I’d like to start this post by reminding all of you mamas that you’re doing an incredible job… and consequently, you deserve to feel good! You have all the right to take a few minutes out of your day for only yourself to help calm the mind, strengthen and stretch the body. By helping yourself, you will in turn help your children by being more centered and fulfilled.
YES, you’re likely exhausted and it seems like a huge effort to get up, roll out your yoga mat and start on this new routine but let’s be honest, you already have your yoga pants on and that’s half the battle right there (besides, baby mats totally double as yoga mats). I promise you, you will feel a million times better after you move your body. And, consider this – yoga just might give you more energy!
While doing each of these poses, focus on breathing deeply and with meaning. I can do an entire post on the best breathing practices, but to keep it simple for our first go: breathe in and out through your nose, keep your tongue away from the roof of your mouth, try not to clench your teeth and jaw and keep the ins and outs long and fluid.
I suggest carving out at least half an hour of solitude (send your hubby for a stroller walk or plan it around nap times) in a place where you will be uninterrupted and can have some peace.
*It’s recommended you wait until you are fully healed (6-8 weeks) and when you feel comfortable. Start slowly and be gentle on your body, little by little it will become more flexible and limber again.
OH HEY THERE, PELVIC FLOOR!
Sit in a comfortable position (cross legged, on your back or childs pose) and squeeze your muscles as if you’re holding in your pee for 5-10 seconds, release and repeat.
SORE SHOULDERS FROM HOLDING YOUR BABY 24/7?
Whether you’re breast or bottle feeding your babe, the job is non stop (PS: if you’re in the eye of the cluster feeding storm, listen up!) and your shoulders could definitely benefit from a little lovin’. Let’s open up them up, create some ease in your upper back and help you feel human again.
WHAT TO DO:
COW FACE POSE (MODIFIED)
THE LOW DOWN ON THE LOWER BACK.
FATIGUED? (UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR)
This mama job is round the clock and Lord knows, we could always use some extra energy. Especially within the first few months, while you’re recovering from labour, not sleeping much and likely not eating properly, it’s great to get the blood moving and flowing with these feel good poses that will add a natural jolt of vitality that no cup of coffee can contend with.
WHAT TO DO:
DOWNWARD DOG TO PLANK
1. From tabletop, tuck toes under and come into a downward dog.
2. Peddle out your feet and “wag your tail from side to side”
* spread fingers and root the palm of your hands into your mat
3. Inhale – come forward into a high plank
4. Exhale – move back into downward dog
* start with 1 then add more as your practice gets stronger. Listen to your body and do what feels good.
* rest in a child’s pose before moving to the next pose. Breathe deeply.
WARRIOR II POSE
WHAT TO DO:
THREAD THE NEEDLE POSE
1. Lie on your back and place the soles of your feet hip with apart
2. Bend your right knee and place the outer right ankle on your left thigh
3. Interlace your fingers around your left hamstring or shin
4. Pull your left knee towards your left shoulder (hello hips!)
* relax your shoulders, bend your elbow and pull using your biceps.
* take 5 long breaths and switch sides
CHILL OUT AND REJUVENATE
WHAT TO DO:
1. Start with your left side against the wall.
2. Turn your body to the left and gently draw your legs up onto the wall (your hands can help you balance)
3. Lie down and move your bum closer to the wall.
4. Relax your arms away from the body, palms up.
* Stay here for as long as you can
* come out of the pose gently and take your time getting back onto your feet.
Yoga was created to get rid of the kinks so that yogis could sit comfortably for hours on end (I know, what a luxury) . If you are interested in meditation after this practice (or when you have the time to sit) to feel centred and calm, here is a ‘HOW TO’.
1. Sit cross legged, on your shins or on a chair. Sit up tall and lengthen the spine (think, ears stacked on shoulders, shoulders on hips).
2. Close your eyes.
3. Remove your tongue away from the roof of your mouth, relax jaw and shoulders.
4. Focus on your breath and take long fluid breaths in and out.
* When thoughts arise (they will and that’s okay), just go back to the breath. Your breath is your anchor. Another option is to repeat a mantra that resonates with you on each inhale and exhale (ex. “I am calm” or “I am peaceful”).
* Set the alarm on your phone so that you’re not too focused on time and maybe start with 2 minutes, then 3 and work your way up to a comfortable and manageable time that works for you.
Photos by Aleksandra Jassem
Featured Image: Model Veruschka by Horst P. Horst, Hawaii, 1965