Yael is a doctor of Chinese medicine, licensed acupuncturist, nationally certified herbalist, and diplomate of Oriental Medicine. For more information, click here.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture, which is the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body to influence the flow of qi through the body, is one of the oldest forms of healing in the world. It originated in China about 5000 years ago, and the first medical text about acupuncture was written over 2200 years ago. The fact that acupuncture continues to be practiced today is strong proof of the power of this medicine.
Acupuncture is the best known of the modalities that make up what is known as traditional Chinese medicine, but actually, Chinese medicine has 4 pillars. Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Moxibustion, Tui Na/body work/cupping/Gua Sha and Nutrition. It is one of the tools that we use in order to bring balance to the body in order for the body to function optimally and be able to heal itself.
The theory on which acupuncture is based is called meridian (or channel) theory. Meridian theory describes the flow of qi (vital energy, life energy or prana) through the body. Qi connects all the tissues and organs of the body, circulating from one area of the body to another along certain pathways (called meridians or channels). For the body to function properly, qi must flow freely and in the correct strength and quality through each of the meridians. When the flow of qi is interrupted or unbalanced, illness of the body, mind and/or spirit will occur resulting in symptoms such as pain, anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, etc. which are signs that the body's qi is imbalanced.
What are some benefits of acupuncture?
The benefits of acupuncture are quite simple yet extremely profound. It unblocks any blockages you might have in your body, increases blood flow, releases serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins which are 10-200 times more potent than morphine working on both intensity and perception of chronic pain. This is why acupuncture is so amazing for all gynecological issues from PMS to fertility, chronic illness, and most pain issues.
When should I start acupuncture? How often should I go?
This is a great question. The best results happen when you address your issues from the very start rather than waiting for your condition to worsen. The longer you have an issue, the harder it is to heal. As far as fertility is concerned, the most optimal results are obtained if you start acupuncture as soon as you decide to start a family. I usually like to see my patients once every week, unless the issue is extreme. If it is something very difficult to treat, I usually prescribe twice a week for a few weeks and then we can start doing treatments once a week. Each case is unique, which is why I require an initial consultation to figure out each patient's needs and plans.
Does it hurt?
This is a very individualized response. Most of my patients don't feel any pain, but they do feel sensations. Sometimes these sensations are big and sometimes small depending on what we are treating, but all sensations only last a few seconds and then you enter a blissful relaxation that is deep and extremely restorative. I would say that the majority of my patients fall asleep during a session and feel very rested at the end. During an acupuncture session, because your entire nervous system is stimulated and brought from a flight and fight into a rest and digest, your body begins deep healing.
Last month, I joined forces with mental health advocates, medical practitioners, organizational leaders, parents, and caregivers from across the country to advocate for change during Black Maternal Mental Health Week. I had the honor of presenting at the Black Maternal & Mental Health Summit in Houston, Texas.
Hosted by The Shades of Blue Project and The UT Health School of Public Health, the summit was dedicated to promoting health equity for more Black birthing individuals across their birth experience. The main theme of the event was collective effort, as we are collectively working for greater community impact and change.
My presentation, “Prenatal Yoga’s Impact on Mind, Body, and Baby,” tied in perfectly with the summit’s theme. I highlighted the importance of movement during pregnancy, since It’s been well proven that exercise can positively impact overall mood and has been shown to reduce anxiety and feelings of depression. I also discussed how prenatal yoga supports the ever-changing body during pregnancy while naturally increasing serotonin and reducing cortisol. I emphasized that prenatal yoga helps to develop a connection with the baby, and how studies show women who regularly practiced prenatal yoga were less likely to have pre-term labor or to deliver a low birthweight baby.
