Time out....movements to help you calm the F down!

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I'd like to say that as my kids have gotten older I've learned to handle stressful situations with the grace and ease of Maria Von Trapp....but let me tell ya, sometimes I just want to run into that giant mountain field and never come back!

Okay, well that might be a bit dramatic and it DOES get a bit easier to find some time for self care but what I've realized comes in really handy are some GO TO stress and anxiety diffusing tools. 


For a lot of us we get stuck in our head worrying and fixating on things that are, for the most part, beyond our control. So getting out of our head and re-connecting to the present moment through our bodies is really helpful. Here are some tried and true, simple and effective movements that you can do if you just have a few minutes or want to spend some serious alone time to rest and recharge. 

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1. Ball Rolling

This is a super simple and quick way to get you out of your head and into your body. Sometimes all we need is a little touch therapy, so why not do that for yourself. 

Grab a tennis ball and use it as massage tool. With gentle to medium pressure roll the ball along your chest, being aware to roll above your breast and below your collar bone. 

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If you don't have a tennis ball use your finger tips to gently tap across your chest (same as above). 

Rolling the ball on your feet is a great way to help you feel grounded. Our feet have a ton of receptors in them so they receive the calming cue right away...which comes in very handy! Again, grab a ball and roll it around on your feet looking for places of tension or just give your whole foot some love. Moving from your heel to the toes. 

2. Child's Pose

Here's a go to for when I'm feeling overwhelmed! It's kind of the adult equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum. And just as therapeutic and effective!

Bring yourself down onto the ground and shift your bum back to sit as comfortably as possible onto your heels. Place a rolled up blanket or pillows under your knees if you can't rest your bum back comfortably. Applying some pressure to your forehead can be really calming so if you're head doesn't rest on the ground, grab a yoga block or a few books. Take at least 10 breaths in the pose allowing the breathe to flow easily. Don't worry about how deep the breaths are, just let it happen.

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3. Bridge (active or passive) 

Bridge is a great way to allow blood flow to return to the vital organs and help you feel really grounded. Having your head lower than your heart is very calming and if you use a block underneath your sacrum this pose becomes very passive and restorative.

Sometimes moving with our breath is really helpful so try rolling up, vertebrae by vertebrae as you exhale and slowly rolling back down as you inhale. 

PREGNANCY TIP: This may not be the most restful position for pregnant bodies, so try a seated or standing forward fold, allowing your body to rest toward the ground. In seated-bring your feet together and allow your spine to round forward, allowing your head to relax completely. In standing, drape your spine toward the ground with a slight bend in your knees, keeping your head relaxed. 

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4. Reclining twist

We often tip into the sympathetic nervous system when we're stressed and anxious. Which keeps our body on high alert and in fight or flight mode. Our bodies often tense up because it's constantly on guard, so releasing tension in your legs is a good way to help send a message to your body (and mind) that it is okay to relax and let go. There are plenty of leg stretches that will help send that message but this one just feels so good and is fairly passive while providing a nice release for the spine to further help release tense and overworked muscles. You can use a yoga belt, a tie, scarf, theraband, whatever you've got around the house for this one. 

PREGNANCY TIP: Prop your upper body up with some pillows or a yoga bolster if you're not comfortable lying flat on your back. 

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5. Standing pigeon pose. 

Keeping with our theme of releasing tension give this glute stretch a try. This is super easy to do wherever you are. You can do this seated if you're at work or lying on the ground if you wanna stay with the more passive vibe. Cross one foot over the opposite knee and gently tip your upper body forward. Take some nice full breaths here, imagining the tension melting away. 

 

PREGNANCY TIP: If you are experiencing SI joint issues this is not the best pose for you. Use a tennis ball to roll out the glute muscles, either against a wall or down on the ground. 

 

I hope you find these movements helpful when you're in a moment of anxiety and stress. It's hard to know what to do with yourself in those moments as we can feel paralyzed by fear but trying to get out of that place of swirling doubts and fears in our mind is really important. If all else fails just take a moment to feel your feet on the ground. To feel your hands on your body. To notice your breathe. It won't solve all your problems but hopefully you'll feel less like running toward the mountains Sound of Music style.  

