August Moving: Core

Our core can be something that we obsess about, what it looks like, how strong it is and the exercises that we do. During my time as a dance teacher and Buggyfit trainer I have seen many different exercises to work the core.

  • My conclusion, simpler is the better and conventional is not always best. What I mean by this is that sit ups and burpees are not the answer, they don’t target our inner core.
  • Our core is a complicated part of our body, and many different things impact it. What we forget is that our body is made up of many different layers. Conventional exercises focus on building strength in the upper layers, whilst inner core work goes deep down.
  • Training these muscles is essential for stability, joint control through motion and ensuring all those inner muscle work together to propel you forward in the best way.

Exercises to try –

If you can do the 2 exercises 2 – 3 times a day. You will start to feel a noticeable difference in your core strength.

  1. Box scoop: Kneeling on all fours ensure your knees are directly below your hips and your wrists are below your shoulders, have your back in neutral alignment. Relax your tummy, it’s really important that you really let it all go! Otherwise the exercise won’t work effectively. Inhale and let your tummy fill with air, as you exhale slowly scoop your in and up. You want to begin from the top of your pubic bone and finish at your belly button. Your aim is to create a C scoop as you draw your tummy in. Take 4 counts to exhale and 4 counts to inhale. You need to have control through both directions. 5 reps. This can also be done standing up, but by doing it on your hands and knees, you work against gravity more, so your muscles work harder!
  2. Candlestick Dipper: This will work your transverse abdominus and your obliques. Kneel on the ground, with one leg out to the side. Ensure your back in straight and your hip is stacked above your knee for the one you’re kneeling on. For the one out to side, keep the toe facing forward and the heel to the back. Option A is to raise your arms out to the side at shoulder height, maintaining a straight line with your body tilt to the side away from the foot that it out. Touch the floor with your fingertips. The further away you touch the harder it is. Option B join your fingertips together above your head. Maintain contact with your fingers as you lean to the side and then bring yourself back up. It’s important to keep yourself aligned for both these options and don’t allow your bum to out backwards and you reach forward with you arms. For those who have a weak core or less than 5 months postpartum, only do option A!
August Moving: Core

August Moving

Summer months is always a time when we naturally pick up the pace and move more, whether that’s through day trips out or just because the weather is nicer, we are outside more. I’m someone who needs to go outside and move everyday whatever the weather. But the reality of moving in a specific way apart from day to day tasks can be daunting, we might all think about it lots, but the actual doing of it, can take some extra focus.

Throughout August I want to offer some real quick ways to integrate movement into your everyday that will allow a daily habit to be created. I’ll also provide some extra info about why we might want to support or exercise that part of the body.

Week one: Ankle | 5th August

Why start with the ankles? Ankles are one of our main joins that take the stress and strain of our whole body as we go about our day. They help keep us stable, work our core and pivot with changes of direction and motion as needed. Here’s some other key facts to remember about ankles –

  • A major function is proprioception, when neutral transmitters in and around the joint respond to signals from the brain that enable you to identify where the ankle is and how well balanced you are on it.
  • Improving the flexibility of your ankle will significantly help with your strength, squat and reduce injury.
  • The ankle is a hinge joint and works on one plane of motion – dorsiflexion and plantarflexion. Plantarflexion is the movement downwards – pointing your toes like a ballet dancer. Dorsiflexion is the movement up, when your toes go towards the sky whilst your heel is on the ground.
  • Strong dorsiflexion means the front of the shin can move forward during a movement, which helps with crucial body alignment and application of force.

Exercises to try –

If you can do the 2 exercises 2 – 3 times a day. You will start to feel a noticeable difference in your ankle strength.

