12 Days of Core Strength

12 Days of Core Strength

12 days of core strength

I recently hosted 12 Days of Core Strength on the brb Yoga Facebook Page. (P.S. If you aren’t following me over there, you should! I go live every week with new tips).

Each day is a super simple, super practical change you can make in your day-to-day life to improve your core strength. Find all 12 videos below.

Day 1: Blow While You Go

Day 2: Hip Hinge

Day 3: The Eavesdrop

Day 4: Rib Breathing

Day 5: 90/90 Breathing

Day 6: One Action At A Time

Day 7: Raise The Roof

Day 8: Standing and Sitting

Day 9: Touch That Stomach!

Day 10: Unclench Those Glutes

Day 11: Watch How You Stand!

Day 12: Let Go Of Perfection

– – FREE TRAINING – –

How To Strengthen Your Post-Baby Core

(Once and For All)

Click Below to Access The Free Training,

To The New Mom Who’s Worried About Diastasis Recti

To The New Mom Who’s Worried About Diastasis Recti

My friend, Veronica, recently asked:

“Now that I’m 7 weeks postpartum I’m wondering how I would tell if I had Diastasis Recti. Do you have a blog post on how to tell?”

I’ve been meaning to write a “How to Test for DR” post forever, but this question got me thinking…

New moms are scared about DR. They don’t need another self-check tutorial (although I will show you how to do that below). They need a clearer message about DR.

Here’s my attempt at that.

 

Hey Mama,

Congratulations! Whether this is your first baby or you are an old pro, you are in the thick of it right now. You’re oh so tired, covered in body fluids, and filled to the brim with love for this tiny being.

You may also feel the itch to move your body again. After a month or two trapped under a newborn, you’re feeling stiff and a little weak. You know a good ‘ol endorphin rush would help you feel more like yourself.

But you’re also a little nervous about jumping back into activity. You’ve heard about this thing lately – diastasis recti or abdominal separation.

You don’t know much about it, but you know you don’t want it. And, you know that there are certain things that can make it worse.

 

Here’s what you need to know about Diastasis Recti:

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis Recti is a separation of the abdominal muscles. It’s caused by the connective tissue at the front of the body stretching and thinning during pregnancy. This separation is necessary during pregnancy – that baby needs room to grow! It becomes problematic when that separation remains far into the postpartum period.

Why should you care?

The abdominal muscles impact your body’s function. Dysfunction in the abdominals results in:

  • back pain,
  • hip pain,
  • pelvic floor pain or incontinence (leaking when you sneeze or exert yourself),
  • and that ever present mom-pooch.

We’ve been told many of these symptoms are just a “regular” part of postpartum life. That is flat out wrong.

How do you know if you have it?

Here’s a quick self-test video for you.

I have it! Now what?

First, if you’re a few months postpartum, you likely WILL have it. That’s NORMAL. Your body spent almost 10 months making room for this new life. It takes more than a few weeks for your abdominals and connective tissue to return to normal.

Second, you aren’t destined to have it forever. The months right after you’ve had your baby are a golden opportunity. You can either

  • Be smart about your movement and activity NOW and give your diastasis the best chance for closing on its own. OR
  • Ignore it and deal with it, and it’s associated symptoms, for some time. Maybe even forever.

How to move forward:

  • Please DON’T jump back into high-intensity exercise. Asking your newly postpartum body to do intense stuff prevents your diastasis from healing. Your body is RECOVERING. Focus on healing and building your strength now, and you’ll be back to those exercises in no-time. If you try to skip your recovery, you may have to avoid those activities you love for a LONG time.
  • DON’T try to fix your core with crunches, planks, or traditional core exercises. These poses do not help and will cause more damage.
  • DO spend time connecting to your core EVERY DAY. Here’s a simple video that shows you how to safely and effectively engage your core. This exercise helps you find your Transverse Abdominis. This deep core muscle encourages your connective tissue to heal. It also acts like a corset for your body, providing support and stability. You can start doing this core engagement as soon as your baby is born.

  • DO focus on your alignment. I’ve written about this here. Poor alignment makes it hard to engage those deep core muscles and strains the weak connective tissue.
  • DO get lots of rest and eat good food.
  • DO find a reputable fitness program that specializes in postpartum core health. Find one that suits your preferred style of working out (If yoga is your jam, I’d love to have you join me in the Heal Your Core With Yoga program). You want a program that gives you exercises AND educates you about the root cause of diastasis (i.e. alignment). Long lasting core-health comes from building strength AND changing body patterns.