 

Outdoor Workout Part 2: Arms and Core

I know that a lot of you reading this get a serious work out just running around after your little one, whether it be at home or at the park. I remember those days well. Countless trips up and down, up and down the stairs. Great work out!

 

But now that my little guys are older, they pretty much entertain themselves at the giant pile of sand/mud at our favorite park, leaving me feeling a bit bored.

Well, here are some great exercises you can do whether you're trying to multitask and fit a little bit more movement into your life while your little one plays, or if you're looking to get your little ones involved with you, which can be both  fun/incredibly annoying! (See pic above:This is seconds before my son let go of the band and SNAP! All good, no one was hurt!) Or perhaps you're on vacation and don't have access to a gym. A resistance band is a great prop to have around, very portable, takes up no space and provides some nice resistance for your workout. So let's get to the exercises! Feel free to mix and match and sprinkle them throughout your day if you're finding it a challenge to find a good chunk of time to dedicate to your movement practice. 

Warm up

As we all know our shoulders can get really stuck and stiff from the demands of motherhood... and life! Take a few minutes to get those shoulders moving before we jump into the exercises. 

Here are two lovely versions of a side stretch, to create length in the side body while allowing your breath to be nice and full into the diaphragm which encourages our pelvic floor muscles to work optimally! 

 

 

Now get those shoulder blades moving a little bit! As you inhale reach your finger tips forward, feeling your shoulder blades widen on your back. As you exhale think of drawing your shoulder blades toward each other while keeping your arms straight. 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Side Bridge (Prep or full version) 

Now that you're shoulders have gotten a little taste of freedom, let's take a minute to create some stability around the shoulder joint. 

Start with your elbow down on the ground stacked below your shoulder. Knees are bent and heels in line with your bum .

As you exhale press down firmly into the ground through your elbow, knees and feet and begin to hover your bottom hip off the ground. 

If your shoulders feel a bit weak or it is too much for your abdominal muscles, keep your bottom hip on the ground and allow your ribs to sink toward the ground as you inhale and lift them away from the ground as you exhale. This will begin to create stability around the shoulder joint in preparation for the full version of this pose. 

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2. Supermom! AKA Rotator Cuff 

I LOVE this exercise. It's a challenging one for sure, but it makes me feel like a SUPERHERO! Plus this is a GREAT exercise for moms because it will create stability around strength around the shoulder which has MANY demands placed on it from taking care of babe! 

Feel your feet about hip width apart, weight on your big toe, baby toe and heel. Nuzzle your elbow into your hip and as you inhale open your hand to the side as if you were opening a door.

On the exhale begin to reach your hand up to the sky on a slight angle. Feel for your low belly gently drawing in as you exhale. This is a great core exercise as your muscles have to work to keep you centered and not drawn over to the side you're reaching to. 

3.Row with Squat

Totally optional to add the squat into this exercise, but I'm a big fan of exercises that do double duty! This is great for creating length in the front of the chest with strengthening the muscles of the upper back.  Find a sturdy tree, a post or  bench and loop the band around. Bring your feet hip width apart with toes facing forward and as you inhale feel your arms long and if you'd like to add the squat begin to sit your bum down like you're sitting in a chair.

As you exhale press down into your feet (if adding the squat) and feel your shoulder blades drawing toward each other. Try not to thrust your chest forward or up but think of the shoulder blades doing the work and your arms just follow along for the ride. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Mid Back Press

I have no idea what this exercise is called, so totally made up a super lame name! BUT it's still great for strengthening the mid back and triceps. All of the muscles in this area have to work a TON while you're carting baby around. So taking some time to create strength is super important. Feel free give yourself a great stretch after this, by holding onto a tree or bench and pull away from the tree while slightly rounding your upper back. This should create some nice length and release any tension that is creeping up into your neck and shoulders. 

