Tag Archives: prenatal fitness

Can I Speak With You?

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Every time I have a public speaking gig, I get that flutter of excitement, knowing that someone in the audience is feeling down about their physical health, the stress of life that prevents them from taking care of themselves, and the struggle of just how that’s going to change.

I’m excited because I know that the message I’ve crafted for their group is going to offer them not just hope but practical strategies for success.

As a public speaker, I love to take my stories of family, fitness, and wellness to groups who align with my message that everyday people do, in fact, have time for regular exercise.  My strategies for efficient, effective exercise resonate with people who feel stressed out by the realities of work and family pressures.  What I hope people learn is that an overall plan for wellness– meaningful exercise, plentiful sleep, and nourishing foods– is actually within their reach.

Who are these people?

  • Mom’s groups
  • Playgroups
  • Corporate wellness programs
  • Service & social organizations
  • Charity athletic teams
  • Goddess circles

Speaking to groups allows me to tap into the skills I used when I was teaching college and needed to engage a group of people with varying interest levels in what I was talking about.  By adapting my message to the specific group, my presentations offer real, practical advice to add value to the listeners’ lives.

Topics include:

  • Fitness & Family Time
  • Exercising with Baby on Board
  • Postnatal Fitness: Beyond the Mummy Tummy
  • Exercises for the Deskbound
  • Creating a Wellness Culture at Work
  • Training with a Team
  • Finding Power in Peri-Menopause
  • Yoga for the Unbendy

When I am engaged as a speaker, I also include plenty of time for questions and answers.  I love to facilitate group discussions about fitness and wellness, and I never pretend to have all the answers!  My extensive background of research in women’s wellness and practical understanding from my years as a personal trainer mean that I can connect the dots for people who find regular exercise challenging….and get them over the hump to see how taking care of their body really does make them feel better!

I look forward to hearing from you about how I can help the members of your organization craft a well-balanced life.  You can find me at karen@balancepft.com or leave a comment here so I can get back to you.

Good health and great happiness to you!


Aqua Yoga: Changing the Planes

This is the second in a four-part series posting on Thursdays about Aqua Yoga.  

Last week’s Aqua Yoga post discussed the benefits and challenges of buoyancy and balancing postures.  This week, I want to show you how changing the planes in which your asana are practiced can bring greater awareness to alignment and muscular connectivity as well as deepen the breath.

Let’s look at two postures.

High Side Lunge


In a land practice, this version of this posture, the feet are both turned out slightly with the weight shifted toward the side with the bent knee. The lower bent leg should track over the ankle, and the chest should remain lifted with shoulders away from the ears.  Holding this posture will strengthen the legs, stretch the inner thigh of the straight leg, and allow for deep breathing along the tall spine.

When the side lunge is taken into the pool, we utilize the side wall of the pool as our base.


The feet remain in firm contact with the base, and the hands on the pool deck should be as relaxed as possible.  The spine is still tall, the chin neutral, and the shoulders are low.

But here’s the amazing difference: when doing side lunge on land, the work is quite intense.  The quadriceps start to burn, and the body starts to warm.  With this work, breathing often becomes less deep.  When in the water, however, the legs are still active, but the tailbone hangs free allowing an incredible release along the entire length of the spine.  And because the legs aren’t working so hard to hold the weight of the body, breathing can remain deep and even.

To take this posture into rotation:


On land, the rotation of the side angle deepens the stretch in the groin.  The twist should originate in the lower back, but that may not be achievable for many people. (Use of a block for the ground-side hand would help.)  Again, the legs are working hard here, so holding the twist may be limited to just a few breaths.


In the water, the twist can happen freely thanks to the released tailbone.  By pushing the feet into the side wall, the torso lifts up and out of the pelvis as the arm and body twist toward the bent leg.  This rotation can be held for longer– giving the benefits of improved digestion, decrease in back pain, and stress relief–and allows for the full expression of the asana.

Eye of the Needle- Sucirandrasana

This pose for hip opening, low back stretching, and general gentle feel-goodness is a favorite of many yogis.

You’ve probably already figured out that we’re not going to do this one lying down on the bottom on the pool.  Rather, we’re going to modify it into a standing posture.

Performing eye-of-the-needle while standing is fantastic for pregnant women who cannot be in a supine position for extended lengths of time.  This is a population who needs the hip-opening benefits of the posture.  But it feels great for anyone who does a lot of sitting….which is pretty much everyone.



Start in utkatasana  (chair pose) with the back against the pool wall.  Shift the bodyweight into one leg and cross the other leg over the base leg.  Hands come to the heart in prayer position.  Focus on sinking down into the pose, lowering the upper bent knee (right, as shown above) toward the pool floor as you keep the foot flexed.

One bonus of taking eye-of-the-needle into the water is that you can add an element of core work to it.

Drape your arms on the pool deck behind you to brace your body.  With your legs still crossed with heel pushing out and knee opening to the bottom of the pool, tilt the pelvis up toward the head so that the feet and legs float up.  You can either hold this position or do mini crunches in rhythm with your breath.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into how taking your yoga pratice into the pool and changing the planes the asana are expressed in can help you establish strong alignment and connect with your breath.

