Breastfeeding and Hot Yoga: Postpartum Concerns

I’ve had a lot of questions from students lately about postpartum recovery, breastfeeding, and Hot Yoga. This pose will address a lot of those questions.

When can I return to yoga?

Most physicians recommend you wait at least three weeks postpartum before resuming yoga to allow your pregnancy hormone levels to drop, as they do dramatically at two weeks postpartum, and stabilize.  Some want you to wait six weeks until the placental scar is fully healed. With that said, who wants to look at their postpartum body in the mirror with a pad stuffed in their spandex? You may want to wait until your flow is reduced to panty-liner levels.

You’ll also need to take into consideration how you are feeling, sleeping, and recovering.  If what you’re doing causes your flow to increase that is a sure sign you are doing too much, so slow down. Personally, I returned to classes five and four weeks postpartum with my two pregnancies, but had been doing some yoga in my living room since three weeks PP to help alleviate the Hunchback of Breastfeeding. As long as you are practicing with mindfulness, yoga is an adaptive practice you can make safe at any time.

Benefits

Your yoga practice is a wonderful tool to return you to your body. Not just your pre-pregnancy weight, but to help your spine, joints, hips, rib cage, and abdominal organs return to their normal places, sizes, and alignment. Your practice will help straighten your posture as you strengthen your back and abdominal muscles against the common pregnancy kyphosis (hunchback) and lordosis (sway-back).

Pregnancy is hard on your body, but so is having an infant. It is difficult to find time for yourself and you spend most of your day in ergonomically-compromised positions.  When you’re not hunched over changing diapers and cute little onesies covered in the latest blow-out, you’re hunched over breastfeeding. If you’re not hunched over, you’re probably lugging a car seat over one arm or wearing baby strapped to your body in a wrap or a sling. When you’re not doing that, then you’re probably on the toilet trying to pee and simultaneously breastfeeding and talking on the phone while contemplating what you can stuff into your gob because, Damn!, this breastfeeding makes you hungry. If you formula feed, then kudos to you because you have to wash bottles in the middle of all of this. Your yoga can help to keep you strong so you don’t suffer the aching back, sore neck, and headaches that plague a lot of new moms.

In addition, the practice gives you an incredible endorphin rush that helps to improve your mood. Simply being able to take a couple of hours to yourself, for yourself, by yourself, when no one needs something from you is critical to make Mommy a happy, loving, productive mommy. After my son was born, I remember thinking one day, “Do I have postpartum depression?” The next day I took my first class back and was on top of the world. It’s amazing what a little time to yourself and some exercise can do for you.

Loose Joints

The hormone relaxin that helped your body get ready to open and stretch your pelvis during delivery remains in your body for nine months postpartum. The levels reduce significantly in the first six weeks, and continue to diminish over the first nine months. Relaxin softens the ligaments in your body. Ligaments hold your joints together. Looser ligaments means looser joints.

To be clear, this looseness means your joints are not held together as well as they used to be. It does not mean you will be more flexible.

What this means in your practice is that you’ll need to be aware of the limits of your joints for nine months postpartum. As women, we tend to be more flexible than men and can often skate by in class on our flexibility and put a lot of extra strain on our joints.  This is detrimental to the body (postpartum or not) and now is a good time to erase those bad habits. Instead, concentrate on developing the strength in the muscles that support the joints, especially the weight-bearing joints. This is particularly important in one-legged, standing balancing postures. You must equally contract the quadriceps and hamstrings muscles over a straight knee joint to “lock” the knee. They antagonize each other and result in a strong, stable knee.

It is common (but not normal) for women to experience discomfort in the sacrum and hips after pregnancy. Good chiropractic care can help with any misalignment caused or exacerbated by your pregnancy, but good practice in the yoga room can help to support this area as well. In backward bends, firmly contract the hip muscles to support the sacrum and stabilize the lower back. Don’t try to push through pain in the sacrum in deep back bends or forward bends that rely on strong flexion of the hip joint, and don’t over-do it in hip flexibility exercises like lotus and pigeon before nine months postpartum.

