"Mommy can you be pretty like the other mommies..."

“Mommy can you be pretty like the other mommies and wear dresses and lipstick when you pick me up from school?” 

I am a yoga teacher.  I wear my hair up with leggings on and tank tops nearly everyday. By the time I pick up my kids from school, I have sweat up to 3 different times so any application of makeup has slid off my face. I’ve never been a dress wearer.  The younger me was a total tomboy with a mullet. A legit mullet. Wait- make that a legit PERMED mullet.  I played with the boys, I wore boys clothes and ball caps almost every day to school and I didn’t wear makeup and my idea of a manicure was biting my nails short. There was very little dress wearing girl about me. Check out the photo. Can you tell which one is me and which is my brother?

SO my 5 year old little girl’s request for me to wear dresses and lipstick to pick her up from school feels very foreign.  Yes much of the above has changed. Mullets are no longer in fashion and my hair and nails are manicured by professionals.  But I still have not evolved into a midday lipstick and dress wearer unless I have a fun lunch date! So, I explained to my precious little girl that mommies come in all shapes, sizes and styles and my style isn’t so much dresses and lipstick.  She smiled and asked if one day I could just do it for a surprise.  I suppose I can do that.

This made me pause and think about all of the ways my kids have influenced my daily habits. I realize that no matter how trivial or funny their requests may seem to me, they are important to them and many times, I make changes in an effort to accommodate these requests and let them know that I hear them and I respect what they have to say.

What are some ways your kiddo has challenged your style or habits?

Why are we normalizing the peeing of the pants of adult women??

 

 

I saw a commercial the other day that was really disappointing.  As a former pants pee-er (thanks to years of running, marathons and 3 babies), I find it appalling that Celebrity Brooke Burke is endorsing Poise pads for daily wear to soak up your urine, instead of educating women about how they can likely cure themselves or at the very least minimize the occurrence of the pants peeing.  With pregnancy or age alone, a woman’s pelvic floor weakens. This can cause urinary frequency, stress incontinence and general incontinence.  But much, if not all of it is repairable.

 

My oldest child is 7 years old.  Recently a classmate’s birthday party was at a trampoline park.  Because I have done all of my pelvic floor work, I was able to enjoy jumping with the kids, as were the dad’s. Literally every other mom was sidelined with fear of leakage.  One mom suggested she’d run to CVS to buy pads for them…..  Of course I interjected. I couldn’t help myself. This is my PASSION! Yes today, buy pads at CVS, but let’s all learn how to stretch and strengthen our pelvic floors so we can support our organs and jump, laugh and sneeze worry free!! 

 

Regardless of what the gorgeous Brooke Burke or any other celebrity endorses, women cannot accept pants peeing, low belly bulging or back pain as a side effect of pregnancy or aging! Below are links to my previous posts that will help you address any of these issues.

 

Practice these regularly and then jump with joy!!!!

http://www.yogajournal.com/slideshow/prenatal-yoga-pelvic-floor-sequence-easier-labor-delivery/#10

http://www.yogajournal.com/slideshow/core-concept-soften-middle-for-stronger-core/

 

Response to submitted question-Post baby Diastasis help!

A mama wrote in asking about how best to begin to address healing her diastasis at home.  Here is a step by step of what I practiced to heal my significant diastasis.

1. Breath work

Lie on your back with the knees bent and the feet flat.  Make sure the lower back has not flattened to the ground and yo have the natural curves of the spine.

Begin to inhale fully focusing the breath into the back and side ribs feeling the entire rib cage fill with the breath.  Watch that the belly does not "puff" out greatly as you inhale. Exhale letting everything naturally come back to center. Repeat for 10 rounds of breath.

This is to teach the breath to move into spaces other than just the belly

2. Breath work + the subway

Imagine there is a subway track from where your belly naturally resides today, all the way back to the spine, which we will call the 6th stop along the track. If you could draw the navel all the way to the spine, that would be the 6th stop.  

