Yoga for Postnatal Fitness
The day you got to know you are pregnant you had mixed feelings of joy, anxiousness, nervousness, so much to look forward to, and you knew your life is going to change forever in many ways. You were looking forward to bringing the little bundle of joy home, seeing your baby for the first time and watching them grow. Through those nine months your body went through a lot of changes - weight gain, bigger breasts, swollen legs and ankles, paining back, indigestion, nausea, changes in the skin etc etc. You have been through labour and child birth and that was an experience in itself. Now you have your baby, your body is still very different, the attention of your family, that was earlier on you has completely shifted to your little one now. You feel physically exhausted, sleep deprived, feel low and alone sometimes. Your body is different and you want to get back into shape as soon as possible. Don’t worry, this is the postpartum phase and it happens with almost everyone.
Postpartum recovery takes longer, however in six to eight weeks body gets back quite close to normal. And it becomes ready for doing exercises and other activities that will help you feel like yourself again. After the postpartum period mostly doctors give a clearance for doing postnatal exercises, like Postnatal Yoga, swimming, walking etc .
Postnatal Yoga includes a set of specific postures and breathing that is focuses on the recovery of the body after going through pregnancy and child birth. It should only be done under a trained instructor’s supervision.
Out of all the different forms of exercises, yoga is the best to start with. It allows the body to gently strengthen and tones the muscles and builds abdominal strength. Postnatal yoga is not only beneficial for the physical body but also keeps you mentally healthy and stress-free. Sone of the benefits of Post- natal yoga for physical body are:
· It helps in strengthening the spine which has gone through a lot of stress during none months of pregnancy.
· It helps to restore the hormonal balance after child birth
· Restores abdominal and core strength by working on the deep abdominal muscles
· Strengthens and restores pelvic floor muscles
· Helps in stiffness of shoulders and back muscles and eases the tension of holding and feeding the baby for long
· Helps in the proper blood circulation
· Helps in detoxification of body by proper fluid movement
· Deep breathing helps in lungs expansion
· Helps in relaxing the body completely and eases any tension
· Helps in correcting the postures
· Promotes overall strength and stamina
· Good for overall health
Postnatal Yoga also helps in more ways than just on physical body, some more benefits are:
· Helps in relieving postpartum depression
· Helps in quietening the mind and thus keeping one calm and at peace
· Helps restoring your body back to normal
· Nurturing yourself gives you a lot of self confidence
· Helps in increasing bonding between mother and baby
· Brings in Positivity
· Helps in emotional healing after the child birth
· Build a support system along with other new moms in the group.
There are certain things to be kept in mind for post-natal yoga :
· Always seek your doctor’s permission before you start with your practice
· Always look for a trained yoga teacher
· Listen to your body, don’t push yourself beyond your limits
· Enjoy your practice and just go slow.
· Increase the intensity of your practice slowly
· Take care of your nutrition and general lifestyle
Postnatal yoga can be started after completing six weeks of delivery. To start with very basic exercises can be followed for first three months:
1. Supported Child Pose - Normal child pose position can be supported by keeping a bolster or a big cushion
2 Keggel Exercises - The regular keggel exercises done during the prenatal yoga should be done to increase the muscle strength of pelvic region
3 Pelvic Tilts – Slow pelvic tilts done few times a day helps in the strengthening of abdominal muscles
4 Walking - Walking is really very helpful before you start with your yoga routine
5 Ardhpawanmuktasana - Very good to start strengthening your back muscles
6 Pawanmuktasana - Good for Shoulders, neck, Back and abdomen muscles
7 Marjariasana - Cat and cow pose done on all fours along with synchronised breathing is very helpful to strengthen the back as well core
8 Kumbhakasan with knee support - This Plank position is good to tone and strengthen arms, spine and abdominal muscles
9 Parivratta Trikonasana - Revolved triangle pose is good for balancing and strengthening spine
10 Malasana - Garland pose – Its very good for thighs , groin, hips and helps in constipation
11 Shalabhasana - (Locust Pose) Helps in strengthening of the back and core muscles and opens the chests and shoulders
12 Setubandhasanas - (Bridge pose) Helps in strengthening the back and core
13 Vipreetkarni - (Legs raised on the wall) This can be done along with variations of legs wide open and close - Dynamic movements also help in hamstrings and abdomen muscles
10 Uttanpadasana - Leg raises to 90 degree , 60 degree and 30 degree dynamic movements and then holding the posture is very good for the core strength.
11 Ardhhalasana - (Upward stretched leg pose) Good for spine , legs and back . Also reduces fatigue, stress and anxiety
These are some of the asanas which can be incorporated in the post natal workout. However its very important to start slow and listen to your body. Generally new moms have this urge to get back to shape soon after the child birth , but that is not a good approach, give your body enough time to heal from inside physically and mentally and start your workout very slowly . In some cases there may be a Diastasis Recti , which is very common when the uterus stretches the muscles in the abdomen to accommodate the growing baby. During this time not all exercises should be performed . Its advised to get a medical opinion from your doctor and start with very specific exercises which help to fix this separation. Avoid any crunches and planking until you have regained strength in your abs and have started to close the gap, since performing certain exercises that are too difficult can actually make diastasis recti worse. Always listen to your body and pay attention to what is going on in your core
In order to help you heal mentally, one must defiantly look into Breath work or Pranayama as a starting point right after delivery. Deep soft belly breathing without jerks also called Yogic breathing helps not only to give strength to lungs and abdominal muscles and improves oxygen supply in the body but also helps you to connect with your inner self .
Ujjai Pranayam also called the ocean breathing as during this breathing the sound in the throat resembles the sound of waves of ocean , helps in releasing tightness and stiffness in the body, cleanses the inner organs for any toxins and helps in mind body connection
Alom Vilom Pranayam or alternate nostril breathing is very good to start with, post delivery as it is very beneficial for overall wellbeing of body and mind and improves cardio vascular health . It’s a gentle breathing which helps in a very positive way if done regularly
As we have already mentioned before there are certain don’ts to be followed when you have just delivered and are getting back to the exercise routine .
Firstly you don’t rush to achieve results in a day or two , it will take time and you must give yourself enough time to recover , your internal organs to heal, and your reproductive organs to get the position and shape back .
Secondly you don’t compare yourself to anyone else, not even to yourself before getting pregnant, you must listen to your body and respect your limits
Thirdly, you always seek doctors approval before you start any fitness practice
Fourth you don’t follow general tips, you look for experts advice and guidance to start your practice.
Last but not the least you should love yourself and have self confidence that you will recover, heal and overcome this stressful phase and be regular and consistent with the above mentioned practices.