When a woman becomes a Mum, everything changes, from fluctuating hormones, energy levels, dealing with a new sleep pattern and probably a drastic shift in priorities. Yoga is a great way (with some modifications) to look after your physical and mental health postpartum.
Every birth is different, which also means that recovery needs will also change from birth to birth. It is recommended that a woman should wait at least 6 weeks before returning to a physical yoga practise. If you have had a c-section or other surgery at least 8 weeks is recommended. Check in with how you feel, but if you are unsure speak to your GP.
During this early stage postpartum, you can still ease yourself back into a yoga practise, that doesn’t have to be physical. Breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation can be powerful tools to use anytime after giving birth. Golden Thread Breath (check out how to do it in this blog post) can be especially helpful before feeding, or for times you need to feel centred and calm. A 5 minute meditation anytime during the day, can help you regain focus and clarity, taking a few minutes out for yourself. Even if 5 minutes feels too long, don’t underestimate the power of 1-2 minute meditations; it might just be enough for you to calm the mind.
When returning to a physical yoga practise, it is important to ease yourself back into the flow. Start with gentle stretches and simple movements, before adding strength-building poses back into your routine. Keep in mind during your practise, that you should hopefully leave it feeling rejuvenated, rather than fatigued. Neck and shoulder releases can be a great place to start, as carrying your new born and hunching over to feed Baby, can put extra strain on the upper back. Postures like Puppy Pose, Thread the Needle, Eagle Arms and Cow Face Arms are great for this.
During pregnancy the abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor undergo the biggest changes and are often the first areas women would like to focus on. For the abdominals, we need to start off by getting reacquainted with the area, choosing simple balancing postures and lightly engaging the core. Coming to an all fours position, raising the right arm and left leg, the alternating is a great one to practise. To begin with we avoid crunching and twisting the abs too much. Think about the abdominals in layers, to train the deepest layers, movements need to be slow and subtle, this will build a strong foundation for you to progress your core work on.
Including pelvic floor exercises in your yoga practise can help with incontinence and strengthen the area. Pick a comfortable position, cross-legged, lying down or maybe Childs Pose. As you inhale relax the area and exhale to pull up through the pelvic floor (imagine you were trying to hold in a wee). As you become more familiar with this exercise, make the engagement longer, for example hold for a count of 5, release for 5, then hold for 10, release for 10 etc.
Progress through your yoga practise mindfully and scatter your flow with some restorative poses to help combat fatigue. Childs pose and legs rested up the wall are great for rejuvenating the body. Always finish your physical practise with a few minutes in Savasana or relaxation time for yourself (this is why it’s important) even 30 seconds is better than no seconds.
As usual, if you have any yoga related queries or questions, drop me an email on my contact page :)