Five Points Yoga

Barrett's Blog

Archive for the ‘Postnatal Information’ Category

November Yoga Babies!


Here’s the next cute installment of new yoga babies in the world!


Liz G., from Healthworks, had baby girl Alice on 11/1.  She weighed 8lbs, 4oz.


Alison R., from Healthworks, had baby boy Nathan on 11/3.   He weighed 8lbs, 13oz and arrived after Alison was just past 42 weeks!  After a long induction and labor, Nathan was born and Alison writes: “I am sure that I never could have done it without my dedication to fitness and yoga/mindfulness throughout my pregnancy.


Lora B., from Black Lotus and Karma, had baby boy Gabriel, on 11/5.   She writes:  “We certainly used every pose from the partners prenatal yoga we could remember, and it helped not just our baby but also our connection to each other.”


Alison D., from O2, had baby girl Violet on 11/7.    I cried a little when I read what she wrote:  “I will miss the prenatal yoga classes, as much for the focus and energy as for the wonder of being joined by so many pregnant women and all of their beautiful bellies.  I would often look around during class and marvel at what a sight we all were.”


Ruth R., from O2 and Karma, had baby boy Robin on 11/14.   Ruth wrote: “I went into labor at 2:30 am the day after Monday night’s yoga practice. Yoga classes certainly helped me labor at home – doing squatting, hip openers, and breathing techniques.”


Radka S., from O2, had baby girl Maire on 11/19.   She weighed 8lbs, 7oz.

Wrist Sensitivity in Pregnancy


The wrist is a fragile joint for anyone, but it comes under particular stress in the childbearing year.

A lot of people tend to call any wrist sensitivity “Carpal Tunnel”, but that’s not always accurate.   There are over 20 kinds of soft tissue overuse injuries that can affect the shoulders down to the fingers, many of which are felt in the wrist.  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome refers to the specific instance when the median nerve is pinched as it runs through the wrist (ie carpal) tunnel.   Someone can have wrist pain but not have a pinched median nerve.  In pregnant women, the ‘bracelet’ of the wrist bones feels especially sensitive because: the joint becomes unstable due to relaxin hormone; the increased blood flow from pregnancy is difficult to pass through a narrow joint; fluids pool in extremities, which causes swelling, causes even more narrowing of the passage.  Wrist sensitivity in pregnancy tends to resolve itself when you take these issues away.   In general, the main “cure” for it is finishing up pregnancy!   However, there are many things you can do to lessen the discomfort.

In my prenatal practice, we spend a lot of time on all fours, bearing weight on the hands with the wrists flexed.   In every class, I offer ways to modify the practice so that a woman doesn’t have to spend any time weight bearing on a sensitive wrist.   Options include: making fists and putting knuckles down on the floor with straight wrists; splaying the fingers out like tent poles to bear weight ; or coming down on the forearms.   Most women with sensitive wrists will cycle through all of those options in a class.  It’s so important to keep practicing yoga, because even though you may have to modify in the above ways, the benefits of yoga outweigh that inconvenience.

The basic hands and knees position


Modifying down on the forearms

As I mentioned above, swelling is one of the causes of wrist pain.  Minimizing swelling everywhere in the body will help the wrists.  Putting your legs up will help your wrists, as will any mild inversion (we do several in prenatal yoga).  Drinking lots of water and eating water-rich foods (fruits and veggies), which helps reduce swelling, will also help the wrists.

Legs up the wall is safe for most pregnant women and a great help for the circulatory system.

Finally, keeping your circulatory system going will help improve the wrists’ sensitivity.   Yoga is one of the best ways to improve your circulation.  The asanas we practice in prenatal yoga stretch tight chests and shoulders.  As our breasts change size in pregnancy, we tend to hunch and compress our thoracic outlet.  Often, general discomfort in the forearms or wrists is greatly improved once we work out some of the knots in the shoulders and chest, because restriction of blood flow was starting all the way up there. Getting blood and prana (life force) to flow through the whole body, but especially the upper body, is the best healer for injury.

Opening the chest keeps the prana flowing!

And don’t forget about the postpartum period!  Though the causes of the wrist sensitivity in pregnancy might subside, now we have a whole new set of circumstances that can cause wrist pain.   Women are operating on less sleep, are feeding babies in hunched positions for long periods of time, and are picking up babies often with really bent wrists (think baby sleeping in a bassinet next to mom and reaching over to pick up baby by contorting wrists).   All these things put the wrists at continued risk for injury.

There are several non-yoga treatments possible to help sore wrists.   Wearing a splint at night for sleeping or during the day when you’re resting (not when working)  will keep your wrist in a neutral position.  Acupuncture and massage are great.   Vitamin B6 might be good for keeping the nerves healthy.   Ask your practitioner about what they recommend!

