prenatal yoga w/ mika oakes

pregnantyoga

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t pass at least 20 people walking down the street in yoga gear, carrying their mats. And let’s not even discuss my instagram feed, which is full of yogi’s in gorgeous poses or on retreats, pushing their physical selves in ways I only dream of. Did I also mention that at least 10 of my friends are yoga instructors? As is my sister-in-law. Let’s just say I am constantly reminded of how I should be practicing more since I know deep down the physical and mental health benefits are immeasurable, especially during this time! With that being said, I did kick off my pregnancy practicing with my friend and teacher, Mika Oakes, but it’s been tough to keep up with. The truth of the matter is that working on my feet all day styling with clients doesn’t leave me with much energy for exercise. I know. Excuses, excuses!

Either way, I think about my practice, or non-practice ALL THE TIME! Prenatal yoga has countless benefits for expecting women, and while I myself have not been the best student over the last 29 weeks, I’m sure there are plenty of you who are way more disciplined than me. That said, I sat down with Mika and picked her brain about why prenatal yoga is so good for us, and to discuss all of the health benefits for mama and babe. I wanted her to lay it all out, answer all of our lingering questions and ensure we are practicing safely! Mika is a certified prenatal yoga instructor who teaches privately in the NYC area, and holds regular scheduled classes at Kula Williamsburg, Pure and Greenhouse Holistic. Head over to Mika’s site to check out her current class schedule, and be sure to schedule your one-on-one session! You will not be disappointed!

prenatal yoga

YOUR SOUL STYLE: Why should I do prenatal yoga?

MIKA OAKES: Prenatal yoga is an amazing form of movement during pregnancy. It can feel like a gentler approach to staying active while pregnant, and also offers a sense of community when you are practicing alongside other pregnant mamas. It is also a great way for a woman to familiarize herself with breath work and breathing in general, as these are important tools that come in handy during labor and birth. 

YSS: What are some of the benefits of prenatal yoga?

Mika: It enhances strength and flexibility, promotes circulation and assists with neck and back pain that may occur due to extra weight gain. Prenatal yoga also helps quite a bit with breath and a woman’s relationship to her own breath. Breathing is one of the largest components to labor and birth.

YSS: If I’ve never done yoga before, can I start when pregnant?

Mika: Yes absolutely. For a woman that has never practiced yoga before pregnancy, it’s more important to stick to a prenatal practice (as opposed to taking a regular yoga class and modifying as one with an existing practice might do.) There are poses and breathing exercises that are contraindicated when pregnant, and every single pose offered in a prenatal class is not only okay to practice while pregnant, but also super beneficial. Prenatal yoga tends to move a bit slower, which is good for a beginner. One might also want to consult with their doctor before taking a yoga class having never practiced any form of yoga before.

YSS: Will it help me prepare for birth?

Mika: Yes! Breath for one and in most classes teachers will talk about releasing the pelvic floor, connecting with your baby and calming the mind. All useful during labor and birth. 

YSS: How often should I be practicing?

Mika: As often as you feel like practicing is how often you should practice!

prenatal yoga

YSS: Should I worry about hurting the baby?

Mika: Prenatal yoga is a safe environment for a pregnant woman to be practicing in. With that being said, it is also an intuitive practice. Even if a teacher is offering a pose that is safe to practice, if it doesn’t feel right in your body, then it probably isn’t. 

YSS: Can I practice all the way into my 9th month?

Mika: Yes!

YSS: What can’t I do in prenatal yoga that I can do in my regular practice?

Mika: Poses that are contraindicated when pregnant are; belly lying, deep twists, deep backbends, most abdominal/core work and any sort of breath retention. It is also recommended that after 21 weeks, savasana (final rest) is taken supported by bolsters or via side-lying instead of on the back. Poses that are subject to individual modification based on previous level of experience are; inversions, arm balances and jumping through transitions in sun salutations.

YSS: What are 3 common pregnancy related discomforts that you hear about in your practice?

Mika: Lower back pain and sciatica, neck pain and aching joints. 

YSS: What are the top 3 most beneficial poses to do regularly during pregnancy?

Mika: 1. Cat/cow are great poses as they help free up tightness in the pelvis and hips, and also help promote optimal fetal positioning. 2. Down dog is a great pose overall because it gets the whole body stretching at once. 3. Squatting is gravity’s best form of helping to open the pelvic floor, while simultaneously strengthening the legs. 

YSS: What would be your number 1 rule of prenatal yoga?

Mika: Pregnancy is such an amazing time in a woman’s life. Like anything she does while pregnant, the most important aspect of prenatal yoga is to listen to your body and honor what it needs. That goes for exercise, food, sleep, etc. Your body knows whats best for you and your baby. 

photos via herehere, here 

style the bump: 29 weeks

style the bump

Early on in my pregnancy, I posted a photo on instagram regarding my hunt for maternity bell bottoms. Since I wasn’t able to find any, I simply placed a rubber band around the button of my pre-pregnancy pair and wore an oversize sweater to cover the top. I knew this styling trick was short lived as I grew bigger, but apparently the fashion gods must have heard my request because A Pea In The Pod at Destination Maternity generously gifted me this pair by McGuire that I wear in this style post. When I opened the package, I was like a little kid on Christmas because while the bell bottom (or the more recently referred to ‘flare’) silhouette has always been a staple in my wardrobe, I’ve been jonesing to bust them out with all the 70’s trend happenings’. Let’s just say A Pea In The Pod did not have to twist my arm to pull together a head-to-toe ensemble featuring this most epic pair of denim. I was ALL FOR the partnership, and super psyched about it.

