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Motherhood Mantras to Get You Through the Day

As mothers, we have a tough, thankless job that doesn’t come with any handbook with directions on how to navigate motherhood. We are forced to tap into that divine feminine intuition that sometimes can be tough to listen to when we are tired, working, trying to raise kind, responsible human beings and juggling all life throws at us. That can lead to opportunities for negative narratives filling up your mind. Then comes the comparisons to other mothers, without much help from social media. It then leads to focusing on what we did wrong to what a horrible parent we are. You can head down a rabbit hole of despair fairly quickly.

But there are some things we can do to stay centered and close to the Goddess Mother within you. The more we work on our own narrative, the more others will catch on as well. If anything we need more now, it’s to support each other in this motherhood journey even if situations are not the same. We need to unite as mothers because, let’s be honest, it takes a village to raise a child!

So how can we do that?

Changing the narrative.

Sounds easier said than done, I know. But don’t complicate it because it is a simple task, we can all do. When you find negative thoughts flooding your mind, instantly turn it into something positive. Whether its immediately thinking of 3 things you are grateful for or just saying something positive about yourself instead. This will train your mind into releasing the negative and focusing on the positive. Instead of thinking about everything you did wrong, think about everything you did right! I guarantee that list is longer!

Something else I love, love, love are Affirmations.

Affirmations are positive, unique mantras or statements about you or your situation that you can play on repeat in your mind daily. You can choose one daily or a few different ones to repeat throughout the day. I suggest starting your day, upon waking, with an affirmation that will set the tone for the day. Write it down so you can be reminded of it often.

If you are having trouble coming up with your own, here is a list of 30 Motherhood Mantras that will get you through the chaos that motherhood comes with.

  1. I love myself enough, to nurture myself, so I have an abundance of love to give to others.
  2. I trust my intuition to lead me in my motherhood journey.
  3. I am capable of amazing things because I helped create life.
  4. I love the body that created and carried my child(ren).
  5. My body is beautiful and deserves grace in this season of healing.
  6. I am centered and focused on healing my postpartum mind, body, and soul.
  7. I am strong because I helped create, carry and birth my little one(s).
  8. Peace begins with me. The more peaceful I am inside, the more peace I have to share with others. – Louise Hay
  9. This is just a season of life that needs me to nurture and be nurtured.
  10. I love myself because_____________.
  11. I am filled with an abundance of love.
  12. Today I will find peace in knowing that the sun always rises and so will I.
  13. Even the littlest thing I do, serves the greater good of my family.
  14. I parent with confidence, without guilt or comparisons. Other mothers are not me, as I am not them.
  15. I give myself permission to do something that nourishes my mind, body and soul.
  16. Loving my child(ren) is more important than loving every moment of motherhood.
  17. I am a good mom, even as I work to become a better one.
  18. I was chosen to parent my child because I was exactly what he/she needed.
  19. There is an abundance of love and peace in this home, even in the midst of chaos.
  20. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my child(ren).
  21. I will do my best as a mom, and that is always enough.
  22. I am more than enough for my baby.
  23. I am present and grateful in this moment.
  24. I will model self-love to my child(ren) without guilt.
  25. The struggles I push through today will be the strengths I gain tomorrow.
  26. My love is given from my full, heart centered, cup.
  27. I will let go of how I think today is supposed to go and accept how it flows.
  28. I am grateful for my ability to create and carry life.
  29. I was brought to this moment because I am strong enough to thrive through this situation gracefully.
  30. I am going with the flow of life and I am peaceful knowing it will all be OK.

I hope starting this affirmation practice gives you the confidence you need to be your best Goddess Mother self, even when life challenges it.

Women's Health

Tight, Painful Hips? Physical and/or Metaphysical Origin

Did you know that experiencing pain or tightness in the hips or even sciatica issues could relate to an imbalanced pelvic floor? The pelvic floor muscles are the hammock shaped muscles that attach from the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis and the tailbone at the back of the pelvis. A strong and healthy pelvic floor supports our reproductive organs, urinary continence, bowel health and sexual well-being. However, when the muscles are too tight or too weak, our body responds in many ways including incontinence, painful sex, back, hip, and pelvic floor pain, etc. Many factors influence the health of the pelvic floor. They can be affected by pregnancy, childbirth, ageing, hormonal changes, collagen levels, diet, not breathing deeply enough, anterior/posterior pelvic tilts and poor form with lifting. Hip pain is one way the body responds to the pelvic floor imbalance. Our pelvic floor muscles attach directly to the hip muscles via the Obturator Internus. This muscle helps maintain bowel and bladder control and is a power player in sexual function. With pelvic floor muscle imbalance, you could feel deep hip pain within the pelvis, in the lower abdomen, or present as sciatica.