Keep the inhales exactly the same breathing into the back and side body but this time as you exhale and hop on the subway, draw the navel back to the 3rd stop along the track.  Keep the belly at the 3rd stop as you inhale and with every exhale attempt to move the belly along the track to the 6th stop. Repeat for 10 rounds of breath.

3. Chair work- you will need a yoga strap, mens tie, or towel.

Sit up tall at the edge of the seat with the feet hip width distance apart and firmly planted.  You will hold each end of the wrap in either hand at navel height. The strap presses against your back and crosses in front. So that when each hand pulls, the strap gets tighter.

Putting it all together.  Taking all of the breath work cues, inhaling into the back and side body and as you exhale, draw the navel to the third stop along the subway track.  While this is happening, you pull both ends of the strap tightly so it acts as a corset drawing the muscles back to center.  Release the grip on the strap as you inhale keeping your belly at the 3rd stop and as you exhale toward the 6th stop, once again pull the strap tightly. Repeat for 10 rounds of breath

Do this daily and you will notice big changes rather quickly.  

Sexual Satisfaction and the Role of Estrogen on the Pelvic Floor

 
 

"A healthy, toned pelvic floor is important for more than just pregnancy and childbirth.  It plays a significant role in a woman’s ability to orgasm! “Estrogen levels naturally drop as you age.  This not only effects your sex drive and vaginal moisture, but it also weakens the pelvic floor muscles, reducing sexual sensation.”

Read more of my interview with Prevention Magazine here check out #6 !!

Public Urination and Kegels Done Right!!

I recently learned that public urination could be considered a sexual offense. I guess I’m grateful the police were not around the 5,000 times I wet myself laughing or sneezing in public post-baby. Urinary incontinence has to be one of the most annoying and embarrassing side effects of pregnancy! I, like many, made the mistake of thinking that as soon as I delivered that 8.2lb weight of love sitting on my bladder, the peeing in my pants would cease….sadly it did not. I was at a loss. I did my Kegels religiously as the Dr. instructed (Kegel=using muscles to stop the flow of urine), yet still the flow was free.

It wasn’t until I visited a Physical Therapist who specializes in Women’s Health that I learned how we are actually meant to do Kegels. It has NOTHING to do with stopping the flow of urine. It has to do with recruiting the muscles of the pelvic floor in a way that draws the muscles together and then lifting them to create strength. She cued me to “imagine the muscles between the two sits bones. Take a breath in, then, as you exhale draw the muscles together like elevator doors closing. When the doors are closed, lift the elevator up. Repeat, with the muscles between the pubic bone and the tailbone. Now, draw all 4 of the points together and lift.” (see image below for pelvic points of origin) Not only did I not “get it” until maybe the 50th attempt, it was completely different from anything I had ever been instructed to do in the past. What I had been doing felt like just squeezing my vagina. She explained that a Kegel done in the way that I had learned, just stopping the flow of urine, can cause tightening of the wrong muscles, which in turn can lead to urinary incontinence and painful sex. I was ecstatic about learning the correct way to do a Kegel and the prospect of no longer needing to bring back-up panties and pants everywhere I went!

 
 

I went to work as I had done before and religiously performed my Kegels. I can report that I no longer have urinary incontinence! In addition to staying dry, my newly found pelvic floor strength also alleviated much of my back pain and sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

*It is important to note that not all cases of urinary incontinence are a result of pelvic floor weakness. In some cases it is a result of some muscles being too tight. Look for a Physical Therapist Specializing in Women’s Health or Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation in your area for an assessment.


"How do I start to heal my diastasis so that I don't look pregnant any longer and can get a flatter tummy for summer?"

Dear Reader,

Thank you so much for sharing your story! Thousands of women will benefit from your open honesty! The next blog post will be directed at the specific exercises we need to heal diastasis and flatten the tummy, but the breath is the most important place to start! This piece will carry through into all of the exercises I show you, so if you start, you have a head start! Ready GO!

