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Postpartum Fitness Regimes…. Darling aren’t you stretched and worn thin enough?

Every woman who has birthed a child, has also birthed herself as a mother. Most women will make this transition from knowing themselves in their maiden form their whole lives to new the stage of mother with little or no guidance, ritual or support. Many women find themselves equally overwhelmed by their love for their newborn and the aching for the relative simplicity of their pre-motherhood life. Body and mind captive to habit and muscle memory; personal boundaries porous; energy and emotions scattered by surging hormones; it’s hardly surprising how persuasive the influence of dominant culture is. The outrageous voice roaring at women from all directions is demanding they return to their pre-pregnant form to lose “baby fat”, to disappear the magnificent and transformative influence of pregnancy and birth; to “regain control”.

In times of profound transition, when women are most vulnerable it’s understandable many women will look to physical fitness as a tool to restore some sense of boundaries to recapture the illusion of control.

But your energy is no longer your own, you share your energy with your growing child. The physical practices that you used to energise yourself before you were pregnant will drain you of your precious reserves. Just as you’re getting to know your child, you’re getting to know yourself as a mother. At every stage of your life, as you have navigated profound transitions, what was it you most craved? Unconditional love, support, acceptance? This is the rich journey of motherhood. As you learn to mother your newborn, you have this golden opportunity to learn to mother yourself.

When you feel yourself made weary by the fierce tenderness of mothering, this is when you most need to pour unconditional love, acceptance, compassion into yourself. Seek out practices that fill your cup, nourish you energetically, and help you restore healthy personal boundaries.

The real news is this – that pre-pregnant body everyone’s demanding you to chase does not exist! Just as you chose to birth and raise your child, consciously choose to embrace this new you. You birthed yourself into motherhood, now raise yourself with all the love and joy you are offering your child.

Darling, how does your regime look now?

Looking for some loving guidance?  I’m running my shantimama women’s yoga workshops through out he year in Melbourne and Kyneton.  Living in the Macedon Ranges? I’m now running  Womanly Yoga classes in Kyneton.

And if you need some convincing about taking care of yourself through postpartum recovery, I highly recommend reading this article Postnatal Depletion.


Open Your Heart

Open Your Heart

This is a practice to cultivate compassion. We often consider compassion as our loving exchange with the outside world, however compassion to the self is equally essential.  For me, this practice is simply an essential. 

Cultivate compassion to help you relinquish your need for control; build your capacity for unconditional love; to dispel fear and attachments and to let go of old ideas about your self and how life is supposed to be. By building your emotional resilience you will liberate yourself from all out dated ways and rules that no longer serve you. When your heart is filled with compassion it’s easier to feel in the flow with all of creation, to feel content and generous in both your outlook and your self regard.

Never Give Up. No matter what is going on. Never give up
Develop the heartToo much energy in your country is spent developing the mind instead of the heart.
Be compassionate. Not just to your friends, but to everyone.
Be compassionate. Work for peace in your heart and in the world.
Work for peaceAnd I say again Never Give Up. No matter what is going on around you. Never give up” – Dalai Lama XIV

Take your most comfortable, well supported seated position – extend your arms in front of you, palms pressed firmly together and arms parallel to the floor.

Inhale deeply through your nose – and spread your arms out wide in a large expansive gesture. Feel the front of your heart centre open and expand as you fill your lungs with air. Your arms keep opening and stretch as you continue to inhale, stretching them as far back as they can go.

Exhale through your nose – bring your arms back together, palms touching. Extending your arms forward, feel the back of your heart centre open.

Continue this practice – keeping your arms parallel to the floor, feel the stretch through your shoulders, sides of your rib cage, through your arms al the way to your fingertips.

Refine your practice – eyes closed and rolled up to your third eye point through out. With each inhalation recite a silent “Sat” and with each exhalation “Nam” ~ “Truth is my True Identity” or “I am Truth”.

Repeat this practice – 26 times or for around three minutes.

To close – take a deep inhalation, raise your arms above your head for a great big stretch, lower slowly as you exhale. Hands rest on your knees, palms facing up. Take your three silky soft sighing breaths and then return to feeling the natural ebb and flow of your breath as you integrate the benefits of this practice.

Sat Nam

image credit and practice adapted from

The 8 Human Talents – Restore the Balance and Serenity Within You with Kundalini Yoga

Gurmukh with Cathy Michon


Brothy Poached Eggs 

Brothy Poached Eggs 

Time for Warm and Nourishing Breakfast

This recipe it adapted from Angela C. Wu’s wonderful book Fertility Wisdom.  I love this recipe all year round, it is especially a favourite here through the cooler months.

