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How To Do Pregnancy Exercises at Home: The Absolute Guide for 2019

We are huge advocates of pregnancy exercises at home. I have made it my life’s work to share my passion for fitness and helping mothers prepare themselves physically for pregnancy in the convenience and privacy of their own home. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that the average expectant mother perform 20-30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise on all or most days of the weeks that precede the child’s birth. And to this end, the concept of pregnancy exercises at home is one that more expectant women are making a pivotal part of their everyday routines. Many modern moms to be are finding that the simple and convenient act of performing pregnancy exercises at home to be a beneficial part of their pregnancy fitness plan.  

Although many women participate in exercise classes, clubs, and workshops that emphasize the importance of maternal health and partum exercise, they also might find particular benefit in pregnancy exercises at home and for a vast variety of reasons. More than 25 million Americans work out in organized home gyms, including a good number of moms to be. Let’s pause to review just a few of the more popular reasons that more prospective moms are doing pregnancy exercises at home, cultivating a designated regimen of pregnancy workouts at home.

  • Privacy: Gyms and exercise classes, while fun and inspiring places to exercise are not the most private and secluded places to enjoy your workout sessions; a consideration that may prove particularly applicable during the later months of pregnancy. This is a time when women might be particularly conscious of the weight gain and other physical changes that come as part of the childbearing experience. Yet a moderate exercise regimen can help the mom to be in control these changes; according to the National Health Service, “the more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. It will also help you to cope with labor and get back into shape after the birth.”

Some of my moms are a bit self-conscious about their appearance or are worried about being unable to perform certain exercise moves and/or fitness exercises during pregnancy.  These concerns may become particularly prevalent during the third trimester when even the healthiest and most fitness conscious females may experience a certain degree of weight gain and some physical limitations. This is why more and more women are opting instead to do pregnancy exercises at home rather than travel to their gym or studio.

picture of moms doing pregnancy workouts at home

    • Practicality and convenience: A home exercise program, regardless of one’s life situation, is always more convenient than traveling to a gym or fitness studio. And while more than 54 million Americans possess health club memberships, it is estimated that even more do some form of exercise at home. After all, a trip to your home gym or fitness studio will require a commute of approximately one minute–or, barring this time span, however long it takes to walk from any other room of your home to your home work out site. When you enjoy pregnancy workouts at home, you can exercise anytime day or night–whether it’s right after you return home from work and before you sit down to dinner, on an idle weekend morning, or–hey, if the mood strikes–even in the middle of the night or before you head off to work in the morning. Also in the case of pregnancy exercises at home, you don’t have to concern yourself overmuch with ‘dressing for the occasion’; feel free to work out in your pajamas or a housecoat if you so desire, as long as your choice of workout apparel is comfortable and flexible enough to facilitate a pregnancy workout routine.  
    • Probability of success: The nine long months of pregnancy is bound to rank among the busiest and most complex times of a woman’s life; one constantly consumed with doctors’ appointments, shopping trips, meetings with friends and family members, as balanced with her regular (which, in the vast majority of cases, is anything but) schedule of work and family commitments. Try penciling in a steady regimen of exercise classes into that rigorous routine with courses that are conducted at a predesignated place and time every week. After a long day’s worth of work and/or family commitments, one might be all too tempted to skip a commitment that is not a job-related or personal requirement. Yet in the case of pregnancy exercises at home, a situation in which you can set your own workout schedule and if needed interrupt or cut short the session for any reason, you stand a far stronger chance of sticking to your pregnancy workout routine and seeing it through to its successful completion. In addition, many of the most popular forms of exercise, including fitness walking, running/jogging, treadmill, free weights, bicycles, weight resistance machines, and stretching, can be done easily at home.
  • Comfortable Home Environment: Just as many people prefer working at home, as opposed to in an office environment, a good number of folks also prefer working out at home. At home, you can choose your exercises, set your own exercise schedule, and control all of the conditions surrounding your workout session. You’re bound to derive a great deal of satisfaction from a home-based workout, something that is totally your own. And by working at home, you can devise a personalized exercise plan that strikes a balance of activities suited to the health of you and your child.

Pregnancy Workout Routine

Whether you choose the exercise option of pregnancy exercises at home or opt instead to work out at a gym or fitness studio or as part of a class, it is important to both maintain and enhance your fitness levels during this pivotal time of your life.

picture of two women doing a pregnancy workout routine

The Mayo Clinic recommends that the typical pregnant woman should devote at least 30 minutes per day to the pursuit of a sensible, moderately paced exercise program. And it would be far easier to fit in that half hour interval (or longer, if you so choose) in the comfort and convenience of your own home–without having to allow extra time and expense for car fuel, gym memberships, class enrollment fees, etc.

Regardless of where the expectant mother’s exercise sessions will be done, the benefits of partum fitness are many and amazing. They include:

    • Pain and discomfort relief. Physical benefits such as a marked reduction in backaches (as exercise strengthens the back), bloating and swelling.
    • Strength building. A contrasting (and highly beneficial) increase in muscle tone, endurance and strength.
    • Health enhancement. Medical benefits often include a reduced risk of gestational diabetes and the prevention of excess weight gain during pregnancy.
    • Mental health enhancement. Psychological benefits that could include a marked elevation in mood and energy levels.
    • Other probable benefits of pregnancy exercises at home could include improved circulation, along with the prevention of hemorrhoids, varicose veins, leg cramps, and ankle swelling.
    • Heart health. Perhaps the strongest potential benefit of pregnancy exercises at home lies in the strengthening of the cardiovascular system. It’s common knowledge that a steady and sensible exercise regimen at any phase of life is recommended for the promotion and continuance of sound heart health; and particularly during those pivotal nine months of pregnancy. A strong, fully functioning heart is needed to both sustain a healthy pregnancy and complete those everyday tasks that we must continue in order to lead full and productive lives.
    • Blood pressure control. Studies prove that exercise during pregnancy can protect against and alleviate hypertension.
    • Self-esteem enhancement. As with most other times in life, a regular exercise routine can–if faithfully followed–improve both one’s self-image and overall outlook on life. Regardless of the stresses and strains that come as part of the pregnancy experience, a round of vigorous but moderate physical exercise can serve to ease and release your tensions–cheering and energizing you even in the later months of pregnancy. And when doing pregnancy exercises at ‘home sweet home’, you are bound to exercise with an even more positive mindset.
    • Body firming. During an interval and major life transition that tends to exact a multitude of physical changes that include weight gain, bloating, etc., an exercise routine can help to restrict your weight shifts and firm the body overall.

Ultimately, many moms do pregnancy exercises at home for the same reason that they exercise at any other time of life.

    • To build strength.
    • To build stamina.
    • To build endurance.
    • To build positive moods and overall self-esteem.
    • To build total body health.

These factors become all the more important at a time of pregnancy; a sensitive and transformative time in a woman’s life.

Pregnancy Exercise for Normal Delivery

It is important that you prepare carefully for your regimen of pregnancy exercises at home. Before engaging in this or any other partum or postpartum exercise program, you first should take into account some important–indeed, in many cases, vital–considerations. Some of these may include:

    • Consult your physician. As is the case with any exercise program, you always should consult your physician before beginning any program of pregnancy exercises at home. Surely you have heard all of those dire warnings that they post before and after TV exercise shows, and particularly in advance of a pregnancy exercises video. Well, sad to tell you, but all of those overly dramatic voice-over artists are correct, at least this time. Before beginning any exercise program, regardless of your age or physical condition, you first should garner the informed preapproval of your doctor and obstetrician. And think about it; you as an expectant mom would generally seek your OBGYN’s assistance in formulating a diet plan to nourish you and your baby. So why would you even hesitate to check your plan for pregnancy exercises at home with this very same medical professional? And along the same lines…
    • Consider your medical history. As is the case with any exercise program, those with pre-existing health conditions, anything from cardiac conditions to respiratory problems, weight issues to high blood pressure, should figure any limitations posed by these conditions into your partum and postpartum fitness regimen. And once again (let’s say it all together now!), “Consult your doctor!!!”
    • Line up a helpful collection of exercise aids. These could include a full range of fitness equipment of your own choosing, also ranging from a high quality and professionally produced pregnancy exercises video and/or fitness instruction book or website to basics that feature comfortable and appropriate maternity exercise wear, lots of towels and water on hand, and, if you so choose, a light and nutritious selection of workout snacks fitting for the health-conscious mom to be.
    • Warm up and cool down at regular intervals. As is the case at all times of life and especially when expecting, one should precede and proceed pregnancy exercises at home with complete and highly invigorating stretches, light exercises, and–if you so prefer–selected yoga and meditation maneuvers.  
    • When you do it, don’t overdo it. Exercise in temperate rooms while engaging in pregnancy exercises at home. If outdoors, watch out for conditions of excessive heat or cold. Avoid overly strenuous or vigorous exercise moves at virtually any stage of pregnancy, opting instead for more moderate and evenly paced moves and maneuvers. You even may wish to adjust your pregnancy exercises at home program to accommodate the varying stages of your pregnancy; accommodating, in turn, the many changes that a woman’s body undergoes with the passing stages of one’s pregnancy.

