Three Yoga Poses for the Postpartum Period

If you’ve read about any part of my postpartum recovery, you know that I wasn’t super smart about it at first. I pushed a little too hard, too fast in hopes of getting my body back.

Then, I read an article called “Hold Your Baby” which not only made me think about how I was spending my time but also how I was approaching my postpartum recovery. The article talked about taking it easy and allowing yourself the space, and grace to just be a mom.

I realized a couple months in that I was going about it all wrong- at least for my body at that time. I was tired and achy and the high intensity exercise and running I was used to, was not working for me… or with me. In fact, it was working against me and it was killing my mindset and joy as a new mom.

So, I started studying. And, I kept studying until I felt comfortable with how I was tackling my recovery. I slowed down and I started focusing on how I was feeling during and after exercise and I started honoring how I was feeling before I started- each and every movement session.

I noticed that when I became more intentional about my movement that I also stopped giving any shits about what I looked like- I wanted to recovery properly. It didn’t matter how long it took.

I felt released from the confines of “getting my pre-baby body back”… I was FREE.

Leaking (urine), aches, pains, “not feeling right” are all symptoms that indeed, something is NOT right. These are the body’s way of screaming “STOP”.

In addition to encouraging a visit to a women's health physical therapist, when I talk to new moms about the focus of their postpartum recovery, I stress the importance of not only listening to the body, but actually reacting in a way that honors what the body is saying.

And, the best way I know how to teach that listening: through yoga. Yes, yoga is a great form of movement- it can be tweaked to give you a multitude of different types of “workouts” but, more importantly- it’s a practice in mindfulness. Yoga really gives you the space, if you let it, to dig a bit deeper and flip the perspective on your thoughts.

So while yoga was already a huge part of my life, after having E, has become an even bigger saving grace in times of stress and overwhelm. It works me physically while also allowing the mental clarity to list to my body. In the days and weeks following birth, I wish I would have been more intentional about my practice- it could have saved me from injury and mental distress.

I'll hope you'll consider yoga as part of your postpartum recovery and really pay attention to what your body is asking of you.

 

The exercises presented below should be completed in a layered approach. Starting with the first exercise Day 1 postpartum and then adding on exercises 2 and 3 over the following weeks. Remember, there is no rush; there is no race to get back into a certain pant size or a certain number on the scale.

Let the focus of your recover be on function rather than aesthetics.

NOTE: if you are recovering from a c-section, the recovery and addition of these exercises should be discussed with your physical therapist and/or physician.

Exercises

The first exercise doesn’t actually involve much movement. It’s just breath work. I use the word ‘just’ lightly. While learning how to breathe properly is important for all people, during pregnancy, most women’s breathing patterns become disrupted, shortened and centered in the chest. The expansion of the belly can make it hard to fully utilize the diaphragm and we tend to use the muscles of the shoulders, neck, and chest more than we should.

1) Connection Breath:

Step 1: Lie or sit comfortably. If seated, stack the ribs over the hips. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. On the inhale notice which part of the body seems to rise first and expand greater; on the exhale, relax. Repeat for 4-5 rounds of breath.

Step 2: With the next inhale, see if you can get the belly to rise first, relaxing again on the exhale; repeat for another few rounds.

Step 3:

Sit in a neutral position with the ribs stacked over the hips, feeling pressure on the sits bones and perineum. The bum should be untucked (not sitting on the tail bone) and the low back arch should be natural (not sitting on pubic bone).Place one hand on the low belly and the other hand on the ribcage. On an inhale, feel the breath fill the belly, the fingers slide away from each other as the ribs open to the sides. On an exhale, the fingers fall back together and ribs return to start. Repeat for three rounds of breath.