Postpartum Yoga for New Moms
Focus on the Abdominals
Many new mothers complain about that post-baby belly. Unfortunately, abdominal muscles often don’t just snap back into shape, and most of the time, it takes more than a little coaxing before you can slip comfortably back into those pre-baby jeans. You’ll need to retrain these muscles and work on knitting them back together, as well as strengthen your lower back and pelvic floor.
Perron suggests the following three postures, safe even for mothers recovering from C-sections, to rebuild core strength and work on strengthening soft abdominal muscles.
Modified Boat Pose (Navasana): Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Grasp your outer thighs (right hand to right thigh, left hand to left thigh) and lift your chest. Keeping your abdominal muscles active, raise your feet just off the floor while keeping your back straight. Tilt back slightly. If you feel strong and are looking for a more challenging posture, try lifting your shins until they are parallel to the floor and reach your hands out straight towards your feet. Boat Pose helps in digestion, strengthens the abdominal muscles, and reduces stress.
Locust Pose (Salambasana): Lie down on your belly with your hands palm up at your sides and your toes pointed. Exhale and lift your head, arms, and legs off the floor (so that you balance on your belly). Locust Pose improves posture and strengthens the back, belly, and shoulders. It also stimulates the abdominal organs.
Plank Pose: Lie stomach-down on the floor with your hands just below your shoulders, your elbows bent, and your fingers spread and pointing forwards. Lift your body up off the ground (much like you would when beginning push-ups). Keep your spine straight (from the tip of your head to the balls of your feet), and hold as long as you can. (To modify this pose, prop yourself up on your elbows rather than your hands and leave your knees and shins on the floor.) This position will tone your abdominals while also strengthening your arms and back.
And don’t forget about Kegels—contracting and relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor (to locate these muscles, try stopping the flow of urine; then mimic this practice in your exercises). It’s not yoga, but Kegel exercises are a pregnant woman’s best friend and a new mother’s closest companion. Don’t stop practicing them after birth, as they are safe to perform even during your recovery period. And the wonderful thing about them is you can practice anywhere and at any time—while you are in traffic, at work meetings, or when washing dishes.
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