Yoga Helps Post-Baby Body and Mind


Postpartum yoga in Santa Monica

It seems there has never been a time with so much attention drawn to the Post-baby body. Celebrities and royals are having babies and the whole world is watching, and talking. And the dialogue is shaping up to encompass the complexity of this topic.  There is a balance to be struck here where we consider the gestalt of new motherhood, rather than looking at women as just a body.

A new mother has just transitioned from pregnant woman to mother.  This transformation is mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. Her hormones  make a huge shift in the moments after birth and her body rapidly begins a post-birth process. There is bleeding, discomfort, healing, sleep deprivation, and a new baby…all before you leave the hospital! And every new mom wonders if her body will ever be the same. All the while, she takes an emotional and mental roller coaster as she and baby go through the ‘4th trimester’.

Things are always changing, nothing is ever stuck in a moment for long.  Your newborn on day one looks a lot different to your newborn at month one. The same goes for the post-baby body and mind. The uterus has to shrink back to its normal size, the pelvis has to recover from birth, stitches need to heel, fluid sweat or peed out, and so on…not too mention your hormones need to regulate.

There need not be a rush to get back in shape or even to feel ‘normal’ right away.  Rather, motherhood is a new experience that ultimately will change the way we think and feel. In the first days and weeks the body needs rest and maybe some light walking. Easing back in and taking a slow and progressive approach toward rebuilding strength is the way to go.

At about 6 to 8 weeks postpartum the body is truly ready to start a regular yoga practice. The core strength that was once there won’t be and so the whole practice feels new.  If you compare yourself to your pre-baby self or even your pregnant self, you are apt to feel frustrated and overwhelmed.  Instead, relish in feeling your body move again in ways it couldn’t during pregnancy. You can enjoy lying on your stomach, lying on your back, doing twists, and deeper backbends. And the good news is your body will morph once again!  And that feeling of building strength is very empowering and motivating.

At 6 weeks post I felt like a truck had hit me.  But by month 3 I nearly felt like my old self.  Each month that goes by I feel more and more ‘in’ my body. Ultimately, yoga keeps me feeling good and feeling good is the open window back toward post-baby normalcy and health.  Yoga tightens the body and pulls things back in to the mid-line. That squishy, floaty, wobbly new mommy feeling goes away. Who knows, maybe some day soon I will be stronger than I was before I got pregnant. The saying goes, ‘9 months to put it on, 9 months to take it off.’

I utilized my post-baby journey to create a series of yoga classes starting at 6 weeks postpartum. I filmed one class each consecutive week until I had a total of 6 classes.  I teamed with nutrition expert, Lisa K. Beach to make our course, ‘Enviable Post-Baby Body and Mind’.  In these classes you will gain the tools to use yoga and food to get your ‘feel good’ feeling back, gain energy, slim down, and tone the body. You can find it here:

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Los Angeles Inversion Weekend with Angela Kukhahn Sept 20-22 2013

I am certain this will be a great inversion workshop for any Angeleno yogis

Kukhahnyoga's Blog

Angela Kukhahn in Handstand. Photo by Jasper JohalInversions Weekend
Angela Kukhahn
Sep 20 – Sep 22 2013
South Bay
$35 Friday, $45 Saturday or Sunday, $110 entire weekend

This weekend has something for all levels of flyers so come willing to sweat, play, and let go of some old fears!
Friday Session (7:15-9:15pm): Grow Your Inversions
Beginner: This inversions basics workshop is designed to make you comfortable to go upside down. We will discuss the fundamentals of inversions; begin with an inversion specific warm-up followed by core work, headstand A & B, forearm balance, and handstand at the wall.