NOTE: Your local stroller strides is NOT going to do this. You need a program that specializes in diastasis safe exercises (There aren’t a lot of us out there).

  • Finally, DO be patient, Mama. I know you’re eager to “bounce back” and feel normal again. You will. Give it time. You’ve spent almost 10 months growing a new life. It takes more than a few weeks for your body to recover from that amazing process.

Right now it’s easy to put yourself last, Mama. But, please, take some time to care for yourself now.  When that baby gets bigger, you’ll want to keep up with all her shenanigans. 

– – FREE TRAINING – –

How To Strengthen Your Post-Baby Core

(Once and For All)

Click Below to Access The Free Training,

3 Little Known Tips To Heal Your Core With Yoga

3 Little Known Tips To Heal Your Core With Yoga

“Dia-what?”
One of the top yoga instructors in my city said this after I told her about the Heal Your Core With Yoga program.

She trains hundreds of new yoga teachers each year. And she’s never heard of diastasis recti.

I’m not surprised. Diastasis Recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles caused by a stretching and thinning of the connective tissue during pregnancy, isn’t covered in most yoga teacher trainings. But it should be. While many yoga poses are extremely beneficial for a diastasis, certain poses and breath techniques prevent a separation from healing. And possibly make it worse.

I’ve spent the past four years researching how to diastasis-proof a yoga practice. In that time I’ve learned there’s very little information available about practicing yoga with a diastasis. Let’s change that right now!

3 Little Known Tips For Healing Your Core With Yoga:

1. Rib Breathe Instead Of Belly Breathe.

When you breathe deep into your belly, you increase the pressure inside your abdomen. In individuals with a diastasis, increased pressure strains your already-compromised core.

The long-term result of continued deep belly breaths? Your diastasis can’t heal.

Luckily, there’s a safer alternative. Rib breathing.

In rib breathing, you expand the ribcage left to right. This increases the pressure in the thoracic (chest) cavity rather than the abdomen. The result? A deep breath without straining the core.

Bonus: Rib breathing also helps coordinate the actions of the diaphragm and pelvic floor. If you struggle with incontinence or organ prolapse, rib breathing is the way to go.

2. Proper Alignment Is EVERYTHING.

Yes, the immediate cause of your diastasis was most likely a pregnancy. But your ongoing alignment patterns are the reason it hasn’t healed.

Misalignment in the body increases pressure in the abdomen, and strains your weakened core.

If you are like most humans, you spend the vast majority of your days sitting at your desk, driving your car, and watching Netflix. This results in a body alignment that looks like this…

Tight hips and weak gluteal muscles tuck your tailbone under and push your hips forward of your heels. This lower body alignment pushes your whole body forward. To stay upright, you have to thrust your ribs up and out and throw your shoulders back.

This reduces the space in the abdomen and increases pressure in your core.

More pressure means more strain on your already weakened core.

3 quick alignment fixes correct your alignment, limit the strain on your core, and encourage the core to heal:

  • Move your hips over your heels
  • Untuck your pelvis, and
  • Drop your ribs to keep them from thrusting forward.

With these adjustments, your body returns to neutral alignment. Your shoulders, hip bones, and ankles line up. And, most importantly, your abdomen has lots and lots of space.

Lots of space = Low pressure = No strain on your diastasis.

(P.S. This is what our alignment would look like if we spent our time walking, squatting, and foraging).

This alignment takes practice and yoga is one of THE BEST ways to practice. Begin by creating these alignment patterns on your yoga mat. Then incorporate the principles into activities like brushing your teeth, and picking up toys. The more time you spend in good alignment, the more opportunity your body has to heal.

3. Stay Away From Certain Yoga Poses (For A Little While At Least)

A diastasis is characterized by a weak linea alba (the connective tissue between the two sides of the abdominals). Poses that create extreme stretching of the abdomen, and poses that create large amounts of pressure in the abdomen, prevent this connective tissue from healing.

3 POSE TYPES TO AVOID WHILE HEALING:

Big Backbends (Main Issue: Excess Stretching)

Poses like bow, upward facing dog, and wheel. These poses ask the front of the body to stretch in a big way. This pulls on the linea alba, keeps it weak and thin and prevents it from healing.

Traditional Core Strengtheners: (Main Issue: Excess Pressure)

Poses like plank, boat, and crunches. These force the core muscles to engage in a way that increases the pressure in the abdomen. This increased pressure pushes on the weak connective tissue and keeps it from healing. In some cases it can cause even more damage.

