After giving birth, your body may feel delicate and in need of some self love. You might think yoga is the best way to do this...and you wouldn’t be wrong! Many women start their yoga practice right away and then find that it feels very different. Even though you are not pregnant anymore, your body needs a modified practice.
It will take some time to get back to where you were before or even during your pregnancy. Your practice will need to be more supportive and considerate of what you have been through in the last 9-10 months.
Try these poses and shapes when you first start back and monitor your response closely.
1. Legs Up The Wall
This shape will help circulate the blood around your body and initiates a calming and healing response in the body- hold for at least 8 minutes to gain all the restorative benefits. Start in a reclined position lengthwise at the wall. Turn your body until your butt is on the wall and walk your legs up the wall perpendicular to your body.
You can use a pillow under your lower back, or on your belly or feet to get more of that tranquil sensation.
To start working on your abdominals and to re-strengthen your back post-pregnancy, hold Plank or modify with Forearm Plank. If your back sweeps down towards the earth, drop your knees to support your spine. It is a sign that your abdominals are not quite strong enough but they will be the more you practice.
Start with a five-breath hold and gradually work your way up to longer holds. Have patience with your abdominal wall—especially if you had a C section.
3. Triangle Pose
Otherwise known as Trikonasana, this shape will benefit the pelvic floor and begin working on the obliques. This is perfect for that “dropped” sensation that many women get postpartum.
You are not alone in feeling like your uterus is going to fall out during your yoga practice, you just need to work on strengthening the pelvic floor (hello kegels!). Your legs are probably pretty strong post-pregnancy, so use them to stretch out your back and begin the pelvic floor workout!
Stand with your feet wide and turn your right foot to point forward with a back foot heel to front foot arch alignment. Straighten your legs and ignite your thigh muscles strongly (if you are hyperextending, place a tiny bend in your front knee instead).
Place your hands on your hips and bump your hips towards the back foot. Press your chest towards the front of your mat and try to keep your right rib cage level with your left rib cage as you lean forward. Stop when you feel your lower ribs begin to find an arch.
Take any arm variation that feels good to you, and remember it is not about reaching for your leg or the floor, it is about strengthening that pelvic floor and to do that, you often need to stay higher up in the shape.
Chair pose is a great way to reshape your booty post-delivery, and if you draw your navel around your spine, you will be working the abdominal wall very quickly. Also try lifting your ribs and navel up to help lift the pelvic floor. If your low back is tender or achey, keep your arms at heart center.
Make sure you can always see your toes in front of your knees and try to keep a small space between the two knees even as they squeeze towards each other. You could even take your feet hip-width apart and place a block between your thighs.
5. Marichyasana I
Invigorate your organs and stretch out the back of your hips and your entire lower back one side at a time with this seated position. Be patient if you still have your baby belly and it disallows you from drawing your leg all the way into your torso. Modify by placing a strap around your waist, loosely draped onto your lap.
To practice, start seated with your left leg outstretched and your right leg bent with the foot flat on the floor (knee by your right shoulder). Reach your left hand behind your back and capture the strap, reach your right arm around your shin and capture the strap somewhere along your back or thigh.
Take a deep breath in to ignite your arms and begin walking your fingers towards each other on the strap. With an exhale, lean forward when it feels okay to do so.
Always take it easy post-delivery, and use as many props as you can get your hands on to make sure your mind and body both feel supported and safe. This is a tender time and healing takes patience and mindfulness.
Image credit: Stephanie Birch