By Amanda Light
Yoga, on the surface, could be viewed as just another physical activity that one could partake in. You stretch and bend your body with the goal of becoming fitter, perhaps slimmer. Specific postures can lead to different health benefits and in the end, you hope to become more relaxed. But yoga is so much more than a physical feat to me; the practice can be one of the best things you ever take part in. If you have the time.
Being a mother to a two-year-old and now a one-month-old, getting back into the yoga groove is something that I think about every day. I know how many benefits come from yoga, not just physically but mentally, so it’s been a priority for me to make time for a daily practice. But like a lot of things in life, even the greatest plans don’t always come to fruition.
Being a mother is the best, most important job that I’ll ever have but it’s not always easy. In fact, some days it’s downright hard. You’re working hard to care for young children, molding them into good humans and the struggle is real. Some days, you give them all of your energy and tenderness and the only person there to give positive feedback can’t yet speak in full sentences.
Note to self: Teach toddler to say “Good job, Mama!”.
So will I get to practice yoga today, a full flow with time for savasana? Your guess is as good as mine. But, if I could just make the time for even some basic poses, I would be a better mother for them. When you’re centered and taking time for self-care, you start to notice the wonderful benefits; patience, understanding, and stamina can come from a regular yoga practice. Coincidentally, patience, understanding, and stamina are also great for motherhood. Go figure!
Rather than pressure yourself to get to the studio for a full class and, even more unlikely, get a full practice in at home, I’m sharing three poses that are great for centering and have helped to ease into a full practice once life – and your body – allows the flexibility. The important thing to remind yourself of is that the healing process after having a baby is a journey and not always an easy one. Allow yourself time to adapt and listen to your body.
After having a baby, you’re healing. Your body has carried a child for many months and, depending on how that pregnancy went, you may need to take some time to work back into a flowing yoga practice. Downward dog is one of the beginner poses but it comes with a lot of great benefits. This pose has numerous physical benefits, like stretching the back, opening the chest and shoulders, and it can help build upper body strength. Holding a downward dog, in my personal experience, is also great for the mind. It takes concentration and has given me the opportunity to let go of worries while in a challenging physical form, if only for a few minutes.
What’s wonderful about plank pose is that it’s very versatile; you can modify its difficulty to your needs on any specific day. One option is to lower your knees for an easier practice, or come onto forearms for more of a challenge. Plank pose is used not just in yoga but in other fitness realms because it improves core strength and can help strengthen your lower back muscles. Getting back into shape is something that I’m sure is in the back – if not the forefront – of most new mothers’ minds and this pose is a great step in the right direction. Feeling strong isn’t just about the physical but the mental as well.
This is a rest pose, which like most yogis, I most look forward to in some of my more challenging yoga flows. At home, it’s a great way to find a restful moment to stretch. As a new mother, nursing a child has given me back pain as a result of self-inflicted poor posture, in combination with inconsistent sleep patterns. Child’s pose is easy to do anywhere and immediately gives relief for pain as it stretches your back out. It’s also opens up the hips which can be a great thing after childbirth. Plus, resting is a good thing and child’s pose is a great reminder to take a moment in your day to just give that time to yourself.
Listening to my body has always been tough because I like to be productive and get things done, and don’t often stop to listen to what my body is telling me it needs. But working yoga back into my life has allowed me to quiet my mind enough to address my body’s needs. Yoga brought me so much comfort after I had my first child, helping me find myself again through quiet time and bending my body into it’s new role as a mother. The stressors that come with motherhood are palpable but you can conquer them! Pushing yourself to your limits is not what postpartum is about. It’s about healing, allowing yourself to bond with your child and easing back into a normal routine. Sometimes we all need a reminder to slow down, appreciate our quiet moments and take care of ourselves, especially if we are tasked with caring for others. Yoga and meditation can be exactly what you need after baby one, two, three or beyond! It brings you back to you, wherever you are on your journey.
Namaste and have a great practice!
Author: Amanda LightAmanda Light is a content creator and the blogger behind Prim and Propah . She loves to create pretty things, love her people and learn about all things "healthy living", hoping to curate the most beautiful and healthy life that she can (while also maintaining her sanity)! Enjoying life is a top priority so you'll find her talking about her experiences with family, friends, food, healthy living, yoga and the occasional pair of shoes!