5. Bench Push Up

Another great exercise for your core as well as your chest. Doing this exercise either against a wall or on an incline like you see here on the bench will reduce the amount of pressure placed on your abdominal muscles. This option is great if you're experiencing diastasis recti or if you find your form goes out the window a bit when doing a full push up on the ground. 

Inhale as you slowly lower yourself down toward the bench and exhale out through the mouth like you're blowing out candles before you push yourself back up. This will encourage the core muscles to naturally engage to support you through this exercise.

Another option for chest is holding the band out in front of you, hands shoulder width apart and pull the shoulder blades together on the back, creating a nice stretch through the front of your chest.  

 

 

 

6. Side plank with leg lift

Alright, this exercise may look nice and easy but it's a lot of work for your shoulders, obliques and hips. Stick with the version we did off the top, with the elbow down if your shoulders are feeling tired or weak. Check that your hand is stacked under your shoulder and your knee under your hip. Hips are lifted off the ground and your top foot can lower down toward the ground as you inhale and lift your leg back up as you blow out (remember the birthday candles)and exhale. You could also try small leg circles about the size of a grape fruit while keeping your hip nice and still.

 

Stretch it out! 

Take a few minutes to give your back, shoulders and chest a little love after all that work. 

  • Clasp your hands together out in front of you and you round your upper back, lengthening the back muscles. 
  • Clasp your hands behind your back and reach them toward the ground without thrusting your chest forward or up. Keep your ribs anchored and begin to reach your hands behind and up toward the sky slightly. 
  • Take your arms out to on either side, with arms about shoulder height. Reach out through your palms and begin to rotate your hands forward and back. 
  • A nice side stretch will feel great after all that work. As pictured above holding onto a bench, tree or pole feels great as you can reach your hip away and increase the stretch down the side of your body. YUM! 
  • Finish up with a nice neck stretch, gently drawing your head over toward your shoulder, using a light pressure with your hand against your head. The other hand can press away down by your hip to increase the stretch sensation. Turning the chin toward the chest will change the stretch slightly and can feel really nice.  

 

I hope this gives you some ideas to try out when you can't make it to a class or into the gym. It's so empowering to know that there are SO many things you can do on your own to help yourself feel better even if you've got limited props and limited time! Have fun and enjoy the sun! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outdoor Workout Part 1: Legs and Hips

When the warmer weather sets in I find myself at the park for HOURS upon HOURS with the kids! And I love it. I love watching my kids build and climb and sorry to rub it in but we're now entering into those years you've all been dreaming about...when your kids can actually entertain themselves at the park! But that leaves me sitting there daydreaming or staring at my phone for long periods of time. 

Now I've been known to stretch and do exercises in some strange places-the airport and even at a fancy restaurant with my husband on our trip to L.A. and although you may feel a bit strange doing some of these at the park while your little ones explore, this is the golden opportunity to fit some more movement into your life! I've been conscious of the fact that not everyone wants to get too crazy at the playground, so these are some pretty easy movements that won't make you feel too awkward. These are great movements to do in your own backyard during nap time or to up at the cottage (if you're so lucky!). 

These movements are both safe and super effective for pregnant woman (although please listen to your body if you're having any low back, sacrum or pubic pain) and women who are postpartum (probably anywhere from 2ish months onward). These exercises and stretches are designed to create pelvic stability which is super important in restoring and maintaining core strength and support (including the pelvic floor muscles and abdominals). 

If you have time to do all these exercises together, that's great, but if you need to fit them into little pockets of time that's great too! 

1. The Hip List

This exercise works great standing on a step or something that gives you a little lift. As you inhale allow your standing  hip to jut out to the side. As you exhale think of lifting up through the back of your leg,  drawing your hip back underneath you. You will probably feel the muscles around your hip (of the standing leg) work pretty hard here! 

 

 

2. One leg hip hinge

Staying tall and lifted on your standing leg begin to send your bum back as you hinge forward keeping a long, straight spine. You may feel a stretch in the back of your standing leg as you tip forward, which helps release tension in the hamstrings and calves. Wanna make this a bit more challenging? Hold onto your diaper bag, a log or a rock, something to add a little weight and resistance! 


