New moms have precious little time for themselves. Yoga is a wonderful way to de-stress, while promoting stability, flexibility, balance, and strength, particularly postpartum.
Burn calories and find inner calm by adding some yoga into your routine.
Elise Mahovlich of Living Yoga Studio in Vero Beach, Florida suggests Restorative Yoga and Pranayama for postpartum women. These practices offer a foundation of effective exercises for those with serious time constraints, as in the case of busy new parents. According to Mahovlich, “even five minutes of either will bring mind/body/spirit back into balance.” Other yoga experts recommend Bikram Yoga for new mothers. Experimenting with different disciplines will allow you to find the best fit and even practice in the comfort of home around baby’s schedule.
Restorative Yoga for Healing
Restorative Yoga is traditionally a therapeutic type of yoga in which the mind is quiet. Restorative Yoga utilizes props (blocks, straps, blankets, chairs, even a partner) for poses which can be held for up to ten minutes at a time. This type of yoga is meant to facilitate complete relaxation with restful, gentle poses, allowing the body to heal and renew itself- perfect for new mothers.
Pranayama for Inner Peace
Pranayama is “control of breath” and is concerned with harnessing the life force, or “prana”. Yoga teaches that prana is the basis of life, so expanding and controlling the prana around us leads to a deeper sense of inner peace. With sleepless nights, new mothers can benefit from getting in touch with inner peace, as well as feeling more in control of their mind and body. Pranayama encourages the participant to do just that.
Bikram Yoga is another option for new mothers, though it is not recommended for women during pregnancy. Because Bikram Yoga is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, it has the potential to raise core body temperature, which can be dangerous to both pregnant mother and baby.
The benefits of Bikram Yoga to a postpartum woman, however, are many. The heat maintained in the room warms muscles to aid in stretching, allowing for gentle and effective exercise. Bikram Yoga causes participants to sweat more, increasing the number of calories burned. This type of yoga uses gradual movements to challenge, but not over-tax, moms getting back into shape. It is imperative to maintain hydration, particularly if you are breastfeeding.
Yoga for Stronger Abdominals
After childbirth, abdomen muscles are weak and stretched out. The muscle wall in your abdomen is forced to separate to make room for the developing baby during pregnancy. Luckily, many yoga poses target the transverse abdominis, the deepest muscles of your core. This is something sit-ups alone cannot accomplish. The transverse abdominis muscles get a workout when helping you delivering your child, but then deserve some attention post-delivery. Consult your doctor, but the general guideline for starting abdominal work is six weeks postpartum, or eight weeks if you had a cesarean birth.
Yoga for Managing Fatigue
With a new baby comes exhaustion and fatigue. Around the clock feedings and the physical demands of breastfeeding, plus carrying a newborn all naturally compromise endurance. Practicing even 20 minutes of yoga daily will help you maintain upper body strength and fight fatigue. Breathing and stretching are central to yoga practices, and when done properly, help fight fatigue- especially in the first days and weeks transitioning to your new family addition.
The Flexible Workout- in More than One Way
Yoga offers a gentle way to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and gain strength in a reasonable amount of time. With the option to practice around baby’s schedule, often in the comfort of your own home, yoga affords new mothers a wide range of flexible, gradual workouts for getting back into shape and finding some much-needed inner calm.