The postpartum period can be challenging, both physically and mentally. As you navigate the days, weeks and months after birth—with a mewling infant in tow—it’s important to prioritize your own well-being. That’s where yoga can help.
Yoga is a gentle and safe way to reintroduce movement during the postpartum period. It can help you reconnect with your body after this major transition, build strength and restore muscle tone, and reduce stress while promoting calm. It’s a low-pressure way to fit in some self-care amidst the demands of new motherhood.
Related: Secrets to better postpartum care from mothers across the globe
But which yoga poses are safe to do during postpartum, and how should you best fit them in between all those feeding and diaper sessions? Valerie Ugrinow, master trainer at YogaSix, shares the six postpartum yoga poses you need for life as a new mama. Each of these poses are gentle, safe and purposefully selected to help you reconnect with your postpartum body and regain your strength—at your own pace.
“Intentionally fitting in mindful movement and breathwork, new moms strengthen their capacity to be present and to manage the stress and mental turbulence that often comes with the disrupted routines and life-changes of parenthood. In this way, yoga helps new moms create a sense of calm amidst the chaos,” Ugrinow tells Motherly.
6 gentle postpartum yoga poses to do at home
As for when to fit in your postpartum yoga practice? It’s all about being flexible, Ugrinow says.
“New moms are often told to sleep while the baby sleeps. While this is useful, sometimes it can be hard to just flip the switch. Using that time to practice yoga is a great way to hit the reset button and nurture yourself, ensuring that your needs are also being met,” explains Ugrinow. But yoga doesn’t have to be reserved for when the baby is asleep. “It can also be a great bonding experience if you include your baby in the practice, whether that’s for added weight to build strength or giving belly kisses each time you fold forward,” she says. “Each day it may look a little different, but that is all part of the practice.”
Related: How to make time for exercise when you’re a busy mom
Try the following poses for a few minutes throughout the day when you have a quiet moment, with or without baby, or carve out a larger period of time when someone else can watch your mini to have more dedicated time for yourself.
1. Chair Pose
Chair Pose is meant to strengthen legs, glutes, and pelvic floor—especially helpful post-birth.
How to do Chair Pose: From a standing position, squat down, so your knees are bent over your toes. Keep your back flat and your head looking straight in front of you. Place a block between your thighs to build greater strength and support your low back. Bring your arms together in front of your chest in prayer position, or for added load in this posture, you can hold your baby!
2. Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is incredibly restorative: it calms the mind and alleviates stress, while gently reducing pressure in the low back, Ugrinow says.
How to do Child’s Pose: On all fours, gently lower your chest down to the floor, reaching your arms out in front of you or behind you, alongside your knees. For added support, rest a bolster or thick pillow under your torso or behind your knees.
3. Prone Chest Stretch
This pose is great for all moms—whether breastfeeding or bottle-feeding—because it opens the chest and shoulders and supports the upper back from rounding in, a common posture when feeding a baby.
How to do Prone Chest Stretch: Laying on your stomach, with your arms out to your sides, gently roll onto your right side, keeping your right arm outstretched behind you. Use your left arm and left leg for support. Your arms can be extended wide or bent to 90°, Ugrinow says.
4. Supported Bridge Pose
Bridge Pose—especially when supported by a block, rolled up blanket or stack of pillows, can balance the sacrum and alleviate sciatica, which may have been triggered or aggravated by labor and birth.
How to do Supported Bridge Pose: Place a block or similar bolster on its lowest or middle height under the ridges of your hip bones, and gently push into your feet to lift your back and chest off the floor. Aim to keep your head and neck straight to avoid shifting your spine out of alignment.
5. Legs Up the Wall
Ugrinow shares that this pose helps to alleviate stress, promotes relaxation and healing by creating a parasympathetic dominant state.
How to do Legs Up the Wall: Lie down on your back on the floor, bringing your bum close to a wall. Walk your feet up the wall, scooting closer so that they’re perpendicular to the floor. Rest with your arms out to the side. For an added lift, slide a pillow or bolster under your hips.
This resting pose can help alleviate stress and aid in relaxation. It’s also key in helping new moms practice the act of ‘letting things be’ rather than needing to control everything, Ugrinow shares.
How to do Savasana: There’s no one right way to do Savasana: knees bent or flat, hands on your body or by your sides, eyes in soft focus or closed. Find the restorative place that feels right for you. For more support in your low back, place blocks or pillows under your knees.
All photos courtesy of YogaSix.
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