As a new mom, I have experienced first hand the post partum benefits of pre natal yoga, breath work and asana. I was a dedicated yogi before and all through my pregnancy. But I never realized how hard it would be to get back to my regular routine after the birth of my son. My pelvic floor muscles needed LOTS of time to heal and there was little time to pack up and head to the studio or even complete a home practice on my own. I quickly learned that yoga doesn’t have to be done ‘solo’ or in 60-90 minute increments. True connection, joy and balance can be found practicing with your little one at home – even just a few minutes a day!
Most post natal fitness programs recommend you wait approx. 8 weeks after delivery (with the go ahead from your doc!) before participating in any exercise class with or without your little one. Once you are cleared to exercise, you can begin stroller walking outside (or at the mall) and add in a basic Mom and Baby home yoga routine. The following exercises helped to strengthen my core, and build up muscles that tend to get weak and stretched with post partum activities such as feeding, picking up, and changing baby. Chest and front shoulder muscles can get very tight in new mothers and mid and upper back muscles weaken and contribute to poor posture. Not to mention those core muscles that probably went through quite a trauma with birth. Outlined below are some basic yoga practices you can do with baby at home to bring balance back to your body!
You will need a yoga mat, blanket and your baby!
1. MOMMY TIME OUT – BREATHE! – Sit cross legged in easy pose (you can sit on a cushion or bolster if it is more comfortable) with baby in your lap or on a blanket in front of you. Feel your pelvis anchor you to the mat, your spine lengthening towards the ceiling. Close your eyes or focus your gaze on your baby and ‘just breathe’. As you inhale bring your breath into your belly, ribs and chest. As you exhale release your chest, then your ribs and then your belly. See if you can lengthen your inhales and exhales. Continue this for a few minutes or until you feel your mind calm down and your body relax.
2. MOM AND BABY – COW/CAT – Come onto all fours with knees under hips (place a blanket under knees if they are sensitive) and hands under shoulders. Spread your fingers out like stars. Baby can be between or in front of hands on a blanket or your mat. As you inhale, gently drop your belly, lift your tailbone to tilt your pelvis and move your chin away from your chest looking forward (this is back extension). As you exhale, round your back like a Halloween Cat, tuck your pelvis and move your chin towards your chest (this is spinal flexion). Repeat 5 times.
3. MOMMY PUSH UPS – From the previous position on all fours, walk your hands out in front of you until your hips are level to the ground. You should form a line from your knees, through your hips and up to your shoulders. Baby can be between or just in front of hands on a blanket or your mat. Engage your core by lifting your pelvic floor muscles and drawing your belly up towards your spine. Inhale a full breath and lower your chest halfway to the floor. This is a great opportunity to give baby kisses! As you exhale push up to the starting position. Try to build up to 10 or 12 repetitions.
4. MOMMY SPHINX – Lower all the way onto your belly and stretch your legs out behind you. You should feel the tops of your feet (where your shoelaces would be) and your pelvis pressing into the mat. Place your elbows in front of your shoulders and line up your forearms and hands so they are parallel to one another. Baby can be between or just in front of hands on a blanket or your mat. On an inhale, lengthen your spine and lift your heart and rib cage off the mat. As you exhale, loop your shoulders down and back and open your throat. Take 10 deep breaths in and out.
5. MOMMY SQUATS – Stand in a wide stance with feet flat on the mat and toes pointed out the sides. If your baby has good control holding up their head you can hold them comfortably in your arms – if not baby can be on a blanket in front of you. To prepare – inhale to lengthen your spine and find neutral pelvic alignment, exhale to lift your pelvic floor and draw your low belly in and up. Then, inhale to bend knees and lower into a wide legged squat with knees lining up over ankles, exhale to lift pelvic floor, draw low belly up and in, and straighten legs to return to standing position. Keep your shoulders drawn down and back, even if you are holding baby. Try to build up to 10 – 12 repetitions!
To conclude your practice, lay down in a comfortable position with baby beside you or on your chest. Take a moment to cherish the connection you share. Remind yourself to be ‘in the now’, enjoying the time you have to spend together practicing yoga. Honouring the divine light in you and your little peanut – Namaste!
Participating in a Mom and Baby Yoga or Stroller Fit class is a great way to connect with other moms, strengthen your muscles post partum and practice the true meaning of yoga: UNION – with your little one. Join me on Thursdays beginning May 12th from 11:00 – 12:00 for an 8 week Mom and Baby Yoga Bootcamp or on Tuesdays beginning May 10th from 10:00 – 11:00 for an 8 week Stroller Fitness through Balanced Life Yoga in Ajax. REGISTER HERE
Krista Bromfield is a senior teacher at Balancd Life Yoga, a RYT, Can-Fit-Pro PRO Trainer, Mom and Auntie. She has an Honors Degree in Kinesiology and Education, and is the lead Anatomy Instructor for the Balanced Life Yoga Teacher Training Programs. Krista teaches a variety of classes including Power Yoga, Partner Yoga, Kids Yoga, Yog-ahhh, Prenatal Yoga, Stroller Fitness and Mom and Baby Yoga Bootcamp.