Ana Davis - Bliss Baby Blog

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Ana Davis 2017 1 LROur Bliss Baby Yoga Assistant and Social Networking Manager, Sophie Duncan, asked our Director Ana some incisive questions to uncover some things about Ana you may not have known. 

What first attracted you to yoga?

Ana:
My mother used to do yoga when I was a child and I’d tag along to classes and retreats with her. So in some shape or form, I’ve been doing yoga since I was a child. My mother used to take us through Yoga Nidra practices to help relax us. So I Iearned about the power of relaxation from a young age. 


When I was in high school, I studied dancing, so I was naturally attracted to moving and stretching my body. I used to practise some yoga poses from a book when I was a teenager. And, then at university, I started going regularly to yoga classes that were offered at the student gym. That’s when I was hooked! I loved how yoga helped bring me into my body and out of my head. It was a great complement to the academic path I was on.

So how did you then get interested in yoga for women and then end up training women to teach in this specialized area?

Ana:
Ah! Good question! Even from my university days I’ve always been interested in feminist issues. I did my Honours Degree in Japanese, and my thesis topic was: “Images of Women in the Japanese Media” – a cross-cultural, feminist analysis! I went on to score a PhD scholarship which involved studying female Japanese authors. As part of my background research I took some (Western) feminist-sociology subjects at university and my eyes were opened to the history of feminism. Even back then, the feminine-sensibility piqued my interest! 


As you can see, as part of this journey with women’s issues there was an intersect with Japanese history and culture. So, when I look back, it’s really no surprise that about 11 years after I’d left university to explore ‘the real world’, I found myself in Japan teaching prenatal yoga and natural birth to Japanese women! I loved working with the Japanese women (still do!); there is something so sweet and feminine yet strong about them. And I love to share ‘feminist’ ideas around empowered, woman-based birth, and honouring menstruation and women’s cycles, with them. 

Ana Davis 2017 3 LRTracking back to when I was pregnant with my son (about 4 years before I found myself in Japan offering Bliss Baby Yoga trainings), was when I was first captured by the idea of adapting yoga for women’s specific needs. The reading and self-practice I did during my pregnancy and in the early postnatal period blew my mind about the potential of yoga to support a woman physically, emotionally and spiritually during these key, uniquely feminine life transitions.  From there I offered prenatal and postnatal yoga classes at my studio in Sydney at the time and the classes became immensely popular.  I tend to think that where your interest and passion goes that’s what grows and what others pick up on - and you can’t help but be successful! 

A few years after I sold my yoga studio in Sydney and moved up to Byron Bay on Australia’s north coast, I re-started prenatal and postnatal classes out of my home yoga studio here and also wrote a number of articles about yoga for women (as well as general yoga topics) that were published in national yoga and wellbeing magazines. From this exposure, women started asking me to train them in this specialized art of pre/postnatal yoga and it just naturally grew from there – Bliss Baby Yoga was born! Again, I truly believe when you are following your ‘dharma’ - your true life’s path, your ‘bliss’ -  success and fulfillment flow easily and opportunities come effortlessly your way. 

Ana Davis 2017 4 LRWhat is your favourite self care ritual?

Ana:
It’s yoga, of course! Without yoga I think I would go insane! I tend to do something yogically-nurturing for myself everyday. If I'm busy that might just be a single restorative pose - Legs up the Wall or Constructive Rest Position - or, a rejuvenating Yoga Nidra or some simple pranayama or yoga san-calpa (positive affirmations). 


The transformative, alchemical qualities of yoga never cease to fill me with deep gratitude for this lifetime practice that accompanies me through good and bad times. It is a practice to celebrate me when I'm feeling strong and energetic with dynamic 'full moon' practises; likewise it is a nourishing practice to support me when I'm feeling stressed, overwhelmed, grumpy, premenstrual or menstrual; or, when I'm recovering from illness as I am now after a particularly bad case of the flu - with 'dark moon' practises. 

I always finish my yoga self-care sessions with a 'gratitude practice' in which I contemplate one or several things in my life for which I feel deep gratitude. And so often it is yoga that bubbles to the surface as a self-care technique for which I feel eternally grateful to have discovered and harnessed for my individual needs. Bliss!

What is currently your favourite scent?

Ana:
Frankincense. I don't wear commercial perfumes anymore. Consequently I am more and more attracted to the purity, beauty and therapeutic qualities of natural essential oils. My naturopath recently prescribed frankincense to support my hormonal health and to balance symptoms of stress-overwhelm.  It really helped. In the busy, stressful lead up to my wedding, I carried a tiny, precious bottle of this nectar in my handbag and sniffed it when I started to feel anxious and wore it on my pulse points on the big day. A divine scent!

I have also been enjoying good old lavender to help me sleep at night when my mind and nervous system is overactive. 

Can you tell me one of the most life changing books you have ever read?