After leading everyone through prenatal-friendly breathing and movement exercises, the bulk of my presentation shifted towards one of the biggest benefits of prenatal yoga – community. Poor social support is an important risk factor for depression in pregnancy. Prenatal yoga classes improve social support by connecting with other pregnant women in a safe, supportive environment. Whether you attend an in-person or a virtual class, the connection is undeniable. There’s something powerful about being in a space with people who are facing this magical, sacred, stressful, uncomfortable, and confusing journey called pregnancy at the same time you are. A strong support system makes childbirth and postpartum easier, and with postpartum depression impacting 1 in 8 mothers and 1 in 10 fathers, we need to be doing everything we possibly can strengthen support systems in our communities.
Thank you for continuing to support Prana Prenatal Yoga and for being a part of our community. Thank you for supporting the Momnibus Act. And a very special to Kay Matthews and the entire Shades of Blue Project team for hosting this transformative event.
To find out more about Shades of Blue Project, click here.
How do we balance summer fun with sleep schedules for our little ones? Certified Sleep Consultant and Prana Practitioner Johanna Snyder offers her expertise.
The days are getting longer, and the temperatures are getting warmer. Summertime is just around the corner! In the summer months, we tend to want to let loose and relax our daily routines and schedules. We want to spend more time playing outside and enjoying the weather.
As much as we want to embrace the carefree summer months, throwing in the towel with your schedules can mean your child’s sleep suffers. It is important to enjoy the summer, but also stick the schedule (most of the time!). It is all about a healthy balance.
Make sure to have backyard family BBQ dinners, impromptu sprinkler running and bubble blowing nights, or s’mores over the firepit. Just try to keep these as special occasions, rather than the norm. How do you balance the fun with a good night sleep? If you know it will be a late bedtime one night, make sure to have an early bedtime the following night. If you know you are heading to the beach for the day and naps might be disrupted, try to have an early bedtime that night to help prevent an overtired child. If one nap is in the stroller, aim or the second nap to be a motionless one! It is all about enjoying your summer, but respecting your child’s sleep needs.
Summertime also might mean a time for a much-needed family vacation — time to head to the beach, go to an amusement park, or visit a new city. Sandy beaches, blue skies, clear water, fun rides, ice-cream cones, sightseeing, and sleepy, cranky children. Wait! One of those things does not belong. Traveling with your children can be wonderful, but when they do not get enough sleep, it can make a week at the beach more exhausting than fun.
I know it seems like a challenge, but there are ways to ensure everyone gets sleep, so you can all enjoy your time away. Here are my five tips to keep your travels fun and your little ones rested!
1. Stick to your routine. Try to honor your child’s typical nap and bedtimes. Every day/night won’t be perfect, but if your child sleeps at the appropriate time most days, she will get the most restorative sleep. Recreate the same home pre-nap and pre-bedtime routines to make things familiar and comfortable for your child.
2. Create a similar environment. Bring your white noise machine, sleep sacks, lovies, or even a favorite blanket from home. For older children, bring the toddler clock and a copy of their sleep rules. The same rules apply while you are away! This helps make a new environment feel more like home. Do not forget to pack some favorite bedtime books!
3. Keep the room dark. Light has an enormous impact on sleep. When the early morning sun creeps through the shades or it is not quite dark enough at bedtime, children will have trouble sleeping. There are lots of quick and easy solutions to darken a room. You can hang towels or garbage bags on the windows. I always bring painter’s tape with me so I can hang things without ruining the walls. You can also purchase affordable room darkening shades online. I happen to love the Redi accordion shades.
4. Be flexible. If you are sharing a room with your child, you might need to be flexible with the space. You can try to place a pack n’ play or portable crib in a quiet area or behind an open closet door (away from a window). Remind early risers to rest in bed so they do not wake everyone else. While motionless sleep is the best, if a nap has to be in a stroller nap one day, it is better than no nap at all!
5. Have fun. Everyone might sleep a little less while you are away, but you can still enjoy and explore. Try not to pack your days, allowing some time for resting and remember to smile, laugh and enjoy your time away!
Lastly, when you get back home return to your regular routines right away. This will help your child get back on track with sleep!