  1. Flexion and extension of ankle: sitting on the floor extend your legs out in front of you, alternately flex your foot to the ceiling and then point it down to the ground. Push to the point that you feel a stretch. Aim for 10 reps flexing, 10 reps extending. This can also be done on a chair/sofa. What ever you choose, ensure you’re sat up straight and your shoulders are down.
  2. Heel raises: ensure you are standing up straight, place your feet hip width apart and take a slight bend. This is the position that you will hold during the exercise. Keep your knees and rest of body still, lift up your as far as you can, pushing the top of your foot forward. Lower back down. Do 10 reps. This can also be done on a step, by dropping heels below the top of the step and then raising them up.
August Moving: Ankles

Dance Worship Weekend – what’s the big fuss?

As I’ve been gathering notes for this year’s dance weekend, I started to think about what it was that made people come on a weekend in the first place. Plus, I think it’s always good to remember where our roots are and why we do what we do! In the 9 years I have been running UC Grace, different groups, workshops, training and performances opportunities have evolved, some not even in my planning, but God has placed them in the pathway of UC Grace. At every event I marvel at how God brings it together, who he brings and the impact that the event creates in others. Let me take you on a very short journey of how the dance weekends came about and their impact upon myself and others.

How did it begin?

It began in 2013, when I first started to have discussions with other dancers about whether they’d either value a day retreat or a weekend away, and what it was that they’d see that time away being. Many of the participants at this point had been dancing with me from the beginning and I had watched them grow and develop and were eager for more. However, we all recognised that the odd 90-minute workshop just didn’t cut and we wanted something more! Going back over some of the responses from an initial survey I sent out, it is awesome to see how God has worked in it all.

Defining a weekend away

With just a handful of resources I took the plunge and stepped out to run my first dance weekend. I didn’t know the true amount of work it would take, the people it would bring or that it was just the beginning of many!

My heart was to provide a space that would enable people to grow in their dance worship movement skills, their relationship with God and build relationships and fellowship with others.

So how did it develop?

For that first weekend in 2014, my heart was hopeful that I would get to 15 participants, that didn’t happen. I could have let that disappoint rule how I went forward with my planning. However, God has spoken quite clearly since I began UC Grace that it is about the hearts of those that come to UC Grace events, not about the numbers.

That first year, I was blown away by how God moved, I changed the whole of my Sunday plan on the Sunday morning as I followed Gods lead. We took dancing out of our room and into the centre to bless others in the building, we crowned ourselves with Gods crown, and broke down walls that didn’t need to be there.

Treasure and Truth feedback
Feedback from Treasure and Truth 2014 dance weekend

We did this by standing on God’s word and letting scripture and God’s voice lead the sessions. Since then, that’s how the weekends have developed, God always goes first, even if I’ve spent a long time putting the plan together, because, His plan is the ultimate plan.

Since that first weekend, I always look with delight at the next weekend that will happen, at who God will bring to come and move and dance and grow, to explore what he lays on my heart and how I can help change people’s perspectives on themselves, their movement and their journey with God as my lead.

What’s the soul of the weekend?

This picture below, sums up the soul of the weekends perfectly.

Hugging embrace.
Dance Worship weekend 2018

They say pictures say 1000 words, they demonstrate what can not be said, that is so true. As you look on the outside looking in at this picture. You see a hug, a warm embrace between a group of friends. But what they don’t show you is the journey each of these ladies have been on over the weekend. It doesn’t show the struggles they’ve had to step out in, in their faith, it doesn’t show when times were really tough, it doesn’t show what God has said to them or how they have been taken on a journey.

This picture was taken at the last session of our 2018 dance weekend. We had just had a time of praying and dancing (so important that we do both of those things together), only the ladies in the picture really know what was going on in their journey at that point.

But for me it shows a freeze frame of friendship, support, love, prayer, journey and acceptance that they are letting God lead their journey.

WOW!!

What next?

UC Grace dance weekends have turned into a key fixture in our calendar, something for everyone to look forward to. When I ran my first one in 2014, I didn’t think people would be interested in a yearly weekend, and I began to arrange them bi-annually. It gave me time to develop other ideas and continue to grow other areas of UC Grace.