 

3. One leg squat

You may be starting to really feel the muscles around your hip (on the standing leg) working but we've got one more exercise left. Feel your weight on your heel and begin to send your bum back as if you're sitting in a chair, allowing your knee to bend with you. Try to maintain a slight lift of the tailbone, so your bum doesn't tuck under. 

 


4. Step Ups

If you wanna get your heart rate going a little bit here's a great low impact exercise for you. Start with one foot up on a bench, stair, or tree stump (or whatever else you can find lying around) and on an exhale, lift the other knee up toward your waist. You may feel your bum and front of leg (quadricep) working on the standing leg. Again, grab something with a little weight to it to add some challenge. 

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5. Monster Walk

Alright here we go! You will definitely feel this exercise working those muscles around the outside of your hips. It's worth buying one of these little bands for sure. You can find them at physiotherapy clinics as well as lots of stores, like Winners. Place a band under both feet, cross in front and hold onto the band creating as much resistance as you'd like. Keep your feet about hip width apart as you begin to walk to one side and then the other. Need a little more instruction for this one, check out this video I made. 

Now...time for some stretches! 

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Hamstring Stretch 

Okay, well here's one if you can take a minute to lay down. If you're little one's running all over the place, maybe not the time for this one but you can definitely do a standing version.  When you can find some time, take the band (or belt, tie or whatever you can find) around the ball of your foot and let your leg reach up to the sky. You can stay here or take your leg across your body creating a nice stretch around the outer  hip and back. 

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Figure 4 Stretch 

Time to give those glutes a little release after all that work! Take one foot onto the opposite knee and begin to sit your bum way back like your sitting on a chair. You can hold onto a bench, tree or your stroller if you need a little help with your balance. If not, take both arms to the sky or let your hands rest on your shin. 

A quad stretch here would also feel really good, sorry no pic. But come up to stand on the same leg and bend the outside leg, taking hold of your ankle. Drawing your heel toward your bum and let your tailbone feel heavy here to really get the stretch into your quad. 

Let me know how this feels in your body! And share your pics (over on Instagram) of you getting your move on at the local park or up at the cottage!

If you wanna enjoy the great outdoors with a group of other awesome mamas, join me this Wednesday at Dufferin Grove for Coffee and Yoga! The perfect way to start off your day!  

Some truths about Motherhood

I almost feel weird writing about Mother's Day. After becoming a mother myself, it feels weighty and sacred and something that needs to be celebrated. But from a business perspective it feels commercial and not completely authentic. 

Of course, the sacredness of motherhood should be celebrated daily and through & She Moves I hope to do that. But today I thought I would take a moment to remind you of the aspects of motherhood that seem to get buried some days. The parts of us that we overlook when we're busy just trying to get through the day. 

1. YOU ARE POWERFUL. 

Oh wow, motherhood has the ability to really make us feel unworthy. Like we're failing at everything. Totally overwhelmed and out of our comfort zones. But there is a strength and power than I had no idea I possessed until I became a mother. First of all, there's BIRTH. Regardless how you give birth, the entire experience is a practice in surrender and sacrifice. We sometimes forget about the psychological effects of giving birth and becoming a mother but in many other cultures there are rituals that accompany this rite of passage. Preparing for birth can seem daunting, the unexpected is not usually a comfortable place for us to be. But just know, you are powerful! 

2. IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT. 

I had this idea of being just the most patient, completely attentive and graceful mother ever. I watched my mother raise 5 children (all without a single drop of coffee or wine) and saw her work magic every single day. I didn't appreciate it at the time and things certainly weren't always smooth and orderly but she would bake a cake last minute for a school fundraiser; help with school projects; accompany kids on paper routes; attend sporting events...I mean the list just goes on and on. And when I feel like I'm failing and can't keep it all together, I'm reminded of those amazing things my mother did for me and my siblings. I'm sure she felt like she was just barely holding on but the memories of my mother's sacrifice and hard work will always be with me. 

