If you’ve just had a baby, your mind and your body may need a little extra TLC. Enter postpartum yoga. Specifically centered on your post-pregnancy needs, this style of yoga is all about restoration and recovery.
Curious? Let’s do a downward dive into the details.
In this article: 📝
- Why is yoga good for postpartum?
- How does yoga help postpartum depression?
- How soon after birth can you do yoga?
- Can I do yoga 3 months after C section?
- What should be avoided during postnatal yoga?
Why is yoga good for postpartum?
Postpartum yoga can help you recover from the physical effects of pregnancy as well as positively impact your mental health.
It can also be a perfect gateway exercise when it comes to getting active again after the birth of your baby.
Provided you take it slow, yoga offers the opportunity to get moving again without too much strain.
As with all forms of yoga, breathing is at the center of this beneficial practice.
The magic of the inhale and the exhale is no secret to anyone who has spent time on a yoga mat.
Yogic breathing can decrease stress, improve the function of your body’s major systems, and even possibly have a positive impact on serious health conditions.
Postpartum yoga can help you:
- Improve strength, coordination, and flexibility.
- Get reacquainted with your body after pregnancy.
- Reduce stress.
- Soften some symptoms of postpartum anxiety and depression.
- Ease mild aches and pains.
- Sleep better.
Also, the very act of carving out time to spend on your yoga mat while you have a newborn is an act of self-care.
That, in and of itself, can have a positive effect on your mental health.
Also, some postnatal yoga teachers encourage you to bring your baby along for the ride. (They may just sleep through the whole thing and not get the chance to cheer their mama on as she shows off her stretch—but such is life.)
How does yoga help postpartum depression?
Many people swear by yoga to decrease stress.
In this 2018 study, yoga was shown to have a significant effect on reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
One reason yoga may work in this way is that it appears to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
It’s important to note that yoga is being reviewed as a complementary treatment for postpartum depression, and you may still need other forms of treatment.
If your symptoms do not go away and/or they get worse, reach out to your healthcare practitioner.
And, if you need to hear this right now, there’s zero shame in getting help.
Postpartum depression is so common, in fact, that about one in eight new mamas experience symptoms.
We don’t have to struggle through this alone. Reaching out to other mamas on Peanut can be a great first step.
How soon after birth can you do yoga?
So when can you start postpartum yoga? Well, it’s not the same for everyone.
The best option is to talk it through with your doctor so that they can advise you on your specific situation.
If you had a vaginal birth and are healthy, the recommendation is to wait about six weeks before you get going with regular practice.
You may be able to start with some gentle breathing exercises and light stretches before this, but the goal is not to rush into anything too quickly.
And while the six-week mark is a general guide, this timeframe is certainly not the case for everyone.
Everyone’s birth experience is unique. You do what you are able to do when you’re able to do it.
Here are some of our favorite postpartum yoga poses to get you started:
- Child’s pose. This pose relieves pressure on your lower back, opens up your hip area, and can help with pelvic floor strengthening. From your hands and knees, spread your knees either wide apart or keep them together. Try to keep your toes touching. Then stretch your arms out in front of you on the floor. Relax your shoulders and head and bring them to the floor. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
- Bridge pose. Lying on your back, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet to the floor. Press down on your feet and, on the inhale, lift your hips to the sky. Enjoy a few cycles of breath in this position before releasing. This pose strengthens your back and shoulders, opens up your chest and can relieve some back discomfort.
- Modified cat and cow. This is a great pose to increase spinal strength and flexibility. From all fours, round your spine and draw your chin in. Avoid arching your back too much at this point, as it may add unnecessary strain to your midline. Connect this movement with breath.
- Legs up against the wall. This is particularly beneficial if you have pelvic organ prolapse. (PS, there is a Peanut support group for this very thing.) It provides a gentle stretch, can relieve back pain, and helps get your circulation going.
Like any activity, if you are new to yoga, or to the world of postpartum yoga, it’s best to practice under the guidance of a trained teacher.
They’ll be able to advise about how to hit the sweet spot of safety and satisfaction.
Can I do yoga 3 months after C section?
Yoga after cesarean section is totally possible—you just might need to wait a little for your body to recover.
A cesarean is major surgery, and it will take a little time for your body to bounce back from it.
The recommendation is generally to wait at least eight weeks before you start your practice—and you may actually need a few weeks more than this.
What should be avoided during postnatal yoga?
Your ligaments and joints are quite supple after you give birth. The danger is that you might overextend yourself, which might lead to injury.
Also, if you have diastasis recti—that’s when the space between your left and right belly muscles have widened—some yoga poses may get in the way of your healing.
Avoid anything that involves major abdominal strength or requires your hamstrings and lower back to get too involved.
Other actions to avoid? Deep twists, squats, and inversions.
The bottom line is to be gentle on yourself. There’s really no point in rushing this.
The goal is to spend some time with yourself and get reacquainted with your body after the journey you’ve been on.
Enjoy, mama. 💖
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