However, God has been gracious and given me opportunities to grow connections, build friendships and have the privilege to journey with others. I felt UC Grace was at a point where it now needed to offer those dancers and participants who had journeyed with it for nearly 10 years, another opportunity that would take them deeper on a more personal level. That’s where the Going Deeper weekend has come from. So my hope, over the coming years is to have a dance weekend every year, but the essence of the weekend will alternate each year.

Going Deeper will provide a smaller more intimate group to develop their dance worship skills and personal faith journey. Creative dance weekends will allow a larger number to gather in fellowship, experience dancing and learning from others, explore the use of arts and creativity alongside prayer and movement, and be a place to build friendships and generate a network that draws people across the country together.

Have you joined us on one?

Going Deeper 2019 is now fully booked, however we have just released the dates for our 2020 Creative dance weekend – 17th to 19th January. Why not join us, as we celebrate 10 years of UC Grace! Booking will open towards the end of June 2019, if you want to be one of the first to hear about when booking opens and grab the super early bird price click here.

Teaching Children Dance and Movement Round Up

Teaching children dance and movement exercise one.

What a fantastic day we had learning from each other. The day was split up into 3/4 sections, in each section there was a talk and discussion, an exercise in pairs to put into action what was discussed and then a time of delivery – so practising what they had just planned. Everyone had such different ideas, it was great to spark off each other and encourage those that felt a little shy.

Section 1 – warm up and ice breakers

This is a really important part of the workshop which I chatted about in the blog post 6 Essentials when planning a dance worship workshop. The challenge here was introducing a theme and working out how to devise a warm up based around a theme. The topic of water came up as a common one, but some participants soon realised that they weren’t sure which bit of water to focus on.

Water is a good example of a topic that has so much possibility for a workshop. It’s a key feature in the Bible, creation and our journey of faith. Ideas for inclusion in a warm up included –

  • Ice – freeze/ still movements leading to melting and then adding travelling motion in.
  • River – how the water flows in and around rocks, some of the children being rocks and others being the water that passed around them.
  • Waves – the crashing sound, being tall and small. Rolling on the ground and stretching wide. Spinning a partner out and then having them roll back in along their partners arm.

All the above areas of water can be expanded and padded out loads after the initial warm up. Remember the warm up is an opportunity to have fun, get everyone moving and introduce a small part of the theme.

SAMSUNG CSC

Section 2 – Planning an under 5s workshop. We looked at Psalm 18.28-33 for this section.

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.”

The sets of verses above provide some awesome imagery with which to design workshops and themes. We used this passage as a starting point thinking about a workshop for under 5s. Just a few things that came out of our initial discussion was:

  • Standing on a rock – strength
  • Light
  • Battle – warfare
  • Refuge
  • Like a travelling song
  • Perfection
  • Scaling a wall

Participants worked in pairs and looked at one section of the workshop plan (Read more about the 6 essentials when planning a dance worship workshop here) putting together an outline of movements, before then teaching it to the rest of the group.

Section 3 – Choreographing a dance for 5 – 11 year olds

How many of you have the song ‘My Lighthouse’ in your church? There are several different actions that have been put to the words of this song – your church might already use some. So, I thought it offered an opportunity for participants to choreograph something that they could use within a workshop or group of children.

Working in groups we looked at the different verses and put together some movement. You can check out what we did below.


We begun the day by looking at why we want to invest in children, what the Bible says and the reasons that brought the participants to the dance day. As we finished the day we spoke about how we can encourage a conversation of prayer during the workshops by having some creative prayer exercises. That by demonstrating how to dance and make it a conversation with God, you can encourage each child to have ownership of their journey of faith and conversation with God.

Want to be kept up to date with all things UC Grace? Head here.

6 Essentials when planning a Dance Worship Workshop

Planning is essential in all forms of delivery, whether that is for dance or something different. Throughout nearly 20 years of teaching, I have tried many ways to layout a dance workshop or session, today you get to hear the layout I find most useful!