Yoga in the First 2 Weeks Postpartum

I was at my new mom’s group today, and here’s the first thing to know – everyone has such different experiences in pregnancy, labor and birth, and postpartum!  We all had different experiences in each phase of this childbearing year. So, though I teach postnatal yoga, going through the experience and listening to others reaffirms that we each have to go at our own pace.

Here’s what I’ve learned from my yoga practice in the first two weeks postpartum.  Remember, this is me, and your experience after giving birth will be different:

1)      For some period of time, you will wonder if you’ll ever feel normal again.

When I first stood up after giving birth, I thought my hip was displaced, my hamstring was pulled and all my nerves from the waist down were on high voltage.  After a few minutes, things settled down, but it’s a crazy experience your body has, even if it’s designed to do this!

For the first week after giving birth, I felt like I was twice my age!   I was so creaky and cranky in my muscles and joints.   I stayed in bed a lot, walked a little, and didn’t do a lot of yoga asanas (see what I did in #2 below).   By the second week, I felt like myself, just extra stiff.   I added simple asanas to my yoga routine, like shoulder stretches.    Now entering the third week, I feel totally normal, and my yoga practice is coming back to normal.  Besides intensive core work, I can do the basics of most any pose – inversions, twists, back strengtheners, hip openings etc.

2)      It’s all about moola bandha and uddiyana bandha.

If you’re not an experienced yogini, these might be foreign terms to you.   The bandhas are a bit complex to explain in words (and they’re not easy to teach either), but these two techniques are essential to start practicing postpartum!   Moola bandha is essentially an engagement (or lift) of your  pelvic floor, and uddiyana bandha is essentially engaging you midsection abdominals.   My primary yoga in the first week was feeling these two “locks,” or bandhas.   They are the weak links after going through pregnancy and then giving birth (even if you don’t have a vaginal birth, both are still weakened).

3)      Many people experience a euphoric state for a few weeks, but watch out for the crash!

You may think you’re superwoman the first week or two!  Watch out – you have to rest or else you’ll crash.   We have hormones that get us through the first few weeks, but after that, you need to have some sleep and nutritional reserves built up.

There’s been a few days where I’ve planned too much, and it’s made me AND Yona (and my husband Gadi) cranky.   So I’m getting better at acknowledging limits – 1-2 guests per day visiting, and for a short period of time only.   And for now, as we’re starting to venture out of the house, I’ve realized only 1 outing per day.  It’s been hard to stick to this “rule,” but it pays off.   My midwife says that the number 1 thing we can do to heal after birth is to rest.  It’s so hard to give yourself, but in the long run, it pays off.

4)      Additional non-yoga care has been helpful.

I’ve used a belly band and done some uterine massage to help settle my organs (an extension of uddiyana bandha).   I didn’t use stairs for a whole week after birth to heal my pelvic floor (an extension of moola bandha).  I can go into more detail about these things in a later post if anyone’s interested.

A little splurge could be great too!  I cannot wait to get a pedicure – it’s not going to heal my body, but it will help me feel like my normal self again!   Massage, going out to eat, shopping, going to the beach.   Try to find something to do in the first 2 months that help *you* feel like *you* again!


When I get back to teaching postpartum yoga, I will be so excited to have gone through this experience!   We’ve always focused a lot on the pelvic floor and the abdominals in class (along with sore backs and shoulders).   But having experienced it first-hand now, I can truly say that postnatal yoga makes a huge difference.

I can feel after two weeks that my abdominals are coming together – they’re looking good too!   My pelvic floor is strong and supporting me and my organs (I’m not ready to go jogging yet, but that will come in time).   Though I’m still stiff in the legs and shoulders, I know with regular practice, I’ll loosen up again.

What would I do without yoga?   It’s such a blessing, time after time!    I’ll keep you updated on my progress as I continue on this postpartum journey.



Wearing Your Baby

Continuing on my exhaustive week of all things mom and yoga related, I just taught my new moms yoga class today.   In class, there was a new mom whose baby is 10 weeks old. She lives in the neighborhood, and told me she doesn’t own a car or a stroller!   She and her partner have planned to buy a stroller this spring, but she can’t bring herself to do it yet.   The thought of storing the monstrosity in a city apartment is part of it.   And she says, she likes wearing her baby and finds it more comfortable and convenient. 

And then I read this article from the NYTimes two days ago, all about “babywearing” instead of strollering.   Very interesting!   Moms and Dads, what do you prefer?