So when I'm totally freaking out about something, you know, everything from birthday parties to Halloween costumes, to Christmas traditions to planning family photo sessions I need to remember that it's the small, simple things that will be remembered and cherished by my children. The walks in the woods, slow family breakfasts on weekends, reading books together bed and building sand castles together at the park. Those are the moments  that feed my soul and connect me to these little beings I love so much. 

3.  there is strength in vulnerability. 

We all feel burnt out every now and then. We feel like we're trying to keep it all together, totally on our own. Like no one else could be struggling like you are-that those other mamas have got it all together. But it's a great lesson to learn, that nope, everyone feels like that from time to time. And it's also good to remember, that asking for help does not show weakness! Creating good community and mama friends you can count on to for help-whether it's picking your kids up from school or having a glass of wine on the porch at the end of the day-is SO SO SO necessary!

This has been a key lesson for me to learn through my years of motherhood and it didn't come all that naturally in the beginning. But I've come to realize that most of the time people are happy to help if you ask. It doesn't show weakness, it shows that we are open to helping each other out. The infinitly wise Brene Brown taught me that when we open ourselves up to receiving help and acknowledging that we can't do it all on our own,  we strengthen our relationships and make other people feel more open to the idea of asking for help themselves. 

4. you are 100%, totally, fully and completely enough!  

I think you get the point by now, that you are totally enough just as you are! You are totally normal if you feel overwhelmed, bored, lost, tired, frustrated or any other millions of emotions! Motherhood is not a competition. It's not something that you need to succeed at. Our feelings of success or failure do not define us. We're gonna screw up, we're just gonna. And that is totally okay because this whole motherhood thing is a journey. It's not something that we can just check neatly off our list of things to do. So, pour yourself a glass of wine and raise it in celebration of how amazing you are! Cause you are enough. 

 

5 Tips for a smoother cesarean recovery

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Although I’m just getting this post done in the nick of time, it’s been weighting on me for some time to write about Cesarean recovery. It only seemed fitting to share it in April, as it is Caesarean Awareness month, however, it is an issue that affects thousands of women in Canada each and every month.

For many years women were made to feel guilty if they could not have a vaginal or natural birth for some reason. Cesarean rates were (and still are) HIGH and there are definitely circumstances where a woman (and her partner) may feel pressured by their healthcare provider to opt for a cesarean when it may not be medically necessary. But much has been done in the past few years to help de-stigmatize cesarean births. There are now options for women to have a more gentle cesarean experience and accommodations are being made including immediate skin to skin for mom/baby and sometimes a clear sheet so the mother (and partner) can see what is happening.

But something that is still often overlooked when it comes to cesareans is the recovery process. Most women are told to take it easy, not to lift anything heavier than their babies and to limit physical activity for the first six weeks. But that’s about all women are being told. I want to talk about a few things you can do to help encourage a smoother recovery after a C-section as well as a few myths surrounding cesarean recovery.

 

Just Breathe

One of the easiest things you can do in the early days of new motherhood is to breathe. Sure, there are a million new things that you’re trying to get the hang of, but the hope is that most women have the support they need in order to rest and recover. Lying in bed with you baby not only promotes healing but also provides an opportunity for you and babe to bond. When you’re lying (or sitting or even changing baby’s diapers) take a moment to be still and shift your focus to your breath. Feel your ribs expanding as you inhale and imagine the pelvic floor muscles softening and relaxing. As you exhale imagine (or feel if you can) the pelvic floor muscles drawing upwards-an image that I really like is that of a jellyfish. A jellyfish blossoms open and then draws together as it propels upwards. Even if you cannot feel these muscles actually engaging, visualizing this process will start to create new neural pathways in order to start retraining these muscles.

This breathing exercise reprograms the core muscles to work together as a system as they are designed to do and promotes blood flow to the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles to encourage healing. It also calms the nervous system helping you feel calmer and more grounded, which comes in very handy in those early days.

 

Mindful Movement

 I intended to write about taking it slow and being cautious when you’re moving around and getting up and down in the early postpartum days but thought it was more fun if I talked about bowel movements here!

Straining when going to the bathroom can create quite a bit of internal pressure, which can affect your scar as well as the muscles surrounding it. We want the muscles around the incision to be soft and supple and not tense and held which can result from constipation or bloating.

