Our approach to wellness at Tune Up Fitness is not static; it’s fluid. As such, we are always seeking new ways for therapeutic self-massage, mindset and body conditioning exercises to serve us through different phases of life… as opposed to trying to fit ourselves into a predefined prescription for “health”.
This fluid approach to wellness especially applies to major life/body events such as pregnancy.
There are many Tune Up teacher mamas out there, and it is always interesting to hear how their practices have shifted over the course of pregnancy, birth and into postpartum. Each creates her own approach to what “healthy” looks and feels like during this time, according to her own body.
This makes learning from these teacher-mamas quite fascinating, as you are sure to hear fresh insights and ideas.
How to Have a Mindful Pregnancy and Birth
Today we are featuring three Tune Up teachers who are also new mothers. Each has generously shared her personal approach to a mindful, conscious pregnancy. She shares how she adapted her fitness routine to her changing body. Plus how she approached self-care to support her unique needs through to childbirth.
We hope you mamas-to-be find inspiration to attune to your own internal guidance here (and please share with your pregnant friends!). We hope to help you meet your own needs, while using every technique and tool at your disposal to support an empowered journey into motherhood.
“From Feeling Stressed to Feeling Blessed”
Pregnancy is not only a special time for your baby to grow and become ready for the world but for you as a budding parent to grow your capacity to nurture yourself.
Improving this inner radar for sensing subtle changes in your own needs is a critical skill to hone as your time becomes more focused on your baby and less on yourself. It also helps you to develop that inner radar for understanding your baby so you can address and predict needs FOR them as they learn to interpret the world in those first years.
The questions you can ask regularly starting as early as pregnancy to encourage this positive inner relationship to develop is:
How am I feeling right now?
Am I tired, stressed, hungry, excited, afraid, overwhelmed, overstimulated, bored, lonely, anxious, happy? Any combinations?
What do I notice as I feel into those body states?
If you determine you are in a physical, energetic or emotional deficit, check your menu of self-care options to see if there’s anything that will help you feel better. You might wonder: Does chocolate cake qualify? Maaaaaybe… but at a certain point, using chocolate cake to soothe yourself can go from being an adaptive to a maladaptive behavior. Believe me, I have tried!
For me, self-massage on therapy balls is the quickest and easiest way to reset my physical and emotional tone from feeling stressed to feeling blessed! It is on my time, my dime and at its most primitive, it reminds me to breathe.
I now naturally find myself asking the above questions about how I’m feeling during a rolling session when I encounter tightness, stiffness or pain. So ultimately, the practice of rolling itself becomes reflective and feeds right into the inner dialogue you are looking to cultivate with yourself–with your body and your baby.
It sounds so simple but making a practice of cueing into yourself and learning how your body feels at any given moment (and then addressing it with effective interventions you know work well for you) is THE key to becoming a tuned-in parent.
“Nature Was the Best Place For Me”
How did I approach my pregnancy mindfully? I trusted my body! To adapt, to evolve and to tell me what is the best for me and my baby at that moment!
During pregnancy, I continued to move a lot but felt that ”impact” sports like running was not for me during that period. I wanted smooth and conscious movement; movements that require control, stability and finesse. I wanted to be deeply strong and rooted.
Nature was the best place for me to connect to myself and this little pea that was growing inside me. I loved the challenge of walking barefoot in the forest, up and down the hills or balancing on logs. I wanted sunlight, fresh air and quietness.
I rolled and practice self massage everyday. My 2 favorites techniques were massaging the sacrum with the Alpha and the global shear with the Coregeous in my upper back. Uddihana Bandha (diaphragm vacuum) was amazing to mobilize and strengthen my diaphragm and respiratory system. I also had a wonderful osteopath that followed me all the way through prenatal and postnatal.
My biggest tip? Trust yourself. Trust your body. Go slow and don’t rush to get back “in shape” after the birth. Keep moving consciously and with as much variety as possible. Take time for rest. I restarted running three years after the birth of my daughter. I avoided injuries and I feel so much more in tune with ”mon corps de maman” (my mom’s body) for having taken this time and trusted my own nature.
“There’s No Formula For Pregnancy”
Every person’s body is different from one day to the next, a fact that most of us humans try hard to reject and ignore most of the time. In pregnancy though, this reality makes itself known with the insistence of a hungry newborn.
In my first pregnancy, I found that a 10-minute daily meditation practice helped me handle all the changes I was experiencing, allowing me to be more curious and less judgmental about them. Prenatal yoga, which I also practiced most days, helped me feel physical and emotional space for my baby, and connect with him before his birth.
Now, two years later and pregnant with my second son, I still find value in these practices. Although I’ll admit that daily meditation is more challenging with a toddler running around.
I’m grateful that I also now have the tools of Yoga Tune Up® and The Roll Model® to help me through. Self-massage has been a pregnancy godsend. Plowing the therapy balls into the dense tissue under my shoulder blades brings pain and stress relief in equal measure, while breathing with the Coregeous® ball under my sacrum or diaphragm has brought me some of the quietest, most interoceptive moments of my pregnancy.
My hips and SI joints had pain throughout my first pregnancy. But this time, with the understanding of “body blind spots” and biomechanics that my Yoga Tune Up® teacher training gave me, I’ve crafted new practices for these discomforts. I’ve been able to move in ways that have helped address pain when it arises and prevent it most of the time.
There’s no formula for pregnancy, and no one set of tools that are right for everyone. But finding ways to attune to and befriend the often disconcerting, always miraculous changes of a pregnant body can help ease the physical and emotional transition to motherhood.
Planning For Your Own Mindful Pregnancy
We encourage you to seek out the teachings of Lillee, Mimi and Rachel during your own journey into motherhood. Also many of the techniques referenced above can be found in our Roll Model Mama at-home program, which will help you build your own embodied practice throughout your pregnancy and beyond. Here’s a sample of the program…
Learn more about our Therapy Ball Products and Programs
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Author: Ariel Kiley