Love and light,


Of Interest to Moms

While I’m on a roll with mom resources, here’s some more local events in town, and global events happening online!

1. Monday, March 22 at 7pm.   Mass Midwives Birth Circle at the Cambridge Women’s Center.  “Each meeting will include positive birth stories in all settings as well as additional topics regarding pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Come meet women who treasure their birthing experiences.”  For more information see above Women’s Center link or email

2.   Mothering Magazine – I get a digital subscription and it’s awesome!  No magazines cluttering my house!  I wish more magazines did this – I’d subscribe.    Occasionally, Mothering also offers packets of helpful information, like this Sleep Packet.   The number 1 thing new moms discuss is sleep – their lack of it, and their babies’ ever changing patterns of it.   This packet has a lot of helpful information about sleep during the first year of your baby’s life.

3. A new pamphlet out from Childbirth Connection called Comfort in Labor.    This is a helpful guide to print out and use when you go into labor.  Also,  I highly recommend having a doula if you’re giving birth in a hospital – she’ll help you through all the things this handout mentions, and more!  

4. One of my favorite articles to come out in the last few months on the NYTimes concerns laboring women’s right to eat and drink during labor.  This has been quite exciting, because if you’ve been in labor you know it’s a lot of work and you need *fuel.*   Midwives and doulas have been encouraging moms to snack for years in labor, and hopefully this lifting of the ban on eating and drinking during labor will go by the wayside quickly. 

 I’ll leave you with some cute pictures of our mom and baby class that happens on Friday afternoons.   Happy families!

Babies love to watch their parents move!

Feels good to go upside down!

Mama Resources

For years, I’ve sent expectant moms a prenatal resource list and new moms a postpartum resource list.  Both are chock full of local people (doctors, doulas, acupuncturists, classes, etc.) and items (DVDs, music, etc.) that are helpful in pregnancy and postpartum.  I’m now putting them online!!  Click here for my favorite prenatal resources  in the Boston area.   Click here for my postpartum resources list in the Boston area, and please note that this is a work in progress.   Email me if you have other suggestions.   

I realize that wherever you are in the world, it’s so important to find a community that can give you these kinds of resources.   I’m always learning from moms in my classes about new resources.   It got me thinking –

How do you find your community?  

1)     Go to movement class – preferably yoga!!   When you’re pregnant, it’s so helpful not only to move and breathe in pregnancy, but also to meet moms.  This goes for the postpartum period as well.   After my Friday afternoon new moms yoga class, participants go across the street to the local café to keep on talking.   I know many pregnant and new moms make walking/hiking dates, and even have girls’ nights out, baby-free!  

2)     When you’re pregnant, go to the new moms groups, like LaLecheLeague.  Going before you have your baby helps you scope out the best  resources ahead of time, while you still have time! 

3)     Consider taking  childbirth education classes earlier.  The trend these days is to take CBE classes all in one weekend later in the 3rd trimester.   I recommend taking a 6 week series between your 2nd-3rd trimester (like 24-30 weeks).   You’ll interact more in a longer series, and you’ll have more opportunity to act on helpful information you receive (caregivers, test options, etc.)

4)      Keep hanging out with your non-parent friends.   Keeping this all in context is so important!!  In the first months postpartum, it’s difficult to talk about anything else besides babies.   Having some good friends around who have been with you through pregnancy will be invaluable in this time.   They’ll listen to you, but they’ll also help you with some non-baby conversation and stimulation!

5)     Get online.   There are a lot of virtual communities as well that can be a good source of support and information.  Nothing replaces real human connection, of course, but this can be a good adjunct.

I hope this helps moms in my local area, but also around the world.   Please pass along!

Love and light,


The Doula Guide to Birth – Book of the Month

Pregnant Mamas – Read this Book!


I’m adding to my list of favorite books to suggest in pregnancy.   Boston resident (and friend of mine) Ananda Lowe has written a FANTASTIC book all about what you need to know to give birth in the US today.  


It’s called “The Doula Guide to Birth: Secrets Every Pregnant Woman Should Know”  and it’s chock full of helpful tips from Ananda’s years as a doula, prenatal massage therapist, and employee at ALACE (I took her job at ALACE when she left in 2003, and learned much of what I know about pregnancy, birth and postpartum while working there). 


I like this book because it’s very open to all the possibilities of what someone may want in their birth.   I don’t think this book leaves anyone out – she speaks to single moms, lesbian moms, twin moms, and the dads/partners of said moms.  


A student of mine mentioned that she thought the book pushed the idea of getting a doula a little too much.   I’m such a fan of having a doula that I didn’t notice that at all, but I guess someone who knows they do not want a doula might experience that as well.  However, even if you know you don’t want a doula, I found information in this book that is hard to find written about anywhere else, so I still think it’s a great read.