It might be that you want to create a whole session or just one exercise or series of movements, whatever it is, it is still the same process. We’ll talk in terms of a ‘session’ but the same applies to an exercise/ series of movements.

This post is all with reference to leading a Christian based dance worship workshop of some form. However, all that is shared can be applied in a normal secular context without faith.

Before we get going though, there are a few things that you need to have decided in order to plan the workshop most effectively –

  • Who will be your age or population focus?
  • What is your theme – including the main focus and intended outcome
  • How long is your session and how will you divide elements within the session
  • What is the number of participants that will be at the workshop, or what are your maximum numbers?

Each one of the above can impact the workshop in different ways, so take the time to make it specific to what you are wanting to achieve.

6 essentials when planning a dance worship workshop

So what 6 essential things should I include?

1. Ice breaker

Whether you know the participants well, or they are completely new faces, you can never start a session cold. An ice breaker allows participants the opportunity to begin the session recognising that they are in safe space, that their ‘ability’ won’t be questioned, and that they feel welcomed to see where the workshop will take them.

This initial opening/ ice breaker will set the tone for the rest of the workshop, participants will either be hooked and want to go further or may feel unsure about continuing. Therefore this ‘hook in’ needs to grab their focus, allow participants to tune in with others and get ready to learn what is coming.

Here’s a few ideas that are tried and tested, they are all adaptable for all ages and abilities –

  • What’s your name and where are you from?
  • How has your week been? Can you use one word to describe your week?
  • What brought you to this workshop? What’s one thing that you’d love to learn in this workshop?
  • Say your name and do an action, everyone else copy, work your way round the group.
  • Make a freeze shape of how you are feeling about the workshop at the beginning.

Imagine these 5 minutes (because that’s all it usually is) are your welcome speech, the chance to win the vote of everyone and have them wanting more. Have energy, be friendly, encourage discussion.

2. Warm up

This is so important and should NEVER be by-passed. Not only does it prepare our body, but it also ensures we are safe with our movement, our listening and helps us be our best in the session. So, what do I need to do in a warm up?

Raise the heart rate – it’s important to gradually raise our heart rate and body temperature. This will decrease injuries and increase the body’s ability to move more efficiently.

Create a sense of fun and involvement – look at it as a great opportunity to let them see who you are, how you teach and to get moving with you.

Include dynamic stretches – these are stretches that move and encourage the body to go beyond its normal range of motion, therefore stretching and molding the muscles to work effectively.

Introduce the theme – the warm up is fab place to subtly (or not) introduce your theme. Be creative and be literal, with children a game can be a great place to start.

Exploring movement

3. Exploration

Before you rush head long into a sequence or main part of the workshop, it’s good to lay the foundation of what the session will explore and provide the chance for participants to learn specific moves which may aid them later in the workshop.

You may prefer to call this section exercises, as it allows set themes or movements to be explored that provide focus. For example, if your theme was God’s Breath, here’s one thing you could do –

In a space focus on taking 3 deep breaths, filling and emptying your lungs as much as you can. On the next set of 3 breaths, take yourself up on a rise as you breathe in, and lower as you breathe out. On the next set take a step forward as you breathe in and step back as you breathe out.

This very simple exercise can be developed in whatever way you want to fit in with the participants, and challenge them more if needed. To lengthen and imprint the impact breath can have on initiating movement, ask them to close their eyes as they do the movement. This will do several things –

  • Increase their awareness of their breath and the size of their movement
  • Encourage them to work on their balance and their core
  • Help them to feel the weight in their movement, therefore adding another dynamic to how it can be developed.

Don’t overthink the exploration that you want to do. Provided you know what you want as your intended outcome, this section can be a real fun section to develop.