But did you also know that physical dysfunction in a woman’s body can often be metaphysical in origin? We have an energetic system in the body made up of chakras or energy wheels. When balanced these chakras flow abundantly, when imbalanced, energy can slow or even be blocked. They each affect different aspects of our life and can manifest in many different ways. The lower two chakras manifest in the lower pelvic areas which can affect the surrounding areas.

The pelvic floor is located at the base or root of the body, near the muladhara or root chakra. The root chakra relates to all the foundation areas in our lives like our home, family and the community. If you are struggling to have your basic needs met, feelings of disempowerment, or replaying childhood narratives. These patterns can be deep seeded and cause an energy imbalance in the chakra creating anxiety and depression which leads to rapid shallow breathing. This energy wheel is linked to our “fight or flight” response in the body. Anxious, rapid, shallow breathing can lead to an impact on the pelvic floor, causing disfunction. A balanced root chakra feels like a sense of ease, less stress, regularity in metabolism and bowels, and feeling secure in life.

The swadhisthana or sacral chakra sets right at the womb center relating to issues around our relationships with others, money, addictions, and sex. This energetic wheel is the seat of Shakti or our divine feminine energy. The sacral chakra correlates with the birth of all things. This is our creative, joyful, confident energy that lies within us. An imbalanced sacral chakra can result from sexual shame, trauma, poor self-image, emotional states, culture, and history of abuse. This can all build up and become heavy in the body, creating dysfunction in the pelvis, back and hips, guilt, shame, lack of creativity, lack of libido, lack of motivation, not feeling loved. A balanced sacral chakra will re empower and ignite the powerful divine feminine goddess energy within. It enables us to live our best lives, speaking our truths, and living authentically by our highest selves.

Always consult a physician if you are experiencing pain. If you are having pelvic floor issues, always consult an OB/GYN or a Women’s Health Physical Therapist who can diagnose and treat the issue. Along with physical therapy, a regular yoga pratice is a powerful way to connect the physical and energetic systems to bring divine alignment to the body. Making sure to keep your body alignment, head over shoulders, shoulders over hips, this will ensure your body is functioning at its best. Proper alignment keeps the surrounding systems and muscles in balance and happy. Yoga creates a stable environment to focus on healing the physical while also healing the mind and soul. While, you might think you are just having a normal ache or pain, it could be a response to something more intense happening in the body and might be from an intense experience in your life.

 

Women's Health

Yoga and the Pelvic Floor

Yoga has a great way of bringing self-awareness to our bodies. But did you know that a mind-body connection is key to having optimal pelvic floor health? Just as we need a mind-body connection for exercise and yoga, we also need it for our pelvic floor, so it makes sense yoga would be the best place to become more mindful of this practice. Strong pelvic muscles aren’t just built by doing your occasional Kegels and along with strength, you need stability and softening, the trifecta of a healthy pelvic floor. Based on research, yoga is considered a great option for strengthening, softening and stabilizing these muscles.

Since the pelvic floor isn’t widely talked about, let’s talk about the specifics.

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor refers to all of the muscles at the base of the pelvis, creating a hammock shape. These muscles cover the opening of pelvic boney structures, supporting our reproductive organs, bowel and urinary organs. These muscles might be small, but they have some big jobs to excel at keeping our bodies functioning well. The pelvic floor is the foundation to our whole-body structure. So, any issue with the pelvic floor can cause some major problems to our bodies.

