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So it’s the time of year where families usually take time to reflect on the year that has gone and review aspirations for the year to come. Here are some suggestions that families might want to consider.

1. Take Time Out To Be Silly

Take time out to crack jokes, turn up the music and do silly dances, make up funny songs about each other. This temporary break in parent and child role will lighten the mood and show your child a different (fun) side of you.

Show your kids your fun side! Image credit: iStock

2. Exercise

Encourage and support each other to pursue or continue taking on a sport of their choice, and congratulate ourselves for just turning up! If you are trying something new, there are training apps available like couch to 5k that got me pounding the pavements. Or better still,  find a sport or an outdoor hobby that the whole family can enjoy together, and get moving!

Who knows where your new hobby will take you? Image credit: 123RF

3. Walk, scoot, bike, use public transport

We love our cars despite it being bad for the environment and our waistline. Think about walking or cycling to run that small errand; or taking the train for that trip into town. Travelling together will give some time to focus on the children as we are not concentrating on the traffic, especially when we are taking long trips.

 

4. Start a new family tradition

Families are what they are because of what they do together, in their own quirky ways. It is the comfort of routine that provides a sense of security to the children. Simple activities such as Friday movie nights at home, exploring a new place a month, a family book club, or trying out new recipes are rituals that will bond as the family discovers together.

Movie nights at home is more fun when each family member takes turn to choose the movie. Image credit: freebiemom.com

5. Eat Healthy

In our harried life, we rely on tahpaus and eating out. Eating more vegetables, salads and fruits is one way to eat healthier; as is eating less meat or cooking our own food. Again, start small by refusing that second helping and having fruit instead, packing your lunch a couple of days a week, or having a meat-free day.

 

6. Reduce waste

Plastic pollution is a problem that our children will be unfairly burdened with. Taking a container for your tahpaus, using reusable shopping bags, refusing free samples and straws will bring down consumption. There are online groups sharing ideas on how to reduce waste such as tips to pack food for the whole family from the hawker stall without plastics or styrofoam.  Why not take it a bit further by also starting your own compost bin!

Reduce, reuse and recycle. Image credit: iStock

7. Share the work within the family and community

The organising and doing to run a family can be shared in many ways with spouses and children. They could take on roles such as planning holidays, routinely cooking meals, or doing the grocery shopping. The more work gets spread out, the more everyone feels a sense of belonging because of their contribution, especially the children. This sense of collectivity can be extended to volunteering at the children’s school, a non-profit, your neighbourhood’s gotong-royong and becoming a part of something bigger.

 

8. Buy less or buy nothing!

Everyday, we are inundated with seductive messages to consume that is environmentally unsustainable . There is a growing movement in Malaysia to reduce consumption through swapping or selling preloved items through online Facebook forums or freely giving it away. Instead of throwing it away, why not learn new skills to repair your own electronic items? Or make your kemahiran hidup (living skills) teacher proud by mending that dress? Need a baking tin but only bake occasionally? Why not pinjam kejap (borrow for a while) from your friend? If you are feeling convinced, how about trying to buy nothing for a year?

Are we being consumed by our consumption? Image credit: tinycabinbigdreams.com

9. Take care of yourself

This one is the for moms. Pencil in a day without the kids every month. If it is not possible at the moment, try a couple of hours. And please use that time only for yourself. Read, run, journal, catch up with friends, take a bath, watch a movie, eat cake! Sit in silence. Tell your family that it’s “mummy’s me time”.

 

10. Reflect

Reflection provides opportunities to learn from mistakes, make sense of our thoughts and feelings, to accept ourselves, to be grateful and to do better. It need not be done once a year, as we usually do with resolutions, but integrated into our daily lives. Some people do it while driving, praying, exercising, and some journal. The key is to provide the quiet in your mind, go inwards and connect with yourself, and resurface to connect with your family. For example, we try to talk about our day, what our mistakes were, and what we appreciated. We could do it more frequently, and that’s one of my daily resolutions!

Reflection allows us time to be with ourselves, so we can be better with others. Image credit: www.upliftingcontent.com

The past year has been one of great inspiration for us all Malaysians, with renewed hopes and aspirations for our nation. May we all continue to develop ourselves, so we can better our families and our communities. Here’s to another amazing year ahead!

 

It’s been more than 2 years since I had my first child. As an active person, I longed to get back to exercising regularly. However, when you have a toddler and no full time help, it’s easier said than done.

This is why I was thrilled to discover B Studios – a gym where my little tot could toddle along.

The Dream Gym

My son, Isa joining me for my workout

B studios is located in Bangsar and has a play area where children can keep busy while mama works out.

Occasionally my son would come unto the workout floor and join us,  but at this child-friendly gym, that’s ok too.

A Gym for Mothers, by Mothers

From left to right: Nadia, Yunny and Shin Loh, the founders of B Studios

B Studios was founded by three hot mamas, Shin Loh, Yunny Gan and Nadia Azahari.  The friends have a shared passion for fitness and loved working out even before they became mothers.

However, when they were pregnant they realised there were limited safe fitness options for pregnant women.

“After we gave birth, we realised that getting back into shape post pregnancy had even more challenges. One of them was the mom-guilt over leaving your child at home whilst you went to the gym”, shared Shin.

Thus B Studios was conceptualised. The dream was to offer safe workout options for pregnant women as well as a child-friendly place for mothers interested in fitness.

Becoming Certified Trainers

B Studios offers safe options for pregnant women

The three underwent 3 months of full-day weekend classes to be certified as trainers under the American Council of Exercise (ACE).  Then they went for further accreditation for pre- and post-natal certifications.