4. Sequence

Whilst I have called this section ‘sequence’ I recognise that not all workshops will have a sequence as such to learn. So, consider this also the ‘main bit’, the chunk that you really want everyone to grasp from the workshop.

This could involve learning part of a set sequence, group work expanding a Bible verse, song verse, the theme, working with a resource, and so much more!

But what you need to remember, is that whatever you did in the previous section needs to flow with ease into this one, a seamless transition, rather than a stilted connection.

5. Development/ free movement

Up until this point, you will have mostly guided, taught or impressed on participants the best way forward with their movement. This section allows the participant to start to take some ownership over their movement style and how they want to develop.

More often than not, this is where I give my participants a very loose task. I do this because I believe by this point in the workshop, they are capable of simulating movements together themselves and working with a partner or bigger group to create something that flows with the theme from the exploration section, to sequence section to this one. It’s also a great chance for me to sit back and see Gods work in progress, which is the most exciting bit of course!

Supporting through prayer

6. Cool down/ reflection

Just like it’s important to begin with a warm up, it’s also essential to finish with a cool down. This section has two purposes.

The first, to lower heart rates and bring our bodies back to a place they are normally at, using stretches and breathing to do this.

The second, to reflect on the impact of the session, to pray together or with someone individually, or take a moment of quiet. You can never underestimate the impact that a workshop will have on someone. It may not be obvious on the day, but God always moves, even when it’s not visible.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this outline is a process that I have found works well for me. Each of us are individual and all work differently. Take your time to find out what works for you, practise it and let God lead!

Let me know what are your essentials when you’re planning a worship workshop.

Want to be kept up to date with all things UC Grace? Head here.

Do you need a soaking of the Holy Spirit?

Sometimes we just need to stop. Breathe. Pause. Say, ‘God I need you right now’, ‘please send more of your spirit’, ‘wrap your arms around me’.

Our new Soak events are designed to provide just that. An opportunity in the month to enter into Gods presence.

Although we all try daily to walk with Jesus beside us, there are always moments where life takes us down a different path, and we get to the end of a day, week, month and realise, those moments that we struggled through, were exactly the moments when God wanted to step into the breach for us.

My heart for the Soak events is a time to actively make the decision to draw deeper with Jesus and dwell in his presence. In 2 Timothy it talks about the need to nourish and support our faith, and it’s the Holy Spirit within us that can help us do that.

soak night scripture 2 Timothy 1.14

We can’t give out, if we are running ourselves on empty, taking the time to fill us up should be a priority.

What will happen at Soak events?

We’ll spend a short time welcoming each other and doing a warm up movement activity together. As well as reading through some scriptures to focus on during the session.

This will lead into an initial time of free worship, after which there will then be a creative reflection exercise for people to part take in if they wish, leading back into free worship.

There will be the opportunity to take part in some prayer movement if people wish, this will be led and guided by the event leader, depending on peoples strengths.

The rest of the evening we’ll see where the Holy Spirit takes us!

You can see our current dates for Soak Nights here.

Do I need to have had dance experience?

Absolutely not! Part of dancing and moving in your faith is the recognition that movements are tiny and big, so whatever you do, a foot tap, or hand raise, is still a movement.

Want to know more and be kept up to date with other events at UC Grace? Head here to sign up.

Dancing at Candlemas

Last night I had the privilege of being invited to be part of the Candlemas service at St Micahel’s, Aldershot, it was such a lovely evening, I left buzzing and I want to share some of what God spoke to me during the service.

I had been asked if I could find some dancers who could respond as the felt led to a piece of live piano music based on Psalm 121: I Life my eyes up, to the Mountain. The lovely Helen Warren joined me as a second dancer, and our prayer before we danced was that we would reflect some of Jesus’ heart, that people would be drawn in with a desire to explore God more through our movement.

Recently I recognised that I spend a lot of time teaching and delivering, and not so much time dancing for myself. Last night gave me the opportunity to come before God and thank him that I have the ability to move, but also reinforced that for UC Grace to grow, and share Gods heart, I need to make sure I am giving God mine, and that in turn requires time set aside for me to dance, and be lost in his love through movement.

