Our second stint for the month is Cyndi Roberts, E-RYT-200, YACEP, Certified Therapeutic and Prenatal Yoga, Level II Reiki.
Cyndi teaches one-on-one pre and/or postnatal yoga by appointment in her private yoga studio within Zen: Body + Mind, Holistic Healing at 91 South Main Street, West Hartford, CT
Cyndi likes to share with students the adjustments and all the knowledge she gained from learning through experience so their practice feels accessible and beneficial. To impart some of this experience, Cyndi shared that she has practiced and studied all kinds of yoga for thousands of hours and wanted more information about providing modifications for pregnancy. Though she could ask students how they felt, she could never truly experience or understand how a pregnant body felt until she became pregnant herself in 2014. Determined to help her students on a deeper level, she took a prenatal yoga teacher training at Kripalu while she was six months pregnant. During her pregnancy and post-partum, she studied and practiced more to help ease the uncertainty of her ever-changing body. Two years after baby, she feels her body is completely different and so is her practice.
What separates her from the other? Simple. She teaches students a blend of breathing exercises, meditations, restorative and gentle yoga that not only connects mom to baby, but it also strengthens both body and mind for labor and delivery while alleviating aches and pains associated with pregnancy. It is a type of yoga that is found nowhere else in the world. Classes are one-on-one so they are convenient to students’ schedules and they get all of her attention and care during a session. Not only does she have a certification for teaching pre/postnatal, she also has life experience.
As an instructor, her greatest achievement is teaching over 2,000 hours of yoga and recently publishing her first book – “Yoga For Low Back and Hip Health”. The instruction in her book is safe for women postpartum to help alleviate back, hip and pelvic pain. All women should get clearance from their doctor before beginning their practice again and those who suffer from diastasis recti should skip the ab chapter. She has a blog on her website, that anyone with diastasis recti can check out for more information and specific yoga poses to help manage pain.
Here are some misconceptions pregnant women make with regards to pre or post natal yoga or exercise during pregnancy:
Abs, inversions and twists.
Not many pregnant women know that practicing some light ab work is safe during pregnancy. For example, table extensions (extending opposite arm and leg on hands and knees) while you draw the navel up to the spine with each exhale and release on the inhale. You want to avoid any “crunching” ab exercises and exercises that build heat in the core. Some light ab work, however, will be beneficial. As always, though, listen to your body and if practicing abs makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it.
- Another misconception is that practicing inversions during pregnancy is unsafe. Remember that not all inversions are created equal and if you are someone who already has a strong headstand or handstand practice, practicing during pregnancy with additional support is fine. If you don’t have a strong/regular head or handstand practice, now is not the time to start! Concerns for practicing inversions are the loss of balance, falling and injury to mom and/or baby. Supported legs up the wall or legs up with the sacrum on a block is fine for 3-5 minutes if you are in the second or third trimester, a little longer if you are in the first. However, as you enter week 30 and discover baby is head down, you may not want to practice inversions because the baby may turn. By week 36, if the baby is still not head down, practicing inversions could help give the baby the space to turn. And again, if practicing inversions feel wrong in your body, don’t practice them.
- I have seen women avoid twisting altogether because they were unsure if they were safe. The good news is they are and may provide some relief from a tight low back. The concern is how deep you are twisting. Avoid deep twists and instead take softer twists from the hips rather than the upper or mid back. Further along in your pregnancy, you may need to twist in the opposite direction to allow more space for baby. My son would always push back against me and let me know he didn’t have enough room in twists. I would back off or twist the other way. In the case of a supported twist, where you are resting the belly on a bolster, just move the supports so the belly can hang. You may have to build up a few blankets on top of the bolster. Again, listen to your body and avoid deep twisting.
So far, Cyndi has published her first book, “Yoga For Low Back and Hip Health”, opened Zen: Body + Mind, Holistic Healing Wellness Center at 91 South Main Street in West Hartford and hopes to complete her first four-week online program for stress relief. She has already begun writing her next book, “Prenatal Yoga For Low Back and Hip Health” and hope to publish it next year along with an online prenatal yoga program. In the meantime, she loves teaching her one-on-one pre/post natal clients!
Cyndi shares her best tip:
"Never underestimate the power of relaxation and self-care. Deep breathing and relaxation calms mom and baby, giving both the space to be healthy and well. Relaxation will replenish and recharge you during the busyness of motherhood. Self-care needs to be an essential part of pregnancy and after birth. Taking care of yourself isn’t a selfish act. It will make you the best mom and partner you can be. The love and care you extend to baby must first come from the love and care you extend to yourself."
To end this article, Cyndi imparts some more knowledge about her line of work. According to her, what she has seen in the yoga world is that there is little to no mention of appropriate modifications for pregnancy and postnatal yoga is basically non-existent. The female body is undergoing tremendous and rapid physical, emotional and chemical changes during pregnancy and after. To avoid injury or long-term issues, it’s best to practice under the guidance of someone that is properly trained and has the life experience of having been pregnant, so you may receive all the benefits of yoga during this precious time. It is one of her passions to teach and share all of the knowledge she has gained along this yogic path of health and wellness. To then help create the space for others to take a journey as well is pure joy and purpose.
Cyndi has a free positive birth affirmation download on her website: www.yogawithcr.com/positive-birth-affirmations-free-mp3 To learn more about Cyndi and her private practice you may visit her website at www.yogawithcr.com or you may email her at [email protected]