A Moving with the Moon approach to yoga honours the importance (and benefits) of practicing in tune with the menstrual cycle. But what about during the postnatal period? This is a time when a woman’s cycle may be very different to how it was before pregnancy, or even take several months to return.
In this month’s blog we sat down with Prenatal, Postnatal and Fertility yoga teacher and senior Bliss Baby Yoga trainer/mentor, Rosie Matheson. Rosie shares more about Postnatal Menstruation and why it’s important to ensure you slow down every month, even when you’re not bleeding.
Tell us about your work in this area (postpartum)?
I love witnessing the transformation that the birth of a child brings to a woman. As a birth doula I have the great honour of sitting with women in the absolute rawness of the early, early postpartum period. And as a postnatal yoga teacher I have the honour of then supporting them as they emerge from the baby bubble and step into the world.
What do you consider to be the postpartum period?
Well, there is that very particular and precious first three months, which we often refer to as the fourth trimester. This is a time when both mother and baby are deep in a process of important learning and bonding.
But as far as postnatal yoga classes go, I’d say that postpartum nurturing is required well into the second year and even beyond. I find that mamas of babies and toddlers are generally in need of extra love, hands on adjustments and longer savasanas.
What is unique about the menstrual cycle postnatally?
While it’s common for many women to experience reduced menstrual discomforts such as period pain after they become mothers, the experience of bleeding in your postpartum phase can be quite depleting.
Mothers usually have limited access to self care and often experience a general lack of it. When bleeding, this may become highlighted through feelings of deep exhaustion.
It can be a real challenge but wherever you can, as a postpartum mum, it’s important to do less and find small ways to fill your cup. This is especially the case when we’re bleeding. It can also help to regulate the menstrual cycle postnatally.
What about for other women and menstruating people?
Slowing down and filling your cup during menstruation is ideal for all women and menstruating people! This is a time in the cycle when your hormones and therefore your energy levels are at their lowest. The more you rest and rejuvenate during this phase of your cycle, the more energy you will have throughout the WHOLE of your next cycle.
What if you’re not yet menstruating postnatally? Should your yoga practice be the same?
I find that most mothers appreciate the encouragement to regularly rest and be gentle on themselves. Even when your cycle hasn’t yet returned it can be a good idea to practice with the moon to ensure you slow down every month.
I recommend doing stronger more dynamic practices during the waxing and full moon periods, and then as the moon starts to wane introducing gentle flows and a little more restorative into your practice. At dark moon try practicing floor based, luscious restorative poses to rejuvenate your energy levels.
You would practice the same way if your cycle has returned, but instead of the moon guiding you, your own cycle would. So waxing moon would be the time leading up to ovulation, full moon would be your ovulation phase, waning moon your premenstrual phase and dark moon your bleeding phase.
How can yoga support postnatal menstruation? Tell us your favourite practices to support a healthy postnatal menstrual cycle.
Yoga can be a true ally to the postpartum body!
You can use pranayama (breath practices) to calm the mind and soothe the nervous system, twists and inversions (at all times except during our bleeding phase) to support hormone balance and restorative yoga to initiate the body’s natural relaxation response. This also supports hormonal balance, healthy sleep cycles and optimal energy levels.
Since becoming a mum my yoga practice has changed. Now my daily practice is often only 5 – 15 mins on the mat.
My go to sequence is:
- Nadi shodana – 2 mins
- Child’s pose
- Cat /Cow
- Downward Dog
- High Lunge
- Twisting Lunge
- Prasarita Padottasana (then repeat the lunge and forward bend sequence on the opposite side)
- Downward Dog
- Knee Plank
- Baby Cobra
- Downward Dog
- Shoulder Stand
- Supine Twist
During my bleeding phase my go to sequence is:
- Childs pose
- Cat /Cow
- Cat circles
- Restorative Supta Badha Konasana (15 – 20 mins)
- Chanting / Brahmari breath
Any final advice
Yoga can be used as a reminder to take moments for YOU. It’s the chance to stop and listen to your body and your needs.
Yoga supports the body to strengthen and unravel from the journey of pregnancy. It helps us adjust to our new physical body, responsibilities, and emotional needs of the postpartum period. It also helps to calm the nervous system, nurture the mother and encourage rejuvenation through the adventure of motherhood.
Rosie Matheson is a senior Bliss Baby Yoga teacher trainer who facilitates our specialised courses throughout Australia and internationally, including Japan and Italy, and also Online. Rosie is the co-creator of our Bliss Baby Yoga Online Level 1 Yoga for Fertility Teacher Training course and a featured guest teacher for our Online Level 2 Yoga for Fertility Teacher Training course. She is also a mentor who facilitates our end-of-course video calls for our Online Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training course, Online L1 Restorative Yoga Teacher Training Course and Online Yoga for Fertility Teacher Training courses. Rosie also offers Online 1:1 Mentoring Sessions and Personalised Yoga Classes to support you in your teaching, or your journey to conception and parenthood.
If you are passionate about supporting the postpartum period, we also recommend our Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training course
Further Reading related to this topic:
- Self Care for All Phases of your Menstrual Cycle by Ana Davis
- Top Tips for a More Easeful and Enjoyable Period by Ana Davis
- Self care for menstruation: a necessity, not a luxury! by Ana Davis
- Cultivating a Healthy Body Image Postpartum by Tammy Shemesh
- Motherhood is MY Practice – Honouring Me by Kelley Palmer