Next week we’ll explore Goddess Pose and discuss why finding your goddess in the pool is so blissful.

Aqua Yoga: Buoyancy and Balance

This is the first in a four-part series, posting weekly on Thursdays, to introduce concepts of Aqua Yoga.

I love the water– I love the feeling of floating and being free and light.  Being in the water allows me to both escape my body and come in very fine balance with it at the same time.  For that reason, aqua yoga provides me a way to play with buoyancy and balance in a way that a land-based mat yoga class does not.

Let’s dive right in and think about it.

When on land, balancing postures are some of the most physically challenging parts of yoga.  We must feel confident that we aren’t going to fall.

Scary!  I am so worried about falling that I can't keep my hips stacked or raise my leg to full extension.

Scary! I am so worried about falling that I can’t keep my hips stacked or raise my leg to full extension.

We must trust that we have the strength in our legs to hold our weight.  If we’re really good, we even try to concentrate of getting the alignment of the body correct so we can breathe deeply and experience the full expression of the asana.  But let’s be honest– most of us are working so hard just to hold the pose in whatever way we can that we are cutting short the experience we’re trying to achieve.

This Dancer looks pretty graceful, but I cannot hold this alignment for very long...and I'm certainly concentrating more on the physical work of the pose than the breath moving through me.

This Dancer looks pretty graceful, but I cannot hold this alignment for very long…and I’m certainly concentrating more on the physical work of the pose than the breath moving through me.

Enter buoyancy.

The water helps to alleviate much of the risk  of balancing postures.  First of all, who cares if you fall?  Rather than risking an injury, you just get wet.

With a little support from a noodle, I can feel confident in this more complete expression of Half Moon.

With a little support from a noodle, I can feel confident in this more complete expression of Half Moon.

Next, the water carries about 75% of your bodyweight when you are standing in chest-deep water.  That means less weight on your joints, and that can help you focus on the correct alignment of each body part.  It also translates into the ability to hold postures for much longer than on land.

All of this together means that you can hold a well-aligned pose long enough that you can breathe deeply and enjoy the full expression of the posture.  Without all of the gripping in the muscles due to lack of confidence and/or physical stamina, the ease of breath while in water flows freely.

Experimenting with balancing postures in the water is available to a wide population, especially to those people who lack confidence to try them on land. Whether you are obese or pregnant, practicing aqua yoga balancing postures is fantastic for their strength-building potential.

An aqua yogi at eIght-months pregnant, able to find Full Moon with the support of the water.

An aqua yogi at eIght-months pregnant, able to find Full Moon with the support of the water.

Now, don’t go thinking this means that balancing postures in the pool easy.  Because you are buoyant and gravity isn’t doing it’s thing to keep you on the floor of the pool, you are forced to concentrate on the rooting down in the base leg of the posture.  By bringing your focus to your foot, you can begin to think of how the posture is stabilized, then trace the alignment of the body up from that base.  Again, because you are not working so hard just. to.get.in.the.pose. you can turn your attention to alignment and breath.  This deeper level of inner focus that can be achieved in the pool will translate to a mat practice, too.

Three first-time aqua yogis playing with buoyancy and balance in Graceful Dancer.

Three first-time aqua yogis playing with breath, buoyancy and balance in Graceful Dancer.

Grab some noodles and get in to the pool.  Aqua Yoga can help you find your balance, both mentally and physically.

Good health and great happiness to you!

I teach Aqua Kriya Yoga classes and host private events in Austin.  Here’s a complete list of certified Aqua Kriya Yoga teachers.

Labor Day

I know most of you Americans are off of work today, but I wanted to remind you of a fabulous Austin tradition (now in other cities, too!  look for yours!) taking place today:


FREE DAY OF YOGA  means there are yoga classes going on all over town, all day long, all for FREE!  If you’ve always thought about trying yoga but weren’t sure it’s for you, now is your chance to give a few different classes a try.

And, because I’m punny, I have to use LABOR Day to remind you about my Pre/Postnatal Group Exercise classes, now running on Sunday mornings.

Have a great holiday.

Five Ways to Balance

I’m one of those kinds of people for whom productivity is a form of relaxation.  I don’t sit around very well.  I get twitchy.  I get restless.  I get feeling like there’s something I could be doing.  And when I have days where I’m extremely productive, I feel most at peace with myself.

That said, I should be feeling pretty darn peaceful and Balanced over the next few months, because I’ve got a lot going on!  The boys go back to school on Monday, my daughter starts preschool for the very.first.time next month, and I have a whole slew of exciting classes and programs that are starting over the next few weeks.

1. Balance Virtual Bootcamp– Round Three kicks off next Monday, August 26th!  This 8 week program of 30-minute workouts delivered to your in-box three times a week has built a loyal following already.  The efficient and effective workouts are perfect for someone trying to start a fitness program or who now has less time because there are more kid-commitments to juggle (ME!).  Register NOW— you’ll be glad you did.

