love many aspects of Christmas. The excitement of my children as the big day draws nearer, the decorating of the tree and the house, the connecting with family and friends, the purchasing and wrapping up of the gifts which I have carefully selected for each person, watching their faces when they open a gift that brings them pleasure. I love it all.

What I enjoy less is the marketing and merchandising, the crowded shopping centres, the over the top excesses and extremes that we are exposed to in our society. The underlying feelings and obligations that accompany some exchanges of gifts. I have on occasion purchased or made a small gift for someone as a surprise only to have them then rush out to buy me something in return. My gifts are carefully selected to bring joy to the recipients, my gifts are given freely and openly to brighten someones day and bring a smile to their face. My gifts are always, absolutely, 100% obligation free. This applies not just at Christmas time but for birthdays, just because presents,  all occasions.

Through Yoga Tinted Glasses Christmas is always full of joy, the philosophy of the yamas can be applied so effectively to the whole celebration.

Ahimsa – loving kindness for yourself and others pretty much sums up the spirit of getting together and celebrating with loved ones. If Christmas is difficult being aware of your own needs and seeking support or whatever it is that helps you to get through it. If you are tired, giving yourself rest. If you are loving every minute of it indulge in that. The whole time being open and aware of those you are spending time with, treating them to all of the love and compassion you can muster – what gift could be more meaningful than that?

Satya – honesty at Christmas time is about giving your true self, often when families gather there are underlying grudges and resentments, things left unsaid and we can feel like we need to be the person they expect rather than our true selves. How wonderfully liberating to let that all go and present the real you, at the same time greeting and acknowledging the real them. We might not be the same and we might have different values but letting go of any expectations, both of yourself and of others is a wonderful practice at Christmas time or any time…

Asteya – non stealing is not just about material things but also about energy and time. Letting everyone have their moment in the light, in our family when we open presents we do so one at a time so every gift gets seen, appreciated by each person, both giver and receiver are acknowledged and appreciated.

Bramacharya – moderation is something we can definitely use more of over Christmas time. It can become quite overwhelming with all of the excess. So much food, so many gifts, so many lights. I know it is only one day a year but what I love about it isn’t the food – it’s the people I’m eating with, not the presents but the presence. Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to really appreciate each other. One of the ways we do this by exchanging gifts but it should always be more about the reason they are given than the gifts themselves.  Some of the most memorable gifts I have received have not been hugely expensive or big but well thought out and given with love. I personally try to either make gifts myself or purchase them from craft markets, small local businesses or ethical companies. I am on the lookout all of the time for things that make me think of a particular person, things that will bring them pleasure.

Aparigraha – non grasping so perfectly complements Christmas, being generous. If you have loads of money and want to buy expensive presents then go for it. If you don’t have so much money then all you need to do is share what you do have in abundance – your love, your time, your energy and your presence.

May your Christmas or other festivities be peaceful, joyful and spent with those you love.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

 

Winding up and wind down

It’s that time of year, some things are finishing off like my beginners course which ended last week and my Braybrook classes which wind up this Thursday while other things get busy, busy, busy in the rush to prepare for Christmas or other festivities, go to all of the social gatherings and events and see all of the different people for Christmas and just get on with the day to day stuff.

I sometimes look at my calendar for the week ahead and feel a little alarmed when there are no empty days, not even empty afternoons or mornings. I feel the need to brace myself to get through all of the events. Not that I don’t enjoy all of the catching up and socialising, quite the opposite in fact – I love this time of year and the opportunities it presents to share time with family and friends.  It’s more that I also need some time to myself, time to slow down, reflect on events, time to be alone, particularly when life is busy.

It’s taken me a while to realise this, I used to feel bad about not wanting to go to every party, every dinner, every event. I’ve arrived at the realisation of why I sometimes dread these things after much soul searching and self observation. What I’ve learnt about myself is this:

  • I love spending time with those close to me
  • I don’t feel comfortable in large groups of people
  • I need time to myself in between time spent with others
  • If I don’t honour these things I end up feeling frail, exhausted and on edge
The good news is that now that I know all of the above I can manage my calendar and social gatherings to suit which makes this time of year much more enjoyable. I prefer small gatherings to large groups, so try to visit people individually or go out for a meal rather than going to big get togethers. When I do go to the occasional larger gatherings I make sure I am aware of how I’m going and move out for some space if things start getting overwhelming.
Other ways I avoid the rush is by getting all of the Christmas shopping done as early as possible. Shopping centres, particularly busy ones, count as large groups of people and leave me exhausted so I limit my visits to them, try to get there during quiet times and, where possible, do my shopping at markets and smaller local businesses.
I keep track of that calendar and if it starts looking too crowded I start saying no to events or seeing what can be left off or moved to a quieter time. With three kids it can fill up very quickly so this one is important.
Finally I keep my yoga tinted glasses nearby, taking every opportunity between the busyness for a few deep breaths, a brief meditation, a short practice or even some mindful awareness of where I am and what’s going on. Winding down after a crazy day with my legs up the wall and some three part breathing helps me to reenergise and arrive refreshed and renewed to the next event…
May your festive season be restful and include a good balance of winding up and winding down…
Love and light,
Belinda
xxx

Making time…

It has been a while since my last post. I’ve been busy with some extra teaching, ongoing renovations and switching to a new computer. At the same time my daughter has dislocated her knee and my son has been switching schools so there has been lots of extra appointments and other end of year activities. I am also preparing to launch my new website in the new year, planning next years teaching dates and details and preparing for Christmas and all of the busyness that it brings.

It is easy to get caught up in the busyness at times like these and find myself with little or no time for yoga or meditation, however experience has taught me that these are the times when we need to prioritise the things that help keep us going. Taking a little time out and ensuring we have some time to put back ensures we have the energy and reserves required to keep going and get through whatever we are dealing with.

The trick is in making time, not an easy task. I have what I call my Yogic Time Machine which allows me to fit yoga into even the busiest of days. It works like this.

1. All you need to do to bring some yoga into your day is take a little time to become aware of your breath. You can do this while you are doing something else, just tune in, breathe easily, let it become a little deeper and more relaxed. You’ll be amazed at the difference this makes.
2. When you have lots of things to do don’t be tempted to multi task too much. Things might not get done as well and you might end up having to redo them so there is no real time saving there. Instead let yourself mindfully do one thing at a time, tasks then become a meditation in themselves, one pointed focus on one job at a time can be very calming.
3. The other advantage of taking on one thing at a time is that then you can fit in a five minute break in between tasks, it might be a quick cuppa, spending some time outside, sitting quietly but whatever it is you find calming don’t be tempted to let that to-do list invade this time, keep it separate.
Hope these tips help you find your own time machine, please feel free to share your own ways of fitting yoga in to busy times with me.
Love and light,
Belinda
xxx

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

Mental Health

It is Mental Health week so my post today is about mental health, through yoga tinted glasses of course.

There is such stigma still associated with mental health conditions, I think things have improved but there is a long way still to go. I have a friend who was suffering depression and confided in me that she felt ashamed of having to take medication to manage it. I told her that I had no shame in using an inhaler when my asthma played up so why should she feel ashamed for treating a medical condition with medication? Yet she did, and I’m sure she was not alone.

Yoga gifts us with many tools to manage our mental health, from meditation, to slowing down, to tuning in or even losing yourself in the flow of surya namaskar for a while. My own mental health has been much more stable since I found yoga. It is not that I no longer have sad days or feel anxious, it is just that when these things happen I can pause, recognize, acknowledge and work through what is happening rather than getting caught up in the turmoil that comes from these situations. I feel so much more in control.

Here is a quick technique I use for anxiety which I find really helps me to stay calm. Hope you like it, please let me know if you have any feedback!

Step 1. Recognise – as soon as you notice thing getting slightly off balance recognize what’s happening. Say it to yourself, “I’m worried I’m going to be late.” Just putting that out there helps to put whatever’s happening and your reaction to it into perspective.

Step 2. Push the pause button – imagine, just for a while, pausing those thought processes, count to 30 or 100 or any other number that suits.

Step 3. Breathe – while you are counting let your breath slow down and deepen, when we are upset or anxious the breath speeds up, by doing the opposite you slow down those feelings and reactions.

Step 4. Acknowledge – give yourself a pat on the back for recognizing what was happening and acting to reduce the impact of it. The more you practice the above the sooner you’ll start to recognize the signs, the earlier you catch these reactions the less power they will have.

Step 5. Get on with your day – keep going where you were going or doing what you were doing, from a calmer, more in control place.

Love and light and good mental wellbeing,

Belinda

xxx

Bring on Spring…

I love springtime, I know everything needs to be balanced and that all of the other seasons have their benefits but this is my favorite time of year. Hands down.

More daylight, flowers blooming and blossoming, birds singing and building nests, the warmth gradually sneaking back into the days (though here in Melbourne that’s always a two steps forward, one step back process!) and just the general energy of awakening after winter – its like coming out of a long relaxation.

