The September/October class session at the WAC has one more try-it week and then officially starts next Monday. This session marks my foray into all things yoga + mom. I’m doing my Yogalates for New Mommies class again on Mondays at 10:30 am and teaching a prenatal yoga class on Thursday nights at 6 pm, both at the North Shore location.
Five minutes before I pressed “Publish” on this blog, I just confirmed that I will be doing Yogalates for New Mommies as a workshop at the Downtown WAC on Saturday, September 27th from 11 – 12:30. I don’t know the fees off hand, but you can call that branch to sign up.
Back to lessons here on the blog… I’d be the first to admit it is hard to find time to exercise (eat dinner, brush your teeth, whatever…) in those first few months as a new mom. I’d also argue that never is it more important for you to make that time. After nine months of pregnancy and whatever happened during labor, you have a lot of recovery to do and weight to lose to get back to where you started. Your mind is going 4,000 new directions as you manage diapers, feeding schedules, your other kids (furbabies included!) and your husband. A quick session of exercise gives you the time to let all those worries go and focus just on the task at hand.
Yoga provides an unique way to move the body and calm the mind. Let me show you a few postnatal yoga poses that could do the new mama body and mind some good.
But first, a few caveats:
- Always get your doctor’s approval before starting an exercise regime after labor. Give her a call before your six week check-up if you feel up for the challenge. After my c-section, I went for short walks three weeks later and was back to my normal exercise routine (albeit WAY back to beginner versions of zumba, pilates, and running) around the two month mark.
- These three moves are great for core work, but be sure you do not suffer from diastasis recti first.
- If you are feeling great, know your yoga, and need a boost of energy, sun salutations are always a great way to start a flowing practice. Maybe start a little slower or through in a couple of child poses. Or not… Go get ’em, Tiger Mom!
- I am only showing three moves here, when there are a ton that would be valuable. Do them all together or one at a time in the small, minute-long vacation you get when baby happens to be sleeping at the same time your husband is taking your dog for a walk.
Anyone who is anyone is proclaiming the value of the plank these days and for good reason. Planks fire up so many different muscle groups all in one move. You can do a plank from your toes or knees, forearms or hands. You may even want to start with a version leaning against a wall vs. lying down.
Pretend you are wearing a belt. As you inhale in your plank, I want you to feel your spine get longer. As you exhale, feel that imaginary belt cinch in further pulling in all the muscles around your spine – front, back and sides. Press back through your heels or knees and push the floor away through your hands or forearms. Keep the hips in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees/heels and don’t sink into or round out your shoulders (like I’m almost doing in the picture… Oops!).
Really think about pressing your lower abdominal muscles (the space where baby was living) towards the back side of your body to activate those muscles that have been stretched out and weakened by pregnancy.
Hold for 15 seconds while breathing deep into that lower abdominal space. Add time each session or as you feel ready.
After pregnancy, your abdominal muscles, particularly the superficial “six-pack” muscles, can be really weakened and stretched out by carrying around baby. That said, I would recommend you stay away from your traditional crunch for awhile. Instead, focus on the obliques (sides) and transverse abdominous, the muscles that wrap around the waist to protect your lower back and pull in that extra weight you might still be carrying in the front. Moving through Bridge is a perfect way to target this area.
First, lay down with your feet on the floor and arms right by your sides, palms up. Make sure your ankles, knees and hips are all lined up, maybe using a block, pillow or towel to keep the form (and get down into the deeper pelvic floor muscles!). As you inhale, roll your tailbone up as you press your lower back into the floor. Exhale to come back down to “neutral”.
How does this feel? If OK, then add on some height, ultimately stopping with just your shoulder blades on the floor. Continue to roll through this position for a total of eight times or hold, focusing on lifting your belly button and pressing feet into the floor with each breath.
As you get stronger, you might do the same move with just one foot on the ground or hold at the top of your bridge and draw an infinity symbol (8 on it’s side) with your hips.
This move is great for the pelvic floor, all of those muscles that can get loose after baby has made it’s way through, leading to incontinence. Do your kegals as you lift and consider it a double workout for your nether regions.
Savasana with Chest Opener
One of the things I missed most while pregnant was the ability to lay flat on my back. I’m normally a back or front sleeper, so after the first trimester, no sleeping position was comfortable for me. Once Eggroll was out, I still couldn’t belly sleep because, well, breastfeeding. I tried flat on my back, but after the long break I just couldn’t do it. Enter this stretch.
First off, back on the floor with feet wide on the floor (hmm…sound familiar, anyone?) and knees falling in on each other can be a great place to start. That leg position will help relieve typical back pain.
Next up, try getting the legs lined up like they were for Bridge. Still feel good? Then add a stack of pillows, blankets (folded skinny), or a foam roller underneath your top half and let the arms open up wide.
Yep, this one will definitely “hurt so good”, so be sure you are still able to breath comfortably or back off. You’ll open your chest and neck muscles that spend so much time hunched forward in normal life and give yourself an opportunity to think about nothing. Focus on your breath, which should now have a lot of space to flow into in the stretched out belly.
Spend at least three minutes or up to as much time as you can spare in this meditating and relaxing position and you will return to baby and all of life’s responsibilities calm and collected.