In honor of Mother's Day, we asked some Prana Mamas to define Motherhood. Here's what they had to say.
"Motherhood is an honor bestowed upon women. It means you will forever be connected to a child or children who will grow and learn with values and skills which you have helped create in them. Motherhood is a responsibility and a privilege. You will worry, love, care, make sacrifices, and do your best to help your children for the rest of time. Your heart grows even bigger when you become a mother. There is an indescribable bond between you and your child that you will always cherish. No matter how you became a mother, once you've become one, your life has changed forever." - Marissa H.
"Sacrifice. We sacrifice our time, our bodies, our personal wellness, our money, our relationships, etc. all in order to become and be mothers. Where is that demanded of anyone else in society?! It's in watching your children grow and thrive that makes all of those sacrifices worth it <3" - Sarah L.
"Motherhood has been my greatest blessing and my biggest challenge. I never in a million years thought I could love something as much as I love this tiny human! It's more work than I ever imagined and there are a ridiculous amount of sacrifices I make without hesitating. There are some days where it sucks your soul, and there are days where you let go of everything and dance in the sunset." - Marissa G.
"Motherhood is Divine. It is the most sacred task I was put on earth to do. It is unconditional love. It is constant growth, humility, introspection and grace. It is HARD! But it feels like the most natural thing in the world." - Sophia M.
"Motherhood is the chance to share in life's biggest expression of love with and through my daughter who is the brightest light in my life. Motherhood is the opportunity to witness my daughter be that light for everyone she interacts with. It's a divinely guided gift of unconditional love. Her name is Mia - "wished for child". Motherhood is the culmination of all things the most happy and the most difficult. Motherhood is a reflection of myself, who I was once was and who I strive to be - my "why". Motherhood is observing and celebrating all that my daughter is and who she is becoming. Motherhood is my most pure and infinite gift to the world." - Crystal
"Motherhood means patience and finding inner strength and love that are probably not accessible without the experience of motherhood." - Dr. Yael Markowicz
"Motherhood is so hard. There are a lot of silent tears, sacrifices, and guilt. It can be ruthless at times. It's also so magical. Motherhood gave me a reason to be a better human being and to let go of of a lot of the pain and hurt I'd been harboring since my childhood. My relationship with my biological mother leaves much to be desired and a lot of those feelings came up when I myself became a mother, but I'm appreciative of what my journey of motherhood has taught me about myself. I've stopped comparing myself to others, especially to those who were able to conceive easily, and have come to accept that my journey is still valid and beautiful." - Anonymous
A few years ago, I stopped making resolutions on January 1. It became overwhelming to come up with a list of things I was committing to “fixing” about myself starting on the first day of the year, when historical data showed that by the end of January I had given up on said list. Also, why does a new calendar automatically mean we need to come up with a “new” version of ourselves?
I began to gravitate towards the idea of setting an intention for myself instead of resolutions. By setting an intention, I was committing to purposefully incorporating the intention into all areas of my life as much as I possibly could. When I had set the intention to protect my peace, I constantly found myself asking if what I was doing, saying, feeling, or experiencing was in line with my intention, and I would try to react accordingly.
It’s no secret that this pandemic has taken an extremely heavy toll on women, especially working mothers. Burnout, emotional distress, and revenge bedtime procrastination are all too common. We cannot pour from an empty cup, which is why we need to prioritize ourselves and set the intention for self-care. Many people think self-care is just getting a mani/pedi or a massage. There is definitely a place for those in self-care, but it’s also so much more than that. Practicing self-care intentionally means incorporating it into your daily life. While I love a good hot stone massage, at this point in my life I am not in a position to schedule one every single day. However, it’s still important to prioritize some daily “me time” instead of impatiently counting the days until the stones are resting on my back.
