Over the last 18 months, between us Kate and I (Andy) have experienced everything from a complicated pregnancy to pregnant with a toddler, and life as a new mum to suddenly coping with two. We understand the challenges and joys that go along with the journey and the difficulty in making time for yourself.
Personally, as a mum of two now my biggest struggle at the moment is (having gotten past that initial postpartum phase) finally feeling like I want to get my body moving again, but literally not having the hours in the day. Between the toddler tantrums, feeding, nappies and trying to get an online business up and going, I barely get the chance to have breakfast let alone carve out any time to jump on my yoga mat.
Studies show that even small amounts of exercise, done regularly, are enough to improve health, fitness and emotional wellbeing. So, Kate and I have come up with a solution and we call them “mini bursts of yoga”.
Essentially they are short videos (no more than about two minutes) which you can pop on anytime you get a break between duties. To make them more accessible to the masses, we’ve combined our passion for pre & postnatal yoga to give you a session that covers both! Over the next few posts we’ll share how these short bursts of movement can benefit you, whether you’re expecting a child or are already journeying through motherhood.
The first of our series is a classic “go-to” sequence in yoga known as the Cat/Cow pose, named due to it’s cat and cow like actions. Essentially this is a gentle movement of the spine from a stable four point position, working in synchronicity with the breath.
So, how does it benefit you? It helps improve posture and balance, strengthens and stretches the spine, stretches the hips, abdomen and back and creates emotional balance by relieving stress and calming the mind.
The ‘how to’
Start in table top with your knees directly under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide, pressing evenly across the entire palm, knuckles, all the way to the pads of your fingers. Turn the creases of your elbows towards each other slightly and press up gently between the shoulder blades. Lengthen your tailbone and neck, finding a nice neutral spine.
As you inhale, drop your belly towards the floor and lift your sit bones towards the sky, draw your shoulders back and lift the chin, opening your heart forward. As you exhale, draw the belly in towards the spine and round through the back, tuck the chin towards the chest and tuck your tailbone gently.
For your prenatal version (following Andy on the right in the video below) avoid dropping the belly toward the ground, instead maintain a neutral spine as you inhale and then round the spine gently as you exhale. The opening table top pose is a very good stabilising pose in pregnancy and a great position to work with the breath. Cat Pose is great for stretching your spine and delivering nourishment to the area as well as being good for the baby.
Continue to move with the breath, arching the spine towards the floor as you inhale, round the spine towards the sky as you exhale. To extend the movement slightly, open your mouth as you exhale and allow the breath to release on a soft breathy ‘hah’ sound.
After your desired repetitions, aim for 5-10 breaths, release back to table top. Complete your mini practice by bringing your hips back to your heels and allowing your arms to rest on the ground above the head, in Child’s Pose. For a pregnancy version, ensure that the knees are wide to allow room for the belly.
For your postnatal version, follow Kate on the left, and for your prenatal version, Andy on the right.