Weak Abdominals

Your abdominal muscles are not just weak from the activities and exercises you couldn’t do while pregnant, but also because they were just stretched over a huge watermelon for nine months. It takes time for them to contract and retract to their normal length, then they still have to strengthen from there. You may notice when you completely relax them that it looks like there’s still a grapefruit or a cantaloupe sitting in there. Be patient. They will tighten up. Concentrate in class on really pulling in on your abs in all of the poses. Picture your abdominal muscles pulling the four corners of your belly (top two hip crests and the bottom of your ribs) together toward your belly button and back toward your spine. This should get them to engage like you want.

It may not feel or look like much is happening, but it’s repeating the action that leads to strengthening and results whether you can see it today or not. The only posture you don’t use the abdominals in is wind-removing pose.

You may also notice that postures you didn’t realize your belly affected are significantly harder. The abdominals stabilize the lower back. When they are weak, this makes postures like balancing stick and locust much more difficult. They also flex the spine and rotate it. You may find your depth is limited or more challenging in the head-to-knee postures, rabbit, triangle, spine twist. Again, don’t worry. It’s hard, but its just what your body needs. Remember, you’ve got to have a strong belly to avoid the postpartum back pain that so many women suffer unnecessarily.

Inferno Hot Pilates classes are a great way to rehabilitate the core muscles in the abdomen, hips, back, and pelvic floor post-partum!

Breastfeeding

Once baby can go 2-3 hours between feedings or is taking a bottle, you can resume your practice (with the support of your care providers, of course). You’ve probably already learned how much more water your body needs when breastfeeding. The same applies in the hot room. This is not the time to test your mental strength to refuse water. You may not need it mentally, but your body is making milk the whole time and needs water to fuel the process. Make sure you’re drinking a minimum of 16 ounces of water in class and more before and afterward. This may require you to have certain points where you stop and remind yourself to take a drink.

But they’re sore! Your breasts, I mean. It takes six weeks for a breastfeeding mother’s fluid levels to stabilize (in the entire body, not just your breasts). That’s why pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome bothers women until then and why the bra you bought when your milk came in is a little too big when your baby is two months old. Your breast size increases due not just to milk production and mammary glands, but also because of inflammation in your breasts in the beginning of each new nursing experience. Even for mothers who nursed a toddler their entire pregnancy. As this recedes, the soreness in your breasts usually follows and you can return to normal execution of the postures.

If they’re sore and you can’t lie on them, do the pregnancy Savasana or even the pregnancy modifications for the belly-down series. Some women with recurrent blocked ducts, mastitis or supply issues may need to do the pregnancy Cobra series for the entire breastfeeding period. If you’re not bothered, you can try the Cobra series, but may want to start the postures on your elbows while the rest of the class sets it up. Continue like this until your breasts are no longer sore.

Losing Weight

Whether we want to admit it or not, we all want to lose the “maternal fat stores” from pregnancy. Madonna used a regimen of Bikram Yoga to lose the baby weight from her pregnancies.

It is a rigorous series and burns a lot of calories, so it makes sense to use it to aid you in your quest. An in-depth study done in 2013 at Colorado State University showed the level of metabolism during class is close to 330 calories per class for a 150-pound woman. If you are breastfeeding, please remember that it is not recommended that you consume less than 1800-2400 calories per day without adverse effect on your supply. On the days that you practice, you will need to supplement your food supply to reflect an additional 300 calories at a minimum.

With that said, for some women, the weight falls off them while breastfeeding. For others, they hold onto their fat stores the entire time they are nursing. This seems to be a genetic phenomenon. If you’re eating well, exercising and not losing please be easy on yourself. There’s not much you can do about it. You’ll be rewarded in long run by all of the benefits your children receive along with your sweet milk.

What if you were more than a number?

Losing ten pounds won’t make you comfortable in your skin.

Just one more diet. Just this last ten pounds. If I just get a tummy tuck. If I could get rid of these wrinkles/cellulite/this mole/this scar/these bat wings/stretch marks/this hair.