Saturday Session (2:00-4:30pm): Fly Like a Yogi
Intermediate: This workshop is playful on purpose to get you out of your head and flying with ease. While staying grounded in the essential elements of alignment, we will play with creative ways of balancing away from the wall. Expect a strong Vinyasa warm-up, plenty of core-work…

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2 Pregnancy Friendly Yoga Poses to Make You Feel Better Right Now

If you are interested in my course ‘Enviable Pregnancy’ with Lisa K. beach Ph.D., check it out here and for a limited time get it for just $19 with coupon code summersale

Triangletriangle cropThis classic yoga pose is a great way to strengthen the muscles that support your loosening joints in pregnancy. It also allows you to create space in your torso and length in your spine. The added bonus during pregnancy: triangle strengthens the abdominal muscles that hug the sides of your torso and aid in supporting your ever growing baby bump.
Some keys for getting into the pose:
Have a block handy. Step your feet apart about three feet. Rotate your right hip open from the socket so your foot and knee move 90 degrees. Line up your front heel with your back arch and turn your back toes in slightly. Set your block to the outside of your right ankle. Press your feet firmly to the ground while you activate the muscles in your legs like you are hugging the muscles to the bones. You should see your quadricep lift. This is great for stabilizing loosening joints during pregnancy.
Reach your right arm in the direction of your toes while pulling your right hip crease back and pressing firmly through your big toe mound. Your hips will tilt. Think about lengthening the bottom side of your waist until both sides of your waist are long and straight. Take your hand down to your block or shin. Reach up through the left arm and then spiral your ribs open as if you were going to lean your upper
body against a wall. Feel how the muscles of the sides of your stomach now embrace your heavy belly. Feel the length of your spine as energy running out all the way through the crown of your head. Take 5 breaths here.
To come out of your pose, inhale, pressing again firmly through your foot and resisting the floor as you come to stand. Square off the feet and take the other side.

Revolved head to knee pose

revolved janu crop

This seated stretching pose is an open twist allowing you to again find much needed length and space in your torso.
Some keys for getting into it:
Come to a seat and take your legs apart about 90 degrees. Make sure you are sitting up on your sit bones. If it is uncomfortable or you feel like tight hamstrings are pulling your tailbone under you, sit on the edge of a blanket or pillow. Make sure your toes and knees face up towards the ceiling and flex your toes towards you. Draw the left foot in to the groin. Heavy both sit bones, there can be a tendency here to rock the weight to one side. Stay grounded as you sit up tall and revolve your torso away from your extended leg, an open twist. You can extend your right arm along your leg towards your foot.
Inhale, reaching your left arm up and over in the direction of the extended leg. Keep your left sit bone heavy. Think of lengthening the torso rather than trying to come down towards the leg. Once again,
revolve your torso open towards the ceiling rather than the floor. Take 5 deep breaths. Inhale to release and switch sides.

Top 5 Things People told me when I was Pregnant

photo (92)Here I am 40+ weeks in Marina Del Rey, CA.

1.  “Enjoy your sleep now”

Nobody actually enjoys their sleep at 40 weeks pregnant..that is if they are sleeping at all.

2.  “Take the Drugs”

Sound advice.  But not useful if you are planning an un-medicated birth.

3. “You look like you are ready to pop”

Actually, I have three more months to go.

4. “Giving birth?  It feels like being mauled by a bear”

yep, that one is pretty much true.

5. “When you have a baby every day feels like Christmas”

Absolutely 100% true.

Do You have any fun ones to add to the list?

Nutrition and Yoga for Pregnancy and New Women’s Health Series Launch

I have teamed with Lisa K. Beach, Ph.D. to create a series of Women’s health courses blending nutrition and yoga.  Our first course for pregnancy has just been completed.  Our next course will be geared toward postpartum health and fitness.  We are really excited to be launching this program, called ‘Glow’.  I Will be posting more about this exciting series soon. Find our first course hereImage

Five Spring Clean Decluttering Tips

photo (86) (1)1. Start small.

If Decluttering seems overwhelming start small..  Pick one drawer, on basket, one pile, or one room.  Break it down to something that is achievable.  Even a small corner of opened space will create new energy in your home and your life.

2.  Look for paper clutter.

Paper clutter comes in many forms.  Junk mail, catalogs, newspapers, magazines, even books.  Be ruthless with the paper clutter.  Ask yourself if that piece of mail is necessary and if it is file it away in an appropriate place. Go through your filing system quarterly or at least yearly to eliminate things that no longer need to be saved.  Can you archive anything online instead? Books you don’t read?  Donate them to your library.

