By Gina Norman
Most people know the importance of yoga during pregnancy, but yoga also aids tremendously in postnatal recovery. Connecting with your body and breath through the following yoga postures can not only help with your physical recovery, but can help to balance your mental and emotional well-being during this new and often challenging time.
New moms are often so busy and exhausted that their own wellbeing takes a backseat. Take time for yourself by being present in your body and connecting with your breath. It is simply “being” that the soul craves, and the more we are able to be, the more balanced we feel.
It is recommended that you give yourself enough time to rest and heal after giving birth. For vaginal birth, allow yourself 6 weeks rest, and for a C-section recovery can take anywhere from 8-12 weeks (it advised to wait until incision is healed before engaging in abdominal strengthening exercises).
These following poses can be done prior to six weeks postnatal and will help you adjust to the many changes in your body, the physical exhaustion you may be feeling, and the emotional and mental stress you may be dealing with as a new mom.Apanasana (supine knees to chest)
Lying on your back with knees to chest, allow your breath to even out and gentle rock from side to side, a great way to release your back and start to get in touch with your new postnatal body.
Pelvic floor ‘kegels’ exercise
This can be started soon after birth and build up to longer holds as you heal and become stronger. Squeeze the muscles in your pelvic floor that stop the flow of urine: squeeze for five, hold for five, and release for five. Repeat 10 times.
Supta Badakonasana (reclined supported bound angle pose)
This is a wonderful restorative pose as well as a gentle hip and heart-opening pose. Lie on your back with the bottom of the feet together and knees open out to the side. You can use blankets or pillows under your knees for support and to reduce any strain you may be feeling on the hips in this pose. Hold for 5-10min Time to rest and relax!
6 weeks postnatalVirabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2)
Strengthening & heat building pose that will fire up your core! Stand sideways on your yoga mat with your feet as wide as your arms can reach. Point your front forward and bend the knee over your ankle while reaching your arms out to the side and in line with your shoulders, keeping torso aligned over hips. Hold for 10 breaths on each side Garudasana (Eagle pose)
A balancing pose that works to help you strengthen your core while opening your hips and shoulders. Stand with your feet parallel- bend your knees- lift your right leg and wrap it around your left either hooking your toes behind your left calf or to the outside of your left ankle – simultaneously reach your arms out to the side and wrap your right arm under your left bringing your hands to touch. Hold for 10 breath and repeat on other side. Navasana (Boat)
Strengthening the core muscles will also be beneficial in supporting a weakened back and very helpful to combat the relentless forward bending and back strains caused by carrying and caring for your baby. Sit with your knees bent into your chest and slowly find your balance on your seat as you lift your legs into the air. Build up to straightening the legs without rounding the lower back. Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat 3-5 times.
Focusing on the inhalations can be energizing and beneficial for counteracting the lethargy and negativity that can accompany common sleep deprivation. Lying in relaxation, emphasize lengthening and deepening the inhalation. Divide the inhalation into three parts with short breath retention in between. Inhale a third of the breath, from the pubic bone to the navel. Pause. Then inhale another third of the way from the naval to the chest. Pause. Finally, fill all the way to the top of the chest to the collar bones. Pause. Then, exhale slowly and deeply. As time goes on you can shift your focus to longer exhalations, which encourages relaxation and the letting go of mental and physical tension.
About the author:
Gina Norman is owner of The Kaia Yoga Complete Wellness Centers in Greenwich and Westport, CT. Gina has always had a fascination with mind-body work and its essential connection to overall health and happiness. She studied Thai massage in Thailand, Vipassana meditation in India, Buddhist studies in the Shambhala tradition, and Cranial Sacral Therapy through the Upledger Institute. Gina holds teacher training certificates from Beyoga (currently YogaWorks) and Om Yoga Center in New York City, where she was an integral part of their teacher training staff. She is the main teacher of all Kaia Yoga Teacher Training programs, while overseeing a variety of training and classes for women and their families, including birth classes, mom’s groups and breastfeeding support. Gina is trained in yoga therapy and works independently with pain management doctors. She has lectured at Greenwich Hospital and other local organizations. For more information visit www.KaiaYoga.com
Strengthen your abs and balance your mind with these 7 yoga exercises.