Then, I’d feel good. I’d be happy. I will have arrived at my best life.

And it’s all a great big lie.

If you don’t love yourself right now, this very moment as you’re skimming over this article on the screen of your device, you won’t love yourself after the transformation you think you need.

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Practicing Yoga with Benign Positional Vertigo

A bout of vertigo can put the brakes on a lot of daily activity. Can you still practice yoga? Will it help? Will it make it worse?

As with most questions in life, the answer is, when in doubt, go to yoga.

I have suffered from motion sickness and periodic bouts of vertigo throughout my life. It wasn’t until my early thirties that an ear exam revealed I have Meniere’s disease, a genetic condition shared by my father and sister, and an explanation for vertigo at such a young age.

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Comfortable in My Skin

When I took my first Bikram Yoga Class, I was 22 years old. I was a landscaper by day and a heavy drinker by night. I paired my Budweisers each day with at least one dozen American Spirits, if not two. My job was hard on my body and my best friend and I relaxed at the end of the day with some well-deserved brews.

After my first class, I felt amazing. The class itself was hard and uncomfortable, but after I felt light and happy. At the time, I didn’t know anything about the “yoga high” or what was happening in my body.

I felt amazing, but had the perfect excuse not to return. I was too young to need this type of yoga.  It was hard and I was uncomfortable for several hours out of the day.  Yes, it’s only a 90-minute class, but I suffered from severe anxiety. I was uncomfortable from the moment I agreed to go until I was leaving the parking lot.

I have lived my whole life uncomfortable in my own skin.

So I quit. It took me five years to get back on the mat again.  At this point in my life, was no longer drinking, but still smoked a pack a day.  I started out small, going to class a couple of times a week.  The classes were still as hard as I remembered, but I had lost the bloat that comes from drinking a six pack of tall boys a night and that made the classes more tolerable.  My lungs burned in class, but not enough to keep me from craving that all-too-welcoming post-yoga smoke.

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I am Not Good in the Heat and Other Excuses

“I’d try hot yoga, but I’m not good in the heat.” I’ve heard that at least a hundred times or variations on the theme. “I hate heat.” “I can’t handle heat.” “No, really, I hate the heat.” “I tried it and I couldn’t handle the heat.”

I am the bearer of both good and bad news.

These are not reasons. These are excuses.

The good news is that now that you understand it is an excuse, you can take action. The bad news is that this is just an excuse and not a reason not to go to class.

The human body has a tremendously efficient and responsive thermoregulation system. Except in cases of illness, it does a wonderful job of constantly adjusting to changing external and internal temperature changes.

Why do some yoga poses hurt?

Yoga should never hurt.  

Your back is gonna hurt like hell.

We often confuse pain and stretching

Yoga is all about getting to know you.  Your body. Your mind. Your Self. Much of our daily lives revolve around ignoring the way we feel so we can get through the day and get our work done. We ignore our aching hips on the two hour commute as much as we avoid movements that remind us of what it feels like to live in this body.

When we first start to move every part of our bodies in yoga, the sensations are unfamiliar and we can frequently categorize the uncomfortable sensation of stretching or moving a joint through full range of motion as pain.

Backbending when you haven’t done it in twenty years hurts. Clearing mineral deposits from your elbows hurts. Tensing up when you are trying to stretch hurts. Bringing back full range of motion to a hip that only sits in a chair or a couch hurts.

Ask yourself, is this pain or the sensation of
stretching?  As a general rule, pain means stop and discomfort means go.

Yoga and Osteoporosis

We would like to believe that our bones will always be as strong and healthy as they were in our youth. Unfortunately, around the age of 30 we all reach peak bone mass. Our job at that point is to maintain at all costs as much bone as we can. Osteoporosis is not limited to women, but a much more common diagnosis. Bone loss begins for most women in perimenopause, but bone loss numbers jump dramatically during menopause due to dropping levels of estrogen and progesterone.

Bone density is no joke. The figure on the left shows healthy bone; the figure on the right shows osteoporotic bone. No one wants to enter their golden years on fragile pins. Luckily, there is hope.

