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Wellness
Published Wednesday Jun 12, 2019 by Aly Raymer

Yoga #OffTheMat: 3 Tips to Practice Every Day

Yoga
Meditation
Expert Advice

I like to remind my students that yoga happens just as much off the mat as it does on the mat. The physical movement is just a tiny piece of the overall practice. So, how do you practice yoga #offthemat? 

Here’s a couple of go-to tips and tricks for you to try throughout your day, no matter how busy you are!

 

Practice Pranayama (breath work). 

Feeling overwhelmed, annoyed, stressed, upset? Block your calendar for 5 to 10 minutes and find a quiet place to sit—or put on headphones with relaxing music. Sit with your feet on the ground, hands in your lap, and close your eyes. Inhale slow and deep. Pause. Exhale slow and deep.. that’s one. Do this sequence up to 10 times and repeat. If you lose count (or focus), start from the beginning. Sometimes, I only get to three! That’s why it is called a practice. Once the timer goes off, take a moment to reflect on how you feel and then slowly open your eyes and tackle your day with a much calmer state of mind. 

 

Clean your space.

One of the five niyamas (the second limb of yoga dealing with self-discipline) “saucha” refers to cleanliness and clarity of your mind. In my opinion, a clear space can help keep your mind clear. Knowing where everything is and having a tidy space will also help you feel more centered and in control for when things in life become stressful or unpredictable. Protip: Feeling like you are in a rut? Re-organize your desk! Sometimes just moving things around can help bring a creative spark back. 

 

Do a body scan.

Need a reset in the middle of the day? Block your calendar for 5 to 10 minutes and again, find a quiet place to sit—or put on headphones with relaxing music. Try scanning your body mentally from head to toe. You can do this seated at your desk (just make sure it’s quiet, and no one will interrupt you). Take three gentle, deep breathes in and out and then close your eyes. Imagine a wave of warm, soft, and relaxing energy is slowly moving down your body from the crown of your head, to your shoulders, arms, torso, hips, legs, and feet. Spend about three to five breathes in each area. Once you reach the bottom, slowly open your eyes and feel the relaxed and clear state you have achieved! 

 

Last of all, practice gratitude daily—even on the toughest day. A bit of gratitude will remind you of the good things you have in life. Namaste!

Aly Raymer yoga MINDBODY
Written by
Aly Raymer
Yoga Instructor
About the author
California born and Boston made, Aly Raymer pursued a career in graphic design and marketing, only to discover life behind a desk was too stifling. Finding her purpose in the fitness community for over a decade, she’s built a following both in the studio and on social media as a lululemon ambassador and yoga instructor.
Prenatal Fitness - MINDBODY
Fitness
Published Wednesday Sep 11, 2019 by Whitney English

The Do’s and Don’ts of Prenatal Fitness 

Yoga
Pilates
Barre
Strength Training
Cardio
Expert Advice

For many pregnant women, exercise can take a backseat. I get it. You’re exhausted and uncomfortable—slipping into a pair of tight leggings and sweating your booty off doesn’t exactly sound like a great way to reduce your discomfort.
 
While working out may sound like the last thing you want to do when you’re carrying another human inside of you, engaging in regular, low-impact activities during pregnancy is extremely beneficial to both you and your baby. In fact, some studies show that prenatal exercise may help to reduce aches and pains, improve sleep, and boost mood. But figuring out which exercises are safe for you and your baby can be confusing. If you Google prenatal exercise, you’ll find a wide range of conflicting opinions on what moms-to-be should and shouldn’t do.
 
As a dietitian, a Certified Personal Trainer, and a mom to a 16-month old, exercise has always been a priority for me. During my pregnancy, I was determined to continue my regular routine as long as possible, so I spent a ton of time researching and speaking to experts to learn the best practices for exercise during pregnancy. Here is my list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to prenatal fitness, no matter where you are when it comes to motherhood. 
 

Yoga

First up, yoga. You want to avoid any poses that cramp your baby’s space or put pressure on your stomach. It’s easy to modify most poses to make them safer and more comfortable for you and your baby. For example, instead of trying to do a regular forward fold, open up your legs for a wide leg forward fold, which gives your belly more space. 
 
Some poses can be fine during the first or second trimester, depending on your prior yoga experience, but may be less safe later in pregnancy. If you are comfortable doing full wheel, it can be fine early in your pregnancy. I did this pose until about 25 weeks, but everyone is different. Keep in mind that pregnancy is not the time to push yourself with new poses. Additionally, after the first trimester, it’s best to avoid lying face down. Instead, try doing certain poses on your knees rather than on your stomach—like substituting camel pose for bow pose.
 

1
Yoga

First up, yoga. You want to avoid any poses that cramp your baby’s space or put pressure on your stomach. It’s easy to modify most poses to make them safer and more comfortable for you and your baby. For example, instead of trying to do a regular forward fold, open up your legs for a wide leg forward fold, which gives your belly more space. 
 