This recipe is perfect for those post-period/ postpartum days {when all bleeding has ceased}, a time when we all need extra love and nourishment.  As Angela says “energetically, it’s a recipe for vitality when the body’s Qi has been depleted by menstruation or childbirth.”

For each serve of Brothy Poached Eggs you will need:

  • 1 – 2 C home made chicken/ vegetable stock ✽ or filtered water
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger root
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 T rice wine
  • 2 free range eggs

Place all ingredients except eggs into a saucepan and bring to boil and then reduce to a rolling simmer for a few minutes.  Add your eggs and extra water to cover if necessary. Continue simmering and cook the eggs to just right. Serve eggs and broth in a deep bowl.

Eat slowly, all the while breathing in the aromatic broth and feeling the warmth of this breakfast set you up for a superb day.

✽  When making your stock {or when a stout-hearted friend makes it for you} try augmenting your stock with classic Blood Nourishing Chinese medicine herbs. These include: Dong Quai, Wolf berries and Chinese dates {ask your favourite accupunturist for a handful of these magnificent herbs}.  When added to your preferred stock,  our vegetarian friends can benefit from this beautiful, profoundly nourishing breakfast.

I’ll be posting soon with my chicken stock recipe…

My dear friends Charmaine and Milly loved this recipe so much, they included it in their magnificent EBook The Breakfast ProjectLooking for breakfast inspiration, your search is now over.


Postnatal Yoga Time for Self-Mothering

On the subject of motherhood, my mother famously declared… “It’s the first 40 years that are the hardest.”

Motherhood is a journey like no other. The bliss is pure, exquisite and absolute. The challenges can bring anguish and self doubt on an unimaginable scale. Once you’re in you’re hooked and it’s not always easy to find a place where you feel safe in expressing the sweeping range of emotions that you are experiencing. Like pregnancy and birth so much is universal and the rest utterly personal.

When I first created my shantimama :: women’s yoga workshop series, I did so with the intent to offer such a place. A safe space for women to honestly share, to feel heard, understood and accepted. I love sharing this intimate journey with women. The journey punctuated through the touch stone of these workshops, across each year and now into the better half of a decade. The rolling cycle of women arriving, immersing, sometimes drifting off to bring another child into the world, then to return to our loving arms. It’s an honour to bear witness to it all.

In participating in my women’s yoga workshops, I would like to offer you simple ways to nourish yourself; cultivate calm and raise your spirits so you are better able to enjoy being in your own skin and enjoy precious time with your loved ones.

Each year, I give my shantimama workshops a little nip and tuck. I take them out of the drawer, hold them to the light and regard them from a new perspective. For 2015, I will offer a pair of workshops based on my favourite postnatal themes.  I’ll repeat these paired sessions with each season. You are welcome to attend one paired session or return through out the year. The core themes of each session will be embellished with seasonal motifs to have you feeling a steady unraveling and revealing of insight with each return journey.

Pop by my website for a taste of what I’m offering this year.  If it appeals, please don’t hesitate as places are limited.


The Plumy Birth-Day Cake

The Plumy Birth-Day Cake

I love to bake.  I bake for my family and friends.  I bake when I host my retreats and training days, and I bake for my circle of doulas. This is one of my all-time favourite recipes and certainly the most requested recipe too!  Easy to bake, gorgeous to look at and incredibly delicious; what more could we ask from a cake recipe?  

Excuse my Maggie Beer moment – it’s all about fresh, seasonal produce.  This recipe calls for plums (welcome back, my lovelies!), however any seasonal (not too wet) fruit will be just fine.  Also try mixing up the nut meals, through Autumn I adjust the recipe with 3/4 hazelnut meal and Jonathon apples, so very earthy!

The Plumy Birth-Day Cake

  • 200gr unsalted butter
  • 200gr sugar + extra. My favourite it a combination of coconut, brown, raparura sugars. The browner the sugars the richer and more toffee-like the flavour. Try your own, mix them up till they come to 200gr
  • 3 of the finest free range eggs
  • 200gr almond meal
  • 2T coconut flour
  • 1t aluminium free baking powder
  • 1t vanilla essence
  • 3 or 4 fresh plums, halved and sliced
  • Almond flakes optional

 

Preheat your oven to 160 C. Line the base and sides of a spring-form cake tin with baking paper.  Sprinkle generously with sugar and almond flakes if you’re using them, arrange fruit slices in single, pretty pattern to cover the base of the tin.

Blend almond meal, flour and baking powder set aside. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Then beat in one egg at a time. Blend in almond meal mixture and spoon this quite thick batter over the fruit. Tap tin on the bench a few times to distribute the batter and release air pockets.