In addition to a healthy diet high in calcium and Vitamin D, yoga can be an excellent tool in helping maintain peak bone mass, slow bone loss and prevent fractures. Yoga is a weight bearing activity that creates torque on the bones to help build bone density, much in the same way you build muscle strength, through Wolff’s Law. Bones get stronger and stay strong when they are called upon to do more.

Yoga also helps to improve balance to prevent falls as we age. Improving spinal alignment reduces the risk of wedge fractures in the vertebral bodies that lead to that stereotypical, kyphotic, osteoporosis look. Yoga improves flexibility, lubrication of the joints and range of motion, all of which contribute to preventing the most common hip, wrist and vertebral fractures associated with osteoporosis.

Powerful, successful women

We have seen a troubling trend in class recently: mature, successful, adult women fainting.  Powerful, successful women in the prime of their lives falling down on the floor in the middle of a yoga class. Women aged 40-70 years old. Career women. Mothers. Caretakers. Lovers. Brilliant and inspiring powerhouses. Women who regularly take care of 100 different things a day. Experienced and seasoned yogis, blacking out doing a pose they have done at least a hundred times. The common thread underlying these episodes? Food.

By food I mean, not enough.

Women who haven’t eaten in 24 hours. Women who have had less than 200 calories since they woke up. Women who consider egg whites and steamed vegetables enough fuel to last them 8 hours. In each case, the woman who had fainted was shocked when I suggested that starving her body might leave her light-headed during exercise.

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Practicing Bikram Yoga After a Mastectomy

Don’t let surgery limit your practice. Physical therapy is a must to improve range of motion and quality of life going forward. And, what do you know, the handouts and pamphlets with which I was sent home depict exercises straight out of the yoga tradition. Following are notations of how I modified the postures. Please incorporate what benefits your physical situation; don’t feel limited by my experience.

First, you will experience pain so move slowly into the postures. That being said, don’t let your fear of pain limit your achievements. Many times I stopped reaching at the same point I left off during the previous class, or even at a weeks old measure. I went through all sorts of pressure-relieving  modifications during the cobra series savasanabecause I assumed it would take months and months AND months to bear weight. It didn’t.

Test your limits every class. I’m not saying it’s okay to pop your stitches, but your body and your abilities change every day. It’s a good idea to check them every day so you don’t get stuck in last week’s temporary inability. For convenience, I’ll refer to a ‘well side’ and ‘surgical side’ to avoid all the rights and lefts.

Bridget Dubravsky is a Certified Yoga Instructor from Maine. She is also the author of Bikram Yoga and Breast Cancer.

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Breast Cancer and Bikram Yoga

September 27, 2013 

Hi, I’m Bridget. I’m your yoga teacher and I am seven months cancer free.
During a routine mammogram in January they discovered a large area of concern. On that Wednesday doctors performed several wire insertions, core samples and a biopsy. While the procedures were not incredibly painful, I was anxious and didn’t know what to expect or what to feel from one to the next. I practiced breathing slowly in through the nose and slowly out through the nose to head off the rising panic and to give myself a calming focus. I get savasanas now and how comforting it is to be still in the standing series.

They sent me home with ice packs, gauze, bandages and a very misshapen profile. The swelling continued as did the bleeding. I stopped practicing that week. And then I started to talk myself out of teaching that Sunday morning class. You know how it is. Just like with my practice or rather my excuses not to practice: ‘Ok, you can stay home just this once. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break and, of course, oh why not?!? This is the perfect excuse.’

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Battling Diabetes through Bikram Yoga

Type 1 Diabetes also known as Juvenile Diabetes or Diabetes Melitus is a genetic condition usually affecting children.

Juvenile Diabetes has nothing to do with an unhealthy lifestyle, eating too much sugar, or lack of exercise. There is genetic abnormality on chromosome six that causes the white blood cells of the body to attack the insulin-producing portion of the pancreas killing the hormone which enables the body to metabolize carbohydrates. Without insulin a person will die because there is no way for the cells to get the nutrients they need for survival.