Make sure you drink lots of water (if you’re breastfeeding you’ll probably notice an increased need for hydration so be sure to drink when thirsty). Prunes and other dried fruit can help to get things moving smoothly. Smoothies with added greens, lots of fruit and veggies are easy go to foods.

Belly massage works wonders on gassy and fussy little babies and guess what, it’s a wonderful tool to help you when you’re feeling backed up…and fussy;)  Be careful of your incision and perform each movement 10 times. Start by drawing an I starting just above your incision, on the right side, up to your bottom ribs. And then an L, from the same starting position to your left ribs. And then a U from the same starting point to just above your incision on the right side.

 

Core Care

Reducing the amount of pressure on the abdominal wall and the muscles surrounding your incision site feels pretty intuitive. There will be movements that just don't feel good, like curling up from a lying down position to get out of bed but there are other subtle movements that you may not think increase the pressure on those tissues.

Be sure to roll to your side and push your way up with your hand when getting out of bed and be cautious when rolling from one side to the other.

Postural habits can greatly affect the amount of internal pressure that pushes against your abdominal wall. So try to avoid sitting in a passive, bum tucked under, position for prolonged periods of time. This is obviously not that easy when you’ve got a little one who wants to be attached to you at all times! Try side lying when nursing or bottle-feeding and use pillows to prop you up so you are not constantly slouching. When you’re standing and holding your baby it may feel very natural to press your hips forward. See if you can stand with your bum un-tucked, and weight back on your heels to reduce the intra abdominal pressure.

 

Massage Benefits

The muscles that surround the incision will be affected by how the muscles are healing. If the tissues become tight and stiff, the muscles around it will be pulled on as well which can cause excessive tension in the pelvic floor leading to further weakness of the abdominal muscles. Visit a massage therapist or a pelvic health physiotherapist who can properly instruct you how to massage the scar starting at approximately 6 weeks postpartum. Check out the video by Anita Lambert of Holistic Health Physiotherapy as she explains the benefits and techniques of scar massage.

 

Find out what’s going on “Down there”

It is common for women for believe that because they did not experience a vaginal birth that they are less likely to experience pelvic floor issues after pregnancy. This in fact is not the case.

Carrying your baby for the 9 months leading up to birth has a great impact on the function of the pelvic floor muscles. Not to mention the many, many years before we actually become pregnant. Our postural patterns, breathing mechanics and many other factors (i.e., how active we are, types of activities you participate in and even bathroom habits) contribute to the strength and tone of these muscles.

It is also possible that although you had a cesarean birth, you may have also endured hours (or even days!) of labor, which does have an impact on the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles are intended to be pliable and supple in order to expand and allow baby to pass through the vagina with (relative) ease. But often times women experience excessive tension in the pelvic floor, which can impede the birthing process. It is possible that a woman may push for a few hours before a cesarean is deemed necessary, a prolonged pushing phase has a direct impact on the pelvic floor muscles and proper recovery is necessary. It is highly recommended that all women see a pelvic health physiotherapist approximately 6 weeks postpartum, regardless of how they gave birth.

 

Pregnancy and childbirth, including cesareans, take a toll on your body. Taking the time to properly heal and recover is step one and then focusing on specific exercises that restore core strength and function. We often allow the healing process to happen and jump right into an exercise routine, whether it is something we practiced during pregnancy or something we’re taking on after birth in an effort to “lose the baby weight” and “get back into shape.” It is essential to restore core strength, safely and mindfully so your body can be properly supported as you move through your every day life and throughout your movement practices and exercise routines. Stay tuned for details in my next post on how to safely return to movement and exercise after birth. 

Celebrating Earth Day with Natural Movement

Well, we didn't make it out to any organized Earth Day events today or pick up garbage at a local park but we sure did get up close and personal with the natural world. 

My boys regularly interact with nature in the most inspiring way. They climb trees, walk on logs, build forts with sticks and logs they find....I mean the list goes on. They love being in nature but what really interests and inspires me is how they move when they're doing it. They're climbing and squatting and crawling and hanging.  They're always inspiring me to get more physical too. 