And all of this naturally brings us to the question that faces any fitness-conscious expectant woman:

picture of what kind of exercise can i do while pregnant?

“What kind of exercise can I do while pregnant?”

Not every exercise and exercise routine is custom designed to suit the expectant female. And before you embark on any given regimen of pregnancy exercises at home, then you first must answer the question, what kind of exercise can I do while pregnant?

This query can be a challenge to answer, as a woman’s body and fitness needs change dramatically throughout the course of this pivotal nine-month period known as pregnancy. Your plan for exercise in pregnancy 2nd trimester might very well differ substantially from your chosen path of exercise during pregnancy first trimester. Still later during the pregnancy, you may wish to choose a regimen of exercise for 8 months pregnant, and eventually pregnancy exercise for normal delivery. After all, you want to do exercises that will prepare your body for a safe, easy (well, relatively) and empowered delivery process. These particular exercise maneuvers should strengthen your muscles and enhance your flexibility.

Here are a few links to our favorite pregnancy exercises that can be done at home during each trimester.

Exercise During Pregnancy First Trimester

If you have been an avid or regular exercise prior to becoming pregnant most likely you may continue exercising during your 1st trimester the same as before, with potentially a couple modifications. These exercises should be designed to provide strength and stability during a time when you may be feeling nausea and fatigue. In the first trimester, the best pregnancy exercises to do at home would be our core strengtheners:

picture of pregnancy exercises second trimester

Exercise During Pregnancy Second Trimester

The last 3 months have had me feeling extremely strong and competent when it comes to working out. So much so that I have been able to get into the gym five to six times a week. Check out a detailed list of my best pregnancy exercises at home for moms during their second trimester by clicking here

picture of woman doing pregnancy exercises at home third trimester

Exercise During Pregnancy Third Trimester

As you progress throughout your pregnancy, it is important to monitor and moderate the velocity and momentum of your exercise routine. 

By now as you enter your 3rd trimester, you may be feeling more tired, exhausted, & just ready to have your baby (well… not the labor part but after, right?). You can learn my Push Prep Method to help prepare for pushing baby when the time comes. As you exit out of your 2nd trimester, you may be noticing that everything is just a little harder.

The post How To Do Pregnancy Exercises at Home: The Absolute Guide for 2019 appeared first on Knocked-Up Fitness.

How Long Should I Hold Yin Yoga Poses?

Yin yoga is a restorative practice consisting of various seated and supine poses that target the hips, pelvis, and lower spine. The practice is characterized by extended holds of postures to allow the connective tissue to be stressed appropriately. Props such as bolsters, blocks, or blankets are often used in the practice to aid the practitioner in staying more comfortable for the longer duration of a pose and to keep the muscles relaxed. This introduction will help you get to know all the ins and outs of how long to hold yin yoga poses.


How Long Should I Hold Yin Yoga Poses?

While most yin yoga classes involve 2-5 minute holds, learning to listen to your body will help you find the appropriate length of time for you. As a baseline, beginners may benefit from starting with 1-3 minutes, while advanced practitioners may aim for 5 minutes or more — even up to 10, 20, or 25 minutes! However, the 3-minute mark will give you most of the primary benefits of yin yoga.

Holding yin yoga poses for 3+ minutes

As yin yoga teacher Dina Amsterdam explains, “It’s around the 3-minute mark that synovial fluid, our joints’ natural lube, is stimulated and released into the connective tissues being worked, making them more supple and agile.” These longer holds of yin yoga poses not only allow this physical change to occur, but also provide other mental and emotional benefits such as:

  • Improved focus. Yin yoga provides an almost meditative quality as you settle into each pose and maintain your focus on the experience. This leads to improved concentration, which can benefit your meditation practice.
  • Reduced stress. In today’s busy world, there are not many opportunities to be still. Yin yoga poses allow you find that stillness and quiet as you melt and relax into each pose. You will leave the practice feeling less stressed and more refreshed.
  • Reduced pain. Because this practice helps restore the body, it can help alleviate pain as you release and ease tension in the muscles and lubricate the ligaments and joints.
  • Heightened self-awareness. The extended holds in yin yoga give us the time and space to explore our feelings and emotions as they come up in each pose. They also allow us to get to know our body better as we make continuous adjustments for our anatomical needs and find our personal edge in each pose.
  • Increased range of motion. Taking care of the connective tissue around the joints allows you to relieve joint stress and safely open them to their healthy limits.

Holding yin yoga poses for under 3 minutes

There are instances when you might find yourself needing a shorter hold of yin yoga poses, especially as a beginner. These common experiences are worth paying attention to in your practice:

  • Emotional discomfort. Holding yin yoga poses for longer periods of time can bring up many physical sensations in the body, and as a result, many emotional reactions. A goal of yin yoga is to eventually learn how to sit with these uncomfortable emotions, but it might feel overwhelming in the beginning stages of your practice.
  • Your practice style. Yin yoga requires a delicate balance of feeling sensation but not going beyond your limits. It is about finding your own physical and emotional edges in the pose. Holding a pose for an extended amount of time just for the sake of competition or pushing the body harder is not the goal of a yin practice. If you are used to always practicing with intensity, or even not challenging yourself at all, a shorter hold can help you learn how to navigate the balance between the two.
  • Your individual anatomy. Each body is different in its structure, which will determine which poses are easier or more challenging and how long a hold should be. Some people may find release in a shorter amount of time, while others may require longer.

Ready to try yin yoga? Yin Yoga Experience with Jonah Kest and Yin for the Hips with Josh Kramer are great Alo Moves classes to explore this nourishing and rewarding practice.

The post How Long Should I Hold Yin Yoga Poses? appeared first on The Yoga Warrior.

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Modern Mama: A Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12th, so it’s time to start thinking about (and ordering!) the perfect gift to show her just how special she is. And, whether she’s into the outdoors, pampering, cooking, or anything in between, we’ve rounded up the perfect Mother’s Day gift guide for any modern mama. 

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7 Basic Exercises for All Stages of Motherhood: Before, During, and After Pregnancy and Childbirth

Whether you’re planning to become a mom in the near future, are currently pregnant, are a soon-to-be-mom who plans to adopt, or are a new or seasoned mama, making sure your body is always supporting this miraculous role of parenting a new life and finding the Strength In Motherhood® is essential. Being a mom means that you have to be strong mentally, emotionally and physically. 

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What To Do Now That You Are Postpartum

Congratulations!!! Giving birth is no small feat and you just crushed it! So, now what? You might already be feeling a shift in your hormones, sleep deprivation or aches and pains in your lower back, neck and hips. This is all completely normal, however, there are things you can do make yourself feel better physically, mentally and emotionally!

Answering your early postpartum questions

Posted by Knocked-Up Fitness on Wednesday, April 17, 2019

 

GENTLE MOVEMENT

“Embrace the pace of your own journey.”

I say movement, not exercise for a reason. In the first weeks postpartum, your body is still healing and moving back into place. Breathwork and light inversion movements are designed to awaken your pelvic floor, destress your body and eliminate those aches and pains. Take it slow and if you feel any pressure in your pelvic floor or experience any incontinence, stop. This is a sign your body needs more time to heal so wait a few more days to a week and try again.

Pelvic Tilts – Lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor.  You should not feel any pressure on your hip flexors. If you do, try widening your legs a bit. Take a deep breath in and on the exhale, lightly connect your deep core and lengthen up through the top of your head. Remember, the connection in your pelvic floor should be light! If you can’t feel the connection, that is absolutely ok!!  Visualize your pelvic floor lightly connecting and soon enough you will begin to feel it!

Hip Rolls – Lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Take a deep breath in and on the exhale, complete your pelvic tilt. Begin using your hamstrings and glutes to slowly peel your hips off the ground. You don’t want to go very high because the goal is to awaken your pelvic floor and take the stress off your lower back. This inversion work allows gravity to take over and begins to slightly pull your pelvic floor towards your core.

picture of hip rolls

Inversion Hip Rolls – While you are doing your hip rolls, you can place a pillow or two under your hips to help create that inversion. Again, this will allow gravity to slowly begin pulling your pelvic floor toward your core.

picture of pillow inversion

As long as these movements feel good on your body, begin incorporating them into your daily routine. Once you have been fully released by your doctor, you can begin Phase 1 of your Core Rehab journey!