Pelvic Floor Jobs:

  • Provides support for pelvic organs
  • Facilitates birth
  • Maintains optimal intra-abdominal pressure
  • Assists in stabilizing the body, along with, the core, hip and back muscles
  • Plays an integral role in sexual health

Pelvic Floor Issues/Disorders:

  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Fecal Incontinence
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Pelvic spasms
  • Painful Intercourse

Causes of PF Issues/Disorders:

  • Pregnancy
  • Vaginal childbirth
  • Obesity
  • Constant Coughing
  • Some surgeries that might require cutting
  • Lower levels of oestrogen after menopause

Nearly 24 percent of US women are affected with one or more pelvic floor disorders, according to research done by National Institutes of Health It also showed that the frequency of pelvic floor disorders increases with age, affecting more than 40 percent of women from 60-79, and about 50 percent of women 80 years of age and older. The prevalence of pelvic floor disorders increases with the number of times a woman has given birth.

The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (AJOG) conducted a research study to assess the changes a yoga class could make to a group of women with urinary incontinence in 3 months. In that 3 months, there was a 76% decrease in the frequency of their incontinence and a 61% decrease in stress incontinence. There are definitely no losses in adding yoga to your new routine.

So, in other words, any woman can be affected by a pelvic floor disorder but there are ways you can be proactive in prevention and recovery.

Do you think you might have an issue?

Talk to your provider or a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor, to assist in diagnosing and treating any pelvic issues you might be experiencing.

Exercise! The pelvic floor is the foundation of our center so a full body workout is indirectly, positively, affecting the pelvic floor.

Add in some yoga, core, pelvic floor, and breathing exercises to your health regimen. Most of the appropriate exercises can be done daily in the luxury of your own home.

Yogic Practices that can help Strengthen, Stabilize and Soften the Pelvic Floor

Diaphragmatic Breathing

The diaphragm and the pelvic floor are synergists, they work together with inhalation and exhalation. They are both hammock like muscles that do the same thing at the same time. So with inhalation, the diaphragm and the pelvic floor both drop creating space in both the lungs and the pelvis. With exhalation these muscles lift with the vacuum effect that takes place in the body.

These two important muscles work best when aligned properly over each other. So this is where posture becomes important and where yoga can help. Tadasana (Mountain pose) with head over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over feet with pelvis slightly tucked in a neutral position. Or you can try lying with knees bent and a neutral pelvis slightly tucked.

  • Breathing deep and slow, focusing on filling up the lower part of the lungs (belly will expand but it’s not the focus here) immediately triggers the vagas nerve which is directly related to our parasympathetic nervous system. Then exhale completely drawing the navel toward the spine to help empty completely. This can be done at any time of the day just to relax and center yourself.
  • You can take it a step further, try connecting with the pelvic floor and doing a kegel (a gentle squeezing/lifting action of the pelvic floor as if you were trying to stop urinating) on the exhale. With a kegel, you want to isolate the pelvic floor and keep glutes, hip and legs soft.
  • Once you have felt that contraction, reverse it and try contracting a kegel on the inhale, much harder.
    • Note that kegels should be practiced for the fast twitch muscles and the endurance muscles within the pelvic floor so you can try doing a lift and release with diaphragmatic breathing like explained, lift and release 1 second hold to 1 second full release while breathing normally, and a lift and release building up to 10 second hold while breathing normally.

Diaphragmatic breathing can…

  • improve the pelvic floor musculature.
  • Lower stress responses associated with “fight or flight” mechanism
  • Improves heart rate variability- which is the measurement of variations between beat-to-beat intervals.
  • This is great to do anytime, anywhere for any amount of emotion, anxiety, stress, or irritability- because life.

Bandha Engagement

Bandhas are energy locks that are engaged during certain asanas or postures. Bandhas help regulate and flow energy through the body. There are three bandhas that can be engaged together or independently from one another, the Mula Bandha or root lock, Uddiyana Bandha or abdominal lock, and Jalandhara Bandha or throat lock. When all three are engaged it is the Maha Bandha

Muscularly, the Mula Bandha or Root lock, is similar to a kegel with a more complete engagement of the pelvic floor. Kegels focus primarily on the muscles that control urination. This certain engagement, draws the levator ani muscle up into the body for added strength and toning of the pelvic floor. A yoga class can keep the mula bandha engaged the whole time with a sequence focused on postures that energetically engage this lock. The poses below focus on this.

Engaging the Uddiyana Bandha or the abdominal lock, takes your pelvic floor engagement to another level by involving the core. Having strong deep core muscles (transverse abdominis muscles) also helps to improve pelvic floor health.

