How Postnatal Yoga Can Help Navigate Your ‘New Normal’

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The six weeks post-birth can be one the of the craziest, life-changing and tumultuous times in a women’s life. Navigating your ‘new normal’ comes with extreme highs and lows, you often find yourself frantically searching for an anchor.

Postnatal yoga isn’t by any means a new trend, but with more women waking up to the benefits of a gentle practice during pregnancy, Yoga Expert Clare Maddalena explains how women can regain confidence and strength with this iteration of yoga dedicated to rebuilding and reconnecting postpartum.

Firstly, listen to YOUR body

Until you are 100% sure you have regained connection and control of your deep core then and only then should you consider returning to any semblance of activity that you used to do pre-birth. You might need an expert to help you assess this but generally if you feel weak in the pelvic floor or are a little incontinent maybe when you laugh, cough or sneeze, don’t delay. Get yourself along to an expert class!

The general consensus is around 6-8 weeks with a vaginal birth and it can be a little longer for C-sections is a good time to start a dedicated, specific postnatal recovery class, such as a postnatal yoga or postnatal pilates class, with a qualified expert teacher. Once you have completed the suggested programme outlined by your teacher, then you can progress to other kinds of movement and fitness regimes.

Just as every baby is different, every mother is different too. Your recovery time is totally personal and yours. Don’t attempt to embark on any kind of fitness regime until you feel completely happy to do so. Remember it took 9months for your body to change, grow and birth a baby, so realistically it may well take that long for you to get back to yourself. Technically, we are considered postnatal for a whopping 2 years post birth, so give yourself some time to regain your fitness slowly, regularly and deeply over this period.

Learn how to cheat on sleep

New mums often suffer from a mixture of mental health issues from hormonal changes and baby blues, through to postnatal depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, heightened anxiety and identity crisis. Ironically getting sleep can be a great way for the mind to process the big experiences that becoming a mum entails. So how can new mums clock up some much-needed rest?

 Practicing yoga relaxations such as Yoga Nidra is key - a typical 20-minute Yoga Nidra relaxation is said to equate to a 3-4 hour sleep cycle. Try it in the day time or evening to recharge and restore not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too. You can find some carefully crafted self care meditations for new mothers on our website.

Time out for me time

Remember the positive effect on the nervous system with this approach to yoga - very calming and activates the para-sympathetic system - is really important for postnatal mums and their recovery. As well as some head space, time out, me time and a chance to feel back in your own body again, this literally helps to restore you, from boosting your immune system to gently energising you.

The importance of your pelvic floor

The pelvic floor essentially holds all your internal reproductive organs inside the body - they sit on the pelvic floor like cushions sat on a sofa. Slow deep core movements adapted from postnatal Yoga practice will help strengthen women from the inside out.

A great way to start is to simply look at how you are breathing. Sometimes less is more. Working out how to draw the muscles of the pelvic floor together and then in and up can be tricky to feel and find. With the right teacher and the right cues in class you can do this. It will come back. Then you can start doing these movements, on your exhalations, before you lift anything heavy, including your growing baby!

Mental wellbeing

Studies suggest regular exercise after giving birth not only helps rebuild your strength and ebb you closer towards your pre-baby body but can also drastically improve your psychological wellbeing.

Once we feel strong on the inside, we tend to also feel stronger on the outside and are more able to face life’s ups and downs with equanimity.

Classes create community and help you reconnect with your changed body, appreciating what it has done and helping you to put yourself back together again in mind, body and soul - as well as build strong lasting friendships enabling the giving and receiving of support.

Clare Maddalena