Always consult your doctor prior to beginning any new movement or workout routines. 

GOOD QUALITY DEEP SLEEP

“The best eraser in the world is a good night’s sleep.”

This is always a struggle for all new parents and often causes stress, irritability and anxiety. Since your new bundle of joy will need to eat and/or be changed every few hours, your ability to fall into the deep cycles of sleep is limited, if not eliminated.  Come up with a schedule with your partner or ask a friend or family member to come over for a few hours so you can get some good quality sleep. This can be a complete game changer when it comes to managing a newborn and life as a busy mom!

GETTING SOME FRESH AIR

“Slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.”

Getting outside and breathing in the fresh air can help rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. If you feel up to it, go for a gentle walk. This can allow you to get your body moving, decrease stress and breath life back into your body. Fresh air does wonders for the body so don’t be afraid to get outside and enjoy it!

JOINING THE RIGHT SUPPORT GROUP

“Life can be uncertain. Work can be unpredictable.  But by surrounding yourself with great friends, support is guaranteed.” 

Life as a new mom is full of second-guessing yourself and endless questions. The best thing to do is to find a community of like-minded women to talk to. There are a variety of mom groups out there ranging from professional mom groups to stay-at-home mom groups. Where ever you fall on the spectrum, make sure you find a support group that is right for you! Inside Erica’s Core Rehab Membership, we have an amazing community of women who answer questions, provide motivation and help support you through every step of your postpartum journey! They are all truly incredible women who have been through the same journey or, like you, are in the thick of it now. Don’t be afraid to join and check it out!

BEING KIND TO YOURSELF

“You owe yourself the love that you so freely give other people.”

It’s hard to maintain a healthy body image, especially with everything posted on social media these days. BUT… you CANNOT compare yourself to anyone else because everyone’s bodies are different. It took you 10 months to create this amazing bundle of joy so give yourself some grace and allow yourself to be present with your baby. Once you and your body are ready to start moving again, Erica’s Core Rehab Membership is waiting. Don’t stress about getting back into your pre-baby pants because all that will do is cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. We are all here for you every step of the way so come join us when you are ready!!

Not all exercise is created equal! For women who are postpartum, Erica has designed her 6-phase program inside her Prenatal+Core Rehab Membership that focuses on strengthening your deep core, rebuilding your fascia, improving your posture all while creating space throughout your entire body. Inside the membership, there are workouts, tutorials, guides, nutrition information, meal plans and more to help set your body up for success.

The post What To Do Now That You Are Postpartum appeared first on Knocked-Up Fitness.

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A Complete Guide to the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series

The rigorous and disciplined practice of Ashtanga yoga was first developed in Mysore, India, and introduced to the West in the 1970s by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. The practice consists of six series of Ashtanga yoga poses:

  • Primary: known as yoga chikitsa, or yoga therapy, this series of Ashtanga yoga poses centers around forward bends.
  • Second/Intermediate: known as nadi shodhana, meaning nerve cleansing, this series focuses primarily on backbends.
  • Advanced A, B, C, and D: known as sthira bhaga, or strength and grace, these series emphasize arm-support and arm-balancing postures.

Each series is traditionally practiced six days a week and in a specific order each time. When taught in the original style of Mysore, India, yogis practice at their own pace and are only given a new pose or series when they have mastered the previous poses. For anyone who craves discipline and structure in their practice, Ashtanga yoga poses are a great place to start! Below is your complete guide to the poses of the Ashtanga Primary Series.


A Complete Guide to the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series

The Primary Series – Yoga Chikitsa

For the cleansing and purifying effect it has on the body and mind, the Primary Series is referred to as yoga chikitsa, or yoga therapy. Traditionally taking 90 minutes to complete, the Primary Series is meant to build strength and flexibility in the body, relieve tension in the muscles, and heal and detoxify the body and nervous system. Like all Ashtanga series, the emphasis on linking breath to movement and performing a vinyasa sequence to transition between postures are core features of the practice. The following is the sequence for the Primary Series of Ashtanga yoga poses:

Standing Sequence of Ashtanga Yoga Poses

Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose)

Beginning the standing sequence with Padangusthasana helps prepare the yogi for the forward folds that occur later in the series by stretching the hamstrings and calves and strengthening the thighs. Like all forward bends, this pose has a calming effect on the mind, which helps to relieve stress and anxiety. Additionally, the gentle pressure of the abdomen against the thighs stimulates the liver and kidneys and supports improved digestion.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses hand under foot posePadahastasana (Hand Under Foot Pose)

Like its preceding pose, Padahastasana increases flexibility in the hamstrings while engaging the lower back. In this inversion, the yogi also benefits from improved blood circulation to the upper part of the body, providing relief from mental and physical exhaustion. It is also thought to stimulate vata energy in the Ayurvedic tradition, leading to light and airy energy in the body.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses triangle poseTrikonasana (Triangle Pose)

Moving into Trikonasana, this pose supports increased strength in the legs, knees, ankles, arms, and chest as you keep the torso lifted against the pull of gravity. Keeping the chest open, you can also experience better breathing as the lungs are able to expand fully. The hips, groin, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest, and spine all receive a stretch as well.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses revolved triangle poseParivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Similar to the previous pose, revolved triangle pose strengthens and stretches the shoulders, legs, feet, ankles, abdominals, hips, and spine. With the addition of the twist, the abdominal organs are stimulated, leading to improved digestion. This posture also provides an opportunity to improve balance.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses extended side angleUtthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

This posture begins to test the stamina needed for the rest of the Ashtanga yoga poses of the primary sequence. The emphasis on the lower body strengthens and stretches the legs, knees, groin, waist, and ankles. While the lower body is doing a significant amount of work, the upper body still receives a stretch in the spine and shoulders and an opening of the chest and lungs.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses extended side angle

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)

This challenging standing twist also increases strength and stamina like the pose before it. The addition of the twist adds a new challenge for balance while also stimulating the abdominal organs to improve digestion and aid elimination. Twisting is also thought to help detoxify the body by stimulating fresh blood flow through the internal organs. A modification of this pose is shown in the photo above.

ashtanga yoga primary series wide legged forward bendPrasarita Padottanasana A, B, C, and D (Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose)

Like the first posture in the standing sequence, this pose provides the benefits of both forward folds and inversions, such as helping to calm the mind and provide relief from stress and anxiety. Prasarita Padottanasana lengthens and stretches the spinal column and stretches the backs of the legs, helping to relieve mild back pain. A yogi can also find relief from neck and shoulder tension as the head is allowed to relax toward the ground. Four variations of the pose are practiced in this sequence: hands on the ground with elbows pointing back (A), hands placed on the hips and elbows pulled close together (B), hands interlocked behind the back and brought toward the ground (C), holding the big toes, pulling the crown of the head as close to the ground as possible (D).

ashtanga yoga primary series poses intense side stretchParsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

This forward bend provides an additional challenge of balance which helps calm the mind and improve posture. In the full expression of the posture with hands in reverse prayer, the spine, shoulders, and wrists receive a deep stretch. Parsvottanasana also stretches the hips and hamstrings while strengthening the legs.

ashtanga yoga primary series extended hands to big toeUtthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)

Another balancing pose in the standing sequence, this posture stretches the back of the legs, opens the hips, and strengthens the legs and ankles. Standing on one leg also improves your sense of balance and challenges your concentration and ability to focus. The extension of the arm also provides an opportunity to open the shoulder.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses standing half lotus forward bendArdha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Standing Forward Bend Pose)

This forward bend adds the additional challenge of a deep hip opening and hamstring stretch by folding one leg into lotus position and standing on the other leg. By challenging your balance in this posture, you can strengthen your ability to concentrate. It requires a calm and centered mind to persist through the challenge of this posture, which can support an improved meditation practice.

ashtanga yoga primary series chair poseUtkatasana (Chair Pose)

One of the most grounding postures of the standing sequence, Utkatasana increases the heart rate and builds heat in the body quickly. This leads to a stimulation of the circulatory and metabolic systems. Additionally, this pose strengthens the ankles, calves, thighs, and spine while stretching the shoulders, shins, and Achilles tendons, which can be therapeutic for flat feet.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses warrior IVirabhadrasana I (Warrior I)