As the service progressed, Alwyn, the Vicar asked if we would dance again later in the service. By this point me and Helen felt we had ‘warmed up’, laid the foundations of showing Jesus through movement. So, as Jesus Christ, I think upon your sacrifice played, our hearts were stirred more by the spirit and we loved sharing more of that through dance and movement.

Much of the journey I have been on over the past week has encompassed the desire to draw back to the centre of what and why I do what I do with UC Grace. There were several things that God drew my attention to last night, it made me chuckle as the theme seemed to be everywhere I went at the moment.

In my previous post I mentioned about the interaction between creativity and the heart, and that my desire when I started had always been that it was about the hearts impacted not the numbers. You can read more about it here. It is this theme of people’s hearts and prayer that keep cropping up.

This prayer below reminded me that God places me where I need to be and with who I need to be, and I need to be willing to serve Him in what ever way that looks like.

It’s really hard in reality isn’t it to keep that sense of doing what God wants and following his will. This chorus of ‘I the Lord of sea and sky’ (brilliant song, you can listen to here), sums it up very well.

I will hold your people in my heart. The people that God puts in front of me at events, in conversations and through dancing. Each one is important.

We did manage to video some of what we did last night. Not everything is in full view. But it will give you a flavour from our first dance.

What special services have you danced in? Let me know.

Keep up to date with the latest with UC Grace, by joining our mailing list here.

Why is creativity so important?

The word creativity has been on my mind a lot recently, it’s taken me right back to why I started UC Grace, and how Living Colour dance workshops came about. I’ve been reading through previous notes and realising that at times it’s important to go back to your roots.

The ultimate reason I began UC Grace in 2010 was a passion to share with others the impact that dance and movement can have with our faith, and how it can be instrumental in encouraging others in their walk, bringing others to faith, and teaching Gods word. I wanted to acknowledge that God has given us a creative spirit, to explore, move and grow with. To put ourselves outside the box.

But as with so many things in life, distractions arise and before you know it, where you think you were, you no longer are.

Creativity takes courage. Henri Matisse

A dear friend gave me a card with the saying ‘Creativity takes Courage’. Initially I read it and put it to one side. Until last week, when I was drawn back to it, and the need to understand the implications of what that phrase means to me and to UC Grace.

Creativity has been a fundamental part of how UC Grace has developed, it’s integral to how we deliver our workshops, training and dance weekends and is actively encouraged amongst participants to help them draw closer to God.

However, I’ve felt challenged, that this fundamental root, the thing that shines through our work and sets it apart from others, has wilted. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve delivered all events with the same amount of gusto and passion, but had a feeling like something was missing, but not knowing what.

As this year has got underway, the Holy Spirit has whispered in me more, and I’ve realised its creativity that’s missing. Or more specifically how I share the connection of dance and movement and our faith, by offering a creative channel within which to do it.

Let me share for a moment what I mean by creativity with dance and movement and our faith!

An aspect that we look at a lot, is our journey, how we’ve got there, and where we might be going to. At one particular Living Colour session I asked participants to take a piece of paper and think about the journey that they had been on over the last week, and if they drew it, what would it look like? I then asked them at what points on that journey did they know that God was with them, and to mark it on the paper. From there their task was to transpose that picture into movement working individually initially, but then as a group. You can read more about how they did it, by reading the workshop plan here. But for now, look at the video below to see how they went from a picture to movement.

So why does it take courage? It takes courage, because for a lot of people creativity is something they don’t experience in their day to day. It’s something that doesn’t have a written step by step process, or tick boxes. It’s something that draws us to discover something new about ourselves, by stepping out the box.

The process is as important as the result is, both of which you might not have control over. Creativity takes courage, as it challenges your perceptions, your routine and your mindset. At UC Grace, that discovery happens in a safe environment, where whatever the result is, we support you as best as we can. Most importantly though, you join in as much or as little as you want.

