A few weeks ago, as Timothy was napping on my husband’s chest, I rolled out my yoga mat and did my first practice since giving birth. It had been 25 days since Timothy arrived and I was really great. My doctor told me to wait 6 weeks to start any exercise; but I know what my body needs and yoga was definitely calling to me that day.
I think each person is different and every delivery and recovery is unique; but these moves are safe for any new mom to do once she feels ready. I love these poses because they are gentle, yet effective. Each posture really concentrates on rebuilding core and pelvic floor strength while lengthening and toning the limbs.
Rounded Cat—Start on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Find a neutral spine and take an inhalation. On an exhalation engage your pelvic floor muscles and tuck your tailbone under as you round your back and bring your chin towards your chest. Draw your lower abdominals deep in to your spine. Come back to neutral then repeat 3 to 5 more times. This move will help you reconnect to your core and pelvic floor muscles, while stretching out the spine and back.
Knee To Nose—Stay in a rounded cat position. On an inhale draw your right knee towards your nose, then exhale extend the right leg straight back behind you. Repeat 5 times then switch to the other leg. This exercise builds strength in the shoulders, core muscles, hips, thighs and lower back.
Bird Dog—From all fours, extend your right arm in front of you at shoulder level and your left leg behind you at hip height. Try and imagine you are balancing a glass of water between your shoulders and on your lower back and keep your body completely steady as you switch sides. Alternate sides 5 more times each and on the last one you can hold each side for 5 to 8 breaths as you engage your core and feel the length from fingers to toes. Bird dog works the core, stabilizes the lower back, and tones your arms and legs.
Kneeling Bow—I love this next pose to open up my shoulders and chest after breastfeeding all the time. Even new moms who opt to bottle-feed can suffer from rounded shoulders from carrying their newborns. Extend your right arm forward and your left leg straight back. Once you feel steady reach around with your right hand as you bend your left knee and catch the ankle or foot. Bow the leg back as you lift your chest open and breathe deeply. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths then repeat on the other side.
Pigeon Prep and Pigeon—Pigeon is one of my favorite postures and it’s perfect for new moms. Tension and stress as a mother as well as inactivity can lead to stiff hips and a tight lower back. From all fours slide your right shin forward and parallel to the front of the mat as you lengthen your left leg long behind. Lift your chest and open your heart then move your chest forward and rest on your forearms of forehead. Hold the pose for 8-10 deep breaths and repeat on the left side.
Half Bridge—From pigeon on your left side, you can swing your back leg around and lie down. Place both feet flat on the mat hip width apart and lift your hips up. Interlace your hands under your lower back and lengthen the shoulders down away from the ears as you bring your shoulder blades towards each other. Engage your hamstrings, buttock and lower abs. Lower your butt down then lift back up 2 to 3 more times. Each time you lift up, engage your pelvic floor as well.
Yoga is such a great way to bring the body back in to balance. New moms can really benefit by adding these postures to their daily routine, to help keep their body’s balanced and mind’s calm. I find that my body really needs to stretch; and I need to keep my myself evened out after carrying and breastfeeding Timothy. Try this routine 2 to 3 times a week when you can fit some time in for yourself. Your body, mind and baby will appreciate it!