Before being a mum, I was a gym bunny clocking at least an hour even during pregnancy. However, as a mum I feel quite lucky if I get even ten minutes to myself. Exercise would be the last thing in your mind when you are going through a cycle of feeding, changing and cleaning but exercise is perhaps the thing you need the most. I have realised that even doing five to ten minute exercise throughout the day is helping me immensely to keep my sanity alive. Here are some of my top favourite yoga poses and exercises that I am doing. Before starting any regime, it is important you check with your GP/Midwife or Ob-Gyn. The general rule of thumb is to wait for six weeks if you have had a normal delivery or eight weeks if you have had a C-section.
Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutations):
When I first began doing Sun Salutations last week (5th week postpartum) it seemed like all my muscles were coming out after a long, deep hibernation. I started by doing two sets adding two more each day. Sun Salutations are a great cardiovascular exercise that revs up your metabolism whilst also strengthening the legs and arms and toning the abdominal wall.
Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall):
A great restorative pose which relaxes and rejuvenates you instantly. Lay with your right hip against the wall and if you want place a pillow under both hips. Then slowly swing your legs up onto the wall, bring your arms out to the sides, and breathe deeply. Hold for two to five minutes.
Check this link for a better way to do this pose: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfzQ1UOPmto.
Kegels are a great way to strengthen your pelvic muscles. The pelvic floor muscles are located between your legs, and run from your pubic bone at the front to the base of your spine at the back. They are shaped like a sling and hold your bladder and urethra (the tube urine comes out of) in place. These hammock of muscles, although small, do a great deal of job of controlling the flow of urine. In pregnancy and labour these muscles can get stretched beyond their capacity leading to stress incontinence. Doing Kegels as soon as you can are pivotal to strengthen these muscles. To do Kegels, quickly squeeze the muscles that stop the flow of urine. Make these contractions progressively longer: squeezing for five, holding and then releasing for five. Repeat 10 times and do three times a day. Doing this exercise on an exercise ball will also give you core strength.
Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior pose):
I used to be proud of the fact that I could do 50-100 sun salutations, squats and power walk without any issue before pregnancy and labour. But these days I feel accomplished if I can manage to climb one flight of stairs. Experts say that it takes at least two years for your body to fully recover from the stress of pregnancy and labour. Bringing up a growing infant is a very demanding task too. Needless to say your endurance takes a hit. This pose could be the answer. Stand with legs four feet apart, turn the right foot in and the left foot out 90 degrees. Bring your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor, and bend your left knee over the left ankle. Reach out with your arms and hold for five breaths. Repeat on the other side. Progressively increase the duration on each side.
Navasana (Boat Pose)
Almost all women dream of getting washboard abs as soon as they give birth. Doing yoga poses like navasana (boat pose) are a great way to get those abs. The body comes into a V-shape, balancing entirely on the buttocks. Start by lying flat on the ground, legs straight and arms on your side. Inhale bring your legs up parallel to the ground. Exhale and bring your torso up; slowly resembling a V.
Whilst I am no yoga teacher or expert, I’ve been practicing yoga for three years now and these poses/exercises are helping me immensely not just physically but mentally and emotionally too helping me in postpartum recovery.
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