It’s never been about the numbers that come to events. It’s about the hearts. I believe that if you join us at our events, God has put you there for a reason, and I value that. The connection between creativity and people’s hearts is so important.

So, the soul of our Living Colour dance mornings, our soak evenings, dance days and dance weekends is…

Over the next month or so, I am looking forward to continuing to weave this strand, across the whole of UC Grace, some of what is on our website currently is not where UC Grace is now. As God moves each of us on in our journey, God also moves UC Grace, and I’m looking forward to delving into putting creativity right back at our heart, as well as revisiting our values and vision.

We started with that phrase in 2010, let’s head back their in 2019 and see where it takes us.

I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences, if you have danced and moved with UC Grace. But also, those that haven’t, how do you use creativity? What does it mean to you?

Romans 8 – Death was arrested | Life through the spirit

So here is a simple workshop plan. Sometimes my plans are written out in detail, others are not as I know that there needed to be a lot of space to let God move and see where the session was going to take us. So below is an example of a ‘light’ plan. When I delivered this session, it was one of my busiest for a while, so it was lovely to see how each person developed their individual movement style.

Let me know how you get on!

Pray – always begin with prayer, welcome God into the space you are in.

Read all of Romans 8 – what are your initial thoughts?

Focus on the following areas for discussion –

  • Verses 1 – 4
  • Verse 14 – children of God
  • Verses 37 to the end.

Creative Task – Life through the spirit

What has you week looked like? Where has the spirit been in it?

Take a piece of paper and draw or sketch your journey. Think about peaks and troughs and how you travelled from one space to another.

Get Moving

Individually – identify ways that you can put movements together to demonstrate your journey.

Share with others if you comfortable.

With Others – Link your journeys together. Do this by first all doing your own journey at the same time. Then identify points at which your journey can intersect with someone else’s. Finally, how different does the journey look if you add some one in?

You should 3 variations now. Your own with others, your own that intersects with others and finally your own with someone else in the journey at some point too.

Share with others your finished dance. Use it as a time of blessing, both to give, but also to receive.

The reality of moving post birth – what you’re not told

I don’t know about you, but from the moment you find out you’re pregnant all the ‘preparation’ that you are told about, explore, look up seems to centre on most of these topics – how your pregnancy will develop, how the baby grows, things you need to be aware of at birth, what to remember at birth, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, what changes the baby goes through and much more. What isn’t spoken about enough or made aware to mums enough is the reality of how you and your body feels physically post birth.

When I had my daughter, this was the bit I struggled with the most, since then I’ve spoken with many mums about how they actually felt post birth and it’s shocking. It’s the one thing they weren’t prepared for, hadn’t been told or heard about, and it’s the thing that had one of the greatest impacts on them as they came to grips with being a new mum.

9 hours old – newborn snuggles once I could feel my arm!

I want to share with you two things – my post birth pain story and how you can help yourself to get out moving after birth that will aid healing in the right way. I recognise everyone’s story is different, and for some mums, they may be the lucky few that experience a positive birth, with minimal visible damage and easy movement after. But sadly, there are a lot of mums that don’t get that.

The birth of my first child wasn’t what I pictured it would be. To start with she was 10 days late! I was in slow labour, with sporadic contractions for 5 days. My waters broke but I didn’t have any regular contractions and I was scheduled to be induced. A high-powered walk eventually shifted things into regularity. However, in the final pushing stages it all went wrong… very quickly, and I ended up in theatre with an episiotomy, forceps and a baby not breathing, after 6 very long minutes we heard our baby. Thank you, God.

