Postnatal A-Z: Y for Yoga
Welcome back to my Postnatal A-Z where today I would like to dedicate Y to Yoga as well as mention some of the poses that are less beneficial to the newly postnatal mum.
Yoga is wonderful on so many different levels - physical, emotional and mental - and I couldn't live without it. I love that there are more vigorous forms of yoga (dharma mittra, jivamukti and vinyasa flow...) as well as gentler forms (eg yin) so there is bound to be a type, style, class and teacher out there for everyone.
It's also lovely to practise yoga when you're pregnant. Pregnancy yoga teaches you to listen to your body and relax it as well as activate specific muscles. The relaxation part is important, especially in your third trimester and during child birth. You will be taught to take slow breaths to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, as well as relaxing your pelvic floor muscles to allow your baby to be born in the case of a vaginal birth. My favourite antenatal yoga teachers are Dipa Trivedi, Lulu Winfield Womanly Yoga and Shine Yoga With Nicky
Postnatally, yoga can be very beneficial, however make sure that you attend a specific postnatal yoga class. Your body has already been stretched a lot (and you'll still have the hormone relaxin in your body) so you don't want to overstretch any parts of your body. There are also some yoga poses such as updog, bow pose or wheel that stretch the abdominals too much when your focus should be on bringing this part of your body together so that it compresses and heals. Glute bridges and side planks are helpful poses.
It's also important to remember to activate your deepest abdominals (your transversus abdominis) by pulling your bellybutton gently towards your spine as you exhale - this is not always taught in yoga but it's a big focus in Pilates. Finally, some studies show that if you have a diastasis (abdominal separation), you should avoid deep twists as the twisting motion increases abdominal pressure. Too much abdominal pressure can worsen a diastasis as well as put increased downward pressure on the pelvic floor.
Let me know how practising yoga makes you feel and if it helps you to stay sane as a mother. Mamaste