Rediscovering Yoga After Having a Baby

Written by Liz Vartanian

There's so much emphasis on the changes our bodies undergo during pregnancy: growing a life, expanding to hold that body, and dealing with a surge of hormones! There's also a lot of information about what women’s bodies go through for labor, but I hardly saw anything about what I was going to feel post-baby.

I’ve gone through the transformation of growing, carrying, and birthing a human. After stretching, growing, and transforming into a new person, the body continues to change. Recovery isn’t quick.

You don’t just bounce back into the shape you were in pre-baby. Now your body is a food delivery system, a vehicle to get places, a rocking swing, and a source of warmth and comfort.

What I thought was a lot of growth and change during pregnancy, I have now learned is NOTHING compared to caring for a newborn. Sometimes it's a lack of sleep for days, holding your bladder until it feels like you are the one who will pee your pants, and rocking (a LOT of rocking), but it's all worth it for that sweet giggle they make.

Some women may bounce back from labor and pick up where they left off, but I'm not one of those people. My low back aches because I can’t find my core, my arms feel as if I’ve done a thousand chatarungas and continue to do more, and my feet hurt from pacing so many nights on the hard wood floors.

I hardly feel like the limber yogi that I was even six months ago. This is my new body!

I have to be okay with that, mostly because if it's good enough for my child, it's good enough for me. I’m not in “busting a pose out in the middle of Whole Foods” status right now, that doesn’t mean I won’t get back to it.

For now, yoga has to meet ME where I am. 

Long gone are my days of 90-minute yoga classes, but there are a few yoga poses that feel great to a new mom!

Wall dog is great for opening up the back and hips and it’s easier on the wrist. Any open space of wall will do and it feels just as good as a regular old dawg without having to find floor space.

Standing Pigeon. Okay the hormone relaxin is still floating through the body, but choose a good height and place one shin on the counter, your bed, even the counter if you can get it that high. I use the counter or the bed to rest one leg (it also adds extra support when I’m carrying the wee one and need a free hand). Just be sure to balance out the sides and be smart if you have the baby in your arms, you don’t want to fall!

Supported fish, all that feeding and rocking can leave you hunched over and achy without that strong yogi core to hold you up. Really, just folding up a yoga blanket so that it fits under you without going past your shoulders. It doesn’t need to be very high as long as your shoulders are working towards the floor. You can use a bolster, but make sure it’s not too much on your low back.

It’s going to take time for me to strengthen my core after having it stretch out to carry a baby. My favorite pose, Boat, can wait another month or two, until I find the balance again.

For now, I just want to start to get to know me again and learn to love the strength of this new body. After all, it did bring a new life into the world, so it must be able to do a lot.

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