2. Aqua Kriya Yoga– I have classes on Thursdays from 6.30-7.30 from now until the end of September for the bargain price of $10/class.  Never done yoga before?  The water is a great aid in learning.   Advanced yogini looking to deepen your practice? Take it off the mat and feel the energy of the water.  Email me at karen at balancepft.com to save your place in the pool– classes fill quickly.  ALSO, I love to host private aqua yoga classes, so contact me if you have a mom’s group, bachelorette party, or women’s circle interested in a private event.

3. Prenatal/Postnatal Group Circuit Training Classes– I haven’t offered group classes in a few years, but they’re back due to popular demand!  We’ll do a mix of cardio and strength training, and I’ll be modifying to workouts to suit each participant’s needs.  I LOVE working with perinatal women, and I’m so excited for these Sunday morning classes to begin September 1st.  Register today, as space is limited!

4. Swimming Lessons– The season is winding down, but I do still have very limited openings through September.  Lessons are in the late afternoon and evening.  Email me at karen at balancepft.com for more information!

5. Personal Training– One of the bummers of my extended summer vacation is that I miss my clients.  For reals!!  I’m so glad to have seen so many of you last week, and I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone else soon.  If you’ve ever thought about hiring a trainer but aren’t really sure it’s worth the money, I’d love to talk with you about how I can help!  Not in Austin?  No worries– I do virtual training, too!

And one BONUS, which I haven’t talked too much about here…..

Last Spring I started a new company, EQUIP Fitness Business Development, because I’ve so enjoyed building Balance Personal Fitness Training that I want to help other people passionate about fitness follow their entrepreneurial dreams.  EQUIP’s Strong-Skilled-Smart program enrolls its first cohort into the six-week business development journey in September.  If you or someone you know is interested in owning your own fitness biz, make sure you’re on my newsletter list for the inside scoop!

Wishing all of you a productive & peaceful day!

Aqua Kriya Yoga is Here!

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What a glorious weekend!

I spent all day Saturday and Sunday at a training certification to become an Aqua Kriya Yoga instructor.  The weekend was one of peace, thoughtfulness, intentional movement, joy, and just plain fun.  I am so excited to bring aqua yoga to the Balance Personal Fitness Training community.

Aqua yoga hopes to bring  to the pool the breath and body awareness that so many enjoy through a practice on a sticky mat.  This wellness modality appeals to populations who have mobility issues as well as those who appreciate the healing sense of the water.  With my experience and love of working with prenatal women, I am looking forward to having pregnant women experience the buoyancy and stability of the water.   As someone who has labored in the water with all three of my children and birthed two of them into the water, I believe pregnancy, breath, water, and movement are a natural combination.

Spending the weekend with a group of ten women in an exploration of this new application of yoga was a powerful reminder of the energy that women have when they gather.  Aqua yoga is incredibly empowering– especially for people who have been intimidated by traditional yoga– and moving through the poses in the water and in the company of other women sparks instant community.  I envision leading classes at women’s retreats, girl’s night in, or with neighborhood moms groups.

The training was led by (Swami) Camella Nair, a well-respected yogi and the guru of aqua yoga.  Camella’s teaching style is a beautiful blend of yogic philosophy, practical application for working with students, and a healthy dose of reality.  For someone like me whose experience with yoga comes from a fitness angle rather than a spiritual or mystic avenue, Camella was welcoming, accepting, and inspiring.  I am honored to walk in her footsteps and spread the goodness of Aqua Kriya Yoga.

For details about my upcoming classes (starting THIS THURSDAY!) or hosting a private class, please see my brand new Aqua Kriya Yoga page on my website.

Good health and great happiness to you!


Mama Power


I spent some of my Saturday at MomCom Austin today, and I’m all abuzz.  It was a gathering of 150 women for a mix of discussion, learning, listening to speakers, sharing, eating, and general chilling out.  There was some pretty fabulous energy in that room.

I was there as a representative of Cheer Up Buttercups, talking about all the awesome services available to support new parents through the preschool years.    As anyone who has ever met me can attest, I love talking.  I really love talking about healthy parenting.  I super really love talking about ways we as a community can do a better job helping each other navigate the early years of parenthood.  As you can imagine, it was all pretty fabulous.

Despite spending most of my time behind the exhibit table, I was able to meet the beautiful brains behind local companies such as Great Moments in Parenting, Olive You Nanny Services, Striped Shirt, TX MILK, and Mamashine.  It was really exciting to hear the passion of each of these entrepreneurs, animated by talking about doing work that they love.

As parents we all face decisions about work-life balance.  I am fortunate to be doing something I love and still have so much time with my children.  I have a lot of irons in the fire regarding my business growth in 2013, and after being at MomCom, I’m even more fired up to go out and be awesome.

Now you go do the same.  Good health & great happiness to you.

None of the companies mentioned in this post asked me to blog about them.  I just thought they were cool women, and as a mama and a business owner, I like to support cool women.  Simple.