Power Yoga while Pregnant

Power Yoga while Pregnant

Power Yoga while Pregnant

by Chelsea Raff, written the day she went into labor with her first baby

pregnant yoga

It’s hard to believe, but this time last year I was participating in 502 Power Yoga’s Teacher Training program. I left that program with many things, and one of them was the strongest yoga practice of my life. I felt powerful and adventurous—truly up for anything! Fast forward a couple of months to when my husband and I found out I was pregnant. We were so very excited (and a little terrified)! One of the first things that crossed my mind was, “What will happen to my yoga practice?” I had worked so hard to build strength and flexibility, both in my physical body and my mind—did I have to give that up? Nine months later, I can answer unequivocally, “No!”

There is no one size fits all advice for continuing your practice while pregnant. The most important thing is that you listen to your body—I cannot stress that enough. Luckily, I was surrounded by wise yogis who gave me great advice. Here are some of the tips I found most useful for continuing my yoga practice through pregnancy:

Hold the heat?

Heat (tapas) is one of the pillars of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga, and our studio is heated to between 85 and 90 degrees for most classes. I encourage you to speak with your doctor if you’re concerned about practicing in a heated environment, especially in early pregnancy. My doctor reassured me that 90 degrees was not dangerous. Of course, you must listen to your body and watch for signs you may be overheated. I always brought a full water bottle to class and drank from it liberally.

Take a step back

If you have a practice of jumping back and forth to chaturanga, it’s a good idea to take step back from that (literally). Take this opportunity to appreciate your sun salutations and vinyasas in a new way. Believe me, they will be just as powerful and challenging!

Ditch the deep twists

Deep, closed twists such as twisting crescent lunge and twisting chair can constrict blood flow to the uterus and should be avoided. Modify by twisting with your torso upright so that you still experience a rotation along your spine, while maintaining space in your abdomen.

To invert, or not?

As always, listen to your body. However, if you had a strong inversion practice before, then you should feel comfortable continuing as long as you feel steady. Personally, tripod headstand felt amazing to me throughout my pregnancy. What I may have lost in core strength I made up for by using my new belly as a counterweight!

Embrace the blocks!

Do not get discouraged by the need to modify as your pregnancy progresses. One of the many reasons I love Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga is that it encourages modifications and the use of blocks and straps for everyone, at every level of practice. These are powerful tools that have the ability to help you gain access to something new. I have come to love using a block in many places, especially extended side angle and triangle – I’m able to find length and expansion through my upper body that would have otherwise been lost during the last several months.

And finally:

Give up what you must

Yes, there are poses to which you will have to temporarily bid adieu (we shall meet again one day soon, locust…) But that’s not what I mean here. For me, one of the most challenging aspects of my practice has been dropping ego. Maintaining my practice the last 9 months didn’t come easily. There were times when I walked off my mat frustrated and ready to give up. But I didn’t&emdash;and for that I am so grateful. My life, both on and off the mat, has been a constant practice in equanimity; between knowing my body and mind are strong (even during so much change) and knowing when to take a step back (and being okay with it!).

Regardless of whether you’re pregnant or just dealing with change in your life, I encourage you to show up on your mat, listen to your breath, listen to your body, and know that you’re capable of so much!

Off the Mat: 5 Things I Learned From Yoga

Off the Mat: 5 Things I Learned From Yoga

Yoga lingo. We throw it around like everyone speaks Sanskrit. One of our favorite Yogi phrases to throw around: off the mat.

When we are “On the mat” we Tadasana, Utkatasana, Utthita Trikonasana, and Adho Mukha Svanasana But when we talk about a practice “off the mat” – we mean the stuff yogis take with them out of the studio and into the world.

5 Things I Have Taken “Off the Mat”

1. I think I’m a good listener, but am I? I have always identified as a “good listener.” But in classes at 502PY, I’m realizing that I am not always listening.

In yoga, you know when you aren’t listening. When you’re in Mountain Pose and everyone else is Chaturanga-ing, you definitely weren’t paying attention. On the mat, I laugh these moments off and find my way to the correct pose. Off the mat, it’s made me think more critically: where else and with whom am I not truly listening?

2. Where do I add extra crap in my life? I can hear Sarah’s voice now. “GUYS, some of you are tugging on your tank top, fixing your hair, wiping sweat from your face before moving into Crescent Lunge. Just go into Crescent Lunge. Go there, without adding that extra crap.”