Named after a mythological Hindu warrior, Virabhadra, this posture captures fierce intensity and power. This deeply grounding and energizing pose builds focus, power, stability, stamina, balance, and coordination. As it increases circulation throughout the body, all the muscles get warm to help prepare for the upcoming seated sequence of Ashtanga yoga poses.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses warrior IIVirabhadrasana II (Warrior II)

Like the previous version of this pose, Virabhadrasana II enhances strength, stability, stamina, and concentration. It strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles as well as the groins, chest lungs, and shoulders. This posture is also believed to be therapeutic for sciatica, flat feet, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Seated Sequence of Ashtanga Yoga Poses

ashtanga yoga primary series poses staff poseDandasana (Staff Pose)

Dandasana leads the seated sequence as it is the foundational posture for all seated poses, including twists. This pose strengthens the upper back, chest, and abdomen, and helps prepare the body for deeper poses. Sitting in Dandasana gives you an opportunity to focus on improved posture and alignment, as well as calming and steadying the mind before beginning the rest of the primary sequence.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses intense west stretch posePaschimottanasana A, B, and C (Intense West Stretch Pose)

For ancient yogis facing the sunrise as they practiced, this forward fold toward the sun would stretch the entire back, or “west” side of the body. These variations all stretch the spine, shoulders, hamstrings, and pelvis while stimulating the liver, kidneys, ovaries, and uterus. The calming effect of these forward bends can help relieve stress and soothe headaches and anxiety. The pose includes three variations, including grabbing the big toes (A), grabbing over the feet (B), and grabbing the sides of the feet (C).

ashtanga yoga primary series poses upward plankPurvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose)

Also known as upward plank or reverse plank, this Ashtanga yoga pose builds strength and flexibility and acts as a counter-pose to the forward folds practiced immediately before. Named for the stretch on the front side of the body, or “east” side, practicing Purvottanasana can challenge and improve balance, calm the mind, increase energy, and reduce fatigue. This front-body opener can also counteract the effects of slouching caused by working at a computer, driving, and other forward-facing actions.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses half bound lotus forward bendArdha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana (Half-Bound Lotus Forward Bend Pose)

This intense forward bend increases flexibility in the hip and knee joints and stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and spine. The position of the heel pressing into the abdomen in this pose also benefits the digestive system by stimulating the liver and spleen.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses three parts forward bend poseTrianga Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana (Three Parts Forward Bend Pose)

The three parts, or limbs, referred to in this pose are the feet, knees, and buttocks. The translation of mukha (face), eka (one), and pada (leg or foot) corresponds to the face touching the straight leg. This pose improves flexibility in the spine, hamstrings, hips, and knee joint. Believed to also open the manipura (solar plexus) chakra, this pose activates one’s personal power. By tapping into this chakra, the yogi can feel an increased sense of confidence.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses head to knee poseJanu Sirsasana A, B, and C (Head-to-Knee Pose)

Janu Sirsasana and its variations help calm the body and mind, helping to relieve stress and anxiety. Each version of the pose deeply stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings, and groins while stimulating the liver and kidneys and improving digestion. The pose includes three variations in the Ashtanga practice: the foot of the bent knee is placed against the inner thigh with the heel close to the groin and outer edge of the foot flat on the floor (A), similar foot position to A but sitting on the heel of the bent knee foot (B), and sole of the foot again placed against the inner thigh but the foot pointed downwards with the ball of the foot on the floor (C).

ashtanga yoga primary series poses sage marichis poseMarichyasana A, B, C, and D (Marichi’s Pose)

This group of Ashtanga yoga poses is dedicated to the sage Marichi, which can be translated from Sanskrit to mean “ray of light.” In Hindu mythology, Marichi symbolizes power, wisdom, and the cosmic force of creation. The A and C versions of the pose have one leg straight on the ground while either folding forward or twisting the torso. The B and D versions include folding the bottom leg on the thigh of the bent leg, and performing the same forward fold or twist with the upper body. These poses all stretch the spine and shoulders, calm the mind and body, and massage the internal organs to improve digestion.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses navasana boat poseNavasana (Boat Pose)

One of the most well-known core strengthening poses in yoga, this pose also strengthens the hip flexors and spine while developing concentration and stamina. To remain in this balancing pose, one must stay focused, internally aware, and calm. Within the body, this pose is believed to stimulate the kidneys, thyroid, prostate glands, and intestines. As the internal organs are stimulated, digestion also improves.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses shoulder pressing poseBhujapidasana (Shoulder Pressing Pose)

This arm balance strengthens the shoulders, arms, and wrists while stretching the abdomen, thighs, arms, and shoulders. Bhujapidasana also challenges and improves balance and concentration. Practicing this posture is also thought to nourish the thyroid gland, control the heart rate, balance the nervous system, and regulate metabolism.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses tortoise poseKurmasana (Tortoise Pose)

Like a tortoise withdrawing into his shell, this pose allows your mind and senses to turn inward. As the mind quiets in tortoise pose, you prepare yourself for meditation while also relieving stress. Practicing this posture lengthens and releases the spine and helps to relax the neck, head, and shoulders. Additionally, it improves the functioning of the digestive and respiratory systems and refreshes and rejuvenates the body.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses sleeping tortoise poseSupta Kurmasana (Sleeping Tortoise Pose)

Similar to its preceding pose, this is one of the deepest forward folds of the Primary Series. One of the main benefits of this pose is the increase in blood flow to the heart and lungs. As a result, it is thought to be a beneficial pose for heart disease, asthma, and bronchitis. Supta Kurmasana also opens the hips, pelvis, and lower back while strengthening the outer hips. This posture also provides lengthening and decompression for the spine, helping to relieve tension.

ashtanga yoga primary series pose embryo in the wombGarbha Pindasana (Embryo in the Womb Pose)

By pressing the heels into the abdomen and applying the gentle pressure of the arms through the legs, the liver and spleen become purified in this posture. Additionally, this posture enhances diaphragmatic breathing and improves the strength of the pelvic organs. As you develop a sense of balance within the pose, it is also believed that the mind and soul become unified.

ashtanga yoga primary series rooster poseKukkutasana (Rooster Pose)

Kukkutasana stretches the arms and spine while strengthening the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and joints. This balancing posture builds stability and can improve your focus. Rooster pose is also thought to activate the muladhara (root) chakra, which provides feelings of security and grounding while also stimulating the digestive system, relieving menstrual discomfort, and reducing hip pain. Shown in the above image is a modification.

ashtanga yoga primary series pose bound angle poseBaddha Konasana A and B (Bound Angle Pose)

This hip opener stretches the inner thighs, groin, and knees while helping to relieve symptoms of menopause and menstruation through increased blood flow to the pelvis. Two variations are included in the Ashtanga yoga poses of the primary sequence: back rounded and chin brought to the ground (A) and feet moved forward with forehead resting on the tops of the feet (B).

ashtanga yoga primary series pose seated wide angle poseUpavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Fold Pose)

This pose stretches the hamstrings, calves, spine, pelvis, and groin. It also massages and stimulates the kidneys, which helps improve their ability to prevent waste build-up in the body. Additionally, this pose stimulates the abdominal organs, which helps with digestion and metabolism. Folding forward naturally draws the awareness inward, which calms the mind and provides relief from anxiety and fatigue.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses reclined angle poseSupta Konasana (Reclining Angle Pose)

Supta Konasana is an inverted restorative pose that stretches the spine, legs, back, arms, thighs, and calves. It stimulates the thyroid gland, helping with metabolic problems, and also calms the mind to relieve stress and anxiety. This posture is thought to activate the vishuddha (throat) chakra, which improves communication and authentic expression.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses reclining big toe poseSupta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose)

Reclining big toe pose stretches the hips, thighs, hamstrings, groins, and calves while strengthening the knees and relieving back pain and menstrual discomfort. Stretching the hamstrings in this pose is a valuable lesson in developing patience, relaxation, and surrender. As with any yoga pose, stretching beyond your limits is not the goal of a healthy practice. This pose requires listening to your body to respect its capabilities in the moment.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses double big toe poseUbhaya Padangusthasana (Double Big Toe Pose)

This challenging posture requires an excellent sense of balance and works on strengthening and stretching the core. The hamstrings, calves, spinal cord, and shoulders all receive a stretch as well. Ubhaya Padangusthasana challenges and improves coordination and concentration as you develop the mental and emotional focus required to hold the pose. This creates a calm and serene mind, and helps reduce stress and anxiety.

ashtanga yoga primary series intense upward facing west stretchUrdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana (Upward-Facing Intense West Stretch)

Like the early Ashtanga yoga poses in the seated sequence, this posture stretches the “west” side, or back of the body. This more challenging variation of Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) is believed to open the svadhisthana (sacral) chakra. A healthy and balanced sacral chakra is associated with intimacy, positive emotions, passion, creativity, and sensuality.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses bridge poseSetu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

This final pose of the seated sequence strengthens the back muscles, adductors, hamstrings, buttocks, and neck when practiced properly. The positioning of the head in this posture opens the throat, which helps stretch the esophagus to improve swallowing. Additionally, the chest expands to increase the capacity of the lungs. The solar plexus chakra is also stimulated in this pose, which enhances the digestive system.