Bake 30 – 40 minutes; it should be golden and a bit firm to touch.  Check at 20 minutes, if the edges are browning too fast, cover with foil and continue baking. Remove from the oven, let cool in tin 25 minutes and then turn onto a cooling rack.

Enjoy warm or cool, with as many lush sides as you can think of!  I’m thinking vanilla custard….


Breakfast in a jam jar

Breakfast in a jam jar

Like most people, our summer holidays come with lot’s of road travel.  We spent a few days camping in Northern Victoria.  It was a drive of 2.5 hours and that meant we needed road food.  Also known as chia puddings, here is a simple snack, a nourishing treat that is great for breakfast or any time of the day.  There are no particular rules, just layer up any combination of your favourite flavours; then lid it and pop in the fridge or if you’re on the go, pack into a cool bag with a spoon to enjoy when you’re good and ready.

30ml or 1.5  Tablespoons chia seeds

1/2 Cup of your favourite milk – try a combination of coconut and almond milk

1 Tablespoon sunflower or pumpkin seeds – or chopped nuts

1 Teaspoon goji berries or freeze dried pomegranite seeds – or something else to please your palate

1/2 Teaspoon of your favourite warming spices – single or a combination cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, nutmeg

1 or 2 Dollops of full fat vanilla yogurt – dairy or coconut

A couple of generous spoonfuls of stewed fruit or frozen berries

Extras:  toasted coconut flakes, cacoa or cocoa sprinkles

Combine chia, milk, dried fruit and spice into in a jam jar or spill-proof container to hold 1 cup of breakfast.  Shake or stir vigorously to combine. Let rest for 10 minutes, then stir again.  To this dollop on seeds, fruit and then yogurt and any other delicious and nourishing addition.

Tip #1:  I enjoy this most at room temperature.

Tip #2:  This recipe can be prepared the night before – splendid!

Tip 3#:  Prepare chia this way and add to your smoothies 


celebrate Spring’s bounty with creamy golden custard

celebrate Spring’s bounty with creamy golden custard

As well as a great way to use up the bounty of eggs our hens gift us with this time of the year, this custard recipe is a nourishing, heart warming and tangible link to my rural Italian ancestry.

It was introduced to me when I was ten years old as the “recipe of threes”.  To make a batch of custard, you need to stay present, stir in smooth motions, be patient and honour the process.  The reward is a golden, sweet and oh so velvety custard to serve on it’s own or with just about anything else!

Each time I make this custard, I feel deep gratitude for knowing Maria.  Maria came to Australia from Sicily and I was blessed to be one of her many God children.  She lived in inner suburban Sydney, where every possible surface around her house was devoted to growing produce.  When I stepped out her back door, the heady aroma of basil, oregano, tomatoes and fennel made me feel giddy on my little girly legs. I would search out the fresh peas, nest in the shade of her fruit trees and generally while away the time marvelling in the splendour of her piece of paradise.  These are the  impressions upon which, I built my own imaginings for creating my future home.

Maria was loving, generous, magnificently big bosomed and had a wonderful laugh and I dearly wish I had more time to get to know her.

Maria’s Custard

600ml full fat best quality dairy milk

3 egg yolks {free range per favore}

3 rounded desert spoons of cornflour

3 rounded desert spoons of sugar {use the kind you like most}

To flavour either:  vanilla essence or cocoa to taste; or Maria’s favourite 3 wide peelings of lemon rind, preferably picked from your own tree

Combine egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a medium saucepan.  Blend till smooth and then whisk in the milk.  Place saucepan on your hotplate, moderate heat {6 or 7 on your stovetop}.  Whisk gently to ensure the ingredients have integrated, all the while observing the heat as we don’t want it to cook too fast. Continue whisking until your milky liquid has been magically transformed to a creamy golden custard.  Pour into beautiful serving bowls.  The custard will continue to set as it cools making it perfect as a layer in cake or filling for other sweets such as the finest Sicilian desert ever – cannoli!  Share warm or cool and most importantly share with those whom you love the most.

Cara Maria ti volglio bene  xx Nina


what’s the difference between Prenatal Yoga and Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth?

I’m often asked to describe the difference between Prenatal Yoga and Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth?

mamashanti :: Goddess in my garden

Perhaps it’s two titles to describe the same thing.  Perhaps it’s a way of defining two very different experiences.  Both kinds of classes have so much to offer you in your pregnancy.  Today I’d like to share why I call what I’m teaching Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth.

For the past decade, I have been exclusively teaching yoga to women during their birthing years. In this time, I’ve attended dozens of births and sat with hundreds of women listening to their stories and feeling into their experiences of birth. I found that in this time, so much of my early understanding of what is considered to be appropriate to share with women in the context of a pregnancy friendly yoga class was being stripped and dissolved.

