By Qualified Yoga Teacher, Lisa Valentine
Yoga is amazing. It can deliver both physical and emotional benefits to anyone – and it is particularly beneficial for mothers in the weeks and months after giving birth.
Having a baby changes everything, from fluctuating hormones and a new sleep schedule to how you negotiate your new identity as a parent. Pregnancy and birth obviously take a toll on the mother’s body too, and it’s natural to want to get back into shape, the way we were before we had a baby. But that instinct isn’t always helpful – our bodies are constantly in transition, so it may not be possible to return to exactly the way you were before. Having said that, you can certainly expect to be healthy, vital, and strong again.
How Yoga Helps
Postnatal yoga classes give you the opportunity to use your body strongly and safely. The increased blood flow and deep breathing practiced in yoga will also help you to manage the stress of parenthood and help you to sleep more soundly.
You can walk out feeling less pain (from carrying and nursing/feeding baby), and feeling more relaxed, nurtured and rested.
Additionally, new mums meet others in the same phase of life and can receive and offer companionship, support and presence, which helps to relieve the isolation that many new mums experience.
Most yoga classes don’t allow babies to tag along, however there are some, such as my Mums N Bubs classes, that recognise the huge benefit to be had by both mother and baby when they do yoga together. In my classes, babies are most definitely welcome – we keep the engagement between mum and baby throughout, so baby can cry, nurse, sleep, feed and even have their nappy changed.
Try This at Home: Cat-Cow Pose with Pelvic Floor Work
The Cat-Cow is an easy pose you can incorporate into your day to help release stress from the spine and shoulders. It also helps you to regain strength in the pelvic floor, whilst engaging with your baby:
- Get on your hands and knees.
- Baby can lie on a blanket directly below you.
- Align your knees directly under your hips.
- Align to your actual hipbone, not the width of your hips based on spreading. The tops of your feet should be flat against the floor.
- Align your hands directly under your shoulders. Your middle fingers should be pointing forward with your thumbs facing each other. Press your weight evenly into the entire palm of the hand. Do not cup your palm because that places too much weight on your wrist.
- Your back and neck should be relaxed and comfortable.
- Exhaling, drop your chin into your neck while arching your spine like a cat. Contract your pelvic floor. Hold.
- Inhaling, lift your chin, lengthen your neck, and look at the ceiling while dropping your back down into the swayback position of a cow. Feel the bones of your pelvis spread open gently as you release the pelvic floor contraction. Rest.
- Repeat ten times.
Lisa Valentine has been practising Yoga for 20 years. She is a qualified yoga teacher and runs classes for people of all abilities in Brackley and Middleton Cheney. She offers her popular Mums N Bubs classes, plus pregnancy yoga, Vinyasa Flow and Yin Yoga classes. Find out more and book at www.lisavalentinevinyasaflow.co.uk