Simple Breathing Exercises To Help New Moms
When people tried to convince me that motherhood was going to be energy-draining, I wasn’t ready to accept this as my reality.
After all, I had spent the last eight years on a spiritual journey to nurture my inner spirit, develop a powerful self-love relationship and find my voice. I had reinvented my life, going from a divorce attorney to a children's yoga teacher. I wasn’t going to let all that work go to waste simply because I was adding the role of mother.
Of course, some people may have thought I was living in a fantasy world for thinking it'd be possible to navigate a newborn with calmness and balance.
But I’m a strong believer in the idea that we all have the choice to change the situations in our life — not by controlling the circumstances that arise, but by controlling our reactions to these events.
As a teacher of Kundalini yoga and meditation, I decided to incorporate my meditation and mindful breathing techniques into my new life with a newborn. These methods helped me to not only survive — but thrive.
1. A Breathing Exercise for ... Comforting Your Crying Baby
When dealing with newborns, your energy, vibrations and thoughts are decidedly more powerful than your words. That means that if you act nervous or frustrated, your baby will become equally fussy.
So in order to calm a crying baby, you have to feel that calmness within yourself first. Try this breath work, or pranayama, to regain your center:
- Close your eyes.
- Inhale deeply through your nose for four counts.
- Hold and suspend the breath gently for four counts.
- Exhale the breath through the nose for eight counts.
Make sure your breath is slow, steady and deep. Continue to practice this slow breath while you're interacting with your baby.
If you do lose your cool or become frustrated, kiss your baby, apologize and forgive yourself once you regain control. This is a learning process, and there's no room for self-judgment.
2. A Breathing Exercise for ... Feeding Your Newborn
Breast or bottle feedings become the new constant when you have a newborn. But this isn't the time to scroll through your Facebook feed. Instead, use these 10- to 45-minute sessions to energize your body and truly tune in with this breath exercise:
- Inhale four short and steady sips of air through your nose.
- Exhale through your nose in one, deep breath out.
- For an extra boost, inhale peppermint, lemon or orange essential oils.
Repeat this exercise for the full feeding, or until you feel invigorated.
3. A Breathing Exercise for ... Preparing for a Nap
True, continuous sleep becomes something of the past after you have a newborn. But that doesn't mean you can't feel well rested. The key is to listen to your body and make the most of the periods of time you do have to sleep.
After all, every moment is valuable — if it takes you 45 minutes to fall asleep, that's 45 less minutes of rest. So when you lie down while your baby is napping, recite this affirmation: “I will receive the exact amount of rest for my mind and body to be clear, energized and alert." Then try this left-nostril breathing technique:
- Plug your right nostril by pressing your right thumb on its side. Extend the rest of your fingers straight up.
- Take in a long, deep breath through your left nostril for the count of four. Hold it for the count of four, and then exhale for four. All your inhaling and exhaling should be done only through the left nostril.
Why the left nostril? Because it's associated with moon energy, and represents calmness, coolness and relaxation — all feelings that can help you fall asleep faster.
4. A Breathing Exercise for ... Finding a Mindful Moment
If you're like me and don’t like loud noises, your baby's cry can make you feel instantly anxious, or even straight-up annoyed. Since my son has a pair of powerful lungs on him, I had to make a plan so I wouldn't lose my marbles every time he wailed.
In my Kundalini teacher training, I was told to practice 2,000 deep breaths a day. In order to create that habit, we were instructed to create anchors to activities in our everyday life. When we engaged in that activity, we created an anchor to also breathe deep at that moment.
So, I decided to use my son’s cry as that anchor. If you need help creating the habit, I recommend putting up post-it notes that say "Breathe Deep" wherever you spend the most time with your child.
Taking these 2,000 daily breaths helped me to find a calmer space, tap into my intuition more effectively, and become more mindful.
Every mom tells me to cherish the moments with my newborn because time flies. But I believe time flies only if we let it get away without savoring every moment. If we use these methods of mindfulness and take in every experience — the smiles, the cries, the sleepless nights and even the diaper changes — we can feel a sense of abundance for the beautiful gift we were blessed with.