Daffodil with lavender in background.

Spring is a time of new beginnings, new life , new opportunities, new and positive changes. To celebrate these qualities of the season I am offering two springtime promotions for my Thursday night Braybrook classes.

  1. For my existing students – bring a friend for free, absolutely free, no obligation. If they sign up for a term you get a 10% discount on your own next term payment.
  2. For new students two casual classes for the price of one – just $18 for two yoga classes.

These offers only apply to my Braybrook Classes, 6:30-8pm, Thursday evenings, Community Hall, Braybrook Community Hub, 107-136 Churchill Ave, Braybrook and are available for the next 8 weeks so you have plenty of time to spread the word and invite a few friends along (limit of 1 per class). Classes are suitable for beginners and those with yoga experience.

If you would love to get back to nature and really delve into the springtime yoga energy there are still a few places left on my next retreat 9th-11th October in the lovely King Parrot Valley just an hour and a half out of Melbourne. More details can be found at www.clearviewretreat.org.au.

Happy blooming,

Belinda

xxx

 

 

Yoga Foundations

As many of my readers know we are renovating our family home by adding a second storey. This may not in any way seem relevant to my yoga practice or teaching but through yoga tinted glasses everything is relevant to yoga.

 

We have been undergoing these renovations for years now and are at the exciting part of the journey where we can see our destination on the horizon, we haven’t yet moved upstairs but we do now have stairs and a roof and walls! I still very clearly remember the early days when we were putting in foundations and trying to imagine what it would end up like, since then the plans have evolved and a few changes have been made for various reasons.

It was very challenging in those early days, we were working so hard, digging huge holes, (often in very inconvenient places like in the main entrance to our home and besides the kitchen doorway), deconstructing in order to rebuild and improve it often seemed like we were going backwards. All of that was important though, to lay the strong foundations  needed to extend our house and reach the exciting stage we are now at.

In much the same way beginners to yoga can find it challenging, hard to imagine the postures and practices coming easily or smoothly, yoga can feel strange and unfamiliar as I very clearly remember from my own days as a beginner.  As with building a home, building a solid foundation to your yoga practice is important to allow you to fully explore and experience all that yoga has to offer. Even those with more experience can struggle with some postures or practices, for no obvious reason some things just don’t come as easily as others.

One of the many beautiful vistas from Clearview retreat.

One of the many beautiful vistas from Clearview retreat.

My upcoming Yoga Foundation retreat at Clearview Retreat on the 9th-11th of October is designed to delve into to the foundations of yoga, for beginners and experienced students alike. We will share some information about this thing called yoga, where and how and why it evolved, a breakdown of the thousands of postures and practices into some basic tools and methods which can be applied to all of them. Establishing a strong foundation not only of knowledge but also of awareness which can then allow your yoga practice to grow and extend.

The retreat runs from 7pm Friday evening until 3pm Sunday, price includes delicious home cooked vegetarian food, accommodation, yoga and guided walks. $375-$415 depending on accommodation chosen. Numbers are strictly limited so book early by contacting Jocelyn on 5797 0229 or via email diversity@diversity.org.au.

I am looking forward to returning to Clearview in the Springtime, one of my favorite times of the year. I’d love to see you there!

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

 

Blooming forth

Spring has now truly arrived in Melbourne, we are being blessed with longer and warmer days, more sunshine, flowers and blossoms, bees and butterflies, birds singing and that wonderful feeling that spring brings.

People seem happier, lighter, more carefree as the springtime energy takes over. While winter gave us time to hibernate and withdraw spring invites us to become more active, more energised and, like the bees, more busy. To catch up on jobs that need doing, to spring clean, to bloom and blossom just as the flowers and trees do.

In your yoga practice spring is a great time to try something new, to explore a different practice or just a new way of doing something familiar and comfortable. It is also a lovely time to meditate on the changes happening both within and beyond yourself. Take some time to get out into nature, a park or your backyard or wherever else you have the opportunity. Close your eyes and think of breathing in the energy of spring, the new beginnings, the stirrings of new life, new opportunities, warmth and sunshine and rain, everything that is needed for things to grow and thrive. If there is anything within your life which you would like to blossom and bloom then take that energy into that space, it might be an idea, a project, something work related or a relationship, anything important to you and your personal journey. Bring the spring energy to whatever it is and feel it absorbing the springtime energy of growth, bursting forth, expanding and when the time is right, blooming in all of its glory.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

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