Movement, Massage and Healthy Pregnancy

by Melissa Miller, RMT

Movement is vital to life and is a cornerstone to a happy and healthy pregnancy. Movement prevents joint stiffness, improves circulation and increases energy levels. Staying active also releases positive endorphins which helps with discomfort, especially towards the end of the third trimester. A focused exercise and stretching routine will help build an awareness and confidence in your body and its ability to adapt to the physical and emotional changes during this exciting time.  

Aches and pains are normal as your baby grows and can vary from trimester to trimester. Taking even 15 minutes out of your day for some basic movements can make all the difference throughout pregnancy and into your labour experience.  Here is a basic movement sequence that I have offered to plenty of pregnant clients that is safe for all trimesters and can be modified to your fitness level. Prenatal Home Sequence Continue reading

Honing our Internal Senses: NEW Slow Flow Classes & A Free Home Sequence

By Leena Miller Cressman, QSY Director. You can find Leena teaching Slow Flow on Monday nights at 5:30pm. Her classes include exploration of balance and joint proprioception, aspects of the Tensegrity Repair Series, and space for deep breathing and relaxation.

LEARNING NEW WORDS

As a kid, I always loved learning new words. I loved the sounding out the unfamiliar configuration of letters, and discovering a new way to describe or convey the meaning of something. I still love new words, and this is one of the many reasons I love studying and exploring anatomy and physiology, it gives me the chance to learn all sorts of new (and sometimes strange) words and ways of describing the human body. Like gastrocnemius! Listen to it pronounced it here. It is just so much more fun to say than “calves”.

Two words that I think should be on every yogi’s vocabulary list are interoception and proprioception. Interoception and proprioception are two distinct types of perception. Here’s how I’d define them:

  • Interoception: Our perception and sensing of internal sensations, feelings, movements, and responses of the body. If you sense a pang of hunger in your belly, or notice pounding of your heart when you’re nervous that is introception. It is the opposite of exteroception, which is an external sensation on the body, like feeling wind in your hair, or the warmth of your hand in your pocket.
  • Proprioception: Comes from the latin “one’s own”. It’s our sense of where our body is in space. It’s our ability to sense the relative positioning of our joints, joint angles, and muscle length, and to feel our movement and what will bring greater equilibrium. Proprioception is what allows you to feel how deeply bent your knee is in Warrior 2 without looking at your leg, or allows you to navigate a dark, unfamiliar room at night.

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Hamstring Strength and Flexibility Sequence

By Leena Miller Cressman, QSY director and resident body-nerd.

One of my favorite well-informed yoga/anatomy-nerd bloggers, Jenni Rawlings, recently had a great blog post and video exercise reminding yogis to strengthen their hamstrings. A lot of yoga sequences and postures encourage flexibility and lengthening of the posterior chain of muscles, specifically the hamstrings.


posterior_kinetic_chain_blog44Due to the amount of sitting we do in North America, the posterior chain becomes shortened for many people, and we lose range of motion in the hips and hamstrings in movements such as forward bends. Think of the difference in the geometry of the knee and hip, and the different loads and length of the muscles and connective tissue lining the back of the leg (from the ankle, up the calves, up hamstrings, up to the butt) in a standing position vs. a chair sitting position. In a seated position, the chair (or couch or car seat) acts like a sitting vs standingsort of cast, holding the body in one static position and the
posterior chain can become shortened in that resting position. When it comes to mobility, when you don’t use it you lose it.

But, stretching isn’t the only way to improve range of motion and mobility. Strengthening is a great way to help increase range of motion too. This is commonly misunderstood. Much research has found that contrary to popular belief, strength training does not make you more “tight”, in fact it can help increase range of motion and functional mobility just as much, or possibly more than stretching. Continue reading

Yoga to Rest & Rejuvenate

Fall has arrived, on a bright and airy Monday in September. While typically we celebrate the turning of the year on January 1st, September can feel like the true start of the year for anyone who is in school. Our Yoga Teacher Training begins this friday, so we are certainly in the back-to-school spirit!

Preparing for the Teacher Training and our Open House has Leena and I quite busy. We anticipate that the fall’s events and gatherings will keep up their regular pace from now until Christmas, so we are taking extra care to encourage ourselves and students to practice #selfcare this fall and find little pockets of time to slow down, breathe and renew ourselves. Leena put together this restorative sequence as a resource for anyone who might want to try slowing down at home. Continue reading

Cool It!: A short practice to calm the nervous system & release the lower back and hips

This post and sequence was created by Leena as a follow up to last week’s post on #Selfcare, Restorative Yoga & Community Acupuncture.

The first few weeks of September are this funny in-between time. We’re on the threshold of transitions: the end of vacations, the weather turning (eventually) from summer to fall, back to school, back to routine, etc. Here at the studio we are gearing up for a packed fall schedule of special offerings, including lots of great pre-registered courses and a nearly sold-out Yoga Teacher Training program.

Here’s a quick little practice to help you cool off and calm down in this early September heat wave. It’s a great sequence for helping to soothe an over-reactive nervous system and find more ease in the lower back and hips. It would be nice as a before-bed sequence to help you get a good night of sleep. You can even do the last pose, legs up the wall, against your headboard. Enjoy! Continue reading

A Summer Sequence for Strong Shoulders- *FREE* Printable Download

killarneyFor me, a summer in Ontario isn’t complete without at least four or five days of back-country canoe camping in Killarney Provincial Park. Killarney is about five hours north of Kitchener-Waterloo on the north side of the Georgian Bay. It boasts some of the most beautiful lakes, scenic mountains and dramatic rock faces that I’ve had the pleasure of canoeing and hiking along. killarney canoes

If you’ve never been canoeing, let me teach you a new vocabulary word: Portage (noun or verb). I’m glad Canadians are at least bilingual enough that you can pronounce it the more elegant way en francais up here. Honestly, Americans butcher this word. Pronunciation aside, when you hear portage think carrying a huge pack on your back and a canoe on your shoulders for anywhere between a few dozen meters to a kilometer or more! Given that I’m only 5’3” and the canoe is 17’ and about 50lbs, a little extra prep for my shoulders and upper body before heading on a trip is super helpful. Continue reading