Here are a few tips to help you get physical with your kids, for Earth Day and everyday. 

Follow their lead

I often find myself checking my phone or daydreaming(slash thinking of all the millions of things I need to do!) while the boys are busy playing. But when I actually join in, they love it and it gets me moving and active!

  • At the playground try hanging from the monkey bars or climbing up and down the structure on a rope or whatever is there.
  • Walk on a balance beam or the wooden outline around the playground. 
  • Head to the trails at High Park as it promotes movement for everyone. I like to park FAR AWAY from the playground so we have to do some walking and then usually find an area where they can build a fort. Try hanging (or climbing) from a tree or again walking along a log. 

Play games 

  • Kids love to pretend to be animals and I find that adults can usually let their inhibitions go if it's a game. Take turns with  your kids choosing what animal you'll pretend to be and then get busy running, crawling or flying around. 
  • Hide and Seek and Tag are always a hit too! Easy way to get everyone moving and engaged.
  • Grab a soccer (or some kind of ball) and head to the backyard and park for a nice and easy way to keep your little ones happy! 

Walk it out 

Got a wee little one? That's the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors. Babies always seem happier when they can look up at the trees and we're so lucky here in Toronto to have a ton of great places to enjoy the natural world.

  • The Beaches Boardwalk is a good one for strollers.
  • The trails at High Park make you feel like you're not even in Toronto anymore! Manageable with a stroller but a baby carrier will allow you to go "off road" even more.  
  • The Humber Butterly Garden is amazing! You can walk (or bike) the whole way out there along the waterfront or there's lots of parking out there. We love taking a picnic and spending a good couple hours by the water. 
  • Evergreen Brickworks is always a hit and has great food (and coffee). Easy trails and lots of interesting things for older kids to look at including turtles, frogs and fish. 

Life with babies, toddlers and even big kids can feel a bit monotonous and draining but moving with your kids will help you feel more connected and inspired! I'd love to hear your ideas how you get active with your little ones. Feel free to share below. 

Now get out there and enjoy the sun! 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Awakening

Well spring is here and not only are the trees starting to bloom and flowers are popping up all over, but there’s a change a happening over here too! & She Moves is getting a BLOG! Whoo!  

 I’m taking the next step in this entrepreneurial journey and starting a blog to help further connect with you on a regular basis and provide you with all sorts of great information, to keep you feeling your best through pregnancy, birth and motherhood!

 I am committed to helping support women through the transition into motherhood and it can be quite a challenging time in their lives (anybody with me?!?!?) and so I am very happy to be collaborating with the wonderfully talented and gracious, Christine Russell. Christine is a mother of 2, an entrepreneur, co-founder of 889 yoga and an essential oils educator.

 I have been curious about essential oils and how they can support and improve my family’s life, so I invited Christine to come and share all her knowledge with the & She Moves community. She will be sharing tips on how to energize ourselves, create peace and calm in the household (something I could definitely use a little bit more of!!!) and how to help boost your family’s immunity.

 If you can make it out to this event, join us on Thursday April 20, 12:30-1:30pm at Sama Studio (197 Sorauren Ave) in the beautiful Roncesvalles neighbourhood.

 I am excited about the launch or should I say birth of the & She Moves blog and would love to hear from you if there’s anything you're interested in hearing/learning about. If you’re looking for other ways to stay connected, check out @andshemoves on Instagram.

Wishing you a beautiful day and hope to see you on the mat soon.

-Laura 

Support System

The past few weeks have been particularly stressful for me as I raced to get the & She Moves website up and running. It meant many hours sitting in front of the computer filled with an overall sense of anxiety about how to communicate my ideas and approach to the world. Of course, all my hard work (and the hard work of some amazing amazing people) paid off and the & She Moves is up for all to see! I'm so proud of it as well as grateful for the team of wonderful people that have been helping me along on this journey.