Finishing Sequence of Ashtanga Yoga Poses

ashtanga yoga primary series poses upward bow poseUrdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

This heart opener expands and opens the chest, lungs, and shoulders. Like all backbends, the stimulating nature of this posture increases energy to relieve stress and fatigue. Most importantly, Urdhva Dhanurasana improves spinal mobility and supports the muscles of the low back while also strengthening the arms, shoulders, wrists, legs, buttocks, abdomen, and stretching the hip flexors and abdomen.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses intense west stretch posePaschimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Also practiced at the beginning of the seated sequence, this forward fold stretches the entire back, or “west” side of the body. After moving through the previous Ashtanga yoga poses of the Primary Series, you should feel increased flexibility in the spine, shoulders, hamstrings, and pelvis while performing this pose again.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses shoulderstandSarvangasana (Shoulderstand Pose)

Considered an important pose in the yoga practice, this inversion moves stagnant blood from the lower regions of the body to be refreshed by the heart. This allows a fresh supply of blood to be pumped through the body and the circulatory system. The brain, eyes, ears, nose, and throat all benefit from this new flow of blood to the head, helping them function better. This pose also improves circulation to the pelvic and abdominal areas.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses plow poseHalasana (Plow Pose)

Halasana is another inversion that flexes the spinal cord and releases strain in the back, helping to improve posture and reduce pain. The contraction of the abdominal area helps to stimulate the digestive organs, while the inversion helps to calm the brain and reduce stress and fatigue.

ashtanga yoga primary series pose ear pressure poseKarnapidasana (Ear Pressure Pose)

Ear pressure pose provides a deep spinal flexion and an intense stretch of the hips. In addition, it stretches the neck, shoulders, spine, glutes, and hamstrings. The body’s positioning in this posture also generates an internal massage to help stimulate the abdominal organs. This posture is believed to activate the throat, solar plexus, and sacral chakras, which leads to improved communication, increased confidence, and heightened creativity.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses upward lotus poseUrdhva Padmasana (Upward Lotus Pose)

This inversion stimulates circulation, allowing fresh blood flow into the head and abdominal organs to improve digestion. Upward lotus also strengthens and develops the deep muscles along the spine, the shoulder girdle, and neck muscles. Urdhva Padmasana is also thought to activate the throat chakra, which in turn stimulates the thyroid gland.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses embryo posePindasana (Embryo Pose)

Going deeper than the previous pose, Pindasana provides even more stimulation and strengthening of the abdominal organs, leading to improved digestion. It also stretches and relaxes the whole spine, as well as the neck muscles. This posture activates the throat chakra, including the thyroid gland, and the solar plexus chakra as the abdominals are contracted.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses fish poseMatsyasana (Fish Pose)

Matsyasana strengthens the muscles of the upper back and back of the neck while stretching the hip flexors, the muscles (intercostals) between the ribs, the abdomen, and the front of the neck. Practicing this posture also relieves tension in the shoulders and neck, helping to improve posture as well as improve respiratory ailments as it promotes better breathing.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses raised leg poseUttana Padasana (Raised Leg Pose)

In the full expression of this pose, the throat chakra is opened as the neck is lengthened. In this position, blood flow is increased to the heart and neck, which is thought to stimulate and energize the body. Tension is relieved in the shoulders, neck, and throat, which can lessen feelings of anxiety and promote feelings of peace and ease.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses headstand poseSirsasana (Headstand Pose)

Like other inversions, practicing headstands helps energize and revitalize the body as blood flow to the brain, head, and neck region is increased. This is thought to also relieve headaches in addition to combatting fatigue. This posture strengthens the core, shoulders, arms, back, and neck, and is also important for developing better alignment and balance in your yoga practice.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses childs poseBalasana (Child’s Pose)

Following the headstand, coming into the relaxing Balasana pose allows the yogi to reorient and the blood flow to come back to normal. It relaxes the spine, shoulders, and neck from the work in the preceding pose, and gently stretches the lower back, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. As this pose calms the mind and central nervous system, you can prepare to complete the final finishing postures.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses bound lotus poseBaddha Padmasana (Bound Lotus Pose)

Starting with Baddha Padmasana, the final Ashtanga yoga poses of the finishing sequence prepare the mind and body for meditation. Baddha Padmasana improves posture and stretches the joints, making them more flexible and able to be still for long periods. This pose helps to achieve physical and mental stability by calming the mind and opening the heart to increase vitality. Shown above is a modified version of this pose.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses lotus pose meditationPadmasana (Lotus Pose)

A traditional meditation pose, lotus helps reduce tension in the muscles, manage blood pressure, and relax the mind. Named after the lotus flower, the position of the legs in this pose is meant to resemble the opening of the petals. This posture strengthens the spine and upper back and stretches the ankles, hips, and knees to allow the practitioner to sit comfortably in meditation for longer periods.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses scale poseUtplutihih (Scale Pose)

Utplutihih is an arm balance that strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders, hips, back, and abdomen. In addition, it stretches the arms, thighs, hamstrings, and outer hips. True to its name and resemblance to the scales, this pose creates a sense of balance in the mind and body. As a result, it also helps relieve stress and anxiety.

ashtanga yoga primary series poses corpse pose savasanaSavasana (Corpse Pose)

Though deceptively simple in appearance, Savasana is considered one of the most important and challenging poses in the yoga practice. This well-known final relaxation pose allows the body to process information and acclimate to the work done throughout your physical practice. It is an opportunity to quiet and still the mind and body, withdraw the senses, and prepare for meditation.

Ready to explore this practice further? If you are just starting out with Ashtanga yoga, we highly recommend Laruga Glaser’s Ashtanga Primary Series.

The post A Complete Guide to the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series appeared first on The Yoga Warrior.

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Best Women’s Pregnancy Workouts – A Complete Exercise Program for 2019

Erica Ziel, owner and founder of Knocked-Up Fitness®, is proud to give you her complete guide to the Best Pregnancy Workouts. Erica and her team have developed a series of precise exercises that have been proven to prevent many major health issues that women can experience during pregnancy and post-pregnancy. This guide will highlight the best exercises during each trimester of pregnancy, along with the recovery process post-pregnancy.

Pregnancy is the BEST time to learn to strengthen your deep core muscles! This goes beyond just strengthening your ‘abs’. While tightening and toning is a goal for many moms, core training is all about learning to strengthen your entire deep core. When you’re learning to connect to your deep core when you’re pregnant, you have your baby in your belly to lightly ‘hug’– and it can actually help you find and feel your deep core muscles like you’ve never felt them before!

Deep core training encompasses specific methods (Push Prep); improving your ability to connect with your deep core in every movement, and of course performing the most effective exercises the correct way!

1. Best Pregnancy Workouts: First Trimester

When exercising, if the core is not correctly engaged, injury and even worsening of existing abdominal separations or pelvic floor dysfunction can occur.  This is why it is so important to learn the best pregnancy workouts to accommodate your changing body. It might seem a little strange to think about ‘training your abs in pregnancy, but it’s actually the best time to connect with your belly and really feel your best when exercising and throughout your day!

Some of the benefits of learning how to strengthen your core during pregnancy:

  1. Fewer aches + pains
  2. Better posture
  3. Minimize diastasis recti
  4. Even improve diastasis recti
  5. Better pelvic floor strength
  6. Decrease the likelihood of pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence
  7. Increased energy
  8. Easier delivery and recovery
  9. Achieving a toned and strengthened core {Hips to Shoulders}
  10. Improve body confidence!!

Below I’ve included some of the best pregnancy workouts for core strength building. Doing the right kind of exercises to help properly train and strengthen your abdominal muscles is so important to achieve the results you want and need. More importantly, these exercises will help you connect with your deep core, so you can feel that connection, and even help heal abdominal separation {diastasis recti} while you are pregnant!

Because it really is possible to get stronger while you are pregnant!