Some poses can be fine during the first or second trimester, depending on your prior yoga experience, but may be less safe later in pregnancy. If you are comfortable doing full wheel, it can be fine early in your pregnancy. I did this pose until about 25 weeks, but everyone is different. Keep in mind that pregnancy is not the time to push yourself with new poses. Additionally, after the first trimester, it’s best to avoid lying face down. Instead, try doing certain poses on your knees rather than on your stomach—like substituting camel pose for bow pose.
 

Pilates + Barre

Similarly, with both Pilates and barre, you want to avoid doing any stretches or poses that put pressure on or around your abdominal cavity. During the early stages of pregnancy, you may not need any modifications, but the most important thing is to listen to your body and not push the limits. As your pregnancy progresses, remember to ask the instructor for modifications, so the exercise feels good for both you and baby.

2
Pilates + Barre

Similarly, with both Pilates and barre, you want to avoid doing any stretches or poses that put pressure on or around your abdominal cavity. During the early stages of pregnancy, you may not need any modifications, but the most important thing is to listen to your body and not push the limits. As your pregnancy progresses, remember to ask the instructor for modifications, so the exercise feels good for both you and baby.

Hot Exercise + Heated Classes

Another crucial thing to avoid during pregnancy is hot exercise. There is a lot of misinformation regarding hot exercise, but be wary of anyone that tells you that it is safe. Increasing your core body temperature is known as hyperthermia, and it can be extremely dangerous for pregnant women. It is especially dangerous in the first month just after contraception, but hot exercise and heated classes should be avoided at all stages of pregnancy.

3
Hot Exercise + Heated Classes

Another crucial thing to avoid during pregnancy is hot exercise. There is a lot of misinformation regarding hot exercise, but be wary of anyone that tells you that it is safe. Increasing your core body temperature is known as hyperthermia, and it can be extremely dangerous for pregnant women. It is especially dangerous in the first month just after contraception, but hot exercise and heated classes should be avoided at all stages of pregnancy.

Strength Training

When it comes to strength and circuit training, exercises like lunges and jumping may put excessive pressure on your belly as you get farther along in your pregnancy. Trust your body and discontinue these if they feel unsafe. Any exercises that cause you to hold your breath or could result in trauma to your belly, (for example kettlebell swings or powerlifting) I would advise against.

4
Strength Training

When it comes to strength and circuit training, exercises like lunges and jumping may put excessive pressure on your belly as you get farther along in your pregnancy. Trust your body and discontinue these if they feel unsafe. Any exercises that cause you to hold your breath or could result in trauma to your belly, (for example kettlebell swings or powerlifting) I would advise against.

Cardio

With cardio, the rule is that you should be able to continue to hold a steady conversation during exercise. For some, running may be fine up until the end of your pregnancy. Others may find this puts too much pressure on their pelvic floor. Some low-impact alternatives include walking (on both a flat surface and uphill), swimming, elliptical machine, rowing machine, and low-intensity aerobic exercise.
 

If you’re looking for exercise classes to take while pregnant, I recommend searching for something mellow on the MINDBODY app, such as restorative or gentle flow yoga, beginner Reformer Pilates, or any other light, introductory classes.
 
As a general rule, if you’re questioning whether or not something is safe to do during pregnancy, it probably isn’t. Remember that the most important thing is the safety of both you and your baby, and no form or intensity of exercise is worth sacrificing that!
 
For more information on a healthy pregnancy, including nutritious recipes and exercise ideas, check out my Predominantly Plant-Based Pregnancy Guide!

5
Cardio

With cardio, the rule is that you should be able to continue to hold a steady conversation during exercise. For some, running may be fine up until the end of your pregnancy. Others may find this puts too much pressure on their pelvic floor. Some low-impact alternatives include walking (on both a flat surface and uphill), swimming, elliptical machine, rowing machine, and low-intensity aerobic exercise.
 

If you’re looking for exercise classes to take while pregnant, I recommend searching for something mellow on the MINDBODY app, such as restorative or gentle flow yoga, beginner Reformer Pilates, or any other light, introductory classes.
 
As a general rule, if you’re questioning whether or not something is safe to do during pregnancy, it probably isn’t. Remember that the most important thing is the safety of both you and your baby, and no form or intensity of exercise is worth sacrificing that!
 
For more information on a healthy pregnancy, including nutritious recipes and exercise ideas, check out my Predominantly Plant-Based Pregnancy Guide!

Whitney English - MINDBODY
Written by
Whitney English
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
About the author
A former journalist and entertainment reporter in Los Angeles, Whitney English found her passion in wellness and nutrition. Tired of the quick fix promises she encountered in Hollywood, she became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer, making it her mission to research health trends to help determine the best ways to eat, move, and live for long-lasting health.