To engage the Uddiyana Bandha…

  • Start with diaphragmatic breathing.
  • On the exhale, engage those deep core muscles by drawing them in like a corset, simultaneously, engaging the mula bandha, lifting the pelvic floor. You can place your hands on your belly to help feel the contraction of the transverse abdominis muscles. Your belly should not buldge here, it should draw in creating a more flat contraction.

The asanas listed below are postures that will help you put this all into action. If this all seems overwhelming to do on your own, start with one thing at a time. Master it and move forward. I also plan on starting a weekly Women’s Health Yoga class that will focus on all of this. The postures listed below are a good place to start that will naturally engage this area.

Strengthening Poses

  • Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
  • Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana or Chakrasana)
  • Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
  • Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)

Stabilizing Poses

  • Chair Pose (Utkanasana)
  • Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
  • Bird Dog Pose (Dandayamana Bharmanasana)
  • Extended hand to big toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)

Softening or Stretching Poses

  • Malasana (Squat) Pose
  • Child Pose (Balasana)
  • Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana)
  • Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

The pelvic floor is widely unknow yet such an important part of keeping our bodies healthy and running at optimal performance. It is never too late to start!

Resources:

www.nih.gov

https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(18)30915-3/fulltext

Balance

Weightlifting and Yoga; Yin and Yang for Your Fitness Routine

Being a Personal Trainer and a Yoga Teacher, it’s obvious my fitness routine is includes both, weights and yoga. Weightlifting and Yoga are like Yin and Yang, balancing the body in every way it needs. Strength training helps breakdown and build muscle while yoga speeds up muscle recovery and improves flexibility, all the while, connecting to your highest self. Strength training is the outer work while yoga is the inner work. This yummy duo packs a punch when it comes to improving your fitness progress. I believe in balance and these are two tools you don’t want to miss out on your own Balancebuilding® journey. Adding a mix of both to your weekly fitness routine has endless benefits but here’s a few reasons why you should be considering it.

Stretching and increasing flexibility..

  • Increases endurance and strength
  • Improves balance and flexibility
  • Improves body posture

Improving these things will…

  • Encourage muscle growth
  • Improve muscle efficiency
  • Improve circulation
  • Decrease lactic acid build up
  • Reduce muscle recovery time

And not to mention, you get all of the other blissful benefits of yoga including…

  • Improve respiration, energy and vitality
  • Encourage relaxation
  • Decreasing stress
  • Reduction in inflammation
  • Promote sleep quality
  • Relieve anxiety
  • Can reduce chronic pain

Yoga could be the key to unlocking the extra nudge in progress you need. Start out by trying a yoga class on YouTube or find a local class you enjoy. There is so much more to gain than lose from just trying!

*If you are local to me, in Morgantown, WV, I am starting a Weekly Stretch and Flex Yoga Class July 13th at 9am at the MindBody Center (2000 Coombs Farm Road). See you there!

  • Intro special- $12 a session through July
  • August on- 6 week session- $90- 12 week session- $160

 

 

Balance

Chasing the “Love” Hormone

I have stumbled upon yet again a new Balancebuilding journey for myself that hit me unexpectedly, although it really shouldn’t have. Its the moment I left my Milkmaker title behind and stopped breastfeeding. It was February 14th and Maddux was staying with the in laws while my husband and I went on our annual date to The Forks Inn, Maddux had been only nursing at night for a couple of months and I realized this was my chance to eliminate the night nursing! Yessss! After the roller coaster ride we had been on with breastfeeding, the indescribable bond with Maddux, the oversupply issues, the elimination dieting due to allergies, the gratitude of being able to breastfeed my son who has allergies, the crying over all of the pumped milk that couldn’t be used because of allergies, the abundance of emotion of donating hundreds of ounces of milk to a mother who adopted a baby with formula sensitivities, the pumping and the exhausting self advocacy at work. I am so thankful I was able to breastfeed, but after 15 months of it I was so excited to have some body freedom and sleep back,  so much so, that I didn’t pay attention or plan according to the actual physiological changes that happen afterwards.