As I sat staring at my computer screen trying to address issues such as self care and supporting yourself through stressful times, I realized I really needed to practice what I was preaching. It's so easy to let go of the things that nourish and ground us when we're busy and overwhelmed. I finally found my way back to the things that I draw on to help me feel calm and centred, and felt much more supported as I finished up the work for the big launch. It really is something that we need to work at and make part of our daily lives so when things don't go as expected we don't totally lose it!   

The holiday season is another time of year I tend to totally lose it.  Although I absolutely adore the Christmas season, I don't think I've had a Christmas yet where I wasn't panicked with last minute shopping, food preparation, over committing myself to numerous festive events, not to mention dealing with kids who have consumed entire gingerbread houses and stayed up hours past their regular bed time. Last year I bought myself an early Christmas present. I got myself a tank top (from www.myinnerfire.ca) that read Abandon Perfection. When Christmas Eve rolled around  I had every intention of just relaxing and enjoying the day together as a family. Well, that afternoon I found myself running from store to store looking for last minute stocking stuffers. On Christmas morning I pulled out my new top and threw it on as a blatant and physical reminder to CHILL OUT and enjoy the day, even if things didn't go as I imagined or intended.  

When I started thinking about setting up the & She Moves Blog, which happened to be launching in December, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some for the founding principles of & She Moves in a really applicable and practical way. Two of the core principles of the & She Moves approach is Balance and Support and the goal is to provide women with a physical practice that helps them feel strong, grounded, aligned, light, and free. I figured most of us could use a little grounding during this busy time of year so I'd like to offer up a short practice that you can draw on to help you feel a bit more peaceful so you can fully enjoy your time with friends and family.  Taking a few minutes each day to help ground you won't ensure that things are perfect, in fact that's why we do this type of work.  So that when we feel overwhelmed, exhausted and are wrestling the kids down to bed (just so you can go wrap and assemble toys) you don't crumble into a mess of tears and shortbread cookies.  

Feel free to draw on elements of this practice throughout your day when you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.  You don't have to do the whole thing at once, in fact sprinkling these movements in throughout your day will help sustain you.  Feel free to share your experiences and any questions you might have as well.  

1) Hip Hinge-With feet hip width apart, keep your spine long and feel as it you are hinging forward, not rounding your back as you  lean forward.  Feel your bum go back behind you.  Feet firmly pressing into the ground as you come back up to standing.  

2) Standing Figure 4 Stretch- As you stand on one leg bring the opposite foot onto your knee.  Bend your standing leg and you take your bum back behind you.  

3) Releve with Arms Overhead- Stand with feet hip width and on your exhale lift your heels away from the ground.  Think of your ankles and inner thighs magnatized toward each other. See if you can imagine leaning against a wall behind you and you are trying to slide up the wall.  

4) Thoracic Figure 8's-Bring your hands on top of your head and nod your chin down to your chest.  Start to make a kayaking motion with your elbows.  Think of hugging a small ball between your inner thighs and try to keep your hips still.  

5) Squats with Swimming Arms- Feel your weight back on your heels and start to bend your knees as your bum moves back behind you.  Think of moving at your hips, knees and ankles.  Reach arms overhead as you squat, arms reach around and down by your hips as you stand back up.  

6) Reclining Twist *Pregnant women may want to avoid a deep twists, instead try taking your arms out to a t, your feet should be wider than your hips and your knees bent. Allow your legs to sway from side to side. If you are experiencing low back or Si joint pain this pose isn't the best for you to do.   

7) Legs up the Wall *Pregnant women may not feel comfortable laying on their back without their heads elevated. Feel free to put a blanket or block under your head here. If this does not feel comfortable for you, lay on your back with head slightly elevated either with legs bent or long on the ground.  

8) Extended exhalation.  As you lay  in either legs up the wall pose or flat on your back, allow your breath to become full and constant. Count the length of both the inhalation and exhalation.  See if you can start to lengthen the exhale so it is just longer than your inhalation.  i.e.) if you breathe in for a count of 4, see if you can breathe out for a count of 5 or 6.  If you find you are holding your breath or forcing it, try coming back to a more natural breathing pattern.

Peace. 

-Laura