Below yoga sequence should be used as a guide by yoga teachers to create their own yoga class plans
Postnatal Yoga Sequence: Postnatal Yoga
All the attention you got when you were pregnant is now diverted towards the newborn child. This feeling of being left out along with physical weakness and fatigue, can add up to bad mood swings post delivery. A new mother always wants to get back to shape and the first thing that comes to mind is losing belly fat or the excess weight around the lower abdomen. Although it is better to get back to exercise sooner in order to stay connected with the body, one should always play it safe with the kind and choice of exercise. The muscles that worked very hard during the delivery process will need time to heal and come back to normal only close to 6 weeks post delivery.
Benefits of yoga post childbirth
It is essential to choose those poses that heal your muscles first, before burning fat or the extra belly weight. Yoga poses done in the postnatal stage helps in many ways:
- it helps strengthen and tone abdominal muscles.
- it helps to fight depression.
- it relieves stress.
- it promotes good blood circulation, keeping the overall body fit.
- it helps to focus on areas like the neck, shoulders, back and the legs, all of which need more attention now.
- tightens the pelvic floor muscles.
Getting back to yoga should always be done 40 days after delivery as the various organs take time to come back to their original size. Simple exercises like walking, however, can be started right away post delivery.
Note: Awareness of the body and understanding its needs is important at this stage while practicing yoga poses. While exercising is good and important, the emphasis should be on being smart and cautious too. Certain poses post delivery should be avoided for almost 6 months, for example:
All poses that require extra stretching of the abdominal muscles and the lower spine.
Diastasis Recti is a condition that many women develop post delivery. It is a gap formed between the abdominal muscles and the belly. Yoga poses to help with Diastasis Recti should be chosen carefully and should also aim at helping in reducing this gap. Hence, trying to work on losing belly fat with aggressive choice of poses should be avoided. Please see the link below for Diastasis Recti and Yoga.
Yoga for Diastasis Recti
Note: Taking advice and guidance from a health care provider or an instructor with expertise in prenatal yoga is important.
The first set of poses in the sequence is to be done 6 weeks post delivery and the focus should be beginner level yoga poses for the hips, lower back, neck, and shoulders.
The second set of poses in the sequence is to be done after practicing the first set for almost 3 months. The focus here is on improving the abdominal muscles but again, at the beginner level. Stretching the various muscles to gain strength and stability is done gradually coordinating with the breathing process.
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Even if a new mom is not new to yoga and has been doing the prenatal yoga sequence throughout the 9 months, care should be taken to go slow and steady during this practice as the body is still sore and weak.
A. Begin this series of poses only after the completion of 6 weeks post delivery and only after the doctors have agreed.
B. Start to lie down on the mat with a blanket spread over it for better back support. Take a few breaths here stretching the entire spine while the legs remain bent at the knee, resting the feet on the floor close to your back.
C. Close your eyes and begin the slow deep breath and for better connections, keeping the palms on the belly will help.
D. Rest here completely and go slow with the breathing. Then placing a chair which should be close to you, bring it towards the legs and place the legs over the chair.
E. Inhale and rest the calves and the feet on the chair while the rest of the body is close to the mat. Make sure the height of the chair is comfortable as we don't want the lower back to be lifted off the mat.
F. Resting here in Savasana Variation Chair, remain relaxed placing the arms besides you while closing your eyes for about 12 breaths.
G. The legs raised here will help in reducing the cramps that may happen due to the stress at the uterus during the labour and also helps to improve the blood circulation towards the hips and the lower back.
H. Placing a cushion below your back or on the chair for better support can be done, if required. Make sure the legs and the thighs are relaxed and comfortable.
A. From the Corpse Pose Variation Chair pose, remove the chair and place the feet on the floor while bending the knees.
B. Inhale and place the right thigh on the floor towards the right side of the hips and place the left foot on the floor close to the right thigh in Supta Ardha Gomukhasana.
C. While resting the arms on the floor besides you, stretch the left side of the hips to take the left leg more towards the right side. The stretch at the lower side of the left hips and the left thighs should be the focus.
D. Deep slow breathing here will improve in the stretch. This pose Reclined Half Cow Face pose gives a subtle stretch to the back and the hips, without putting too much pressure to the abdominal muscles.
E. Stay here for about 6 breaths and then release. Come to the centre with the feet and then inhaling take the right foot over placing it on the floor while resting the left thighs on the floor.
F. Stay here for about 6 breaths. Feel the stretch when doing on both the sides and make sure the breathing is slow and steady.
G. Placing a cushion below the lower back can encourage for better support if one finds the lower back too stiff post C- section delivery.