Dear Karly,

So I love what you've been working on and admire so much your work passion and dedication, needless to mention how amazing you look. But above all what a healthy happy mama you are and that tops it all. a healthy happy mama is a healthy happy strong united family I know that takes much work sacrifice and dedication so kudos to you- especially while raising attending and caring after a family of 5.

Anyway, looking forward to your next blog post not sure how much I can benefit without being able to actually attend your workshop from all the way out here in FL L

But I already learned from your first post on what my main problem is, I have Diastasis Recti and never even knew. Makes TOTAL sense now, since my belly has looked pregnant now for years even much after having my babies. Like you I have had 3 pregnancies in very short period not even brake between my last two between nursing and being pregnant again. Anyway, everything, EVERYTHING you mentioned on your post I live & feel on a daily basis. I've pretty much put myself on a back burner for years, and had not been able to focus on me or figure out how to make time for myself to take care of me- I know- MAJOR MAJOR MISTAKE. If mommy is not strong healthy & happy we all know what that does....

I have finally decided to get my body in shape & reclaim it for myself. I jumped on starting T25 challenge & also Xtendbarre (XTENDBARRE.com)similar to PureBarre, just to start getting my very fluffy out of shape body back to being strong and healthy. But NOW I've discovered I have this Diastasis so I'm not sure if I should even be doing all those very hard aggressive ab/core exercises. Not sure if they work against me instead of help me...? I wanted fast results so I wanted t do these 2 more active "aggressive" "programs" so I could wear a damn bikini this summer! Ugh!   What movements/exercises should I be avoiding? And how can I can close the Diastasis gap and avoid reopening it again... certain movements including getting out of bed the wrong way may affect it I read... OMG! I was so excited about my way to getting in shape for the Summer, but now with this Diastasis seems it will be so much more challenging. J My Diastasis is 4 fingers wide…is there even hope for me.

ANY advice you have for me would be greatly appreciated. I know u are a busy mama, and I respect your time. If u have any links or suggestions let me know. I wanna get to the other side but wanna do it right and the healthy way. I don't wanna go into this and make it worse.

Thanks so much. Wish I could attend one of ur workshops, or you come to FL J

It's all so inspiring. I need more people like you in my life. Very inspiring.

This is my tummy.

Diastasis is tricky. I think we look in the mirror and see our still pregnant looking bellies and think, “right 5,000 crunches 5x a day oughta do it”! But in reality when trying to heal diastasis and flatten a post baby tummy, less is SO much more! Possibly the easiest and most important thing to do is notice where your breath fills when you inhale. If you are constantly belly breathing (the belly puffs out when you breathe in), every time you inhale, you are stretching out your belly muscles and creating more space between the abdominals. If you can think about pulling the belly up (like you’re zipping your tightest pair of pants) keep that as you breathe in, you’ll notice that the breath fills the back body. Breathing in this way will keep the abdominals closed and will give your back a nice little massage. More to come Tuesday….. until then breathe well!

5 Do’s and Don’ts up to 12 weeks PostPartum and Karma. Regarding the Aforementioned area “Below the High Waisted Belt”

Starting with the obvious. Don’t compare yourself to the most recent airbrushed celeb on the cover of some magazine at the grocery store, in their bikini, with the 6 pack and the 8 hour old baby. Do rest, recover, heal, enjoy your baby and know that you will absolutely get into all of your clothes and lose all of the baby weight in time. (You will learn lots of ways to achieve those things on this blog.) So sit back, relax and get to know this new little human built! The pressure in the American culture to get your “Pre-Baby” body back (there is no such thing) is insane. The physical and emotional medical issues we have in this country far surpass those in ANY other. We have turned creating life into a business. If we were to press pause…. enjoy the process and let our extremely intelligent bodies repair themselves, we wouldn’t need Prozac or Surgery or me. The issue is none of us sit back and relax etc. In most cases the rest is not possible because of obligations. The American culture is not designed to support new Parents. We have jobs, other children, spouses who are also like other children, extended family, etc. We have people counting on us. We have bills to pay, mouths to feed and we just do it! It’s admirable the amount of things a parent accomplishes in one day. But these accomplishments are not without consequences. Here comes the Karma. As a new Mom, if we don’t do our very best to rest and recover there are consequences. 