3.  Give away gifts you don’t want

This is a tough one for people.  Almost everyone has been given gifts that they don’t want or need.  Out of guilt we hold on to them.  That guilt can way us down tremendously.  Give yourself the permission to let go of old gifts.  Give them away to someone else.  Shed the guilt.  You won’t hurt your aunt’s feelings.  And if you do, she will get over it.

4.  Ask yourself, “Is it sacred to me?”

One point of point decluttering is to only have things around you that you find meaningful and sacred.  By eliminating the unnecessary and the never used, you can reveal the things that do hold importance to you.  And most of them won’t be things. Clear out to create a sacred space.

5.  Let go of “just in case”

Keeping things for just in case scenarios is very tempting. We have the fear that the minute we get rid of something will be the minute we need that thing.  In actuality this is rarely ever the case. Let it go and make space for the new.  Don’t reinforce to yourself that there is a lack or scarcity in the world that you need to be prepared for.  Instead, grow your social connections, your family and friend time.  These are the resources that will really matter.

Yoga Meets the Ocean, again, with the Ocean Yoga Board.

As soon as we started seeing SUP (stand up paddle boarding) become all the rage in America, we saw SUP yoga.  There is something about bringing  yoga to the ocean that makes sense to people, that speaks to the yearning to have more connection with the earth. One of my first surf lessons was taught by a yoga instructor who communicated all I needed to know in terms of yoga poses.  Paddling out in Bhujangasana, popping up through upward facing dog, and landing in chair pose. So I suppose it makes perfect sense to bring our salutations to the sun and our warrior poses to a floating board on the sea.

SUP has its origins in Hawaii.  Legendary surfer Laird Hamilton has been revolutionizing the surf world in Hawaii for years.  I remember his invention of the foil board, which allowed him to actually float above the surface of the water.  Without the friction he could go faster.

Well, he has been busy inventing again and this time teaming up with yoga’s hottest couple, Dice Iida Klein and Briohny Smyth.  Looks like they are introducing the Ocean yoga Board through Laird’s FreeMotion Fitness. See there press kit here.

I want this board.

This picture is from Yoga with Briohny on Facebook.

Of course I can’t do this pose off of said board, but being able to one day do it on the ocean?  Sounds like motivation to me.

Right now I am bringing my pregnant self to the ocean for some yoga and inversion fun.


Once baby yogi is out in the next week, I am going to be out looking for an Ocean Yoga Board. If anyone gets some experience with one, I would love to hear about it.

“The Cure for anything is salt water. Sweat, tears, or the sea.”

– Isak Dinesen

Have You Been Backbending in your Practice?

Back bends seem to be really polarizing in class.  Some people love them and drop back with ease while others feel scared, rigid, and closed in when attempting back bends.  I think there is an element of working through fear in our back bends. It requires an openness in the front of the body that we often avoid in daily life.  We have to work through feelings of fear as we fully expose the front of the body or take the head back.

When I haven’t been practicing deeper back bends for a while I forget how amazing it can feel afterwards.  I can feel a brightness in my mood and length through my whole spine. I did some deeper back bends this week, with a lot of focus on lengthening the spine, and am reminded just how integral a part of the practice they are.

I found this video as well which has some inspiring poses in it. The ever-underwear clad and terrific  Briohny Smyth shows us how it’s done.  She reminds us to create length in the lumbar spine, use core engagement, and find space for our back bend in the middle/upper back. If you are afraid of back bends, maybe try them at home in your smalls 😉

Yoga Stops Traffic Event

This Saturday April 10 is the next global event to stop human trafficking and spread awareness. Around the world people will get on their yoga mats and join in 108 sun salutations. Monies raised go to the Indian anti-trafficking organization, Odanadi Seva Trust.

If you want to get involved check their website to find a list of venues participating in the event.

I will be getting involved here at Camyoga.  So if you are around Cambridge, UK.  Stop by!