Thankfully, we had a long, gradual weaning process which probably made things a little better than they could have potentially been. But my body was definitely missing the prolactin (hormone for milk production- also brings feelings of calmness, well-being, and relaxation) and the oxytocin (hormone required for the “let-down” of breastfeeding- also known as the Love hormone). I felt down, unmotivated, irritable and just not myself. And not to mention, the instant 10 lbs I gained back because I am now not burning the extra 500 calories or more a day, that was nice while it lasted. Breastfeeding was legit my cardio for most of that time period. (Thank you Jesus, because I didn’t sleep for 15 months, so that wasn’t a priority) So with that, and eliminating multiple foods from my diet and going on a more plant based journey I was able to get back to my pre pregnancy weight. But how could I have not planned for this moment?! This is what I do, prepare and recover the body through each Balancebuilding season. Well, I am just a mom like a lot of you, trying to balance everything, family, work, home, and wasn’t as concerned about myself as I should have been. Sometimes it can be so challenging to be proactive for ourselves but it is so important. I think the key thing to remember at all times is that it is NEVER too late to start caring for yourself. One thing I am thankful for that I have been gifted through all of my Balancebuilding journeys is self-awareness. I was self aware enough to know that I wasn’t feeling my normal self, I needed to support myself during this time and that this too shall pass.

Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus and secreted by the tiny, pea sized, pituitary gland. This hormone is associated with trust, anxiety, bonds, and relaxation. The production of oxytocin is controlled by a positive feedback mechanism. When this mechanism is triggered, oxytocin is released.

So mainly what I am after is naturally creating more of the “love” hormone minus the breastfeeding. Whether you are a guy, a girl, a mom who breastfeeds or a mom who doesn’t, this list of ways to chase feel good hormones can benefit anyone. But I am also not discounting real mental health issues, if you are someone who has been dealing with intense feelings of depressions/anxiety, please reach out to your physician.

So, here are some things I am actively working on to boost my mood…

  • Creating a nourishing food/workout plan
    • Now that Maddux has a spot on structure with nap and bedtime, I am able to plan out my days better, my workouts/yoga/cardio, meal planning, etc., I can be more consistent, which is key for success.
    • Reverse dieting- Eating with a caloric intake that is high enough without gaining fat while eating enough to feel satisfied. This helps with cravings and binge eating.
  • Adding in foods that contain Tryptophan which can promote oxytocin production.
    • Eggs
    • Bananas
    • Yogurt
    • Rice
    • Quinoa
    • Salmon
    • Beans
    • Spirulina
    • Potatoes
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
    • Breathing deep and slow, filling up the lower part of the lungs into the belly actually immediately triggers the vagas nerve which is directly related to our parasympathetic nervous system.
    • Lowers stress responses associated with “fight or flight” mechanism
    • Improves heart rate variability- which is the measurement of variations between beat-to-beat intervals.
    • This is great to do anytime, anywhere for any amount of emotion, anxiety, stress, or irritability- because life.
  • Hugs
    • Oxytocin actually gets released when you hug or hold someone close for at least 30 seconds! It is a little tough to hug or hold onto a toddler for this long but I take what I can get!
  • Getting outside
    • Thank goodness it is spring! This warmth and sunlight is everything right now! Nature stimulates all of the feel good emotions.
    • Even taking it a step farther and grounding bare foot in the grass instantly helps balance and transfer energy improving our health.
  • Exercise/Yoga
    • Literally exercise and yoga fixes everything, it boosts dopamine and oxytocin, reducing stress and improving confidence and love for your self. #selflove
  • Increasing Magnesium intake
    • relieves anxiety by promoting oxytocin production
    • relieves constipation
    • strengthens bones
    • can help with migraines and headaches
    • relieves premenstrual symptoms
    • increases energy levels
    • fights inflammation
    • You can find magnesium in foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, avocado, figs, almonds, black beans. You can also take a supplement capsule as well.
  • Meditation
    • Meditation promotes a higher level relationship with yourself and a broader connection with others. It enables oxytocin, positive emotions, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. It can increase pain thresholds and provide healing. Meditation is so powerful and underutilized.

These are things I have always done but now I am reprioritizing my Balancebuilding journey specific to what I need at this moment. Right now I just need a little extra self care to get me through this rough patch. As soon as I came up with a plan I instantly felt better. Just goes to show you, sometimes it is the simple things that make the biggest differences!