I add a lot of “extra” to my life. When I get home from work, I notice that I spend the first 20 minutes thinking about what I need to do. “I should roll up my yoga mat.” “I should put a load of laundry in.”  “I should make dinner.” Why on Earth am I not just doing these things instead of thinking about doing them? My tendency to make mental lists stalls me from taking action. And life is about taking action. I know what I need to do and where I need to be. I need to just go there; anything else is extra crap.

3. Breath builds power. This has been my simplest, and most entertaining, lesson learned from practice at 502PY. Remembering to breathe is so important to our yoga practice. And we don’t just breathe any old way; we practice Ujjayi breathing. Ujjayi breath is “victorious breath” a.k.a. “sounds-like-the-ocean breath” a.k.a. “Darth Vader breath.” It builds heat in your physical body; it builds calm and focus in your mental body.

Two recent moments when I took Ujjayi breathing off my mat:

1) At work. When an incident at work left me wanting to scream at the top of my lungs, I closed my office door, took a few deep Ujjayi breaths, and brought myself back to calm/appropriate/professional Carrie.

2) Before a date! When some last-minute nerves crept up, I paused, breathed, and kicked the worry and stress to the curb.

4. Together we can do things we cannot do alone. This has been the biggest breakthrough, and the biggest challenge, for me to take off my mat. I’m an extremely independent person. I used to cringe when people spouted, “Together we can do things we cannot do alone.” I thought it was baloney. I thought it only applied to those people who couldn’t figure out how to do things on their own. I’m not exactly proud to write that, but it’s true.

I’ll never forget the first time the 502PY community proved me wrong. The class was in Tree Pose, and we were asked to go back, to try on a mini-backbend. I went, I bent, I did okay. Then, the teacher told us to stay in Tree, press our hands against our neighbors’, and go back again. And I went back deeper, more gracefully than I ever had. I stood up, mind blown. It was undeniable, anatomical proof that with the pressure and support of a row of yogis, I went somewhere I could not go alone. I still have a lot of work to do on this topic, but today when I think about my career, my relationships, my interactions with strangers, I often catch myself going back to that Tree Pose moment.

5.  Rest is how you rebuild, how you come out stronger. I love this. I love Savasana at the end of a yoga class, and I love what it stands for. Savasana, or final resting pose, isn’t about napping or checking out from all the work you just did. Savasana is when you give yourself permission to rest and absorb the benefits of your practice. It’s the part where your body rebuilds so that when you sit up in a few minutes, you are stronger than you were when you entered the studio that day. (You know how when you install updates on your computer, and, after all of the whirring and downloading, the computer needs to close all programs and restart? Yeah, Savasana’s kinda like that.)

We need to be taking Savasana all the time off our mats.

We live in this fast-paced, crazy, demanding world. Self-care, rest, and fun is so important, and often so overlooked. In the studio, the teacher tells us when to take Savasana. Off the mat, we have to create our own Savasana, and we have to do it without feeling guilty. Savasana is our reset button.

If you’d asked me a few years ago, I’d have said I wasn’t buying “off the mat.” No way. But today, I spend my days with an incredible community at 502 PY, and I’m seeing the off the mat practice come to life.

 

Power Yoga: Don’t Sweat It

Power Yoga: Don’t Sweat It

502 power Yoga Louisville Kentucky YogaLet’s talk about sweat.  I have heard women say on multiple occasions throughout my life, “I don’t sweat, I sparkle.”  Previously as a runner and cross-fitter I rarely experienced sweat (or sparkle for that matter) in my workouts.  Actually, I never did–ever.  The first  yoga class I had with 502 Power Yoga I was prepared for the 90 degree heat by being super hydrated, grabbing a towel once I entered the studio (although I did not think I needed it) and bringing in additional water.  With that being said, I was NOT prepared for the sweat.

My laundry detergent was also not prepared for the sweat.  Now I’m a lady so I won’t go into details, but my Pinterest research on “smelly gym clothes” provided me with loads of recommendations; I tried all of them.  I tried adding baking soda.  I tried white vinegar.  I tried soaking.  I tried not drying.  All of my clothes still maintained a certain level of ‘ew’.  It wasn’t until I finally got up the courage to ask a fellow yogi friend, Jess, about how she managed the sweat in her laundry that I discovered something as simple as Tide Sport was the answer.

With that problem solved, there are no longer concerns about odor or other potential issues with my yoga clothes impacting my yoga practice or my confidence.  But more importantly I should not have been so embarrassed.  Conversations about sweat are not the easiest to be had, but it isn’t going to break connections either.

