The 6 ways to get back into yoga postpartum
After having a baby, the feedings, the poopy diapers, and the sleep (or lack thereof) take priority. It seems like you may never have time to focus on yourself. Hell, taking a shower or going to the bathroom is near impossible, how can you find time for yoga? During pregnancy, your body changed, grew, and built a BABY!! During labor, your body endured trauma. Now, postpartum, your body is healing and is ultimately not the body you once had, nor will it ever be again. But that’s the perfect opportunity to embrace the change, and come back to (or start) a yoga practice that allows you to keep sane amidst the sleep deprivation and spit up.
1. Take your time
After almost 10 months of growing a baby, your body needs time. So give yourself the time your body needs. Once that baby comes out, it doesn’t mean jump onto your mat the next day. It means waiting until that 6 week appointment when you might be cleared to exercise. It means letting your body heal from the pregnancy and labor it endured. It means being patient with yourself.
2. Be gentle
After you get back onto your mat, be gentle with your new body. No matter what yoga you were into previously (yin, vinyasa, power, Bikram), start off slow. You may realize you enjoy some of the slower paced classes if you didn’t previously participate. And if you are a slower-paced yogi, maybe you’ll find your postpartum practice to feel different. It’s all about easing your way back in so that you can get all the mental and physical benefits, without hurting yourself.
3. Enjoy the change
Know that your practice will be different postpartum, and enjoy that evolution of your practice. Just as your practice changed from pre-pregnancy to during pregnancy, enjoy the changes that come from going from a prenatal yoga practice to a postpartum practice. During pregnancy, hip openers and stretching likely felt good, before pregnancy, maybe you contorted your body in all sorts of ways. But no matter what your practice looked like before that bundle of joy arrived, your practice after will feel different. It’s a great opportunity to explore and embrace your new mom bod.
4. Do it for you
Yes, baby will need you a lot after they are born. But you know what, YOU need support as well. The yoga community can provide some fantastic support, and yoga can be just the mental break you need after those sleepless nights. Just like baby needs love, you need to love yourself too.
5. Don’t feel guilty about it
It’s easy to find excuses not to practice yoga because baby needs you, the house is a mess, the laundry is piled up, etc. etc. Don’t make excuses NOT to go, make excuses why you SHOULD go. You need to be strong for baby, mentally and physically. And the best way to fight sleep deprivation, postpartum depression, and the feeling of going stir crazy, is to get away, even just for a short time, to focus on the mat, so that you can be more present mentally and physically when you are at home with baby.
6. It can be a family affair
Yoga is very much your own practice. But after having baby, maybe if you don’t feel comfortable leaving baby, or if you’re breastfeeding, you just can’t get away, make it a practice that even baby can be a part of. Some alone time on your mat will do your body and mind good, but spending some quality yoga time with baby can do everyone good!
So next time you are thinking “I don’t have time” or “I shouldn’t” or you see the dirty bottles in the sink and you think you just HAVE to do those now, know that even just a little bit of time on your mat will ultimately make you an even better mommy. That time to yourself can be just the break you need to come back physically and mentally stronger, and ready to deal with the poop!