I’ve always been fascinated by working with expecting mama’s, and seeing first hand that it is possible to become much stronger, even in pregnancy, by using the best pregnancy workouts! Becoming stronger doesn’t just happen by staying physically active – it requires specialized training to strengthen your deep core correctly, and learning how to move your body effectively so you feel good! What I’ve learned over the years from training moms of all activity levels, is that the physical changes of pregnancy can cause us to lose the connection with our core.  However, with proper training and specific exercises, this connection can actually improve during pregnancy.

You’ll find a lot of my best pregnancy workout tutorials on how to strengthen your deep core, along with other recommended exercises, plus get exclusive access to join me each month for a live group coaching call, become a member of our private online community, and much more when you start your prenatal membership!

  • Aim for 20-60 minutes of exercise every day (yes, walking counts).
  • Aim for at least 3 hours/week of exercise to maximize benefits (being sure to include cardiovascular exercises such as walking, biking, or swimming).
  • Aim for strength resistance exercise 2-4 times/week. (Lightweight exercises, pilates, & yoga count)
  • Stay hydrated. Always carry a bottle of water, preferably not plastic. (If you are thirsty you are dehydrated)
  • Wear layers so you can easily remove outer ones when you get warm
  • Don’t exercise outside in hot humid temperatures or indoors for that matter either (If its hot inside)
  • Wear good supportive tennis shoes
  • Remember, your body is changing so your balance may not be as good, just be aware.
  • For more tips and info check out the prenatal membership and take some time to look around the Knocked-Up Fitness website.

picture of pre post natal membership from knocked-up fitness

2. Best Pregnancy Workouts: Second Trimester

Our best pregnancy workouts second trimester include the following tips when working out during your second trimester of pregnancy:

Take advantage of feeling better during your 2nd trimester. If you weren’t able to exercise during your 1st trimester, but you feel better now and your doctor has cleared you to exercise, then it’s time get moving. Even just 10 minutes every day can harbor results and help you feel better.

If you haven’t been exercising and are starting now, begin by following the same guidelines as exercising during your 1st trimester. Start slow, keep it pregnancy safe, follow the guidelines below and be sure to discuss your exercise with your doctor. The prenatal membership and workouts are appropriate for beginners (just follow any modifications and skip any exercises that don’t feel good for your body).

As your baby grows and your belly gets bigger, limit lying on your back for long periods of time. Some doctors tell their patients not to lie on their backs at all, so of course, listen to your doctor if he/she tells you this (just skip those exercises when working out). Unless you have a high-risk pregnancy or other medical reason, I typically advise lying on your back up to 5 minutes at a time during rest or exercise, IF YOU FEEL OK.

Release that annoying low back pain during pregnancy with this foam rolling exercise

It’s great during pregnancy and beyond! Every single one of my clients has seen a tremendous benefit by learning simple foam rolling release exercises. If you find this one provides a bit of relief in your low back and/or sacral area in even just after spending 30 to 60 seconds releasing then its one that I recommend you do on a daily basis.

Some simple tips for making this foam rolling release most effective:

  1. Engage your deep core muscles
  2. Lengthen tall through the top of your head
  3. Move s-l-o-w-l-y
  4. Breathe deep + slow
  5. Relax those tense shoulders and hip!

Avoid overstretching during your entire pregnancy

Relaxin is a pregnancy hormone – It allows for your ligaments to become for lax, specifically for your pelvis, to open up so your baby can birth out of your birth canal. However, it doesn’t only affect ligaments around your pelvis and hips.

It affects the ligaments throughout your entire body, so you need to be cautious when it comes to stretching when you’re pregnant.

  • Avoid exercises that also require you to change direction quickly.
  • Active stretching that connects your muscles if far more effective {and safe!} then just holding a stretch.
  • While yoga can be very beneficial during pregnancy, we need to be cautious of going too deep into poses.
  • Foam rolling is a great way to achieve balance, connectivity and healthy stretching {access to several foam rolling release videos in our prenatal membership}
  • Give yourself time to heal after delivery, mama. Your body has been through so much, now is not the time to risk injury. Relaxin stays in your body for 10-12 weeks after delivery. Try these exercises after baby once your doctor has approved you for exercise.
  • Core strength is central to all of my pregnancy and postpartum exercises – you will feel stronger, more fluid in your movements, and more flexible when you have an activated core.

Yoga during your pregnancy:

I know lots of mama’s look to join a prenatal yoga class to start doing prenatal yoga during pregnancy. While I do love yoga I also want to share with you some of my professional expert advice when it comes to yoga during pregnancy:

  1. Relaxin – a hormone that comes along with pregnancy and helps to relax your ligaments to allow for the baby to be birthed through your pelvis. Problem is that relaxing doesn’t just affect your pelvis, it affects all the ligaments in your body. So you do need to be careful to avoid overstretching during pregnancy.
  2. Look for a trained fitness professional that is aware of modifications for pregnancy, especially if you are not joining a specific prenatal yoga class.
  3. Wear layers, even in non-Bikram classes; a yoga room can heat up fast! While your pregnant body actually could dissipate the heat better than non-pregnant bodies it’s always best to play it safe, so wear layers that can be shed as the room heats up and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated {because dehydration, especially later on during pregnancy could cause pre-term labor or false early labor}.
  4. Avoid any excessive twisting moves as your belly becomes bigger {in part baby will be in the way but I also recommend avoiding twisting through your torso if your hips aren’t moving through the motion with you}.
  5. Inversions: while many may say to avoid these pregnancy exercises, I recommend to avoid if you haven’t been doing them prior to pregnancy. However, if you are an avid yogi who was doing inversions prior to pregnancy and they feel good for your body then, by all means, carry on {unless, of course, your doctor tells you to avoid inversions} just minimize your time spent inverted.
  6. Move through a controlled range of motion where you can feel your muscles really activating and not just stretching. I find it very important {especially during pregnancy} plus see amazing benefits to building strength over just stretching. Start thinking about your poses for building strength and continue lengthening as one instead of falling into stretches {remember tip #1, about the relaxin hormone}.

Avoid coning of your belly during pregnancy to help in minimizing diastasis recti

Coning of the belly during pregnancy is when you see a ridge or bulge popping out down the midline of your belly, typically when doing an exercise incorrectly or an exercise that puts too much stress on the abdominals and should be avoided (see the image below for a visual). You can also see coning after baby if there is any abdominal separation (diastasis recti).

NOTE: This is why you do NOT do traditional crunches during pregnancy, once in your second trimester you will always see coning doing crunches.

A pregnant belly should stay as round and smooth across your entire belly. If you see any coning, that’s a good indication of a couple of things:

  • 1) You need to be sure your deep core muscles are activated properly.
  • 2) You should avoid any exercise that causes coning during and right after pregnancy.
  • 3) You have diastasis recti and need to follow #2 rule very strictly until you can heal your diastasis after baby.
  • 4) And YES you can heal your diastasis after baby and even prevent further separation and possibly even decrease the separation during pregnancy – crazy concept but I’ve done it with many clients and you can too! Join me for my monthly group coaching calls!
  • 5) Always roll to your side to lay down and to get up instead of laying straight back which typically always creates coning towards the end of pregnancy. I do recommend to continue this after baby until your core strength is back and/or diastasis recti is healed.

3. Best Pregnancy Exercises: Third Trimester

Our best pregnancy workouts during the third trimester include the following tips when working out during your third trimester of pregnancy:

By now as you enter your 3rd trimester, you may be feeling more tired, maybe even exhausted, and just ready to have your baby (well… not the labor, but after, right?). As you exit out of your 2nd trimester, you may be noticing that everything is just a little more challenging.

Exercising may be getting more difficult, especially since your lung capacity has greatly decreased. The solution — Mental Toughness. This is where you need to dig deep within yourself to find the motivation to get these exercises done. This is also what will separate you from either having abdominal separation issues post pregnancy or not. You are much stronger than you think! Stay focused, stay strong, stay sharp! You can do it! We believe in you!