Regardless of my previous sweat to sparkle ratio in physical activity, I can officially say I sweat at 502 PY and I do so knowing that no one judges me for it. Being part of a community that allows for questions, mistakes, falling out of tree pose for the 700th time that week, is ok.  The reminders from teachers and assistants that falling out of a pose is perfect reminds all of us that just as we are is just how we should be in our lives.  There is usually a sweaty Baptiste hug at the end of that 60 to 90 minute Vinyasa Flow waiting for me, and I love it. It has astounded me that adding yoga to my life has truly helped with self-confidence in such a big way and that’s regardless of sparkle, sweat or choice of laundry detergent.

Know always that the community at 502 Power Yoga is just that, a community.  Come with questions.  Come with hugs. Come as you are. Leave sweaty.

 

Written by Melody Mayes

Outreach: New Directions Housing Corporation

Outreach: New Directions Housing Corporation

What first drew me to 502 Power Yoga was the promise of community by co-owner Sarah Smith. Being of service to my community, be it local or global, is my driving force. Even greater is my desire to work with and for children. Since November, I have co-led the studio’s outreach classes at New Directions Housing Corporation’s after school programs.

The mission of 502 Power Yoga’s outreach program is to make yoga accessible to anyone throughout our Louisville community. The sessions with the children at New Directions give them an introduction to the yoga practice, and encourage them to work together in a community and to use their bodies and minds in a creative way. Most importantly, we have fun!

Each week we are greeted by a handful of smiling children rushing to grab their favorite color mat. Once they’ve got their mats down, it’s time to get moving. To get them in a flow, we start with Sun Salutations, and pretty soon everyone begs for a turn to be the teacher. They also try to show up their teachers by dropping back into wheel and then walking around the room. I don’t have to pretend that I’m impressed! After our flow, we move on to a variety of other activities. We may do a team building exercise that uses cooperation and have students reflect on the process. Once we did partner poses, and now the kids want to climb all over us each week. The kids also enjoy story time yoga, where they create their own poses while we read a story. We spend the final minutes of our time together in a guided meditation. Meditation is about as quiet as you would expect it to be with elementary age students, but the reflections on gratitude or happiness they share afterward are always thoughtful.

When I first started with these kids, many thought yoga was simply closing their eyes in Lotus or Tree and humming, but over the past few months they’ve been introduced to a practice where they can move, create, and have fun. From my experience, I have learned that yoga is a vehicle for patience, communication, laughter, and community. Even if the students are still working to remember what namaste means, I feel powerfully the connection that our 502 Power Yoga community has with the greater Louisville community in this outreach program.

 

 

Written By Laura Olinger

Life After Yoga Teacher Training

Life After Yoga Teacher Training

After a week-long immersion at 502PY for the second week of Teacher Training (TT), the transition back to the “real” world has been a slow and interesting one.  Our last day was March 28th, and it is strange to not feel the intense connection with everyone I interact with in my daily life like I did in TT. This has opened my eyes to seeing something I didn’t know I was missing.
I spend a lot of my day talking with my co-workers, responding to work related emails, answering questions on the phone, etc. but I don’t know that I would consider those interactions.  Interaction–it is such a meaningful word; I would say most of my interactions are words that fill the space. Those times where my words make an impact, cause an effect, I feel those. I wish I could say they always made a positive impact, but I have seen the way my interactions can knock the wind out of someone.
In TT, we were so immersed in life-changing transitions and deep self-work that we did not have a lot of simple conversations, we had interactions. I was seen when I spoke and I was heard. I was understood and intentional; purposeful, powerful words were spoken back to me by both my peers and leaders.
I have been in touch with my fellow graduates and there seems to be a common string in a lot of our reentries to our “normal” lives – there is a feeling of being a fish out of water. Of feeling inauthentic. Of being called to something else. And maybe that is because some are ready to take this new training into a full-time career, but I think a lot of it comes from being reintroduced to constant empty conversations and few meaningful interactions.
What would happen if we were all more intentional about what filled the space around us, what entered our minds and our hearts, what we put out into the world? Maybe we would see more eyes light up. Maybe more people would feel heard and understood.  Maybe more people could be hurt by words that cut you to the bone. Maybe we would all feel just a little bit more. And in a world as far removed from personal interactions as ours, that could start a revolution.

The transition back to the real world has been slow, but the change it has created is lasting. I’m looking forward to using the connections I made in TT throughout my every day, and interacting with the people around me intentionally.

502 Power Yoga Teacher Training

 

Written by Becca Washer