When I first became a mom I was not prepared for life postpartum. I had done everything to prepare for my birthing day:
Hypnobirthing class – Check
Birthing plan – Check
Labor room music playlist – Check
What I hadn’t prepared myself for was for the emotional, physical and spiritual challenges upon returning home from the hospital as a new family of three. Daily it was an emotional rollercoaster. I would go from a high of wonderment and pure bliss of finally being with my baby, to feeling worried, anxious and full of self doubt that I was qualified to be a mom. Physically I was suffering from incontinence, wondering when I would ever be able to sit normally again, exhausted from waking round the clock to feed my baby and dealing with a sore, tired body all around. I was totally out of tune with who I was and completely relying on my friend Google to teach me how to be a mom.
I was struggling to get to my feet, let alone my yoga mat but finally about 3 months in I decided it was time. I needed something to help me heal and cope with my newfound struggles and for me the answer was yoga. Here are a few of the ways that yoga has helped me postpartum.
1. Loving my postpartum body
Yoga connects the mind, body and soul and I was able to turn inwards with a new perspective and truly in awe of what the female body can do. I began to noticed how I stood and moved differently now than before but over time some simple yoga poses helped me to realign my post-baby body. It really turned my focus more inwards to what was going on with my body and not just the external appearance of the pose. It was thanks to this inward awareness that I eventually learned to accept, embrace and even love my postpartum body and what it could do.
2. Healing from the inside out
Postpartum yoga helped me to strengthen and restore my pelvic floor, gradually built up my lower abdominal core muscles which eased my lower back pain and helped me tone up all over which changed my body from being constantly sore and tired to ready to take on the day ahead. It really helped with my stiff, rounded shoulders from constantly holding and feeding my baby. After a few months my incontinence went away, my posture began to even out and I felt stronger and more stable in my body.
3. Cultivating less fear and more peace
If there is one thing that you can start to do from day one in your postpartum recovery, it’s breathing exercises. Once I started dedicating a few minutes per day to my breath I started to notice that I was gradually becoming less stressed and more patient with my baby, myself and my husband. Channeling the breath helps to lower anxiety and fear and on the plus side it helps to increase all those feel good endorphins. The beautiful thing is that we can do this pretty much anywhere and anytime; while taking a shower, a few minutes after baby goes down for a nap or even while feeding baby.
4. Connecting with my baby, myself and my intuition
Postnatal yoga is a wonderful activity to do with your baby. There are exercises to strengthen their muscles, work on their motor skills and chanting Aum always seems to put them at ease. You can incorporate them into certain postures or make kissy faces at them in downward facing dog. It helped me incorporate a playfulness into my yoga practice that had previously been missing. Slowly that playfulness started to move from my mat and into my life, not taking everything so seriously, not being afraid that something was going to happen to my son, not being so hard on myself and finally trusting my own gut on how to raise my baby – instead of constantly asking my friend Google.
5. Making myself a priority
Most importantly it made me realize that for me to heal I needed to make myself a priority. In the first few months I was only focused on my baby, his needs, his comfort and completely forgot about mine. Once I began to give a little time, love and self care to myself I realized I was a happier mother. I wasn’t running on a low gas tank anymore. My cup was filled and and overflowing and I noticed I had a lot more energy, I became more productive and came to peace with the fact that it didn’t have to be about my baby all of the time.
There are so many other ways that yoga has helped me postpartum. My practiced has helped me realized that I’m in this motherhood journey and I don’t need to be afraid of the unknown territory or the changes that come with it. No matter how hard I tried to not face the fact that life as I knew it was completely different or thinking that I could still be the same person I was before – I was changing. I am changing. And my practice is guiding me along this journey, slowly revealing to me – who I am as a person, as a mother and accepting her with open arms.