Putting yourself first is hard work. I get it, we’re busy – we wear so many different hats and more often than not are unsung heroes, but the responsibility of recharging ourselves ultimately falls on us. Waiting for employers, partners, family members, or friends to prioritize our needs can often lead to miscommunication, resentment, and ultimately wasted time.
Now that the honeymoon phase of the “New Year, New Me” resolutions have most likely subsided, this is as good a time as any to set the intention for self-care. Not sure where to start? Below is a list of 50 self-care ideas you can try. Make this list your own! Some ideas might resonate with you more than others, and you might even decide to create some type of routine (#mondaymeditation). The important thing to remember is that you owe it to yourself to prioritize yourself, even if just for a few moments, each and every day.
I'd love to hear about your journey with self-care! Comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Most children learn to walk between 12-15 months of age with their feet flat on the ground. Some children who are first learning to walk may walk up on their toes or on the balls of their feet. This typically disappears within 3-6 months of regular walking. Habitual toe walking occurs with children who continue to toe walk beyond the toddler years (after age 2). By age 3, there should not be any residual toe walking. Some parents think it is “cute,” but if it persists, it needs to be watched and addressed. Left untreated, children can end up with tight leg muscles, balance and coordination difficulties and walking problems. Early treatment by a Pediatric Physical Therapist can reduce and prevent toe walking.
The inaugural Prana Prenatal & Newborn Expo is coming soon on Saturday, October 23, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Prana Prenatal Yoga has brought together 21 of the best local businesses that cater to pregnant and postpartum families as well as top experts in the fields for breakout presentation sessions.
The best thing of all, due to generous support, admission to the Expo is free of charge!
And, the goods don’t end there. Every attendee will receive an Expo bag containing samples, coupons, and freebies. In addition, all registrants will be entered into a raffle where they could win:
Prana Mama Alexis Concetta Montalvo shares her experience of giving birth during a pandemic.
Birth can be empowering even in the middle of a crisis. We are amazing beings. We are resilient and we are strong. Sometimes, we don't meet our strength until we need it most. Our mind is powerful. It can build us up just as easily as it can break us down.
Through HypnoBirthing, I was able to train my mind to remain calm far beyond what I thought I could handle. That is just the thing. We don't know what we can withstand until we are faced with no other choice. Sure, I could've broken down the moment my husband was separated from me. Or when I was left waiting by myself with my surges intensifying before my labor was even confirmed. Or at any given moment during my birth. Even after, when they took my brand new baby away from me because my results were still "pending".
Thinking about having another baby after a Postpartum Mood Disorder? Here are 5 things to remember when you think about trying again.
Written by Dr. Kira Bartlett, Clinical Psychologist with a specialty in Perinatal Mental Health and Dee's List Member.
We know the risk of experiencing another episode of Postpartum Depression or Anxiety is higher for those of us who have experienced it before. However, knowing, planning, and taking action proactively can be useful in mitigating the risk. Many women we work with struggle with the question posed in the title, and many have had success as they have used some of the tips and strategies below.
Reclaiming self and maintaining peace for new mamas
A Q&A with Laura Kline-Taylor, Life & Leadership Coach
Mama Q: What are the biggest challenges going back to work as a new mom?
LKT says: I'll preface my response by saying, it won't be the same for every new mom, but most women find that their experience of themselves as new mothers is different than they thought it'd be - so it can be challenging to return to work after a period of little to no communication with colleagues when the mother knows the changes she's experienced are way more than adding a small human to her family. It's easy (and common) for people in our lives to be distracted by the super cute baby now in tow and completely disregard the internal shifts a woman is going through. Who a woman knows herself to be and how she identifies with her goals and her relationships is often completely transformed on the other side of giving birth and spending time on maternity leave. Some of the most prepared pregnant mamas are often surprised that what they thought new parenthood would be is not what they are faced with. She can find herself asking questions such as, "why didn't anyone prepare me for..."
By: Prana Practitioners and Other Experts
Experts answer all your questions about pregnancy, birth, motherhood, and beyond.