After giving birth to your beautiful baby, it's very easy to get caught up in the beauty, wonder and business of raising a human, especially in the early months. Often that steady yoga practice you had pre-baby gets lost and forgotten somewhere between the laundry and the lack of sleep.
It’s possible and beneficial to continue practicing yoga in these early days as a new mother.
Of course, your practice will be different compared to what it was when you were pregnant. Not only have your physical needs changed, but your time is needed for other important things.
Also, for many mothers, scheduling a yoga class is not on the agenda. You may not want to face the world yet, or the timing of the class won't work, which makes this postnatal period perfect for taking yoga off the mat and into your daily life.
Here’s a few tips to include yoga in your life in these first few months as a mother:
1. Focus on breathing.
In the first few weeks after birth your body needs time to recover so the best thing you can do is put your asana practice aside and focus on pranayama and meditation. When you're feeding your baby or in need of a boost after a long sleepless night, practice breathing deep into your belly long and slow through your nose.
Close your eyes and focus on the feeling of the breath as it moves in and out of your body. Even if you only manage one deep breath, your body and mind will thank you. Do this as often as you need throughout the day and it will help focus and calm your mind and enjoy these special early moments.
2. Ease into your practice with forward bends.
Provided you are recovering well and had a normal birth, beginning to include a few forward bends around two weeks or so post birth can help to compress your belly and aid in returning your uterus to its pre-pregnancy position. Check with your midwife if it's OK before you begin.
Sit with your legs together straight out in front of you. (You can lie your baby on your legs or beside you if you wish.) Bend forward from the hips, remembering not to push yourself, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths here.
3. Before you begin to include asana in your daily yoga practice, wait until six weeks postnatal or until you have the OK from your doctor or midwife.
If your baby allows you to put her down, you can begin with a few rounds (or just one round) of Sun Salutations to get your body moving and stretching again. Include chest and shoulder stretches such as eagle arms to stretch out a sore back from holding the baby and nursing. If your baby just needs to be held, you can practice a few gentle lunges or some standing hip rotations while you soothe your baby.
If you are feeling steady, you can include balancing asana like tree pose while you hold your baby but remember to take things slow and not to push yourself.
The key to transitioning from a prenatal to a post natal yoga practice is to take things slow. Listen to what your body needs as it changes and remember that you don’t need to be on the mat for a 60-minute period to benefit from yoga. Little bite-sized bits of yoga in your day will help to keep you calm and centered and to enjoy the many benefits of yoga.