Ana:
Oh there have been sooo many! Being a total bibliophile of both fiction as well as non-fiction, yoga / spiritual books, I'm not sure where to start! I can't limit it to just one I'm afraid! So here are my top four, all-time, life-changing, non-fiction books:

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Baby BluesBaby blues are experienced by many women, and they usually occur three to 10 days after giving birth. They cause temporary mood instability, but can also develop into postnatal depression if they last for more than two weeks.

If you are looking for a wholesome and stress-free way to beat the baby blues, you can turn to yoga.

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Danielle Mondahl 4 LRThis month we caught up with one of our beautiful Bliss Baby Yoga graduates, passionate women's and restorative yoga teacher, and self-care advocate, Danielle Mondahl.

Danielle Mondahl is at a stage in her life where she has mastered the art of self-care.  With her family all grown up, Danielle says she is now completely open to receiving and fully embracing the sweetness of life.

Danielle ‘walks the talk’ of self-care. When I called to interview her for this article, she was returning from a walk up to the top of Mount Coolum after watching a pod of whales frolicking off the coastline. 

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Baby DowndogYou’re never too young to start doing yoga. Did you know that yoga practice can be very beneficial for babies? With proper precautions and care, it can be really helpful for their mental and physical development.

When babies are very young they’ll need your help to get into certain poses, but as they grow older, they can perform some of the exercises themselves and benefit from some of these great advantages of start doing yoga at a very early age:

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A balanced diet that contains the right nutrients might be the only thing standing between you and a greater sense of wellbeing and hormonal health.

Hormones play an important role in every body, but women tend to feel the fluctuations of reproductive hormones in their day-to-day lives. If you’re feeling cranky or emotional for no reason, it could be that your body is giving you a sign your hormones are out of balance.

Hormones influence every part of our lives and every function of our body, so having harmonious hormone production is essential to a good life. A balanced diet containing the right nutrients might be the only thing standing between you and a greater sense of wellbeing.
 
If out of balance, your hormones can give you blemishes, affect your metabolism and energy, weight and clarity of mind. If you are preparing for pregnancy, you’ll need to consider what is going on with your reproductive cycle and if it is causing you problems, make the most of seeing a health practitioner who can help you deepen your understanding of what is going on and how to support healthy cycles.
 
By eating healthily, getting all the nutrients you need, and improving lifestyle, you may be able to balance your hormones and regulate bodily functions and processes.
 
These are the four main food groups your body needs for a healthy hormonal system. Finding the right balance for you might take a little trial and error, but below are some of our top health tips to help maintain balanced hormones. For more handy tips from those in the know, check out HealthPost’s health tips from the experts.

Rainbow Your Plate with Vegetables

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Stephanie Williams MumsnBubs Yoga  This month we caught up with Bliss Baby Yoga Prenatal, Postnatal and Women's Yoga Teacher Training graduate, Stephanie Williams of Kalpita Yoga in Melbourne.

Most of us know all too well how stressful and taxing tertiary study can be, and for Stephanie, it was at this time, deep in the throws of studying nutrition and exercise science, when she sought an alternative strategy for stress relief…yoga. 

“I quite enjoyed the first class I went to, but by the third class I was hooked!”  While exploring her deep fascination with the workings of the human body in her university studies, yoga seemed like a natural compliment to what she was learning. And so Stephanie embarked on a Teacher Training course in Melbourne with Shimi Nadaraja from ‘Power and Posture’.

During her teacher training Stephanie’s eyes were opened to the philosophy of yoga, which despite being new material, was closely aligned to the values she had already been experiencing in her practice.
 
The yogic principal of ‘non-attachment’ or Aparigraha rang true for Stephanie, as it related back to her experience with horses. Since childhood Stephanie had worked with horses and as an adult taught riding and horsemanship.

Stephanie Williams Yoga 2 “On a horse the goal might be to get to the other side of the arena – ideally in a straight line – but if it is wobbly the first time, that’s ok, you just do it again. You have to let go of perfection and the outcome, your best effort is right where you need to be, where the learning is. This is similar to practicing your yoga poses, it’s about meeting yourself where you are at on the day, and being ok if it didn’t go as planned.”

After the birth of Stephanie’s sister’s first baby, Stephanie became aware of what little postnatal yoga there was available for new mums, and how ill-equipped she was to teach it! 

“Whilst I knew how to teach a ‘strong practice’ – I didn’t know how to guide my sister through a post-natal practice - it was so different.  I felt there was a real gap in my knowledge, and a gap in services available.”

Stephanie decided to attend the Bliss Baby Yoga Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training course in Melbourne, which she found hands-on and practical.

Stephanie MumsnBubs Yoga Training 2 “It wasn’t just text-book learning, it was more feeling it in your body. There was a lot of discussion, especially with the women who were pregnant on the course as well as with women who had previously had babies. This was great because it’s not easy to conceptualise how it might feel if you have never been pregnant.”

“The act of curiosity and enquiry was really elevated on the course, it helped us learn on a much deeper level.”

