I have taught the Yoga of allowing for years. But I only “lived it” after I gave birth to my child. It’s one thing to comprehend the concept and convey it to others, but it’s a whole different thing to actually experience it tangibly and learn it hands on. While pregnant I was so sure that I would never fall into a post-partum depression, because I am a yogi and I know the drill. But like most new moms I did. I couldn’t help it. The hormones went berserk, and I had a very hard accepting my new life, my new body, my new role “in service of.” Funny, and I was the one preaching karma and bhakti yoga in class, highlighting the needs for a life of service and devotion. Now, I had to live the yoga tenets day by day and learn the Yoga of acceptance from my newborn.
I still remember the day I gave birth I was elated and scared. Two days after I was grateful, but very depressed. And a week after, I wanted to run away. All the tips and advice I had read in countless books or heard from friends were valuable but foreign. They just didn’t apply to my baby. So I had to follow the baby’s lead. I guess most moms ride this rollercoaster. The secret is to ride it and not to resist it. As we ride it, we purge and allow nature to take its course. Our intuition guides us into the right moves and we know that there is an intrinsic remedy for all our woes. We become selfless. Our ego gets tamed and we accept and cherish our beautiful journey as nurturers.
The hardest thing for me was to discard the “to-do-list” and simply take it day by day. I was a planner and executor before, but now I had to relinquish control, to stop planning and start “listening”. And as I listened, my whole body filled up with appreciation. I felt more connected than ever before. I resumed my yoga practice six weeks after delivery. And everything began to fall into place. Everything made sense. I started cherishing every moment with my baby, harvested every lesson with compassion and a smile. I began to enjoy the ride.
I would love to take you on this ride by sharing the yogic tools that worked wonders for me. The postpartum period lasts up to two years, so practicing yoga is a great way to get your strength back, and reconnect with your self.
And don’t be discouraged if you can’t stick to a regular practice. You probably wouldn’t find 30 minutes to spare – you would be overwhelmed. That’s perfectly fine. What you can do is to carve 10-15 minutes a day, even while you are tending to your baby. I did my pelvic floor exercises while breast-feeding and my mental exercises while loading the laundry. I meditated while lulling the baby and threw in some poses while swinging her in the cradle. So there is time, you just have to stretch it, and patiently wait for the right moment during the day. And for the first 10 months this moment will vary. Be patient to see when it comes and snatch it right away.
Although you shouldn’t practice poses for six to eight weeks after delivery you can start with some pelvic floor contractions also known as “kiegels”, whether you had a C-section or a natural delivery right away. Squeezing the bladder as if you are stopping the flow of urine is helpful in both cases, because after birth the pelvic muscles weaken, the fascia stretches and the bones open either to carry or push the baby out.
Make sure you rebuild muscle tone while maintaining the spinal integrity and opening the joints. It is important to work integrally as you will need to sooth your aching neck, lower back, hips and shoulders while strengthening the legs and the arms. This will help your body carry the new demands of caring for your baby. Developing strength in abdominal and back muscles reduces postpartum back pain.
Daily isometric strengthening of the abs would help you deal with the loss of endurance. Stretching the ligaments and tendons will assist in overcoming the constant fatigue.
It is vital to maintain spinal integrity by keeping all joints supple. You are no longer secreting Relaxin – the hormone that made you so limber during pregnancy and you might even feel stiffer than before you conceived. Be sure to pay special attention to stretching the shoulders and the back. Breastfeeding can cause spine and shoulders to become rounded and sore. Toning the arms will stave off soreness that comes from constantly picking up your child.
Don’t miss on doing some simple Mommy and Me yoga by stretching the arms and legs of the baby in opposite directions, lifting the pelvis to massage the spine, twisting the hips and bicycling the legs to promote healthy digestion. Rub his feet to sooth the nervous system and lull him to bed.
But most importantly keep up the routine – whether it’s five, ten, fifteen or thirty minutes. This way you can center yourself and feel the power rising, and the post-partum depression fading away. I felt that being regular helped me deal my body’s frustration, my sleep-deprivation and made me accept and cherish every moment as it ebbed and flowed.
Motherhood is a miraculous ebb and flow that teaches us to patiently embrace situations, circumstances and moods – as they come and go. And to cherish all the lessons that they bring. As we practice yoga of allowing we learn to listen and not to program things one way or the other. Then things come to us, at the right time, in the right place for our highest good and all those around us. And that is the Yoga of motherhood. To receive while giving, and to offer with no expectations, knowing that things will unfold beautifully. They always do – when we cherish every ordinary moment as an extraordinary experience.
Thank you “motherhood” for helping us shine our light as nurturers and guides! As we nurture our babies, we let nature nurture us – honing our inner child and rebirthing our self.
Cherish and Accept
Choose the postnatal Yogea routine Cherish and Accept if you had a natural delivery. It starts off with breathing and kiegels contractions to help you tone the pelvic muscles, restore the strength of the bladder and get a sense of your core. As you rock through spinal twists coupled with shoulder openers and abs toners you will massage the hips and sooth the lower back. More supine strengthening and stretching poses will help you extend through the sides of your waist and engage the oblique abdominals. Modified lunges paired with standing spinal twists will help you strengthen the thigh muscles and subtle “vinyasa” flows will fire up your upper arms. Forward bends alternate with backbends to uplift your mood while keeping you focused on your daily duties as a mom. Hip, hamstring and calf stretchers alternate with shoulder openers to integrate the lower and upper body half. An inspiring wind- down followed by helpful affirmations help you reconnect to your innermost self and accept your mission as a nurturer.
Rebirthing The Self
Choose the postnatal Yogea routine “Rebirthing the self” if you had a Cesarian birth. A calming meditation in child’s pose will elicit the parasympathetic nervous system response and the gentle massage of the hypothalamus will help you jump-start your hormones. The emphasis goes to strengthening the pelvic floor, soothing the aching neck and shoulders and boosting your endurance with a combination with abs toners and standing poses. Hip openers alternate with spinal twists, very gentle backbends are preceded by forward bends so you can boost your endurance, while promoting suppleness through all joints and tendons. Special seated spinal bound twists with an added core toning and arm-strengthening action help you zip the core, while elongating the sides of the waist and lengthening the sore calf muscles. Mild supine spinal rocking and hip opening takes you into a deep relaxation. A guided visualization helps you discover the healing resources of your body and mind to heal and rebirth the self.