“Birthing is the most profound initiation to spirituality a woman can have.” – Robin Lim
Pregnancy is transformative in more ways than I ever could have imagined. While my yoga practice has always been a constant source of physical, emotional and energetic healing throughout my life, I had no idea that so much of it would be stripped away during pregnancy.
My prenatal yoga practice has taught me how to focus on the little miracle brewing inside of me, rather than the nausea, fears of motherhood and inevitable exhaustion. My practice has also given me permission to slow down, and sometimes, to abandon my practice altogether, when my body says no. For years, I have asked my yoga students to “listen to your body”, and in pregnancy, this becomes the most truthful and accessible mantra. Every woman’s pregnancy journey is unique, and so is their yoga practice, so I encourage all expecting mama’s to explore their own prenatal yoga preferences and practices, ultimately prescribing their own sequence that suits the dynamics of their own pregnant body. Please check with your doctor of midwife before beginning prenatal yoga.
Alas, here are my favourite yoga postures during my second trimester.
The hottest new trend hitting the yoga community is far less independent and far more collective than your typical yoga practice. Rather than staying glued to your yoga mat and desperately avoiding eye contact with everyone else in the room, partner yoga classes invite yogis to connect on a much deeper level, engaging in everything from steady eye contact to therapeutic touch to playful acrobatic moves with one another. That said, partner yoga does not have to mean hyper-advanced circus-like flying across the yoga studio, and can be practiced in much more subtle, haha yoga style.
Partner yoga is celebrated internationally for connecting two people in the creation of new, dynamic and supported yoga postures that use a fellow human body to add resistance, depth and new expression to the postures. Partner yoga is an exciting new way to approach your yoga practice accompanied by your partner, friend, family member or even stranger in one of the most powerful team building exercises out there.
The stories and the journeys of my yin yoga students at YYoga continue to wholeheartedly convince me that this is a worthwhile, healing practice. They all arrive on the mat for different reasons, they all leave with different lessons.
“In September, to balance the intense effort of marathon running, I started practicing warm yin with Ashley. Warm yin classes have proven to be a perfect complement to running as they have helped increase strength, flexibility, balance and mental acuity. I credit yin yoga for helping me stay healthy, assisting with recovery from high-intensity training, addressing postural and structural imbalance, preventing overuse injuries and ensuring that I’ll be running for decades to come.”
The Science: A five minute hold in a stretch can increase and improve the body’s immune system. “Mechanical input in the form of static tissue stretch has been shown … to have anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic effects.”
New to yin yoga? Our instructor, Ashley McEachern, asks her students to share their yin yoga journeys in order to help newcomers to the yin yoga practice understand why we yin.
As a yin yoga instructor and trainer, I am continually seeking out both scientific and anecdotal evidence that this practice of long held yin yoga postures, accompanied by therapeutic tools such as aromatherapy, breathwork and guided meditation, can actually help people. In Bernie Clark’s article “A Scientific Basis for Yin Yoga” he effectively articulates that traction, such as the feeling across the spine in yin yoga forward folds, “stimulates the growth of bones and their associated ligaments” while prolonged holds in poses create stress and tension which stimulates myofascial release, elongation of fascia and leads to pain reduction and increased mobility.
We here at Well TO Do have been big fans of Ashley McEachern, Toronto yoga teacher extraordinaire, for ages. In fact, to quote WTD Co-Founder Erin: “Going to Ashley’s Yin class often feels like my version of going to church.” So, we couldn’t have been more thrilled when WTD Contributor Christine Noonan had the chance to catch-up with Ashley to talk Yin Yoga, aromatherapy, inspiration and so much more!
Do you ever feel like you are starting to spin out of control? Possessed by seemingly endless to-do lists, responsibilities and chores. Has busy become your norm because we live in the fast lane and are blinded by more stimulation than we have ever seen before.
Downtown condo dwellers may go months without being in absolute darkness or seeing the stars in their full glory. Working families struggle to balance the pressures of a 24/7 connection to jobs and technology with their beloved screaming kids. Single scenesters stay up late in bed rummaging through tinder profiles in search of ‘the one’.
We have transformed the way we live and it’s not surprising that increased levels of anxiety, stress and stimulation are keeping us on edge all day and awake all night. That’s why it’s time to shake things up with a new approach to yoga, beginning with a little bit of mindfulness, a whole lot of stillness and loads of self-loving. I recently joined with Saje Yoga and Y-YOGA to offer a weekly yin yoga with aromatherapy class to my yoga students that is a powerful practice to help us all relax, rejuvenate and reconnect to our true selves. read more…