In our society of "go" and "more," perhaps the most important part of taking care of ourselves after having a baby is taking it slowly.
We succumb to the energy around us, and even our bodies are conditioned to want to move to release stress or anxiety. Many of our muscles go to sleep in a sense to allow for the stretching of the body to support the growing baby. If we can begin to slow down, breathe deeply, and hold well-aligned yoga postures for an extended period of time, we can begin to heal and reconnect to our bodies.
It is when we push too far too fast after delivery, when many muscles of the body are not awake just yet, that we develop compensatory patterns where muscles that are not meant to be working must work to support us and those that should be working remain asleep.
These next few yoga postures can be held for up to 15 breaths. They will awaken and strengthen the body in some of the areas mamas need it most!
Align your feet heel to heel, with the back foot angled at about 45 degrees. Bend into the front knee until the thigh is as close to parallel to the earth as your body can safely manage. As you bend into the front knee, that hip likes to sneak out to the side. Keep hugging the outer hip into center as you press the top of the back leg thigh straight back.
To keep the pelvic floor engaged, imagine there is a giant beach ball between the inner thighs and you are hugging it. Hold for 10 to 15 breaths.
From vira II, transition into parsvakonasana. Release the front hand to the earth, a block, or place your forearm on your thigh. Continue to hug the front outer hip to center as you activate the back leg, rooting down through the entire back foot and pressing the top of the back leg thigh straight back. Hold for 10 to 15 breaths.
Step one foot forward and stay balanced on the ball of the back foot. Bend into the front knee until the thigh is parallel to the earth, keeping the knee aligned over the ankle.
Check to see that the pelvis is neutral, with both frontal hip points facing forward and one side not higher than the other. Lengthen the tailbone to the earth, and firm the outer hips toward one another. As you inhale, focus the breath into the back body; as you exhale feel the subtle hug in and up of the low belly. Hold for 10 to 15 breaths.
Transition to vira III from crescent lunge. Bring your hands together in front of your heart. Hinge at the hips to bring your torso parallel to the earth, and then shift the weight forward to lift the back leg up.
Once again, the pelvis stays neutral. As you inhale, reach the chest forward and the back leg back. As you exhale, like in crescent lunge, feel the hips hug to center and the low belly lift up. Hold for 8 to 15 breaths.
From vira III transition into vrksasana (tree pose). As you inhale, upright your torso; keep the lifted leg floating as you pass through tadasana. Grab the foot and place it on the inner upper thigh, inner shin, or inner ankle for balance.
Keep the pelvis neutral, firm the outer hips to cente,r and reach the arms straight overhead. Hold for 10 to 15 breaths.
Vasisthasana With Optional Vrksasana
Align plank pose with the wrists directly beneath the shoulders, spin onto the outer edge of the right foot, and reach the left arm to the sky in vasisthasana.
With the pelvis facing forward, lift the top leg, externally rotate it, and place the foot to the upper inner thigh in vrksasana (tree pose).
Hold for 6 to 8 breaths, then come back to plank to repeat on the other side.
To release the outer hips after all of this work, come to plank, bring the knee to the upper arm, but let the ankle fall behind the opposite wrist. Then set the knee down and slide back folding forward over your front leg.
Once again, the pelvis stays neutral. If this is difficult, place a bolster or blanket under the front side of the pelvis to make it level. If the front hip does not touch the ground, support it with a blanket or block. Breathe easily for 1 to 2 minutes and then switch sides.