To safely do the best pregnancy workouts in the third trimester, consider the following in addition to the modifications in Exercising During your 2nd Trimester:

  • You may feel like you “just can’t get a big enough breath in”, which is completely normal. Your baby is getting bigger and taking up more space, thus causing less room for your diaphragm to expand. This leaves you having a hard time breathing, especially when exerting energy. As you breathe, try to breathe out into your sides and into your back. Continue practicing good posture and engaging in cardio exercise as these can help increase your ability to breathe deeper both during and after pregnancy.
  • Having a hard time getting a breath in? Stretch your arms overhead and take in really deep slow breaths. I recommend sitting down, but sitting straight with good posture.
  • Some women begin to feel Sciatic nerve pain, dull or sharp pain in your butt, which usually runs down your leg. Exercise may or may not help alleviate sciatic pain. If you’re experiencing in the beginning or middle of your pregnancy with appropriate exercises, you can usually get the sciatic pain to go away, or at least minimize it. If you’re near the end of your pregnancy, many times it’s the position of your baby plus the added weight that’s causing the pain, and it may not resolve until after the baby is born. If you have sciatic pain, you should avoid any straight leg lifts or kicks as this can pull even more on your sciatic nerve & make it worse. There are several amazing exercises I’ve included in our prenatal membership that can help alleviate those small aches & pains. Be sure to watch the foam rolling video here that could help with both sciatic and low back pain.
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles, and feet is common, especially the last month or two. Regular exercise during your 3rd trimester can help with swelling and varicose veins. Elevate your feet as often as you can while avoiding standing or sitting for long periods of time. If you tend to stand a lot, try setting an alarm to remind you to sit or modify your day so you can rest your feet.
  • If you haven’t been already, be sure you roll to your side when you are getting up to avoid overusing your abs (specifically rectus abdominals) to help minimize or avoid diastasis recti (abdominal separation). Continue avoiding any crunching motion exercises — planks can be ok for some — but I recommend doing the modified plank into your 3rd trimester as long as you are able to properly engage your deep core muscles and avoid any “coning” of your belly. Rotational exercise such as Squats with Rotation, Forward Rolls (also a great back stretch) and Cat Cows are wonderful, just to name a few.
  • Stay Hydrated! Take breaks every 20 minutes or so during exercise to drink water (you will probably have to pee as well!). Dehydration is one cause of early labor. Remember: if you are thirsty, then you are already dehydrated!
  • If you haven’t already, you may begin to feel “Braxton-Hicks Contractions”. This is your body’s way of practicing for the real event…LABOR! They are completely normal, so don’t worry. These contractions may come on stronger as you exercise (due to dehydration), so it’s even more important that you stay hydrated. If you start to feel them come on too strong, it’s an indication to momentarily stop exercise, sit, drink some water, and once you feel better, continue your exercise as long as your body is telling you it’s ok. If not, give yourself a break and see how you feel tomorrow. If they don’t stop or decrease intensity, it’s a good idea to go see your Doc — especially if you are within those last 4 weeks or so.
  • As you near the end of your pregnancy baby will “drop” getting ready for the main event and making it easier to breath! Relief! But now you have to pee ALL THE TIME! You may feel as though your baby is going to “fall out”! He/She/They won’t, but it’s a great reason to have a strong deep core muscles (pelvic floor and transverse). After your baby has dropped, there may be exercises that don’t feel so good anymore, so just don’t do them,  modify them and go through a smaller range of motion and decrease the resistance.
  • It’s important to spend time relaxing both your body and your pelvic floor in those weeks leading up to your due date. Each night spend some time focusing on deep diaphragmatic breathing and releasing and relaxing your pelvic floor.

4. The Best Pregnancy Workout Routine

The Best Pregnancy Workout Routine Guidelines:

Across the eleven proposals, frequency recommendations differed for almost every guide. How often you should be exercising is partly determined by your pre-pregnancy activity level, among other health factors. 3/4 of the guidelines recommended a goal of gradually building up to more frequent exercises, on most days of the week.

For moms who were active before pregnancy, it’s generally considered safe to continue to exercise as often as you were before, especially in the first trimester, so long as the intensity (see below) is within range, and the exercises are safe &  feel good. If you’re just starting out, get clearance from your doctor, and begin with 2-3 days per week of low-intensity exercise, gradually working up to most days of the week for optimal results. Doing my best pregnancy workouts each day can help to improve your endurance, strength, and muscle memory, giving you results more quickly and safely than trying to pack a weeks worth in one day.

So rather than trying to set aside a day or two a week to squeeze in a gym-marathon, try fitting in shorter bursts (see Time, below), of prenatal exercises daily– your body and baby will thank you!

Intensity

Determining how hard you’re working during an exercise can be challenging, especially if you are new to an exercise program and are concerned about over exerting yourself.

Many exercise guidelines traditionally advise tracking your heart rate. Heart Rate Monitoring involves tracking resting heart rate, and calculating a safe range to exercise within (usually 60-80% of maximum aerobic capacity) or around 140 beats per minute. This measurement, however, varies significantly based on your individual cardiovascular strength and pre-pregnancy activity level. Using heart rate monitoring is not considered the most effective way to determine what’s safe, or whether you’re getting the best pregnancy workouts in.

Recently updated health care recommendations suggest moms use the ‘Talk Test’ to help achieve optimal prenatal exercise. This easy-to-use intensity indicator requires no equipment (and no math!). You should be able to carry on a conversation with your workout buddy, sing along to a song, or say a few words to your growing baby-bump. Use the talk test to determine if your workouts are too intense (not getting enough air), or if it’s time to ramp up your efforts!

It’s most important to remember that the best indicator for safe prenatal exercise is how you feel. So breathe easy, do what feels good, and challenge yourself where you can to make the most of our best pregnancy workouts.

picture of two pregnant moms doing Best Pregnancy Exercises

Best Pregnancy Exercises

Time

Several studies now show that shorter workouts, (10-15 minutes at a moderate intensity) performed more frequently can actually be more effective than one long sweat-session. These shorter workouts also have longer-lasting benefits, including long term cardiovascular and muscular response improvement. We recommend incorporating this into your best pregnancy workouts.

Frequent, shorter exercises, performed at your maximum intensity works to:

  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Keep blood pressure in check
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Increase your metabolism and improve digestion (which can often be sluggish in pregnancy– thanks, hormones!)
  • Improve your sleep quality

As busy mamas, an hour or more at the gym might be impossible to come by, but fifteen minutes to perform some exercises at home that don’t require a gym-full of equipment can be a very realistic goal.  By performing exercises for shorter periods of time, you are more likely to do them accurately so you can reduce your risk of injury and get more out of each move.

Rather than exercising to exhaustion once or twice a week (not recommended in pregnancy!), you can try 10-30 minutes of well-performed pregnancy workouts each day. You’ll see more benefits from breaking up 2-3 hours of exercise over 7 days, versus one long day spent at the gym!

Type

Activities considered beneficial for prenatal health promotion across most of the guidelines in the study include: aerobic, strengthening, walking, and water exercises. Other examples of safe and effective prenatal exercises suggested in many of the included samples include; yoga, Pilates, and pelvic floor exercises (incorporated in the Prenatal Membership)!

The best pregnancy exercises for each individual pregnant mom vary, based on your pre-pregnancy exercise routines and how your pregnancy is progressing. We see moms cross-fitting, lifting, and competing in athletics, all within their own range of physical capability.  You can safely continue any pre-pregnancy exercises into the first trimester, so long as there is no risk for impact, falling, or pressure on your pelvic floor (including incontinence symptoms). Into your second and third trimester, including some prenatal specific programs, like the Prenatal Sculpt workouts. Introducing these pregnancy-specific exercises can help prepare your growing body for late pregnancy, delivery, and life as a mom.

Always remember, only perform exercises that are comfortable for you. You can alleviate many common discomforts of pregnancy with light stretching, walking, or mindful breathing exercises, but it’s important to talk to your doctor before exercising.

So What’s Right For Me?

Always discuss with your healthcare provider before changing your health plan during pregnancy.  Your doctors can provide insight into how your pregnancy is progressing, and if there might be concerns or limitations specific to your body and baby.

Once you have the green light, and if you’re new to exercising, begin with 10-15 minutes of low-to-moderate intensity exercises, then you can gradually work up to 30 minutes per day, on most days of the week. Research indicates that 150 minutes of exercise per week is the minimum to strive for, which works out to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

Breaking up that 150 minutes in any manageable slices (fifteen minutes in the morning, and fifteen after work) can help you achieve the ultimate objective: improving your health and endurance in pregnancy, without having to overhaul your schedule!

5. Best Pregnancy Exercise for normal delivery

Best Pregnancy Exercise for normal delivery

Train Your Body for Delivery Day- The average marathon, 26.2 miles, take elite athletes a little over 2 hours to complete– about the same amount of time, on average, moms can spend in active labor! Like any athlete, training your muscles for the required work is the most effective way to be prepared for the big day. Specifically training your deep core (‘pushing muscles’), legs, and back, within your total body prenatal exercise program can significantly improve your pregnancy and delivery experience. Learning Erica’s Push Prep Method could help you ease of and speed of delivering your little one. You can find her methods in her book, The Knocked-Up Fitness Guide to Pregnancy and by video in our prenatal membership.

