During pregnancy, self-care is often at the forefront of our minds, and we’re more likely to prioritize nurturing practices such as prenatal yoga, prenatal massage and rest and relaxation in general. Once baby arrives, nurturing your little one takes center stage, and it’s easy to let mama-centered activities fall by the wayside. Here are some (quick and simple) ways to heal and strengthen your postpartum body, revitalize your mind and enjoy this new, beautiful stage of life:
Take a Five Minute (restorative) Yoga Break
One of the seminal texts on yoga, the Bhagavad Gita tells us that even a little practice counts for a lot (chapter 2, verse 40 for the yoga-geeks!) Of course right after baby arrives, the most important practices you can undertake includes getting plenty of rest, eating whole, healthy foods and enjoying lots and lots of snuggle time with your little one. While you won’t want to dive right into sun-salutes as soon as baby is here (please wait at least six weeks and get clearance from your doctor or midwife before beginning or stepping back into a yoga practice or exercise routine), there are some simple, restorative poses that you practice immediately, to reduce discomfort and cultivate feelings of relaxation and well-being.
One of my favorites is supta baddha konasana—butterfly pose on your back [as shown here] (I recommend practicing with yoga blocks or folded blankets under your knees to avoid discomfort or over-stretching the front of the pelvis). Baby can rest of your tummy here, and you might even find it to be a nice position to nurse in. Legs up the wall pose [as shown here] is another fabulous postpartum practice that can offer some relief for tired feet, achy backs and leg cramps (baby might enjoy resting on your tummy here, too).
Reconnect with Your Pelvic Floor
Once baby is three weeks old, you can start practicing your kegels (pelvic floor exercises that involve the contraction and release of the urethral sphincter—basically what you would do to stop and then re-start the flow of urine). I like to practice kegels lying down with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, but you can do them seated upright or standing too. Try to keep your belly, buttocks, shoulders and jaw relaxed and just engage and release the pelvic floor muscles. Even if you can’t feel anything at first, simply bringing your energy and awareness to your pelvic floor will help to re-establish a neurological connection with those muscles. A round of kegels only takes a few minutes. Try engaging for a count of four and releasing for a count of four, with a resting breath between each one. Exhale as you contract, and inhale as you release, and start with about five in a row, gradually working your way up to as many as 25.
Pelvic floor work like kegels can help to improve bladder function, prevent/treat incontinence and balance the nervous system, and best of all, you can practice them anywhere!
Bring Your Baby to Yoga Class
Okay, so you can’t bring the little guy to just any yoga class, but here at Zenana Spa and Wellness Center we offer Mama and Me yoga classes where babies from six weeks to 18th months (and baby noises! And nursing breaks!) are 100% welcome. These hour-long postpartum classes focus on supporting your body, exploring joyful movement, and re-establishing a core connection. We offer options for incorporating baby into many of the poses (though sometimes babies prefer to snooze or play while mama practices!) Partners, family and/or friends are welcome, too!