To truly honour the needs of these generous women, who continue to share their insights and heart-felt desires with me, I came to the realisation that I needed to do two things. Firstly I needed to reach deeply inward to consider the application of the fundamental tenants of Yogic philosophy – reframe my relationship with my own practice and what I was offering to women. Secondly, create a new approach to yoga that was based on cultivating a suite of rich and luscious womanly practices, rather than the process of stripping out and modification of standard asanas.

In heeding the humbling lessons of birth, I feel liberated from the binds of offering women “continuity in their known practice”. A kind of prenatal yoga that relies upon a heavily modified classic hatha yoga class. So liberated, mamashanti’s Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth will immerse you in a way of yoga that is:

  • Entirely devoted to honouring your unique transition from maiden to mother.
  • Seamlessly integrated with contemporary independent childbirth education.
  • Made abundant with exquisitely feminine practices.
  • A flowing and potent practice created by intricately entwining breath and movement.
  • Simply, a new paradigm in birth preparation.

In each class we explore the significant role specialised Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth can play to help you to actively and consciously engage with the birth your child. Specialised Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth taught by a qualified and experienced yoga teacher is all about consciously integrating ways of moving and breathing to help you “lean into” the intensity of labour. These practices are augmented with deep-guided relaxation, enriched with reassuring imagery to build confidence in yourself, your child and your birth process. Regular attendance will help you:

  • Take this suite of contemporary active birth practices from learned technique into the realm of instinct and intuition.
  • Create profound body-felt confidence in your own boundless birthing potential.
  • Habituate your capacity to positively work with the intensity of birthing your child.
  • Contribute to a positive experience of childbirth.

It’s going to be slower, softer and there will be a whole lot of time spent in practices that will intentionally encourage you to feel inward. Birth is, after all an entirely sensory experience. Where better to explore your inner realms than the safe and supportive environment of a room full of beautiful, pregnant women?

Would you like to experience mamashanti’s Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth Classes.  Perhaps you’d like to learn a whole new way of teaching yoga to pregnant women? Visit my page for 2015 training opportunities.

 


mamashanti’s Advanced Practitioner Training for 2015

This week, I launched my new website and my Advanced Practitioner Training for 2015. Creating a new website, thinking about how I’d like to present my work to the world been an intense ride. However, this pales in contrast to the journey of crafting a program to share with other practitioners. Whenever I’ve wavered in my resolved; asked myself “who am I to be stepping out like this?”, I sift through the countless emails I have received over the years. Today, I’d like to share this achingly beautiful message from one of my very dear students. I hope it explains why I feel both inspired and utterly compelled to share the way of mamashanti…

“When I first became pregnant I continued my normal hatha classes and then about half way I started to realise this was no longer appropriate practice for me. I asked around some of my Mama friends and was recommended to Mamashanti by a few different sources.
I went along to check it out, thinking I would be getting another modified hatha class with a few bits of birthing wisdom thrown in and got such a lot more.

Nina’s classes are filled with wonderful nurturing postures that are in fact active birthing postures. They were subtle, gentle and so effective in nurturing and preparing my pregnant body for birthing my baby.

I decided to extend my practice with Nina after a diagnosis of ‘unstable pelvis’ and attended the Mamashanti workshops on specific areas of challenge for pregnant women. By practicing Nina’s specific, gentle, quiet and effective postures I was able to manage throughout the rest of my pregnancy with no further damage to me or my baby. Her sensible advice and impressive body of work in this area still inspire me today as I continue to practice many of the postures she introduced me to.
mamashanti-active-birth

Now, after delivering a healthy baby boy, I can reflect back on my yogic journey during my pregnancy and give thanks for the wonderful wise women who lead me to Mamashanti. It is only now that I can truly appreciate how inappropriate a modified hatha class is for the pregnant woman. And how appropriate the quiet, gentle, subtle practices taught by Nina really are. Also I can now see how much this kind of yoga has to offer Mamas in the incredible task they undertake of carrying, birthing and raising a baby.”
xx Medine February 2014

Does the possibility of enriching your women-centred business inspire you? Visit my website for a taster of what’s on offer in 2015.


launching mamashanti’s new site!

Welcome to mamashanti’s pretty new site!  I out grew my sweet site some time ago.  After much consternation and consideration, trying to figure out the way forward; I took my own advice and I reached out to my friend, Bree from Santiago Sunbird.  Bree is such a talented and intuitive designer and might I say courageous, when I asked for help, she was more than willing to prise this baby out of my hands and help me start from scratch.

Here is the result of weeks of word smithing on my part and great patience and creativity on Bree’s.  I hope you find your way around smoothly and I hope you enjoy exploring the world of mamashanti!

mamashanti HQ