5 yoga poses for new mums to beat postpartum depression
If you are a new mum, you don’t need to be reminded how psychologically detached you feel from your own body. Not only do you have a new bundle of sweetness to love, you also have a sore back and tight shoulders like you have never known before.
When you are probably exhausted most of the times and feeling like a stranger in your own body, yoga might be the last thing on your mind. But just a 4-5 minute practice each day can not only speed up your recovery, it can reconnect your body, mind and even battle postpartum depression. Even if you have never practiced before, there are plenty of poses to help build up your strength and flexibility.
Here are 5 yoga poses for new mothers to get you started on your fitness journey.
Cat – Cow Stretch
A wonderful way to start your yoga practice. This is such a delicious stretch for those tired neck and back muscles sore from nursing and carrying the baby.
How to:Begin on your mat on hands and knees with your palms right below the shoulders and knees right below the hips. Cat Pose – As you exhale, round your spine up towards the ceiling. Really engage the abs and pull your belly button upwards to the spine. Tuck your chin to the chest to lengthen and release your neck muscles. Cow Pose – As you inhale, arch your back releasing the belly button towards the floor and loosen the abs. Also lift your head and tailbone towards the ceiling without putting any unnecessary pressure on your neck. Continue to flow for 10 breaths inhaling for Cow pose and exhaling for Cat pose.
(Photo credit: Pop Sugar)
Legs Up the Wall Pose
When you are exhausted and tired and overwhelmed with the sudden change in your life, there is nothing quite like an inversion to beat the blues. Moreover it deepens your breath (a natural stress buster) and releases the stiffness from your legs. Spend 5 minutes in this pose to feel fresh and rejuvenated.
How to:Sit sideways next to a wall with one side of your hips touching the wall. Swing your legs up the wall into an inversion and carefully slide your buttocks towards the wall until they are touching the wall. You can bring a pillow under the hips for added support. Put an eye mask or towel on your eyes to increase relaxation.
(Photo credit: blog gaiam)
Cow-face Sitting Pose
Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your babe, many new mums experience neck and shoulder aches – a result of spending several hours bending forward to feed the baby. The resulting hunched over position might lead to a permanent damage to your posture and a chronic neck, shoulder or back pain.
How to:Start with sitting on the mat, your legs stretched out to the front. Beginners can sit on a pillow or block. Bend your right leg with the knee pointing straight to the front. Bend your left leg over it stacking the left knee on top of the right. If this is not available to you, you can sit in a simple crossed leg position. Raise the left arm up to the ceiling. Bend the left elbow bringing your left hand down the centre of your back. Bend your right arm and bring the right hand up the centre of your back. Hold hands behind the back. If it’s not possible, use a towel or strap. Draw both elbows towards the centre. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
(Photo credit: Yoga Journal)
Planking is a very effective way to build up that lost core strength provided you use appropriate modifications. New mums, even those with abdominal separation (diastasis recti) can benefit greatly from this.
But a word on caution here, please be careful to not jump into exercises that your core is not strong enough for. Even if you think you are taking a step back in doing an easier version, do so in order to properly engage the core and breathe well while holding the pose.
This version of the plank is great as it doesn’t put undue strain on those wrists already tired from carrying the baby.
How to:Begin on hands and knees with your abdominals engaged. Walk your hands out to the front and then release the forearms on the mat. Elbows beneath the shoulders. Keeping the abdominals engaged, stretch the legs one at a time to the back so the toes/balls of your feet are on the mat. Try to keep the hips down so that you make a flat line. Picture a cup of water balancing on your lower back. Do not let it tip over. Squeeze your buttocks and hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute. You can bring your knees down at any point of time or several times to reach an easier version of this pose.
Dolphin pose is a slightly more advanced pose so remember to listen to and honour your body as you approach it. This is a wonderful pose to strengthen the core, the arms and the legs, stretch the upper back and relieve the feeling of stress for new mums.
This is also a great modification if downward facing dog causes your wrists to hurt because of carpal tunnel syndrome.
How to:Begin on hands and knees. Place your forearms on the mat with the elbows and hands shoulder width apart. Slowly raise your knees off the floor and try to walk your feet closer to the chest. Work on pressing the soles flat on the mat. Work your chest back towards your thighs by pressing strongly into through your arms and upper back. Relax your head and gaze between your feet. Lift your sitting bones towards the ceiling. Breathe slowly in and out through the nose and hold the pose for 5 to 7 breaths.