Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Pregnancy Bikram Yoga Modifications

When pregnant and doing Bikram Yoga, there are a number of modifications that Bikram's wife Rajashree recommends doing from the start of the 2nd trimester through the end to keep you going to class and doing Yoga.

There are many benefits of this Yoga during pregnancy, according to Rajashree. The normal benefits of Bikram Yoga include working every system in the body.  It is no wonder that it is touted as being fabulous for pregnancy as well.

In addition to her argument, I believe in general in the tremendous benefits of exercise and pregnancy.  One of the leading researchers in the field, James Clapp, wrote in his book that babies born to mothers who exercise through their pregnancies are born healthier and earlier (at 38 vs. 40 weeks in general), and they are more apt to stay in better health throughout their lives.  He also says that mothers, in addition to having slightly shorter pregnancies, enjoy a better level of health and well-being through pregnancy.  He considers "exercise" to be weight bearing (which yoga is) and at a level that Mom considers "hard" (this could change daily) and performed for at least 30 minutes at least 3 days per week.

While doing this yoga, if you do Rajashree's modifications to the letter, you end up sitting out a lot of the postures and, in my opinion,  it is a little too easy if you have been going to class regularly and can normally keep up.  I have asked anyone who will talk to me and is knowledgeable, as well as watched the video and have come up with a series that has been working for me.  I did the regular series through the first trimester, with my logic being it is harder to stop going and then start again than it is to just keep going.  I also feel like it is a waste of time and energy to go if I am not challenged, whatever that challenge is for me at that moment of that day.  One of my teachers says, "If you can, you must," and I like feeling the physical challenge that leads to the mental challenge and calm.  

Below are the 26 poses directly from Bikram's website.  Below his words are what I have been doing (I am now at 30 weeks, which is partially into the 3rd trimester).  Please note that not all my actions are what Rajashree recommends-- they are just what has been working for me.  I feel my belly getting bigger and think I will need to make further modifications as the next 7 to 12 weeks go by, especially to standing head to knee and possibly others.

Standing Deep Breathing Standing Deep Breathing 
 No modification.
Half Moon PoseHalf Moon Pose
  No modification.
Hands to FeetHands to Feet
Modify by making feet wider- as wide as needed to allow belly to go between legs-- this has gotten wider.  I open legs after going down and close them before coming up.  Make sure and bend knees on way down.

Awkward PoseAwkward Pose
  No modification.
Eagle PoseEagle Pose
  No modification.
Standing Head to KneeStanding Head to Knee
  She says to skip it.  I have been moving belly to one side on way down and recently stopped kicking out and hold in the first step.  I think eventually I will need a better modification, but can still grab foot for now without uncomfortable compression.

Standing Bow PoseStanding Bow Pose
 No modification.
Balancing StickBalancing Stick
 No modification.

Standing Separate Leg Stretching PoseStanding Separate Leg Stretching Pose
  No modification.
Triangle PoseTriangle Pose
No modification.
Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee PoseStanding Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose
She says to skip it.  I am modifying this by not touching head to knee.  Still trying to round back and keep legs straight and hips aligned.  Some days I am able to touch ground with hands together, and other days, they separate.  
Tree PoseTree Pose
No modification.
Toe StandToe Stand
I repeat tree, but if I had been more confident in this pose when I had gotten pregnant, I would probably still be doing it.
Dead Body PoseDead Body Pose
I try to lay on one side then the other for Savasana throughout class.  Sometimes I forget and do a Savasana on my back, and it feels fine.  Sometimes I do them on my back on purpose for this first one, after Fixed Firm, and after Camel.
Wind-Removing PoseWind-Removing Pose
No modification for first part.  For second part, do Happy Baby both sets, trying to get spine flat on floor and pulling feet down.   She modifies differently, but her modifications hurt my knees (I couldn't get it quite right).

Cobra PoseCobra Pose
 Fish Pose, as she recommends. I don't get into it as she shows, though. I start with hands under my bottom, palms down, and press up into the pose, keeping them in the same place throughout.

Locust PoseLocust Pose
 Her modification for the one-legged part, which I do, is to be on all fours and lock one leg at a time and lift it high.  For the second part, with both legs up, I do Bridge Pose instead.  

Full Locust PoseFull Locust Pose
I do the Wheel Pose here.  This helps make the class harder for me, and I love how it helps my spine flexibility and shoulder strength (among other benefits).  I struggle a bit getting out of it, but it has gotten smoother. I started doing this one early so that I would be strong enough to hold my extra weight later.