Leveraged Twists: (Main Issues: Excess Stretching, Excess Pressure)

Poses that use your arms to twist deeper like utkatasana twist and crescent lunge twist. These give the core a double whammy. The asymmetry of the pose stretches the connective tissue. The twisting of the abdomen increases pressure. You strain the core while stretching it. That’s a surefire way to keep that diastasis around for the long haul.

If you’re feeling like I’ve just eliminated your entire yoga practice, I promise, I haven’t!! There are tons of yoga poses available to you that provide similar benefits while promoting healing of your core. And once you strengthen your deep core muscles, you can do these poses again. I promise!

With the right poses and good alignment, yoga is a powerful tool to heal abdominal separation. 

 

– – FREE TRAINING – –

How To Strengthen Your Post-Baby Core

(Once and For All)

Click Below to Access The Free Training,

3 Things I Wish I’d Known About Postpartum Yoga And Diastasis Recti

3 Things I Wish I’d Known About Postpartum Yoga And Diastasis Recti

I knew it in my heart before I knew it in my mind. Yoga is hurting me.

I was so excited to begin practicing again at 8 weeks postpartum. I’d spent 10 months modifying for pregnancy, and 8 weeks healing from my daughter’s beautiful, painful birth. The idea of moving again thrilled me.

And move I did. Nothing crazy. My body was still mending. A simple, straightforward flow of basic yoga postures. Sun salutations to get the blood moving. Twists to move energy through my spine. Gentle backbends to open up my heart which, despite being so full of love for my daughter, was completely closed off from the endless hours of nursing.

Little did I know, these “simple” poses were hurting more than healing.

After the first session, it was easy to dismiss the physical signs that something was wrong. The twinge in my low back. The feeling that things were even more discombobulated “down there” than when I started.

I’d just had a baby, after all. I didn’t expect it to feel perfect.  

But I continued to dismiss those signs for months. I couldn’t believe that my beloved yoga practice could hurt me. For someone who’s spent much of her life listening to her body on a yoga mat, I was surprisingly good at ignoring my body’s whispers.  

But just like a toddler you ignore, those whispers eventually became a yell.

It hit me at 6 months postpartum. Half a year after I’d delivered my baby, I was suffering more than I had in the weeks after delivery.  

  • My pelvic floor was still injured and, often, very uncomfortable.
  • My back hurt around the clock, not just after a yoga practice.
  • I felt like a limp noodle and found myself slumping nonstop. I had no support when sitting or standing.  

 

I started consuming everything I could about the postpartum body.

The lightbulb went off when I learned about diastasis recti.

Diastasis recti is a separation of the abdominal muscles, caused by a stretching and thinning of the connective tissue during pregnancy.

It’s associated with pelvic floor dysfunction, back pain, incontinence, and even hip issues.

Almost all pregnant women get a diastasis. For a lucky few, the separation closes soon after birth. For many others, the separation remains, and they have an ongoing diastasis.

A quick self-check (thanks, YouTube!) confirmed it-I had one. The more I learned, the more I realized my “simple” yoga postures were preventing my separation from healing. And possibly making it worse.

So I began the most important yoga education of my life. I could fill a book with what I’ve learned about this topic, but I’ll start with the 3 things I wish I’d known when I started my postpartum yoga practice.

The 3 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started A Postpartum Yoga Practice

 

1. When you are cleared for exercise at 6 weeks, you should be very intentional about the exercises you choose.

Odds are, you still have an abdominal separation. Jumping into crunches, planks, and trying to “get your body back” is a surefire way to make a diastasis worse. It takes 10 months for your abdominals to separate, it takes way more than 6 weeks for them to heal.

 

2.You should avoid certain yoga poses and every day movements if you have a diastasis.

They strain your weak core and prevent healing. Can you still have a full, well-rounded, practice? ABSOLUTELY. Can you eventually return to those yoga poses? YES. Once your core heals.

 

3. All yogic breathing is not created equally.

Taking breath deep into your belly contributes to diastasis. Other breathing methods can help close a separation.

 

When my second child was born, my healing was completely different. I had zero back pain, almost no pelvic floor issues, and never ever felt like a limp noodle. Why? Because when I started my yoga practice at 6 weeks postpartum, I knew how to create stability, heal my pelvic floor, and aid my diastasis in closing.  

This time, when I stepped onto my mat, I knew it in my heart and mind. Yoga is healing me.

If you’re looking for more information on how to use yoga to help heal your diastasis, the Heal Your Core With Yoga program might be just what you’re looking for. Click here to learn more about it.

– – FREE TRAINING – –

How To Strengthen Your Post-Baby Core

(Once and For All)

Click Below to Access The Free Training,