Remember the goals of exercising during pregnancy:

  • Prepares your body for labor & delivery
  • Helps you feel good
  • Keeps you as “pain-free” as possible
  • Helps maintain/create good posture
  • Return to your pre-pregnancy weight sooner & easier
  • Easier recovery after baby
  • Improve your body confidence!

Having gone through 3 pregnancies, all very different, my best advice during the 3rd trimester is to get out and move every day, even if you don’t have the energy. It doesn’t have to be hard or long — just move (as long as it’s not painful).

Painful and tired are two different things. If this is your first pregnancy, take advantage of it and sleep as much as you can. During my first pregnancy, I slept 12 hours every night during the last month (except to get up and pee of course!). With my 2nd pregnancy, I couldn’t do that, but I did sneak in naps when my daughter slept. With my 3rd, there is no time to sleep!

Remember, some things can wait and you and your baby’s health is the most important thing right now. Even though you may have a list a mile long of things you want to get done before your baby arrives, they can wait. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your hubby (of course), as well as close friends and family.

best pregnancy workouts

6. Best Pregnancy Exercises Videos 

My best pregnancy workouts focus on moving from your core, appropriately, teaching you properly deep core breathing with each movement. Every exercise has a purpose for your body – to improve your overall strength, posture, deep core strength while decreasing and even getting rid of aches and pains.

Back pain is something that many believe is just a part of pregnancy – but it doesn’t have to be! Learning how to strengthen your deep core safely and effectively, with the best pregnancy workouts and postural tips (all of which I teach you in additional educational tutorials in our Prenatal Membership).

Every single pregnancy workout you do involves your core in one way or another and I teach you and clue you in every exercise what your core should be doing. While it’s important to learn how to strengthen your core during pregnancy (including your pelvic floor), it’s also important to learn how to release and relax your body and specifically your pelvic floor to help prepare your body for birth. Even if you are planning a c-section learning both how to strengthen and release your deep core is extremely beneficially for your body during pregnancy, for postpartum recovery and life as a busy mama!

I become very emotional when just thinking about how important it is to learn the best pregnancy workouts to strengthen your core safely and effectively and how pregnancy is the best time in your entire life to learn to do so. It really can be life changing – both now and for the rest of your life!

Due to a high demand for a step-by-step program designed to help mama’s heal abdominal separation (diastasis recti) and improve pelvic organ prolapse symptoms, incontinence, poor posture, aches and pains, and so on I knew I had to put my training together in an online format for woman to be able to access all over the world. And today I have my Core Rehab Program which is helping so many women get their body confidence back! Improving and healing diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction, getting rid of aches and pains and helping mama’s feel better than they did before having their little ones.

Mama, it really is possible to feel good – you deserve to feel good – when you feel good your quality of life improves and you get more enjoyment out of each and every day!

The post Best Women’s Pregnancy Workouts – A Complete Exercise Program for 2019 appeared first on Knocked-Up Fitness.

Sick Mama Blog

As moms, getting sick is just not an option! However, with littles just learning not to sneeze directly in your face, this makes it hard to avoid. So, what can we do when the inevitable happens?

REST

I know this is so much easier said than done, but you cannot get better without adequate rest. If your partner or a family member can’t come help, try this new app called Bambino. It is a babysitter on-demand app that will link you with trusted sitters in your area. You can use it for a day or just a few hours so you can nap.

LIPOSOMAL VITAMIN C

I have been taking this for a while and truly believe it helps improve immunity, energy, brain fog and more! After keeping it in my system and increasing my dose during the flu, I was able to bounce back much faster than normal. Learn more about Liposomal Vitamin C and the difference between it and regular Vitamin C.

MIRACLE MINERAL BATH

Wait to do this until your fever has gone down because you want the water nice and warm to open up your pores. Fill your bath with warm water, 1 cup epson salt, ½ cup sea salt, 1/3 cup baking soda and ginger root or crushed ginger. Allow your body to soak for at least 30-45 minutes in order for your body to absorb all the good stuff. Follow your bath with socks and cozy Pjs!

GARLIC IN YOUR SOCKS

Ok, gross I know but, it can make a huge difference! Garlic is a natural anti-viral and anti-fungal, and has major immune boosting properties. What I do is crush about four cloves of garlic in a bowl to make a paste.  Rub the paste on the bottom of your feet and cover with socks. Sleep with the paste on your feet over night and wash them off with warm water in the morning. Feels weird, but works great!

Unfortunately, most major colds and flus have to run their course and can stay around for a few days. Avoid spreading it to your family by wearing a mask and washing your hands every time you touch your face. Lastly, follow these tips to help get you back to your old self quickly!

For more tips and tricks, check out Erica’s Prenatal+Core Rehab Membership!

The post Sick Mama Blog appeared first on Knocked-Up Fitness.

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5 Ways to Naturally Boost Fertility

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10% of women in the United States ages 15-44 (6.1 million) have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant.

Fertility is a natural occurring process in the body that can be turned off if it doesn’t feel it can safely sustain a pregnancy. If you are not ready for medical intervention or want to try a few natural remedies first, here are 5 ways to naturally boost your fertility.

NUTRITION

A recent Harvard study showed that diets high in vegetables, good fats and lean meats (think Mediterranean cuisine) had positive effects on fertility. They also found that those with diets rich in processed foods, red meats and sweets had negative effects on fertility.

To get your nutrition moving in the right direction, begin replacing your processed foods with organic fresh vegetables, fruits and starches such as sweet potatoes and squash. Also, add some healthy fats into your diet. Foods such as coconut oil, olives, eggs, avocados and nuts can help your body absorb the good vitamins and nutrients while optimizing your nerve, brain and heart function.

Have fun with new foods and don’t be afraid to experiment with new recipes like this one!!

SLEEP

Sleep is vital to the production of many hormones.

Studies have shown that women with low melatonin and serotonin levels have a shorter luteal phase (time between ovulation and menstruation) and consequently, have a lower chance of conceiving. Lack of sleep also impairs the body’s ability to properly regulate adrenaline, cortisol and insulin, also making conception very difficult. This may mean going to bed a few hours earlier at night or taking a nap during the day.

Listen to your body and be attentive to its needs!

DECREASING STRESS

This is always easier said than done.

Making time for yourself is the hardest thing to do, but also the most important. Studies have shown that stress can lead to hormonal disturbances that prevent normal ovulatory cycles. So, go for a walk, meditate, put together a puzzle or get your nails done.

Do things that you love and make you happy!

VITAMINS

You can’t out-supplement a poor diet, but when trying to boost fertility, consider adding these supplements to your daily routine.

    1. Vitamin D – Vitamin D deficiency is very common in America, especially during the winter months. Recent studies have linked inadequate Vitamin D levels to infertility and miscarriages. Getting outside and enjoying some sunlight is the best way to naturally boost your Vitamin D intake. When that isn’t a possibility, enjoying fresh salmon, herring, tuna or shrimp can help boost your levels.
    2. Vitamin C Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and is good for both male and female fertility. It helps trigger ovulation for women and supports healthy sperm count and mobility for men. Strawberries, oranges and blueberries are all naturally high in Vitamin C and great for your body!
    3. Folate – Folate (not Folic Acid) is a necessary vitamin in pregnancy that helps promote healthy growth and development but also works to promote ovulation. You can increase your folate intake by incorporating leafy greens, citrus fruit, berries and bananas into your diet.

Before incorporating any new supplements into your diet, always talk to your Primary Care Physician (PCP) first. They can advise you on how much to take, when to take it and if any of these supplements could potentially conflict with your current medications. 

MOVEMENT

A recent study found that women whose BMI (body mass index) is in the overweight or obese category have a much harder time becoming pregnant. Estrogen production from fat cells can also affect the ovaries and prevent eggs from being released each month. Maintaining a healthy weight and establishing good exercise habits now can help you have a more enjoyable pregnancy and a faster recovery postpartum.

picture of pre post natal membership from knocked-up fitness

Not all exercise is created equal! For women who are trying to get pregnant, Erica has designed her 6-phase program inside her Pre+Postnatal Membership that focuses on strengthening your deep core, rebuilding your fascia, improving your posture all while creating space throughout your entire body. Inside the membership, there are workouts, tutorials, guides, nutrition information, meal plans and more to help set your body up for success.

Getting pregnant is a journey and is sometimes not an easy one that you don’t have to go through alone. Members also have access to the amazing community of women who are there to support you, motivate you and help guide you through every step of your journey.

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