When I was 10 years old, I lost 30 pounds in one month. I was lethargic and unable to wake up for school.  My parents were convinced that I was depressed and did not want to attend school. When I went to the doctor a blood sugar test showed that my blood sugar levels were in the 600s (normal range is 80-120).  A blood sugar this high can lead to coma and eventually death.  It was determined that I had Juvenile Diabetes.

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Can You Practice Hot Yoga During Pregnancy?

began a blog to be of assistance in helping you to make educated decisions about exercise during yours.

At the studio, we’ve had several women in low-risk pregnancies have their doctors tell them that they could not practice hot yoga while pregnant, with little information on the classes.  Please take the concerns of your physician or midwife seriously.  Women with high-risk pregnancies must first obtain a doctor’s note to participate in classes at Blaze Yoga and Pilates.

Many doctors, however, incorrectly assume that practicing in a hot room is akin to being in a sauna or Jacuzzi and that is where their concern develops.  Both a sauna and a Jacuzzi are much hotter than a standard hot yoga class.  The biggest difference is the inability for the body to cool itself when in a sauna or Jacuzzi.  Sweat (evapotranspiration) and moving air (convection) are the cooling mechanisms for a practicing yogi.  Neither of these are existent in a Jacuzzi and only one (sweat) in a sauna where the air is heated up to 40 degrees hotter than a Bikram Yoga or Inferno Hot Pilates class.Naturally, many pregnant women have concerns about hot yoga during pregnancy.  

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Clean and Green

One of the primary pillars that makes Blaze Yoga and Pilates is our commitment to a GREEN approach. We believe strongly that all of our actions should contribute to a cleaner and greener studio, region, country, and planet.

With that in mind, we are always working to offer the most effective, green, sustainable environment possible so that we can all thrive, together.

Is the studio clean? I'll start to answer the first question with a question back: have you met my husband, Jaylon? He steam cleans our carpets at home for fun. At the end of a long, hard day, he just wants to hot steam-mop the kitchen floor.

A rare sighting of Jaylon in his natural habitat.

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Yoga as a Tool in Healing: How to feel better

Kyle Maiorana and Erin Holt of the Funk’tional Nutrition podcast this week to talk about what role yoga can play in healing chronic pain and illness.

Both women are registered dietitians who work to help their clients develop personalized plans for health that cover all aspects of their lives. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the work they do and wait anxiously each week for the release of the next episode. Topics cover everything from healthy fats to good sources of animal protein, and from the benefits of CBD oil to understanding diet culture. They also host people in the fields of health and wellness to share their unique areas of expertise.
I had the great pleasure of joining

Will I pass out in hot yoga?

The short answer to the question is: it’s highly unlikely.

Many new students have heard horror stories about yoga classes so hot that people were dropping like flies and being carried out of the room. Most of these are embellished or frankly fabricated. Like any tall tale, there’s always a kernel of truth: usually survival stories from teacher training where they try to burn you down metaphorically so you can rise like a phoenix from the ashes. You won’t find that in a general public yoga class.

I sat down this morning and tried to count how many times I’ve seen people pass out in yoga. I couldn’t even fill up one hand. I’ve heard stories of more than that, but in 17 years of practicing and teaching Bikram Yoga, I’ve only seen three people “go down” in a class.

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Small Business Saturday!

Small Business Saturday is back on Saturday, November 24th. Join us for free classes and special sales the Saturday after Thanksgiving!

We love you all so much and can’t wait for the opportunity to show our gratitude to this amazing yoga community by offering free classes for you and your friends and family and special discounts on yoga and accessories.

Save your spot in the free classes below!

 25% off retail does not include food or CBD
Intro Month for the price of a drop in! $20 for 30 days unlimited
Special! 5-class card for $79 one day only!
Special! 50-class card for $739 one day only!
Special! Annual Unlimited for $1,099 just $91.58/month!
Autopay Ten Card for $150 automatically renews every ten classes or six months

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Practicing Yoga While Sick

Can I practice when I’m sick?