Bow PoseBow Pose
  I do this on all fours, one leg at a time.  One leg is in the opposite hand, holding almost to the toes, and looking up and kicking up.

Fixed Firm PoseFixed Firm Pose
 No modification.

Half Tortoise PoseHalf Tortoise Pose
Her modification, which I do, is to separate knees to accommodate belly as it grows.  I find this one getting harder and harder to get in and out of.  I also feel less of a stretch than I used to-- I think my back must be rounding less with my knees out of the way.

Camel PoseCamel Pose
 No modification.

Rabbit PoseRabbit Pose
She says to skip this.  I first modified it by putting head on the ground away from my knees as much as needed.  Now I skip it and sit on all fours but round up and back towards my heels, lengthening my arms out with shoulders down until I feel the stretch in my lower back.

Head to Knee Pose and Stretching PoseHead to Knee Pose and Stretching Pose
Janushirasana and Paschimotthanasana(Sanskrit)
No modification for the single-leg part.  I modify the forward stretch by replacing both legs together with putting them in a butterfly position and still pulling forward.  For both parts, moving my belly over with my hands helps.

Spine-Twisting PoseSpine-Twisting Pose
Her modification doesn't work for me-- I can't seem to get enough room for my belly by just straightening the bottom leg (and haven't been able to for a while).  Instead I do a lying gentle twist with knees on one side and torso on the other with arms outstretched.

Blowing in Firm PoseBlowing in Firm Pose
Kapalbhati in Vajrasana(Sanskrit)
No modification.

 As for the sit-ups, I do as many as I feel comfortable with, but on the days when I can do more, I feel my postures are better/ I have more energy for them.  Some days I can't do any, though, and some days I can do them all.

Also, I drink a LOT of water.  I drink a big glass before class, a liter during class and a liter between the locker room and way home.  When I get home, I often drink another liter with Electro Mix in it, or a coconut water.  Also, I often bring a snack to class, and eat my apple or banana, or drink coconut water, in the locker room.  It is hard to try not to eat for 3 hours before class, so I often end up eating a piece of fruit within an hour of class.  Pregnancy heartburn, though, has been the major annoyance during Yoga, and if I can really wait longer and eat lighter during the day, then my practice is improved.

***************Update at 34 weeks: It is getting a bit squished in my belly and I am rarely doing sit-ups anymore, and for standing head to knee, I can just just barely reach my foot and have been holding a toe or two to keep my back rounded.***************************************

++++++++++++++Update at 36 weeks: I don't do any sit-ups, and do all sivasanas on one side.  My practice still feels great.++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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Pros and Cons: Online Fabric Shopping

If you are like many who sew, part of the joy is tactile. When faced with fabric, it is a joy to manipulate it into something that it wasn't.

So then why would you ever buy fabric online?

Personally, I adore online shopping (see Pros, below). But are there some items better purchased in person?

I just made these, and think they are the coolest pants I have ever made.  When the fabric arrived from Wazoodle, I was horrified because it has iridescent dots throughout that I hadn't seen on the photo (although now I see they are mentioned). I was glad I had gotten it on clearance but wondered if I could ever use it.  Then this morning my son pulled it out and started cutting, "making a bag."  I redirected his energy to pants and I am so happy with them.  This is a fabric I would NOT have bought at a regular store... and look how cool these pants are!
Pros of Online Fabric Shopping:

  1. Can do anytime
  2. Do not need to speak to anyone (salespeople, etc.)
  3. No parking hassles or driving needed
  4. Can shop around to find better prices
  5. Arrives at your doorstep- no need to load and unload car
  6. So many options- no need to go to another store if yours is out of something
  7. No need to stand in line

Cons of Online Fabric Shopping:

  1. Sometimes a fabric doesn't look like it does in the photo (sometimes it is better; sometimes worse)
  2. Fabric often feels different than you'd expect
  3. Overbuying- adding "just one more thing" (perhaps this should be a pro and a con, and also happens at real stores)
  4. Nobody can answer your questions
  5. Delayed gratification - need to wait between choosing and receiving fabric
My Favorite Sites:
  1. Wazoodle: They ship from Canada, so it takes a bit longer than other stores to receive fabric.  But they have some awesome deals and nice fabrics.  Their website is a bit flakey, but they do bulk deals and have some of the best prices around.
  2. Vogue Fabrics: They have some unusual fabrics, and good prices as well.  Their customer service actually called me to ask a question, which threw me off (I'd expect an email as a first point of contact).
  3. Online Co-Ops: These you can find through Yahoo! Groups.  They work by you becoming a part of the co-op, then the Mama in charge sends out emails to the group every time a group buy happens.  The prices are better because they buy huge amounts of fabric, then the Mama splits it up and sends it to those who wanted it.  Sometimes the cost savings is eaten up by the shipping charges, plus the lead time can be months between placing an order and receiving it.  There is also an abundance of emails to wade through.
All in all, I think that online shopping is far better than actual shopping for fabric.  I have found some notions in person that I wouldn't have found online, and I have found some fabrics online I wouldn't have chosen in person.  I think I save money by shopping online, because the impulse buys are far less than in person, and I save time.  Plus, it's fun to find new fabrics and read about them...

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tutorial: Boppy Zipperless (Snapping) Replacement Cover

To make a replacement cover for your Boppy (or other horseshoe pillow) without a zipper:

First lay your naked pillow onto your fabric. I chose flannel.

Then trace around the outside with tailor's chalk or other fabric marking tool that won't show through.

Next, lay another piece of fabric below that one, right sides together.

Then cut around your lines, adding an inch and a half (or more if your pillow is fluffier) for the width and seam allowance.

Choose where you want the pillow to stuff in.  I chose a semi-flat area on one side.  An area closer to the middle back may be a better idea (I struggled a bit to do the actual stuffing).

Mark this area on both pieces of fabric.

Hem it by rolling the fabric under and stitching it.

Then stitch the pieces together, leaving the hemmed part open.  Stitch once with a straight stitch, then go around again with a far-apart and wide zig-zag (or serge it if you have a serger) that hangs over the cut edge a little bit.  This will keep it from raveling.

Stuff pillow.

I used two snaps to close the opening.  If you use velcro instead, then attach it after you hem the opening (and before stitching the two pieces together).


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Kids' Art Idea: Bracelet from Beads and Pipe Cleaner

What made this such a fun project is that the beads stay on the pipe cleaner when they are threaded through (no slipping off the other end).  Plus, it is good color and counting practice...
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Bikram in the News

Not a bad description of Bikram Yoga... which I still think everyone should try...

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Kids' Cooking: Fermenting Dosas

We have been doing a lot of cooking lately, and have been enjoying recipes where the work is front-loaded (i.e. we can do it in the morning when my energy level is higher).

This project was a 2-day project, and we used the Dosa recipe from Wild Fermentation.  Fermentation in general allows you to add nutrition to the food you eat by allowing its tough exterior to break down and for healthy bacteria to be added.  Health benefits of eating fermented foods include improved digestion, improved immune system health, and higher energy levels.

To make these, take 2 cups of rice and 1 cup of lentils and soak them in enough water to cover for 8 hours or overnight.  Then grind them (we used a blender but will use a food processor next time).  Place in ceramic or glass bowl and cover with a clean dishtowel (we use a flatfold diaper and a ribbon to hold it up but cheesecloth would also work).  Let sit for 24 to 48 hours.  Mixture will get bubbly.

To cook, thin with tepid water until batter resembles very thin pancake batter.  Add a bunch of chopped parsley or cilantro, and about an inch of ginger, shredded.  Next time we will add a bunch of chopped scallions, too.  My husband said they needed salt (but I tend to under-salt and he likes salt). 

Heat oil or ghee (we used toasted sesame oil but will try grapeseed oil next time~ just to use a high smoke point oil without the flavor of the toasted sesame oil).  Ladle in the batter, and smooth it with back of ladle to make it large and flat (we also experimented with small ones and liked them because we were able to get more surface area fried).  Let bubbles rise.  Flip.  Let other side cook.  Add more oil for each Dosa.  Serve hot.

We liked these quite a bit.  They are pink because we used pink lentils.  Next time, I will make sure the batter is very thin before cooking, since the first few didn't turn out right.  I will also serve with Dal instead of plain, or maybe with some steamed green beans or asparagus or maybe broccoli.  They could also be rolled like a wrap (and we know how much my 2.5 year old loves "tacos" from around the world).

For more ideas on nutrient-dense foods, Wild Fermentation is helpful, as is the Joy of Pickling.  But the Bible is Nourishing Traditions.  You also can't go wrong with the Weston Price Foundation for theory.
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