Yoga is often the last thing on the sleep-deprived and time-challenged new mother’s agenda. However, as a mother and longtime yoga practitioner myself, I’m passionate about promoting the benefits of carving out some time to do yoga, any yoga, during those intense early weeks and months with your newborn.
Integrating yoga into your busy-mummy-day will not only help you feel comfortable in your skin again after the birth and pregnancy, but will also provide you with your own little oasis of much-needed calm.
You don’t need to set aside a large, precious chunk of your day to receive the rewards of yoga. Short practices at home – as little as 5 – 10 minutes can go a long way – as well as simply adopting a more yogic-shift in your perspective.
1. Short and sweet
Your baby has finally dropped asleep and you have a precious 20 minutes or so before he wakes again. What do you do? How about taking this opportunity to ‘actively relax? This can be as simple as lying with your legs up the wall, resting and breathing deeply for 10 minutes, or practising a guided yoga relaxation, like a Yoga Nidra that systematically helps relax your body and mind. You will feel the difference not only physically but also mentally by gifting yourself some precious ‘me time’ to rejuvenate flagging energy levels. Sure, there’s a pile of washing that’s calling to you. But, the housework can wait; your sanity cannot!!!
2. Create a Sacred Space
You are less likely to feel like practising yoga if you have to fight your way through a pile of nappies or move the furniture every time you want to roll out your mat. To help inspire you to ‘get yogic’ when you do get a window of baby-free time, create your own little sacred space in your house. Set up a dedicated room, or even just clear a space in the corner of a room, where your yoga mat and equipment live, and preferably with access to some wall space for poses such as inversions. You might also like to beautify and personalise this space with pictures of loved ones, or spiritual teachers, flowers, candles and incense.
3. Take a Yoga Break
You don’t have to limit your yoga practice to quiet, dedicated times in your day. Multi-task while watching TV: lie over a bolster in a passive yoga stretch; or sit on the ﬂoor in a hip or hamstring stretch, to relieve your lower back; or do a shoulder stretch while waiting for the kettle to boil.
4. Get back into shape
You can practice pelvic floor contractions straight after birth – it will help healing of the tissue as well as prevent stress incontinence. When your baby is about 8 weeks old, it’s safe to start doing some very gentle abdominal exercises to start regaining some tone there. Not only will this help you get back into your pre-pregnancy shape, but it will also protect your vulnerable lower back muscles which have been weakened by the strains of pregnancy. So you don’t overdo it, subtle pilates-inspired abdominal exercises are recommended. Try my Postnatal Yoga online classes which are a specially designed fusion of yoga and pilates to gently strengthen the pelvic floor and core muscles. And remember, if you experience strong back or pelvic pain you should see a doctor or qualified body worker before starting or continuing your yoga practice.
5. Listen to your body
When practising yoga at home it’s important to work with your energy levels, not against them. If you are feeling exhausted after a long night with bub, there’s no point in pushing yourself in your yoga practice. Instead, this is an opportunity to nurture yourself and practice a gentle sequence that will give you energy, rather than leaving you feeling more exhausted. To give you a lift, try my relaxing and rejuvenating online Postnatal Yoga class or specialised Postnatal Restorative Yoga online classes.
6. Bring your bub to yoga class
Join a weekly ‘mum’s n bubs’ yoga class. Not only do you get to practice yoga in a baby-friendly environment and under the guidance of a yoga teacher in a baby-centred environment, but you’re also enjoying the benefits of an outing that gets you and bub out the house and socialising with other mothers and babies. Check out our directory of Bliss Baby Yoga graduates to find a Mums n Bubs Yoga teacher in your area.
7. Make mothering your meditation
When your baby cries and during any prolonged period of sitting or standing as you comfort your baby, take a moment to scan your awareness around your body and observe any tension. Then, consciously breathe out and away, letting go of tightness and holding. Your baby may also pick up on your calming energy and settle more easily.
8. Nursing Yoga
Practice being aware of your posture when you are breastfeeding / feeding your bub. Focus on lengthening from the base of your spine to the crown of your head, release your shoulders back and down and then breathe into your belly, soften, and enjoy!
9. Sigh and smile
Punctuate your day with conscious sighing and what is called ‘the falling-out breath’. Inhale through the mouth, followed by a long, slow, audible exhalation through the open mouth. This can help release pent up stress, soften the seriousness of your mindset, and brighten your day!
Ana Davis, Founder and Director of Bliss Baby Yoga, has a passion for a feminine approach to yoga, and supporting women with yoga through all ages and stages of their life. Ana is the author of the popular book, “Moving with the Moon – nurturing yoga, movement and meditation for every phase of your menstrual cycle and beyond”. Ana has collaborated with Bliss Baby Yoga fertility specialist yoga teacher Rosie Matheson to create our Online Level 1 Yoga for Fertility Teacher Training. She is also the lead trainer on our popular Online Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training Course and Online L1 Restorative Yoga Teacher Training course, and offers private mentoring and yoga sessions online, and online yoga classes.
Further Reading related to this topic:
- How Mindful Self Compassion is saving my relationship with my teen by Ana Davis
- The Sādhanā of Motherhood: tips for integrating yoga into daily life by Nadine O’Mara
- Self-Care Tips for New Mamas by Star Despres
- Classical Yoga Lessons for Parents by Ana Davis
- How Yoga Can Support Postnatal Mental Health (Including Three Simple Practices) by Maria Kirsten