In the hours after the birth I eventually managed to get up, although I could walk, albeit very slowly, I could not sit. What followed as I attempted to recover, navigate a very painful breastfeeding journey (a story for another time), go through all the new mum, baby, family processes. Was the realisation that whilst I was prepared to ‘become a mum’, I most definitely was not prepared (nor had I read anywhere) for the immense pain, immovability and recovery of my body. The hardest part was transitions, once standing, or sitting in a fixed place I was okay, but moving from one to the other, turning over in bed, getting baby in the night to do feeds, was excruciating, it was at least 4 weeks if not longer before I could sit comfortably and transition between standing and sitting comfortably.

9 days – the tiredness has kicked in.

Mentally I really struggled with this. I’m a doer, some one who likes to keep busy, and realising that I still needed to be on a ‘go slow’ a lot longer than I thought, I struggled with. It was around 4 months post-partum that my friend invited me to try out Buggyfit. What a God send! By this point I had worked out that sleep and my daughter didn’t mix. But the outdoors and buggy produced a small amount of sleep, hallelujah! Over the next 3 or 4 months with Helena at Buggyfit Farnham, I learnt a lot more about our post-partum bodies and rehabbing them in the right way. Plus, the importance of knowing if we have diastasis recti (tummy gap), and how strong our pelvic floor is (let’s be honest, we all mean to do the exercises, but the reality of actually doing them…?!).

I took a lot longer to recover than I thought I would, in fact it hadn’t crossed my mind that it would take long to recover – I mean nothing is said in any of the magazines. But think about it, you’ve taken 9 months to grow your baby, allow it time to recoup, recover and regrow as needed.

4.5 weeks – Frensham Pond walk

Fast forward to now, I’ve been a Buggyfit instructor for 3 years running classes in Odiham, Hook and Alton (more info here), I love it. I’m passionate about ensuring mum’s get moving in a safe, supportive and fun environment and I love being able to encourage them not only in their fitness journey, but also in being a mum.

So what can you do to help your movement post birth? Here’s 3 things that I would make a priority –

Slow and steady wins the race – giving birth is equivalent to doing a marathon, not only pace yourself during your labour, but also after it. No consistent* running, high impact, jumping, HiiT, Boxercise or similar until you are 5-6 months. This sounds like you must wait an eternity, but although you might look and feel great on the outside, there are many layers of muscles and healing that need to take place deep down. Follow the advice of your postnatal trainer but depending on your recovery some of these can be started sooner. Walking is the best place to start.

Little and often – get out for a walk every day. This might mean on day one, you walk to the end of the driveway or garden and back and that’s it. But firstly, you’ve moved and secondly you got outside, win win! Fresh air helps you to regroup, blow away a little bit of tiredness and help you feel like you’ve done something. Moving, wakes up your muscles to help them to start contracting back to where they should normally be. Each time you walk, walk as fast as you can, this might be like a snail to start with, but you will get quicker!

Remember your breathing – just like during labour, breathing is your lifeline. Taking several lots of deep breaths, a day will not only send more oxygen round the body to your muscles, but also help rebuild your pelvic floor and tummy gap.

If you’re keen to get out and get moving soon after birth, then I’d recommend heading to a local Buggyfit class where you can get your outside fresh air fix, baby can go to and all the instructors are postnatally trained, so you will be in the safest of hands to get your body moving and active post birth.

When looking for classes postnatally, it is really important that you check (ask to see certificates if need be), that your class instructor is qualified to teach postnatally. You will do more damage to your body if you go back into exercise and begin throwing weights around, doing sit ups, running sprints and more. There are many other exercises that work more effectively to rebuild your core, tone your muscles and build strength.

Put your body first, let it recover, know that it might be painful and accept you might need to watch a little more tv whilst you recover!

Check out where you local Buggyfit class is here – http://buggyfit.co.uk/

Interested in classes in Odiham, Hook or Alton check the info here – https://ucgrace.co.uk/joinus/buggyfit.html

*Running for short bursts within for example, a set of circuits can be fine, but isn’t recommended before 12 weeks, at the discretion of the instructor depending on the mum’s recovery.