Yoga is a wellness powerhouse. The stretching and breathing, the repetitive movements and static poses—all of it has tremendous benefits for your muscles, bones, and overall well-being. As a soon-to-be or new mom, yoga is especially good for you.
Yoga during and after pregnancy
During and after pregnancy is a special time. You're zoned in on one very precious endeavor: Doing what's best for your baby. Through yoga, you'll get a variety of benefits for both your baby and yourself. After all, when Mama is feeling good, that bodes well for baby too.
Moving your body is necessary for good health. With a multitude of different styles—like hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, bikram, and more—yoga offers a practice to match every need. Women who are pregnant or new moms need to take care in their yoga practice, such as avoiding Bikram yoga (known as "hot yoga," where the heat in the room is cranked up to 105 degrees, a temperature not fit for pregnant women or new moms, or anyone with certain health conditions) or any poses that could lead to injury. To tend to women's extra-special needs, there are particular yoga poses that can help ease common pregnancy symptoms, reduce stress, and build strength.
Let's take a look at yoga poses that can help you through your pregnancy and birth journey.
Prenatal and postnatal yoga poses
If you're having back pain due to muscle strain during pregnancy or from extended periods of nursing or pumping, you'll want to add this pose to your daily routine.
In cat-cow pose, you'll get on all fours to start, knees in line with hips, wrists in line with shoulders, and head in a neutral position (neither looking up nor down). With a deep inhale, raise your head upward and slightly arch your back. On the exhale, lower your head to look straight down and arch your back the opposite way. In both phases of this pose, avoid over-arching your back; a slight curvature is fine.
This pose can relieve the pressure on your belly as it grows and you carry around that extra, uneven weight at the front of your body all day. After giving birth, this pose can help stretch your shoulders and upper back, which can get tight from carrying the baby or the car seat.
Start on your hands and knees with your arms slightly forward, then lift your hips upward until your body is in an upside-down V position. Keep your knees slightly bent and ground your hands firmly, fingers spread, to help keep your balance. Gently press your heels down if you're able to get that much of a stretch. Hold for three long breaths.
Among the most common problems of pregnancy are gas and indigestion. This simple pose can provide some relief. This can also be helpful postpartum when your digestive system can be a little out of whack.
Start by sitting on the floor cross-legged. Raise your hands above your head and then twist toward the right gently and slowly, allowing your left hand to rest on your right knee and your right hand to fall wherever is comfortable and accessible to you, either on the floor slightly behind you or resting at your waist. Switch your cross-legged stance and repeat the twist to the left.
Once your baby arrives, you'll be doing a lot of bending over and bending forward. This is an excellent pose to counteract those repetitive forward postures.
Begin in a kneeling position and then sit your hips back onto your heels; if this position is too much for you, using a yoga block between your feet will help. As you inhale, raise your arms up into a V. As you exhale, bend your elbows to a goal-post position and lower your elbows to move your shoulder blades toward one another. Next, put your hands on the mat, behind you, fingertips pointing forward. Pressing your hands firmly into the floor, lift your chest toward the ceiling and your hips upward as well. As you stretch, raise your chin upward, taking care not to bend your head too far backward.