However, the biggest challenge for a new mom's bod isn't pregnancy itself, but trying to get back into shape after three semesters of letting nature take its course. Of course, hitting the weight room isn't the only way to get back on track because postnatal yoga is here to shake things up.
Unlike others, this form of exercise is perfect for the still-fragile physique and psyche of a new mom as it combines yoga's gentle moves with a number of calming benefits. Plus, you can keep your newborn in tow – which is basically a dream come true for every time-starved mom.
So, if you're thinking of rolling out yours and your kids' yoga mats, here are the seven most surprising benefits of postnatal yoga, plus a bounty of info to get you started.
What is Postnatal Yoga?
Postnatal yoga (PNY) is a style of yoga that aims to strengthen and empower women who have just given birth. Postnatal yoga (1) , in particular, is designed to tone your stretched-out abs, strengthen your weak pelvic floor, and relieve your aching back, all while nurturing your exhausted spirit. After all, sleepless nights and long feeding hours can be taxing.
Some classes go as far as to incorporate newborns into the mix by teaching new moms how to massage their little ones or hold them properly so that they take some of the strain off of their neck and shoulders.
Is Postnatal Yoga Different Than Regular (Hatha) Yoga?
Even though it uses several moves that we see in Hatha yoga (such as the plank and the cow pose), postnatal yoga is a bit different than the regular kind. The main difference is that PNY is purely restorative – which means it focuses solely on healing your body, mind, and soul rather than pushing you to reach new limits. More than that, postnatal yoga promotes intimacy, especially when moms share their cute yoga mats with their newborns, whereas Hatha yoga is more of a personal journey.
7 Surprising Benefits of Postnatal Yoga
For the Mother
Prevents Post-Partum Depression
With post-partum depression (2) (PPD) affecting almost 15% of new moms, the mood disorder is no joke. In many cases, women report feeling so sad and helpless that they have a hard time taking care of their newborns, let alone focus on themselves.
Luckily, there is a way to beat the "baby blues," and that's by signing up for a postnatal yoga class. According to research (3) , this form of exercise helps the female body produce all the right hormones (think serotonin and estrogens) and, thus, bounce back healthier than ever.
Increases Your Core Strength
Even though postnatal yoga consists of gentle, fluid-like movements, it can still do the trick when it comes to toning your core muscles. That said, poses like the bridge and the mountain- climber are perfect for stimulating your torso, pelvis, and abdomen. But you have to be careful! Exercises that require major abdominal strength could cause a variety of issues for women who haven't healed properly. So, whatever you do, make sure you consult with your doctor first.
Strengthens Your Back
Life as a pregnant woman (and now as a new mom) can do some interesting things to your spinal column, whether that's burdening your back or impairing your limb posture. Luckily, you can take some of the pain and strain away by easing into postnatal yoga. The practice includes a variety of back-strengthening poses (4) which help re-align your spine and minimize the discomfort.
Boosts Your Energy
Working out to increase your energy may sound counter-intuitive, but studies (5) show that certain yoga poses (some of which are PNY-approved) can actually skyrocket your body's stamina. As a result, you can keep up with your newborn's round-the-clock demands without burning out halfway through. So, ready to roll out a baby play mat?
For the Baby
Between creating a microbiota from scratch and getting by on an under-developed digestive tract, many babies often deal with a great deal of abdominal pain. If your little one is one of those unlucky kids, postnatal yoga is just the place to start. That's because, in such classes, new moms learn how to lie their babies safely on a kids yoga mat, and soothe their indigestion through targeted abdomen massages. More than that, such skills help parents bond with their babies more deeply and become aware of their tiny, developing bodies.
Improves Sleeping Patterns
A regular sleeping routine may sound a bit unrealistic for new moms, but trust us when we say, it's 100% doable. Thanks to its soothing and calming effects, postnatal yoga (or better yet, its moves) can get an infant in the right mood for sleep by releasing her excess energy, tension, and fussiness.
Enhances Social Skills
For many parents, socializing begins as soon as their little one enters her preschool years. However, experts (6) suggest that kids can mingle with the people around them way sooner than that, and in some cases when they're a few months old.
With that in mind, taking your kid to a postnatal yoga class may not be such a bad idea as it could help her get used to big groups of people and the world at large.
3 Ways to Practice Postnatal Yoga with Your Newborn
So, are you ready to put on your yoga pants and work out with your babe? If so, these three mommy-and-me yoga poses are just what you need.
The Flying Baby
The Flying Baby This postnatal yoga pose can help you strengthen your core, arms, and legs while increasing your baby's head, neck, and shoulder mobility.
Step onto a children's yoga mat and stand with your feet hip-width apart.
Hold your baby facing out, with your hand around her mid-section.
Now, exhale and bend your knees.
Then, inhale and straighten your legs and move to the right side, with your left foot toes barely touching the ground.
Then, exhale, bend your knees, and move your body back to the centre.
Repeat the same moves but this time, transfer your weight to the left side.
The Hugging Bridge
A snuggly take on the classic bridge pose, this exercise can strengthen your upper body, core, legs, and spine
Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet off the ground, and your baby resting against your thighs as if you're hugging her.
Take a deep breath.
Now, exhale as you slowly touch your feet on the floor, and lift your hips off the ground, making sure your baby is secure.
Stay in this pose for up to 30 seconds.
Return to the starting pose and rest for a few seconds.
The Smooching Knee Plank
This pose can help you develop some serious core and arm strength.
Lay your baby on a yoga mat for children.
Then, place your hands and knees on the mat so that you stand on top of your baby and have a face-to-face situation going on.
Back your knees a few inches and tuck your toes.
Now, exhale and bend your elbows until your upper body is close enough to your
Give her a quick peck and press yourself back up as you inhale.
Repeat the exercise 5-10 times.
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