“Some of us were still ‘breastfeeding’ our little ones then, so lunch breaks were spent pumping (breastmilk),”  Shin recalls.

Garnering a Following

Before deciding on the location of B Studios, Shin and her partners ran outdoor workout sessions for moms at the Taman Tun Dr. Ismail park. Here, they developed a small following which they now call the ‘Mama B Tribe’.

“We’d be lying if we didn’t say it’s been challenging! But it’s also been really rewarding watching our little ‘baby’ materialise from what started off as a small idea. Like all mothers, juggling family, fitness and career is never easy. It’s a learning process that we’re still trying to perfect every day,” said Shin.

Fitness for Pregnant Women and Beyond

B Studios offers fitness for moms at different stages: whether pregnant, recovering post partum or wanting to stay fit beyond.

The flow chart above details their workout options as well as how to chose the right programme for one’s needs.

The packages at B Studios range from 4 to 40 classes and each package can be shared between 4 people (you and three of your friends). Four friends can buy a package together and work out together – now isn’t that great?

Additionally, when you buy a package, you’ll enjoy discounts at many of their partner businesses which include baby businesses and F&B outlets.

A New Vision – Building a Community

Shin says in addition to fitness, the trainers also want to build a strong community within their studio. They hope to encourage and empower their Mama B Tribe not just through fitness, but by enabling their community of women to have a place to share and also learn.

Which is why they are collaborating with the likes of parenting coach Rachel Kwacz to offer a safe space for women to share, learn and also meet other mothers.

Baby changing area

What are you waiting for mummies?

Find out more about B Studios  at https://bstudios.my or follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Motherhood as we know is an extraordinary experience.   We’ve witnessed some pretty amazing feats too with expecting moms running marathons or taking part in weighlifting competitions.  And while those scenarios are a little extreme, fitness experts and doctors do advise women to exercise during pregnancy, as it is not only good for the birthing experience, but keeps mothers healthy and energetic.  Here’s a look at some of common yoga misconceptions about fitness and pregnancy.

 

Myth #1: Do not attempt prenatal yoga if you have never done yoga before

Completely untrue.  Before any yoga class, be it prenatal yoga or otherwise, experienced instructors will take the time to speak to students about their health, stage of pregnancy and fitness levels.  A prenatal yoga class is designed to ensure your safety and comfort in performing stretches, balancing postures and routines that involve squats and wide legged lunges.  Instructors are trained to be aware of any health risks or changes in their students’ experience and will make modifications, using support blocks, straps, bolsters, chairs and even walls.  What we do emphasise is for expecting mothers to speak to their doctors first to see if it’s advisable to join a yoga class.

 

Myth #2: Doing any form of exercise, including prenatal yoga, robs your baby of nutrients

Not true. This goes with the eating for two myth, that mothers should always eat for two. Instead of overeating, doctors have always advised moms to eat a balanced meal and stay hydrated, particularly during the first trimester if morning sickness is common. During exercise, the baby will take what it needs regardless of whether you’re burning calories or not.

 

Myth #3: Avoid abdominal exercises while pregnant

 

In a prenatal yoga class, we encourage mothers to practice core strengthening exercises to support the weight of the growing baby, for example, routines that strengthen the shoulders and upper back muscles.  No close twists or compressions at the abdominal area, so we work on open twists instead.  You can still work on strengthening your core with downward facing dog poses or a plank pose held for shorter time or as long as the mother is comfortable. What’s also important is paying attention to the pelvic floor muscles and working on kegel routines.  Mothers should avoid exercising on their backs after 16 weeks to prevent circulation problems.

 

Myth #4: You must be super flexible to do prenatal yoga, or any form of yoga

Flexibility can be developed over time with practice and under guidance of an experienced and certified trainer. In a prenatal yoga class, mothers who are not naturally flexible tend to become nimbler due to the relaxins which help them stretch their ligaments.  What is important in a stretch is not how far you can go, but to feel the sensation of the stretch, which releases endorphins leaving you feeling good. Lateral stretches and side bends are encouraged so that mothers can absorb more oxygen for her and the baby.  Blocks, blankets, bolsters and pillows, or even rolled up mats are available in prenatal yoga classes to assist in the various poses.

 

Myth #5: Prenatal yoga in your third trimester will make you go to labour sooner

There isn’t any research that backs this claim.  Prenatal yoga assists in the birthing process with hip openers to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, and breathing techniques such as the Ujjayi breath to help with active labour.  This breathing technique helps calms mind and body, and helps mothers focus in labour.

A simple way to visualise the Ujjayi breath is to take a deep breath through your nose, and exhale with a loud, “haa” sound.  For the actual Ujjayi breath, do the same but close your mouth during exhalation, seeing if you can mimic the “haa” sound. Some people call it the ocean’s breath – inhale as the water gathers up for a wave, and exhalation resembles sounds of wave crashing into the shore.  Also in the final trimester, some mothers admit the extra weight affects their balance in poses such as the tree pose or dancing warrior. An experienced instructor will offer support in the form of a wall, chair or even encourage mothers to exercise with their partners. Doing so helps with bonding while strengthening their leg muscles, core system and sharpens focus.

 

By Susan Tam

Susan Tam is a certified yoga instructor with over a decade of yoga experience, certified under the 450 training hours programme organised by the Malaysian Association of Yoga Instructors (MAYI). Her prenatal yoga instructor certification is qualified by Surya Yoga’s 20-hour intensive training programme. She and partner Joanna Audrey are offering prenatal yoga classes at Fitology Bangsar, every Saturday at 230pm. Find their practice here