So alas, thanks to A Pea In The Pod, my dreams have been made a reality, and I can move through this last trimester with the opportunity to embrace my inner hippie. A Pea In The Pod has many great designer denim options at varying price points so be sure to head over to their site if you’re a mama in the making to scoop up your own. An important style tip to note (and something I didn’t realize earlier on in my own pregnancy) is to wait until at least your second trimester to invest in a pair of designer maternity denim. While a pair I bought in the beginning were super cute and fit perfectly at the time, other areas of my body expanded aside from my belly and I needed a bigger size later on in my pregnancy.

For all of you women out there who are not expecting, I’m loving the following non-maternity flare styles from: MIH, J Brand, Madewell, Frame, Zara

SHOP THIS POST: tank: H&M // flare denim: McGuire, c/o A Pea In The Pod // moto jacket: old (similar // shoes: BANANA REPUBLIC (old, similar) // sunnies: RAY BAN

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Disclaimer: I would never wear anything in my style posts that I didn’t love or feel good about. Despite my work with brands and/or designers (such as A Pea In The Pod) on collaborations, I stand behind all the content I publish on this site and represent only what I authentically believe in. 

weekly finds: earth day!

jenny greenstein

This past Wednesday, April 22nd was Earth Day and in honor of the wonderful celebration of mother nature, this Weekly Finds post is dedicated to her. I was asked to write-up a contributing style post for Well Rounded NY and feature 5 brands that are leading the way when it comes to conscious consumerism. It is critical in this day and age to pay attention to our shopping habits, and understand the implications of where we spend our money. It’s up to all of us to consider the environment and sustainable business practices when we decide where to invest in our clothes! Fortunately there are many epic companies to choose from that fall under both the sustainable yet fashionable umbrella. That said, hop on over to Well Rounded NY and read about my top 5 favorite socially responsible fashion brands which lucky for me right now, have styles that fit both the belly and beyond! Happy Friday!

Click here to shop my top 5 brands who are keeping the future bright for us, and our little ones too.

lower east side walk-a-thon!

LES GIRLS CLUB

I’m really pumped for today’s post which is in honor of my wife Dina. She will be participating in a walk-a-thon on Saturday, May 9th, raising money for the Lower East Side Girls Club. The Lower Eastside Girls Club provides a place where girls and young women 8-23 can grow, learn, have fun, and develop confidence in themselves and their ability to make a difference in the world. By delivering strong arts, literacy, science, health and leadership programs they provide girls with the vision to plan – and the tools to build – their future. All Girls Club programs develop environmental, entrepreneurial and ethical leadership in the girls they serve.

I’m super proud of Dina and her constant do-good efforts towards giving back, but feel particularly psyched about this cause which empowers women starting from youth: where confidence building and self-esteem begin to emerge. If you can give $5, $10, $25, any amount, it will go directly toward health-based community initiatives at the Girls Club, which aren’t just for the girls in the programs, but also for their older sisters, younger sisters, moms and grandmas. Every donation, no matter the size is helpful.

You can donate money directly online by clicking the “Sponsor Me” button on Dina’s personal fundraising page. She appreciates anything you can give, and if you’re interested in learning more about the walk-a-thon or getting involved with the club yourself, head over to their site.

Thank you in advance for your support!

photo via max wanger

style the bump: 28 weeks

style the bump

Hello, and happy Monday! A few weeks back I mentioned that I was entering my third trimester, but I spoke too soon since according to babycenter it doesn’t officially begin until week 28. That said, this is actually the beginning of my last and final trimester. I am 28 weeks today. I truly cannot believe I’m moving into the last phase of my pregnancy as it seems like yesterday when we were just trying to conceive. I have been feeling supremely grateful lately for this incredible experience, and this baby that is cooking up inside of me. I had no idea what my life would look like since in a same-sex relationship, and while I always knew deep down there was a part of me that wanted a child, it took time to explore our options. I feel really proud to have arrived at this point. It is proof that with perseverance and determination, goals can be reached. After coming off the heels of a very difficult journey, the level of gratitude I feel for us, our life and knowing this baby girl is almost here is unexplainable.

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So here I am at 28 weeks. I’ve gained 25 lbs. so far (which is at the higher end of where I “should be”), but feel comfortable in my skin. I continue to enjoy the challenge of styling this blossoming body, and with epic maternity brands like Isabella Oliver who graciously sent me this super cute red pencil skirt, I’m able to maintain my style rhythm and self-expression despite the physical changes. Per usual, if you need styling support to help you through those times when your body is in flux (be it because of a pregnancy or not) and you want to look and feel your best from the inside out, head over to my Styling Services page for details. I’m here for you!

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As I continue to grow both physically and emotionally, I’ve had moments of contention with my changing body. For the most part I’ve felt beautiful, but I understand when the reflection in the mirror becomes foreign. When this happens, I always come back to the understanding that I am creating life. And then the overwhelming feeling I have more than anything is gratitude.

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SHOP IT: top: URBAN OUTFITTERS // jacket: old (similar) // skirt: ISABELLA OLIVER (c/o) // shoes: old (similar) // clutch: JUST FEMALE // choker: scooped up on street (similar)