The Birth Survey is Launched

Just Launched!   The first ever consumer ratings website for birth locations (hospitals, birth centers) and providers around the country!


I think this could be a really useful survey that will give many future parents good information about care providers when they are pregnant.   Read about the Birth Survey here.   If you’ve given birth in the last 3 years, I encourage you to fill out the survey.   Future moms need your experience to help them navigate through their choices in childbirth!


The Birth Survey was designed by CIMS – the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services.   They do great work!


Let me know if you fill out the survey!



Two Great Classes at Black Lotus Yoga


Mom and Baby Yoga – Fridays 1:30 – 2:45pm Starts today!  Taught by Barrett


Sunrise Yoga – Thursdays 6:30-7:45am Starts April 30, taught by Sarah


I’m really excited to be starting my new moms yoga class today at Black Lotus!! This is one of my favorite classes to teach, and one of the most challenging – there’s a lot going on.  I think of the class as controlled chaos 🙂


But, it’s extremely helpful for new moms.   We focus on a mom’s essential needs postpartum:

          to move and breathe in a way that feels invigorating but restful

          to strengthen and tone the physical body postpartum, especially focusing on the pelvic floor and abdomen

          to relax mentally and go with the flow of caring for a newborn

          to enjoy time with your new baby

          to connect with other new moms in a supportive space


We do this by making the babies as comfortable as possible in the beginning of class.   I invite moms to come early, to feed and swaddle their babes and make them content.   Then we get down to business with yoga!   Of course, sometimes babies will need something during the 75 minutes of our class.   We have specific standing, sitting, nursing, and lying down postures to practice with the baby as well, so you can stay in the yoga zone even if your baby needs to be held for a bit.


We also work in stages, so the class is appropriate even if you’re newly postpartum.   When you first begin attending, you’ll work with the most gentle postures, and after several weeks, you’ll move into more intermediate and advanced postures.


Also at Black Lotus, Sarah is offering a Sunrise Yoga class starting April 30!

This 8-week class will help you dedicate time in your life to your yoga practice in two ways: Class will meet every Thursday morning from 6:30-7:45 AM for 8-weeks beginning April 30.  In addition, every other week, Sarah will post a 5-20 minute podcast for you. These podcasts will be mini-yoga classes to help fortify your practice and  give you some material to work with on your own. Pod casts will have the following topics: yoga at your desk; breathing easy; feel the stretch (for flexibility); rinsing out (twisting series). Tuition for the full course is $99. Please call or stop in to Black Lotus to reserve your spot today! 617.899.4775



See you on the mat!





New moms and babies at a recent brunch I hosted at my house

How Yoga Can Support Breastfeeding


I read this report a few days ago about how hospitals unintentioally discourage breastfeeding through various interventions.   It’s sad that we know the benefits of breast milk for babies, and yet new families often aren’t supported in their goal to breastfeed.


I started thinking about how yoga can help moms who are committed to breastfeeding, even if they’ve had challenges getting started.  One of the challenges with breastfeeding can be getting both mom and baby comfortable for feedings, which can last 10-50 minutes (or longer sometimes).  In my new mom’s class (which is starting again on April 24), we work a lot on the upper body so that it’s comfortable to hold and feed a baby several hours each day.   You can see a short article here that mentions some of the postures we focus on in class:


The Breastfeeding Guru has tips for how to start your yoga practice after you give birth, and when to breastfeed in relation to exercise. Another challenge is just finding the time to dedicate to feeding as well as to everything else (nevermind yoga!).  I know in class, it’s helpful to feed a baby before class because then the baby is content and (hopefully) will give mom some solid time to practice!  

Sometimes a innovative position can be helpful, like side lying while breastfeeding.   This mom talks about how to feed from the side lying position without having to move to switch sides.   She calls it lactation yoga, because it reminds her of some yoga positions she’s practiced. 


The greatest impact yoga may have on encouraging moms through the first few months of a baby’s life is in cultivating patience.   A newborn requires an intensive amount of energy, especially from the feeding parent.  In the new moms class, one goal is to help each mom find the present moment, and connect to their baby and to themselves.   One mom I worked with said that the hours of feeding her baby kept reminding her of the patience she cultivated on her yoga mat, one breath at a time, one pose at a time.  I hope that remembering how it feels to be connected on the yoga mat helps new moms (and all new parents) be connected through the long hours and days and months of a new baby’s life.  


Finally, a very cute video – am I weird for wanting to be this mom someday?   Warning – there’s a breast in this video, don’t watch if that’s not cool with you J  





« Older Entries |