By Hayley Cotter

Becoming a new mother is a time of great joy, dramatic change and readjustment.  Postnatal yoga provides numerous physical and emotional benefits and can positively support women offering stability and reassurance.

 

Breathing and Relaxation Techniques

After giving birth a mother’s priority and focus is on their baby.  These new challenges can lead to sleep deprivation and fatigue. It is important for mothers to nurture themselves so that they can be available for their baby’s needs. A postnatal yoga class can provide the perfect environment for new mothers to take some precious time for themselves and to aid postnatal recovery. Yoga places a strong emphasis on breathing techniques to nourish and re-energise the body, which can be practiced at home with your baby:

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"The value of all yoga breathing practices in the time immediately after birth is that they give you the chance to nourish your energy body. Replenishing your prana through conscious breathing is the most valuable practice you can be doing: just as in pregnancy, it benefits you and your baby." [1]

 

 

Healing relaxation techniques meanwhile encourage calm and confidence, alleviating feelings of anxiety and tiredness and increasing your sense of well-being. The format of a class is relaxed, new mothers are invited to attend a session alone or with your baby.  Babies are welcome to chill out on the mat and watch, join in, be fed, changed, cry or sleep!

 

Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor

The muscles in your pelvic floor become stretched and weakened during pregnancy and birth. The weight of your baby, hormones that loosen your tissues and labour, all place a huge amount of pressure on these muscles. This can lead to stress incontinence, prolapse and a general lack of feeling in this area. Postnatal yoga guides new mothers through a variety of exercises to rebuild strength in your pelvic floor, improve the circulation of blood helping to reduce any swelling or bruising after giving birth and assist in preventing and treating stress incontinence. The great news is that you can practice these exercises and breathing techniques straight after birth anywhere, at home or even on the bus!  

 

Strengthening Your Abdominals

Growing and birthing your baby results in weakened and stretched abdominal muscles. Postnatal yoga adopts simple and gentle abdominal toning techniques using seated twists and breath-work to encourage the body to knit back together.  This enables the abdominal muscles to safely strengthen over time at a pace that is suitable to your needs.  

 

Stablising Your Pelvis and Lower Back

The lower back pain experienced by postnatal mothers is usually a result of weakened pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.  The practice of breath-work, pelvic floor exercises and abdominal strengthening in postnatal yoga can assist in stabilising the pelvis and help to alleviate tension and pain in the lumbar spine.

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Releasing Neck and Shoulder Strain

It is common for new mothers to experience neck and shoulder aches, continually feeding and picking up your baby places a great deal of strain on the body.  This forward bending position can also cause headaches and back pain.  Postnatal yoga guides you through a series of gentle sequences to open up, stretch out and strengthen the muscles in the neck and shoulders and release tension.   

 


Community

Becoming a new mother can feel isolating. Attending a local postnatal yoga class provides an ideal opportunity to meet other women in your community and to discuss the joys and challenges of being a new mother.  

Postnatal yoga assists women to safely transition to a regular yoga class: ‘Full classical yoga poses should not be taken up until the after-effects of pregnancy and birth have disappeared.’ [2] Research has shown that routine exercise may also prevent postpartum depression. [3]

You should always check with your GP or midwife about when it is appropriate for you to start attending a postnatal yoga class. We welcome new mums or mums and babies from 6 weeks after a vaginal birth and 8-10 weeks after a c-section birth, until your baby is crawling.  


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Post Natal Yoga

Every Wednesday at 11am with Hayley Cotter

 

RESOURCES

[1] Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth, Uma Disnmore-Tuli, 2010, p257

[2] Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, Francoise Barbira Freedman, 2004, p13

[3] Effects of exercise-based interventions on postpartum depression: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled Trials, Wiley Online Library, Volume 44, Issue 3, September 2017, p200-208

 

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