Senior Bliss Baby Yoga Course Facilitator and mamma of two, Star Despres, shares some invaluable self-care tips for new mothers.
In those bliss filled early days of new motherhood we are deeply immersed in a beautiful bubble of love for the divine little being that has blessed our world.
All mamas go through this delicious early period where all else seems to fall away and each moment is one of witnessing the wonderment of a new baby.
During this period our own needs are generally put on the backburner as we tend to the needs of a caring full time for a new child.
I too went through this same stage when I had my daughter Willow 3 years ago.
Having her late in life (I was almost 40 when she was born) whilst nursing some health challenges meant that I couldn’t afford to totally neglect my need for Self Care; and so the journey and juggle began of being the mama I wanted to be AND making sure to nurture myself so that I avoided an end result of exhaustion and depletion.
So how can a new mama balance the need for being totally present for her baby and honour her own needs too?
Below are a few tools that helped me find a beautiful balance in a way that didn’t leave me feeling ‘guilty’ AND didn’t take up too much of my time or finances.
Legs up the wall / on a chair or bed
This is my favourite Restorative pose!
There are so many benefits, from soothing the nervous system and calming the mind to releasing the psoas and balancing the hormones. If I am short on time (and we all have those days!) this is my go to pose as even 10 minutes here leaves me feeling refreshed and grounded.
Yoga Nidra / guided relaxation
Deep relaxation for the body and mind all rolled into one simple practice!
This one is perfect once your bub has a more regular sleep cycle, as you really want the space to go deep if you can.
Just set up in a relaxed and supported position and then play it next to you from a laptop or other music device, that way if little one wakes you will hear her straight away.
(For beautiful guided Yoga Nidra audio practices, I recommend Anna Watts’ Deep Relaxation Yoga Nidra for New Mothers, and Ana Davis’s Yoga Nidra Deep Relaxation)
This super gentle sequence of movements assists in moving stagnant energy, gently warms up and lubricates all the joints in the body and is extremely grounding and nourishing. I love that this one can be practiced when your baby is asleep or awake next to you.
The whole sequence takes about 20 minutes, but you can always just do the bits that you really need when time is a factor.
Be with the breath
Connecting back to the rhythmic cycle of the breath is one of the quickest and most assessable ways to anchor back home to yourself.
Taking time to rest into the breath, whether via simply witnessing the flow or a more formal pranayama technique, will provide a ready tool for being in the moment as you practise the art of ‘surrender’ and ‘letting go’ that all mamas need.
The pranayama practice of Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) is particular beneficial for soothing the nervous system, reducing stress and anxiety and bringing more balance to the system.
How to practise Nadi Shodhana
NOTE: Be sure to start and finish the practice through the left, cooling Ida Moon channel.
- Come into a comfortable position on the floor, either sitting supported in Sukhasana (easy cross leg position) or Virasana (Hero’s pose). Use a chair if you need to.
- If sitting on the floor ensure that the hips are higher then the knees by elevating the buttocks on a bolster, cushion or block.
- Take a moment to connect in with the breath and allow the sitting bones to lengthen down into the earth as the crown of the head elongates towards the sky.
- Using the right hand with palm up to the sky, bring the index finger and middle finger down to rest on the palm. We will use the thumb and ring finger for the practice.
- Bring the right hand up to the face and rest the thumb and ring finger lightly on the flared part of the nostrils.
- Take a deep breath in and out through both nostrils. At the end of the exhalation, gently block the right nostril and breathe in through the left only.
- At the top of the in breath open the right nostril, close the left and exhale through the right nostril.
- Breath in through the right nostril, open the left, close the right and exhale through the left nostril.
- This concludes one cycle of Nadi Shodhana.
- Continue for as many cycles as feel comfortable (around 5 mins is enough but you can stay longer)
Here are a few more tips for keeping the balance.
- Move your body each day – in a way that you enjoy! Dance at home or go for a gentle walk. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, as long as you feel good and it moves stagnant energy.
- Plan a healthy diet – avoid depletion and burn out by ensuring you are well nourished.
- Make sleep a priority – sleep or rest when your baby does and go to bed early.
- Schedule time for you into EVERY day! Even if it is only 10 minutes, each little bit adds up and helps fill your reserves.
- Let go of the guilt – this is a HUGE one! Remember, for you to be the mama you want to be it is essential that you give back and nurture yourself.
- Unplug from everything – get off the phone and computer and go outside. Being in nature is healing and refreshing!
- Reach out – new mamas can feel isolated, even within a supportive network of family and friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, your loved ones WANT to be there for you!