Stephanie then completed her Bliss Baby Yoga RPYT Training with a six-day residential stint in Byron Bay, where she said the course really encouraged a connection with her intuition.
Stephanie MumsnBubs Yoga Training “It was an amazing nurturing environment for self discovery. The Bliss Baby course taught me to care for myself, and listen to what my body was saying. Since doing the course I think that my practice has became a softer and more intelligent experience. I now notice on the days when I’m not feeling so strong, there is a lot less judgement and negative self-talk. I have learnt instead to just soften and be gentler with myself - and my pelvic floor has never been better!”

Now Stephanie teaches yoga as her full-time profession and she adores it.  “I love helping women build confidence and connection to their body, connection to their breath, and awareness to what’s going on inside their bodies.”

“I find that women tend to already be in a beautiful nurturing space when they are pregnant, but during the postnatal phase, they can tend to be more disconnected from their own bodies, as their focus shifts to the external baby. I like working with these women to create confidence and regain that deeper connection.”

To continue her journey working with women Stephanie recently completed the Bliss Baby Yoga 80 hr specialty Women’s Yoga Teacher training in Byron Bay, exploring yoga for all phases of the menstrual cycle, fertility and menopause.

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Talita Pregnancy Wellness 3This month Bliss Baby Yoga Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training graduate, naturopath, and mama-of-1, Talita Sheedy, shares her tips for wellness during pregnancy.

As a naturopath, yoga teacher and now mum, my passion has grown for pregnancy and highlighted how we can be more mindful throughout our pregnancies. Making the smallest changes enables you to enrich your pregnancy to make it enjoyable and healthy for you and bub.

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Ana Mums n Bubs YogaThis month, Senior Bliss Baby Facilitator and experienced Mums n Bubs Yoga Teacher, Mari Notaras shares some valuable insights on how to create harmony and joy in your Mums n Babies yoga classes.

As a prenatal yoga teacher there is nothing more divine than sending off your very heavily pregnant woman (or ‘head of the class’ as I like to say!) from (potentially) her last prenatal class, with a powerful womanly chant of ‘Ommm’. 

This time of transition, just before a woman gives birth and becomes a mother, brings up mixed emotions for her, and often the number one question asked upon her departure is: “when can I come back to yoga?”. 

The prenatal class that she has been attending since she was ‘five minutes pregnant’ has become an important part of her weekly routine. Apart from the most obvious and recognized benefits of yoga, the class has given her a sense of belonging, community, peace and connection to the other ‘pregnant goddesses’, along with quiet, contemplative connection to her baby growing within.

Mums n Bubs PC 4 Aug 2014 LRThe transition into motherhood often challenges our sense of identity and connection with others. We are removed from the familiar settings that we knew before baby arrived to find ourselves in a more intense, often tiring and isolated environment. The sheer bliss of holding that little bundle of joy in your arms opens your heart in a way that words cannot express. But the joy, the love, the hours of watching your baby respond to you, can quickly turn into moments of uncertainty and pure exhaustion!

It is obvious for prenatal yoga teachers that the next addition to your repertoire of yoga classes is Mums n Bubs Yoga.

What I personally love about teaching postnatal yoga, is saying goodbye to the women in the prenatal class and then joyfully welcoming them back into the nurturing postnatal setting. The connections are re-kindled with their past fellow prenatal yoga students, and the women love to proudly show off their new addition to the family!

I am frequently asked by yoga teachers contemplating teaching Mums and Bubs Yoga, what it is really like to teach yoga to mums and babies?  In theory, the idea of a mums and bubs class all sounds amazing, but it is important to know that this class will not resemble your typical yoga class - as you have known it! (Read Ana’s article on managing the chaos in a Mums N Bubs yoga class).

Mums n Bubs 0815 LRI have personally taught Mums N Bubs Yoga, on and off, for over 12 years now. I have loved watching the women in these classes regain their body awareness and move confidently through yoga postures designed to help reset, realign and strengthen their postnatal bodies. It is joyful to see the mothers interact through play, touch, song and delicious eye contact with their babies more confidently as time goes on. The babies absolutely love all of the massage, yoga movements, chants, songs and connection that they get to share with their mummies. We honestly have a heap of fun!

With the benefit of hindsight and from my personal experience, here are some tips to make the process of teaching Mums N Bubs Yoga more enjoyable for yourself, your students and their babies. 

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"I really enjoyed the Bliss Baby Yoga teacher training online course because it was flexible, allowing me to do the work and practices at a convenient time....especially helpful for mothers with babies."  Helen Santamaria Popescu

“I found it so convenient as a new mum, working three different jobs I was able to also do the course without feeling overwhelmed. I enjoyed listening to the lectures during my drives and was sad when they came to an end  _ I might have to re-listen.” Leah Gencheff, Newcastle

"This was an absolutely amazing course.  Full of practical, useful information and inspiring teachers."  Lee 

 

 

 

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