It’s a question we get at the studio often. As with most yoga-related questions,there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

First and foremost, if you have something contagious, please stay home and keep it to yourself. We once had a student undergoing treatment for a persistent MRSA infection practicing at the studio for four months without telling us.

Lucky for all who were practicing at that time, our sweat contains powerful antiseptic peptides in dermcidin. The best feature of dermcidin is that it attacks the microbes’ cell walls, not something to which a microbe can develop resistance.

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Welcome to Blaze Yoga and Pilates!

We are thrilled to welcome you to the studio and to our wonderful community. Here, I’m going to share some tips to help you get the most out of your time with us.

We offer the most effective hot yoga and Pilates techniques available in the world from the best trained teachers who can help you meet your goals and heal your body. Whatever your goal, whatever your challenge, whatever your limitation, we are confident we can help.

We are on a mission to help people take control of their health and wellness so they can feel great and have a positive impact on the world.

You may have heard some crazy stories about hot yoga and Pilates. We’ve made this short video to help you thrive through your first class:

Donna Carberry Memorial Fund

In 2011, the BYP community lost a very special member when Donna Carberry passed away after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Donna was loved by all who knew her. She loved life, her family, hiking, nature, running, music, and yoga. In her own words, Donna was “in love with love.” Her bright smile lit up every class she attended.

Throughout her fight, Donna continued to practice yoga with us. She’d enter the studio with a huge smile every day and always shared her gratitude for each day and each class, despite the effects of chemo or when the cancer degraded her bones.

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Top Tips for Getting and Staying Hydrated for Yoga and Pilates

Hydration is key to having a great class and good hydration is more than just pounding water. Here are some quick tips to help you stay on top of your game.

eight central pillars

At Blaze Yoga and Pilates, there are eight central pillars that serve as the foundation for all that we do.

With the support of these core values, we are able to uphold our mission as a yoga studio to support our community members to take charge of their health, to heal their wounds, and amplify their lives so they can maximize their impact on the world.

By practicing our eight pillars, we are able to achieve our vision that our studio is able to create a robust and impactful community that ushers positivity and change into the world.

Commit to 90

Our powerful Commit to 90 Whole Life Challenge is back and better than ever!

We’re so stoked to team up with Functional Nutritionist Erin Holt to bring you our new and improved Commit to 90 Whole Life Challenge.

Commit to 90 is a 90-day challenge that rewards you for taking care of yourself. Instead of blasting out classes every day for a month like we’ve always done in our September 30-day Challenge, we’ll focus on building a regular, steady practice. CT90 is designed to help you make informed decisions around nutrition, learn to fuel your body, heal your relationship with food, build community connections, and make time for activities that enhance your life.

Watch this video to learn more!

How Yoga Enhances Recovery

As a culture, we have become very familiar with the suffering and loss associated with substance use disorders.  We are also quick to notice the psycho-biological symptoms associated with them. What we may not be as familiar with, and completely unprepared for, however, is the discomfort associated with Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS.  PAWS refers to abstinence-based biological changes that occur once an individual has made a decision for change and entered recovery. It is the abstinence-based biological symptoms of PAWS that makes early recovery so uncomfortable and hard to understand, and therefore extremely difficult to maintain.

Join us for a special lecture on Yoga and Sobriety Monday, October 8th at 5 pm.

Hot Yoga and Back Pain

This testimonial is the story of my personal recovery from debilitating pain from herniated discs through the practice of the therapeutic Bikram Method Yoga.  This yoga gave me back my life. In the depths of my pain, I remember sitting in the car with my husband outside one of our favorite restaurants crying. I couldn’t even imagine enduring the suffering of a nice, romantic dinner. The thought of sitting for 45-minutes was pure torture.

The following is my story and experience. I have included a posture-by-posture list of my personal approach to the practice for back pain-sufferers. I offer the information to help you on your way. People write me daily asking if Bikram Yoga will work for them. I am not a doctor. It worked for me. It has worked for hundreds of my students. The principles work.

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