Post-partum can be one of the most challenging times in life. Emotional and physical changes to your body coupled with the high levels of anxiety that come with new motherhood can be overwhelming. Fortunately, yoga has been practiced for thousands of years and can be one of the most beneficial practices to help you through these difficult times.
Yoga continues to be a great form of exercise for pregnant women, new moms, and anyone else who wants to ease the aches of their body, mind and spirit. Yoga postures that are safe and beneficial for pregnancy are often considered to be postures that will aid in the recovery process after delivery. These poses are also said to help with back pain during pregnancy and delivery, so they are often recommended for new moms who experience pain in their back. However, some poses and series of poses are considered to be potentially unsafe for pregnant women, as they could lead to complications during pregnancy.
When you have just given birth, the last thing you want to do is take a yoga class or try a new yoga pose. You are exhausted and in no mood to do anything but sleep. The best possible thing to do is to get your body moving as soon as possible–and there are some post-partum yoga poses that can help you do just that.
After nine months, the baby finally arrived and completely changed your life. You probably love this little guy more than you ever thought you could.
They’re everything you never needed and everything you ever wanted. You make your heart full and complete when you didn’t know it was incomplete.
Motherhood is such a powerful and breathtakingly special experience.
Yoga after birth
Now that we’ve discussed the muscular side, we can talk about the physical side. You’re probably completely exhausted after a marathon birth, not to mention waking up every two hours to a hungry newborn. Once you have permission from your doctor or midwife and have someone to take care of your baby for an hour or two, feel free to try postpartum yoga.
This relaxes tense muscles, releases tension, calms nerves, calms and restores pelvic floor and abdominal muscles that have been strained during the nine months of carrying a heavy baby.
It is not uncommon for you to have difficulty walking, laughing, sneezing or jumping for some time after the baby is born. Try not to be so hard on yourself. The muscles will recover – they’ve worked hard, so give them time. Try not to judge and remember that this too shall pass.
Here are some great yoga poses to combat these common post-pregnancy ailments.
1. Kegel exercises
Assume a child’s pose. Tense the muscles you use when you’re on your third cocktail (or soda!), rushing to the restroom and a line of ladies standing at the exit. Hold for five seconds, then release.
Rest for ten seconds, then repeat. Try it five times. Then increase the number of sets as you progress. Increase to ten, then twenty, and even thirty after a few months of practice.
This will not only return your muscles to their pre-pregnancy state, but will also take them to a higher level. This is good for your sex life and helps prevent future incontinence.
2. Modified Navasana
After doing Kegel exercises for a few weeks and getting approval from your doctor, you can train your abs again with yoga poses like modified Navasana. It’s important to take your time. Most women have a lot of space between their abs after giving birth – I had a width of four fingers between my abs.
Sit with your knees bent and rest your toes on the mat, just behind your buttocks. Keep your back straight and tighten your abdominal muscles to support your lower back. Bring your toes to the back of your knees and balance on your sit bones, shifting most of your weight on your toes.
You can stay here for a few weeks until you are ready to move to the next level. When you’re ready, start playing by lifting one foot off the mat at a 90-degree angle. Maybe one more so you are balanced on your sitting legs, back straight, knees at a 90 degree angle and shins/ankles parallel to the mat.
After practicing this method for a few weeks, play with releasing your hands behind your knees and stretching them out in front of you.
3. Warrior I with shoulder pads
Many new moms complain of shoulder and neck pain because they are constantly looking at their beautiful baby while feeding (bottle or breast) or because they are constantly carrying him in their arms. A good way to combat this is to use breast openers.
Start with Warrior Pose I. This relieves pressure on your hips and strengthens your lower body. Then add the shoulder knitting. Fold your fingers together, bring your wrists together. If that’s too soft for you, switch to Humble Warrior with a shoulder strap. Lean forward with your chest to the ground. Place the shoulder of the same side against the inside of the front knee.
Hold this position for three to five breaths.
4. Grasshopper with crossed shoulders
To further release the tension that builds up in the upper back, another great posture after childbirth is the grasshopper posture with a shoulder tie. It restores strength to the spine, lower back and hamstrings while stretching the chest, back and abdomen. It also stimulates the digestive system and abdominal organs.
The added knit on the shoulders draws attention to the chest and shoulders, an area that is always highlighted for mothers.
Hold the position for three breaths and release. Repeat this process three times.
5. Camel position
For an even more heart-warming lower back, try the Camel Pose. Make sure you’re ready for this, and do it slowly before returning to the full Camel to make sure your abs and spine are ready for it. You can work on the Camel first, leaning on your arms and supporting your lower back. All you have to do is bend your back and open your heart to heaven.
As your strength and flexibility increase, start playing with your ankles. Again: Take it easy, because you don’t want to overexert yourself.
The camel opens the heart chakra and can often evoke strong emotions. Physically, you often feel a little lightheaded after the pose, so come out of the pose slowly and rest in a comfortable kneeling position for a few breaths to get the full benefit.
6. Rabbit pose
One of my favorite poses, the opposite of the camel pose, the rabbit pose stimulates and articulates the spine. It stretches the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine and stimulates the internal organs and thyroid by tightening the chin.
Shift your attention to the crown of your head and notice the weight it is taking on. There can’t be too many of them. If they are there, use a grappling hook. Pull harder and maybe a little lower to get more weight in your hands.
Breathe in five times, nice and nourishing.
7. Deck installation
Anxiety is common after childbirth. Your mind is racing wildly calculating all sorts of things that could go wrong or happen to your baby. (A little anxiety is normal, but if it starts to interfere with your daily life, talk to your doctor).
The bridge is a fantastic antidote to anxiety, which is why I recommend this pose for postpartum yogis. It calms the mind, helps with headaches, relieves stress and mild depression.
Every mom needs time to herself, so try these poses (or go to a studio near you) that will not only help you recover physically, but also help you mentally deal with the stress and joy of motherhood.
We’d love to hear what you think in the comments below! Yoga is often thought of as a highly advanced exercise routine reserved for the most fit and experienced practitioners. This is understandable, given the frequent intensity of poses like Downward Dog and Plank. However, when a new mother is facing a new set of physical and emotional challenges, yoga can be a gentle and effective tool that helps to restore balance and strength to her body and mind.