Giving birth brings about a radical change in our bodies, minds and souls. We are forever transformed and as our babies we are also, we are also born as mothers.
This is a monumental life event which can take some time getting used to. During the first few weeks postpartum it is essential to rest, heal the body from within and get adequate nutrients to sustain our bodies, optimize bodily functions and possibly breastfeed.
After 6 to 8 weeks, doctors often give the green light to slowly return to physical activities, but it can take longer, and that’s OK.
When you return to your usual routine, be aware that your body may feel completely different than before. What seemed physically easy not so long ago may now feel like an incredible feat. Your back, pelvis and breasts may ache, or you may feel incredibly tired or experience mental fogginess.
Practising yoga especially catered to the postnatal body can be extremely beneficial to reconnect with your essence. I can allow you to find yourself again in a new body and in a new role.
What are the benefits of practising yoga during this stage?
1. Close the body and heal from the inside out:
Gentle yoga practices can help the postpartum body to bring things back in place: organs to descend and return to their pre-pregnancy position and stretched muscles to return to their normal shape. Stitches and openings heal over the first few days/weeks (depending on how deep they are) and the uterus returns to normal size in 6-8 weeks. Moving gently and mindfully (rather than adopting a demanding exercise regime) can promote effective and optimal healing.
2. Use the breath to gently tone muscles and balance emotions:
In the first few weeks after birth, simply use the power of deep breathing to pull muscles inwards and upwards. New mothers can also benefit from proper pranayama techniques to regulate changing emotional states after the arrival of the baby.
3. Restore pelvic floor strength and re-establish its normal function:
The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles at the base of the core that support the lesser pelvis organs and are also responsible for the regulation of the three orifices in the female body: urethra, vagina and anus. In optimal condition, it should be neither too tight nor weak.
One of the main focuses of postnatal yoga is to restore tone in this area which bears a significant weight at the end of pregnancy and undergoes a great deal of stretching especially during (vaginal) childbirth.
4. Strengthen the abdominal muscles:
After childbirth, weakness of the Transversus abdominis, one of the deep abdominal muscles and part of the core, can lead to low back pain due to the overcompensation of the lumbar muscles that attempt to stabilize the pelvis. Gentle asanas and proper pranayama techniques can help to gradually increase the tone of this and other muscles that play an important role in posture.
5. Regain stability:
Ligaments and connective tissues are lax due to the presence of a hormone called relaxin that the body continues to release while breastfeeding. Gentle toning of perineal and abdominal muscles will help keep the pelvis stable and the spine aligned, preventing or alleviating lower back pain.
6. Relieve tension in neck and shoulders:
Spending several hours a day breastfeeding or bottle feeding the baby can easily lead to rounded shoulders and neck pain. Heart-opening sequences will help to release the chest and shoulders, relieve stiffness, and increase the range of motion of the upper trunk.
7. Relax, rest and restore energy:
New mums are often sleep deprived so even staying in a restorative posture for a short period can provide some rest and allow them to recover vitality through deep relaxation.
8. Reconnect with themselves:
Yoga classes provide a variety of tools to discover one’ s true self. This is especially important for a woman after giving birth for the first time as she takes on a completely new role. Yoga can help to cultivate the serenity and inner balance needed to face the challenges that motherhood brings.
9. Bonding with other mothers:
Group classes are an excellent opportunity to exchange experiences with other mothers, avoid feeling alienated and eventually forge friendships.
Remember: While it may be tempting to resume your normal activities once you feel strong and energized, avoid doing too much too soon.
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