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As a new mom, it can be equally as hard to get back into exercise as it is to wait for the recommended amount of time before you start indulging in regular physical activity again. Postpartum yoga offers you the ideal way to start incorporating healthy movement into your routine without overdoing it. And the best part? It can help to aid recovery after childbirth! It’s also a great way to take some time for yourself during the early stages of being a mom – and beyond! – when things can sometimes feel a little overwhelming.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know before starting postpartum yoga classes. You’ll discover what it is and how it differs from other forms of yoga as well as the benefits and what you need to be aware of when practicing yoga after childbirth.
We’ve even included a few poses that you can do from the comfort of your own home to alleviate aches, pains, and stress.
What is postpartum yoga?
Postpartum yoga classes ease your body into healthy and safe movements with the entire pregnancy and birthing experience in mind in order to avoid injury. This type of yoga was designed for the specific purpose of serving the postpartum body in the best way possible. It’s a gentle practice, where you are guided through positions with full consideration for the state of your body and the huge change that it has been through.
If you’re looking to take part in postpartum yoga, you can either attend a class or follow a video at home. Keep in mind that when using online videos, you will not have an instructor with you to ensure that you are practicing safely. This just means that you’ll have to pay extra attention to how your body feels throughout the practice.
What are the benefits of postpartum yoga?
Yoga, in general, is a great way to connect with your body and take some time for yourself. This is especially true of postpartum yoga. You’ll be practicing during a time where your body needs some love, and your mind most definitely needs a “time out.” Here are just a few of the amazing benefits of postpartum yoga.
Postpartum yoga can help to aid the recovery of both the mind and the body and is the ideal way to start incorporating gentle exercise back into your routine. After childbirth, it’s important to focus on slowly strengthening the core muscles, back and pelvis. Yoga can do exactly that. It’s low impact and requires you to pay attention to how you feel in your body during practice. This means that you will not be taking part in any kind of exercise that could be harmful to these areas of your body, and instead will be spending time nurturing them.
As well as pregnancy and childbirth your body will, without a doubt, be feeling the effects of spending all day, every day, feeding and carrying a little person everywhere. This can result in shoulders that become increasingly hunched, and result in lots of discomfort in both the shoulders and the upper back. Postpartum yoga classes recognize this as an aspect of being a new mother, so movements to reverse this posture are almost always included.
If you choose to attend a yoga class instead of following an online video, you’ll be able to take some time away from the challenges of being a new mother. And as well as this, you’ll meet other mums that can act as a great support network and who you’ll potentially build lifelong friendships with!
Yoga is a stress-relieving practice that can help to balance all of the emotions that you will be all-encompassed by as a new mom. The increase in blood flow that yoga promotes can also help you sleep better – even if that is squeezing in one of those all-important power naps while your baby is asleep! You might even find that a yoga class boosts your energy and helps you to feel better equipped for those first few months with your little one.
It’s been found that yoga can help you to bond with your children while alleviating the effects of postpartum depression and anxiety. If you feel like you’re experiencing postpartum depression, it’s important to seek help with a medical professional.
How is postpartum yoga different from regular yoga?
There are many ways in which postpartum yoga differs from regular yoga. Primarily, if you were to attend a class, you’ll more than likely find that babies are allowed! The best part about this is that you can socialize with your little one in tow and they can cry, poop, and breastfeed with no judgment whatsoever. Everyone is in the same position as you!
Postpartum yoga teachers recognize the delicate state of the body following pregnancy and childbirth. As well as the toll that the added weight of pregnancy takes on the body, there are hormones making changes too. During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin – its job is to relax the ligaments and muscles to make childbirth easier. The side effect of this being that your new and wonderfully flexible body can become injured more easily. It’s normal for the muscles and ligaments to remain in this state after childbirth, so postpartum yoga classes will adapt poses with this in mind.
How do I stay safe during postpartum yoga?
The benefit of attending a class over opting for a home practice is that a teacher will be able to safely guide you through movements as an individual, and ensure that you are practicing them properly. That aside, whichever way you choose to practice postpartum yoga, you must be aware of staying safe. If you choose to attend a regular class you might want to opt for something more restorative. Be sure to let the teacher know that you have just had a baby, this way they can give you more specific adaptations.
This time in your life is one where you will really have to listen to your body. Don’t push yourself, and move out of any positions that do not feel comfortable. Adapting poses and using blocks are both great ways to make a practice more accessible for your postpartum body. Though your body may be more flexible due to the hormone relaxin, you should exercise caution to avoid an over extension injury.
In terms of specific body parts, you’ll need to avoid poses that put pressure on the core. Engage the core throughout the practice to gently rebuild strength in that area, but don’t put direct pressure on it with abdominal exercises or twists. If you’re breastfeeding, laying on your stomach won’t be dangerous but can be incredibly uncomfortable. Consider using a cushion to elevate the chest away from the floor.
How soon after birth can you do yoga?
The amount of time that you should wait before participating in any kind of exercise after birth is 6 weeks. However, this amount of time might differ depending on your lifestyle both before and during pregnancy, as well as the birth itself. Those who have given birth by cesarean section will likely be advised to wait longer. To be sure, ask your doctor for advice regarding your specific situation.
Before beginning yoga, ask your doctor to check for diastasis recti (abdominal separation) as it can be dangerous to get active in more severe cases of this. Tune in to your body at all times and listen to what it’s telling you – if exercise brings on any bleeding or dizziness it’s best to hold off for a little longer. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
A few at-home yoga poses
Once you have the all-clear, have passed the 6 weeks after birth, and are feeling ready to start adding a bit more movement to your day, here are some great yoga poses for postpartum mothers:
- Belly breathing – laying on your back and placing one or both hands on the belly, breath in to fill the belly, and exhale as you draw the navel towards the spine. You can use this time to send some appreciation to your body while gently toning the core.
- Sphynx pose – laying on your stomach, bring the elbows below the shoulders and push into the hands to lift the chest gently away from the ground. This is great for lower back relief.
- Eagle arms – start in a comfortable seated position. Cross one arm over the other, bend at the elbows and either place the backs of the hands or the palms together for a wonderful shoulder stretch.
- Legs up the wall – lay on your back with your legs up the wall – this reverses the blood flow, which can be both energizing and relaxing.
- Child’s pose – from kneeling, start to walk your hands forward to bring your torso onto your thighs. You can open the knees wide for a deeper stretch that will further relieve back pain.
- Forward fold – stand tall, bend the knees deeply and gently fold all the way forward bringing your stomach to touch your thighs. Relax the head, and gently begin to straighten the knees for a deep hamstring and lower-back stretch. Maintain contact between the stomach and thighs.
Yoga is the ideal way to start moving your body and regaining some strength following pregnancy and childbirth. Always remain mindful in your practice and take the time to get to know your body all over again – it’s done a lot of changing!