Returning To The Mat: When Is It Safe To Practice Yoga After Birth?

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I have a lot of students ask me: When is it safe to practice yoga again?

Whether you had a vaginal delivery or c-section, so much has gone on in nine months to prepare your body for childbirth. And each body is beautifully different. So what do I usually tell my students? Generally, you can return to the mat 6 weeks after a vaginal delivery and 8 weeks after a c-section (generally). Of course, I get moms who want to return sooner. They might feel great, but their core is not what it used to be, and it’s the core that we are giving the time to – not your vagina. Your vagina tissue is like the skin in your inside lip, it heals super fast! Muscles, ligaments and bone take a lot longer to heal, settle and get strong again. And like an elastic band – when it is pulled to its max, it never quite comes back to the state it was in originally. If you want to practice yoga sooner than 6 weeks, I recommend getting the clear from your health care provider, and still, taking it easy in class, especially with any exercises that involve the core. Even being on all fours in a pose like Cat-Cow Pose, can be too much, as your belly has no support.

So what yoga postures can you start with? That is just it – POSTURE. Before you return to your yoga practice, or try out yoga for the first time, have a look at your posture. Have you taken those habits in your pregnant body (tucking your pelvis) and bought them into motherhood? (ie: when you pick up your baby and hold him/her, are you tucking your pelvis and flattening out your bum? If you are, start with finding good posture, which will help your body breathe. Once your core is aligned your diaphragm can function properly, so try out these simple tips from physio and pelvic floor specialist, Melissa Dessaulles, so you are not only ready for yoga, but are getting your body strong and aligned.

Melissa: Good posture isn’t always easy to achieve after having a baby because our framework has been through a lot! Good posture is something you want to be able to achieve in every position and throughout your exercise. Start with being comfortable with good posture just in a standing position.

Make sure your toes are pointed forward
Your pelvis isn’t tipped too far forward or back, but in neutral. Your glute muscles shouldn’t be clenched.
Feel tall through your spine, like you are floating up through your head
Make sure your rib cage isn’t tipped up or down. Think of your nipples like laser beams, make sure they are pointed forward and not up or down.
I always say, “think of moving in millimetres, not inches” because your body won’t always respond well to big changes. Just try to think of these cues several times in your day, to work towards a better posture.

Hannah: In terms of yoga, go to a Mom & Baby Yoga class where the instructor has an awareness (and training) for the postnatal body and what poses are safe, and what needs to be strengthened first, before moving to more advanced poses (or a regular yoga studio). Also, integrating your baby in a Mom and Baby Yoga class is a great way to bond with them, and babies love interacting with mom!

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