Pregnancy, labor, and delivery take a toll, and not just a physical one. You will go through mentally and emotionally difficult situations that will test you in every way imaginable. And, in the end, it's not uncommon to feel incredibly close to the new baby you just brought into the world, but miles away from your own body. That's why the following yoga poses for postpartum women can be so valuable. If done properly, they can gently guide you through the postpartum recovery process while simultaneously connecting you to your body. As a new mother, the last thing you need is to feel like a stranger in your own skin.
Yoga can be an ideal workout for postpartum women because it relieves stress, helps regulate breathing, and can help sore muscles regenerate. Not only has your pelvic floor gone through a proverbial war as you've grown and birthed your child, but your abs have likely forgotten how to, you know, ab. And since 64 percent of postpartum moms feel that their body image gets worse after they become mothers, according to a recent BabyCenter survey, yoga is a great way to reconnect with your body. Jyothi Larson, author of Yoga Mom, Buddha Baby, tells Parents "Yoga is a wonderful tool for becoming better acquainted with your body." And according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Mindfulness Cognitive Therapy, which combines the mindfulness techniques of yoga and deep breathing with traditional behavior therapy, can "reduce a mom's odds of experiencing depression and it's impacts."
Tailoring a yoga workout to benefit your postpartum body means choosing poses that don't force you to push you past a certain limit. Larson tells Parents, "Yoga's emphasis on breathing and moving simultaneously helps you breath more deeply." The point of yoga isn't to bench a certain number of pounds or "get your pre-pregnancy body back" or any other goal that can, and usually is, problematic for a postpartum woman. Instead, it's to help you feel connected to yourself, heal slowly, and to provide you with an opportunity to be surrounded by other women in a postnatal class that know what you're going through.
Of course, it's vital you discuss postpartum yoga with your doctor prior to trying any of the following poses, just to make sure it's safe for you to do so. After all, every body is different.
Balasana (Child's Pose)
Child's pose is, in my opinion, one of the most comforting poses out there. Not only does it stretch and lengthen your spine, but it's incredibly relaxing. Known as "the resting pose," it's encouraged you try this position when you need a breather. According to Gaia, child's pose "stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles, relaxes your spine, shoulders, and neck, increases blood circulation to your head, minimizing headache symptoms massages your internal organs, calms the mind and central nervous system, and relieves stress, fatigue and tension." These things are central to your wellbeing as a new mom (and, you know, person).
To do this move, Yoga Basics says to first put yourself into table pose (on all fours). Next, exhale and lower your hips into your heels, placing your forehead against the floor. You can put your arms over or under — wherever they're most comfortable — then you take full, deep breaths, pushing your stomach onto your thighs with every inhale. When you take a breath in, it's suggested you hold each for a count of 4-12 beats.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose)
Registered yoga teacher, Ann Pizer, tells Verwell Fit explains that to obtain maximum invigoration with this warrior pose, you should start by standing tall, step one of your feet back with your heel and toes at a 45-degree angle, then bend your opposite knee until it comes just over the knee. From here, stretch your arms out wide, leaning forward and towards your bent knee.
The point of this pose is to open your hips and engage quads. Do You Yoga adds that this pose, in particular, works all your muscles at once. It's also great for pin-pointing tensions that need to be released while finding inner peace in a potential moment of discomfort. Basically, the more you do it, the more relaxed you should feel.
Kids Yoga Stories says the great thing about yoga is that many of the positions are kid-friendly. The bridge pose is one of those poses, and it's a relatively easy way to get your kid stretching, too. This pose elongates the spine, chest, shoulders, and hips, strengthens the back and leg muscles, calms the mind, aids digestion, and helps to awaken the body.
To do this post accurately, the website advises you to lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Make sure to point your toes pointing straight forward and keep your knees hip-width apart. Your arms should be at your sides as you tuck your chin into your chest. With an inhale, lift your behind as flat as possible so that your body makes a bridge, holding 3-5 breaths.
Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose)
As if the benefits of yoga aren't enough, according to Style Craze, there are some Hindu scriptures that claim Viparita Karani reduces wrinkles and wards off death and old age. As a new mom who's probably exhausted and still recovering from the trauma of pregnancy, labor, and delivery, anything with "restoration" in the title is probably considered a godsend. Thankfully, this restorative pose helps with blood circulation, digestive problems, insomnia, headaches, and can essentially re-energize nearly all parts of the body.
To do this move (preferably on an empty stomach), find a wall, lie down on your back, and rest your legs up against the wall, forming a 90-degree angle.
Don't let the name fool you. This relaxation pose helps prepare your mind and body for sleep. Or, as a mom, as much sleep as you'll get. Instructor Adriene describes this easy move as a "mindful low impact" way to "relieve stress and tension roadblocks," particularly in the neck, shoulders, and back.
To do this one, sit cross-legged on the floor and stretch one arm overhead, careful not to strain your neck. Focus on your breaths as you gently relax your arm and do the same on the other side.
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