Physical- like maybe you end up with a Prolapse (it’s like a hernia where the bladder, bowel or urethra fall through the pelvic floor and hang in to the vagina). It sounds horrifying and it is- I’ve been there for some of it. That “skin” hanging out of your vagina is actually your bladder. NO ONE wants to hear that shit. So REST! 

Emotional- the sleep deprivation in the early stages of motherhood is real. Our government uses sleep deprivation to torture terrorists. Just so we all have some perspective. If we don’t or can’t take the time to catch up on our sleep or we are overworking our bodies in the time when we are not caring for our newborn, it is extremely taxing on the adrenal glands (future blog post on that). This leads to anxiety and depression. And could explain the rates of post partum depression we have in the U.S. 

Bottom line- Moving, stretching, even sweating a bit is excellent for all of us and especially a new mom. But we need to be smart. We need to do stretches that will open what needs to open and not reopen the parts of our body that we need to close up and strengthen after having a baby. We need to remember to self-care, to do our best to rest despite all of the daily requirements and to not succumb to the pressures induced by airbrushed magazine covers. 

DONT'S

Upavista- The straddle stretch. As the song goes… your thigh bone is connected to your… as is the inner thighs and the pelvic floor. Stretching the inner thighs in this position can tug on the very vulnerable pelvic floor and wreak havoc.

Single pigeon- Same as Upavista- everything is connected. While this can feel like an amazing hip stretch/opener, it can also be a deep inner thigh stretch. Another cause for concern in this posture is the instability of the SI (sacroiliac) Joints. With relaxin (the hormone secreted into the body that relaxes the muscles and ligaments allowing the body to open to facilitate the growth and delivery of the baby) still in high concentration in the system, the joints are more mobile than usual. A posture like this can easily cause those joints to slip out of location and create back pain.

Malasana- the squat. In time Malasana will be an incredible pose for creating strength in the pelvic floor. But think of it like lifting weights- only move into this, AFTER you are healed and things are functioning well again.

Heavy lifting- pretty straight forward. Don’t lift heavy things while the muscles of the pelvic floor are open and over stretched or you’re sort of asking for something to fall out. 

Impact- Many women run through their pregnancies and it feels great and appropriate to them to begin running shortly after delivery. I advise against this for all of the reasons listed above. That constant jarring impact when your body isn’t healed or reconnected has consequences.

DO'S

Supine Gomukasana- I call this a “closed chain” hip opener/stretch. With the 2 legs crossed, the inner thighs are not on stretch and there is no real risk to over-stretching the pelvic floor. Plus it feels delicious!

Supported badakonasana- On your back with the soles of the feet together to stretch the inner thighs. Placing the blocks beneath the outer thighs allows you to safely adjust the amount of stretch the inner thighs get, so that you do not go too deep. You can adjust the height of the blocks and the placement to find the ideal inner thigh opening without it being potentially injurious. 

Walk outside– (as long you don’t live in Boston in January like I did for my first.) Pushing your baby in the stroller getting the heart rate up, maybe even a bit of sweat, is great for both of you!

Lie over rolled towel with knees bent- Opening the chest after nursing and carrying your baby is so important for the health of your neck and upper back and this feels so yummy! 

All 4’s opposite knee to elbow- This one is a bit more advanced. You will need to keep an eye on your belly when you extend out for the first couple to notice if it puffs out. If it does and you cannot pull the belly in to support the low back, it is best to hold off for a little longer until your body heals and reconnects. This is amazing for strengthening everything, but especially the back body. It will begin to wake up the low abdominals and obliques much more and helps the body pull itself back together. Inhale extend right leg and left arm out long. Exhale pull the elbow to meet the knee beneath as you round the upper back and pull the belly in.