A. Releasing from the variation of Gomukhasana, rest the feet on the floor and relax taking a few breaths in Savasana.
B. Inhale and place the left foot over the right thigh close to the knee, while bending the left leg. Inhale again and raise the right foot off the mat and hold the right thigh in your hands to be in Reverse Pigeon Pose.
C. Pushing the right thigh towards you as you exhale, taking care not to over stress the belly, stay for about 6 breaths. This pose takes care of the tired legs and slowly opens the hips and the shoulders giving a gentle massage to the entire abdomen.
D. Post delivery can create a lot of unwanted gas within the body make the body bulky and heavy and with the practice of this pose, the unwanted gas will be released. New mothers who have had C-section surgery, will find this pose useful to keep the belly light.
E. Release and repeat with the other leg feeling the stretch at the hamstrings and the hips. Hold the pose longer for better stretch and for a minimum of 6 breaths for sure.
F. Sucirandhrasana can be done while lying down on the bed before going to sleep to keep the legs and the lower back at ease with better blood circulation.
A. Releasing from the earlier pose, stretch the legs out completely to relax in Savasana taking a few breaths.
B. Place a bolster below your head and the shoulder to lie down in Matsyasana or Fish Pose. Resting the upper abdomen, chest and the head on a bolster in Fish Pose here, will help to release the tensions at the neck and the shoulders.
C. Carrying the baby around and feeding the baby, the neck, shoulders and the arms will feel tired and hence here this pose gives a gentle massage while supported with a bolster.
D. Close your eyes and go with deep awareness of the movement of the chest and the abdomen, while resting in Matsyasana or Fish Pose for about 12 breaths. This pose can be done three to four times a day for best release of stress around the neck and shoulders.
A. Releasing from Fish Pose, turn the body and come towards the right side balancing on the right elbow while resting the head on the right palm.
B. Lying down here in Vishnuasana Variation, inhale and place the left palm on the floor close to your abdomen, and balance the body on the right side of the hips and the shoulders.
C. Inhale and slowly raise the left leg up to about 20 degrees, making sure only to use the thigh muscles and less of the abdominal muscles. Taking the leg up and down in Easy Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose, for about four rounds feel the stretch at the upper leg and the hips.
D. Here in this pose, the slow tightening of the hip muscles while the pelvic floor muscles too get involved helps to bring the uterus back to the original shape while tightening all the muscles around it.
E. Remain here taking the leg up and down or placing the leg up in the lift for about 6 breaths. Release and turnover from the belly towards the left side now to go into Vishnuasana Variation for about 6 breaths.
F. This pose also helps to strengthen the upper abdomen, the shoulders and the arms, with the balance.
A. From the Reclining Leg lift pose, release to come and sit in Dandasana pose stretching the legs out in front of you while extending the entire back to sit comfortably either on a cushion or at the centre of the mat.
B. Taking a few breaths here, keep the entire body at ease. Inhale and bring the right leg bending at the knee while placing the right foot on the floor, towards the chest.
C. Exhale and press the thigh towards the chest and place the outer left elbow on the outer right knee. Inhale and pushing the left elbow on the right knee, twist the torso towards the right side in Marichyasana C or Sage Marichi Pose C.
D. Taking support by placing the right palm on the floor behind you twist the torso and turn with the head and the shoulders towards the right side. Making sure no extra pressure is felt at the belly and the navel, stay here for about 6 breaths moving slow with the twist with each exhalation.
E. Marichyasana here while is good for digestion it helps to keep the hip, lower back and the thigh muscles in good shape while later being a great support to the uterus. Twisting always helps will lower back related issues and hence this pose is a must after delivery.
F. Release and repeat with the other side feeling the stretch at the neck, shoulders, chest, abdomen, lower back , hips and the thighs.
A. Ending this sequence here come to relax in Siddhasana or Easy pose. Close your eyes and relax the body right from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.
B. Crossing the legs comfortably while seated either on a cushion or just on the yoga mat, close your eyes with the fingers and using the thumb close your ears while seated straight.
C. Begin the practice of Bhramari Pranayama, to connect with the deep sounds within the body while closing the ears and the eyes.
D. Inhale and as you exhale make the sound of HMmmmm........creating this sound at the back of the throat while the mouth is closed.
E. With every exhalation take the sound deeper and longer and calm the entire body and the mind while practicing this pranayama. It also helps to control the blood pressure, it induces sleep, keeps the mind calm, helps to connect with the inner body, builds patience and gives a positive mind thus reducing depression if there is.
Release and relax and repeat to go for the second round.
The above sequence can be done two times in a day and the breath can be increased as you go along. One could also count for about 30 to 40 seconds while keeping the breathing in mind. Each body asks for different ways for stretching and relaxing and hence do what is best for the body.
This second sequence is to be done after the above sequence is done for almost 3 months.
The second sequence goes deeper with the stretch and the breath and hence best to be done when the body is ready.