You’ve been through it all: morning sickness, back pains, mood swings, and of course labor. Prenatal yoga helped with all of your pregnancy symptoms, now let postpartum yoga assist with your postnatal recovery.
Postpartum yoga relieves lingering pelvic, back, and hip pain as well as restores your abdominal muscles. It can also be a huge stress reducer when fatigue from labor and constant care of your new buddle of joy becomes overwhelming.
These yoga poses and breathing exercises can be done while your baby is napping or, in some cases, can be completed with your baby. There is also baby yoga, which focuses on calming your baby while promoting healthy transitional growth development.
Postpartum Yoga For Mum
Strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles and organs
One of the most important parts of labor recovery is restoring what was once your baby’s home and passage into the world. This includes your vaginal canal, bladder, uterus, and rectum that all shifted and/or stretched during your pregnancy and labor. Doing kegels (the act of creating vaginal contractions) will help pull the muscles surrounding these organs back together. Use these simple yoga poses to get in a comfortable position to begin.
- Child’s Pose: Sit on the back of your calves with your legs touching. Stretch forward, placing your arms out in front of your torso. Relax as you gently reach forward. Begin your kegel exercises. Continue for 20-30 seconds.
- Half Lotus or Modified Lotus: Sit cross-legged either with one or both ankles on top the opposite calf. Or rest both feet on the floor for a modified easy lotus. Straighten your back so that your spine is aligned. Rest your hands with palms facing up on your thighs. Meditate by breathing in and out your nose. With each deep breath, contract and release your pelvic floor.
- Lying on your back: Relax flat on your back with your arms at your side. Keep your legs a few inches apart and your feet limp. Close your eyes and begin your kegels. Continue for a minute or two.
Relieving Shoulder and Neck Pain
Now that your baby has been born, you may think that your pregnancy pains are over. Think again, as carrying, breast feeding and cuddling your baby takes a whole new toll on your body. You may be building some biceps from baby lifting but your shoulders and neck get strained as you hunch over often. Before you can get in the gym and start strengthening these muscles, your only relief is to improve your posture and release the tension. Your can do this by dropping your shoulders when ever you feel they are tense and trying to keep yourself upright. Once the pain has set in, use these yoga stretches to find liberation.
- Neck rolls: Gently roll your head in a complete circle and switch direction. Keep your back straight your shoulders dropped. Close your eyes for enhanced relaxation.
- Eagle Arms: Sit in a lotus or seated position. Cross your arms in front of you with palms facing up. Lift both arms toward your body as you bring the palms together. Lock fingers and straighten your back.
- Hands locked behind you and bed forward: Bring your hands behind your back and lock your fingers together. Slowly bend forward as you bring your arms up into the air. You can keep your legs a few inches apart or spread them for a deeper stretch.
Depending on how long ago and how intense your labor was, finding the energy other than to tend to your baby may seem impossible. By increasing your circulation through simple yoga asanas, you can gain some of your lost energy back. Try these poses to restore balance and endurance.
- Downward facing dog: In a standing position, place your legs about a foot apart. Bend down and reach the floor. Slowly walk your hands out away from your feet. Stop when your body forms a triangle and equal weight is on your arms and legs. You can also begin this pose on the floor with your stomach on the ground. Then walk your hands back toward your feet.
- Warrior pose: Spread your legs a few feet apart. Keep one foot facing forward and the other turned at a 90-degree angle in line with your hip. Bring your arms straight out in line with your legs. Turn your head toward the foot facing 90 degrees. Bend the knee slightly without going past your ankle on the foot facing outward. Take deep breaths and hold the pose for 90 seconds. Switch to the other side.
- Legs against the wall: Lie down about 4 inches from a wall. Bring your legs straight up parallel to the wall. Rest both legs against the wall with them spread a few inches apart. Place your arms beside you. Close your eyes and takes several deep breathes.
Yoga for Baby
It is never to early to start your baby on the yogi path. In fact, they have been doing yoga since the womb. It is a way to improve muscle strength and memory while, as a bonus, counts as playtime and a time for soothing common pains. If you start your baby early, you can keep their flexibility high and make yoga poses a routine pastime that will resonant with them throughout their childhood and as an adult. But for now, let’s use yoga to keep your baby calm and limit crying time.
Relieve gas and upset tummy
Sometimes burping doesn’t work or it isn’t enough to ease your baby’s sore or bloated stomach. An easy yoga routine of leg bends can help release gas and sooth an aching belly. Lie your baby on his/her back and slowly bend the legs up toward their chest. Hold them for a few seconds and gently stretch them out straight. You can also do slow bicycle motions or rock their torso when their legs on pressed to their chest.
Help your baby get the blood moving with a big stretch in the morning or after a nap. Help him/her by gently raising their arms above their head. The legs may follow naturally or do then separately. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and release.
This pose keeps your baby flexible and prepares them for future yoga sessions. It also helps with motor functions and becoming aware of their body especially for infants. Either lie your baby on their back or on your thighs in a reclining position. Bend their legs at the knee and slowly bring both soles of the feet together.
Tummy time is highly recommended to increase your baby’s strength so that they can develop skills like rolling over and sitting up. The cobra pose is a perfect and natural position for your baby to lift his or her head to the world. All you have to do is place your baby on their stomach and move their arms under their chest. Babies will automatically try to lift their heads and chest to see what is going on. You can do this pose with your baby too!
Yoga for Mom and Baby
Doing yoga with your baby is a special bonding experience, plus you don’t have to wait until naptime before starting your yoga practice. Postpartum yoga poses with your baby depend on your child’s age and, in some cases, if you are completely healed from labor. You can also simply place your baby nearby or under you so that they can see you and be entertained.
You can place your baby on your stomach and lift them into the air with this pose. Lying on your back, bend your knees, and keep your legs hip width apart. Place your baby on your lower abdomen in a sitting position. Hold them at their hips as you raise your hips to the sky. Hold the position for about 30 seconds. This asana should be used only for babies that can support their on neck and head, so it might not be suitable for newborns..
Reserve the boat pose for after your postpartum healing period, usually 6-8 weeks after labor as it is strenuous on the abdomen. It is similar to the bridge pose as your baby will sit on your stomach. Except this time, raise you pointed legs in the air at a 45-degree angle and lift your head and chest, coming into a triangle position. Stretch your arms toward your knees. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Babies should be able to support their head and neck in this pose as well.
Use a baby carrier or sling for this postpartum yoga pose. Place your baby in the sling either facing you or away from you depending on their age. Spread your legs 3 feet apart and turn your toes slightly outward. Bend the knees and lower your hips while keeping your back straight. Do not bend past the ankles. Hold the position for a for seconds each. Your baby will enjoy the up and down motion while you work your thighs and butt.
Postnatal yoga can assist with postpartum healing by strengthening your pelvic floor and pulling your stomach muscles back where they belong. Adding your baby to the mix gives them a healthy start while allowing beneficial bonding time.