Yoga After Delivery – Getting Back into Shape After Childbirth

Yoga to lose weight

Pregnancy may be one of the happiest phases in a woman’s life, but there is no denying the fact that the stress and strains it puts a woman’s body through are immense. Most women struggle with common day-to-day activities after giving birth as the body is still recovering from the rigours of pregnancy and labour. Yoga is extremely beneficial and can help recover from the effects of childbirth smoothly.

Benefits of Doing Yoga After Pregnancy

There are various benefits of postnatal yoga, chief amongst them are:

  • Postnatal recovery: A woman’s body undergoes tremendous changes during pregnancy. These changes cause a lot of stress to all parts of the body; plus the process of carrying a baby and giving birth is painful. Yoga after normal delivery is a great way to gradually soothe the strain that the body has had to endure on account of pregnancy.
  • Weight Loss: All women put on weight during pregnancy. The added requirement of taking in more than usual nutrients and the need to carry the extra weight of the baby cause weight gain in pregnant women. The problem begins post-delivery when the extra weight is no more required. Losing weight post-delivery is not easy to do. Yoga, however, is a tried and tested ancient regimen; some discipline and a little time per day to perform yoga can yield fantastic results for losing weight post-pregnancy.
  • Endurance: Most new mothers experience weakness after pregnancy. Symptoms of this weakness include the loss of stamina, muscle/joint pain, and chronic exhaustion. Yoga will gently and slowly exercise the muscles and joints back to their original strength along with gradually boosting core strength and stamina.
  • Regaining Posture: Nine months of pregnancy followed by caring for the infant post-birth will inevitably throw a woman’s normal body posture out of sync. The process of moving around with a growing baby in the womb is stressful on the spine. This is because nursing and constantly lifting the little one after birth puts added stress on neck and shoulders. Yoga strengthens all the essential muscles and joints and can even help women achieve better than pre-pregnancy posture.
  • Psychological Benefits: Yoga focuses on deep breathing, stretching and relaxing the body, the combination of movements and breathing improves blood circulation and oxygenates the body at the same time. As such yoga can induce a state of deep relaxation reducing stress and calming the body and mind. 

Things You Will Need for Performing Yoga

While yoga is mostly a freehand form of keeping fit and comprises of breathing and body movements, some basic equipment would be helpful to make exercise and fitness routines relatively comfortable. Given below is a list of some things that should be used for post pregnancy yoga

  • A Rubber Mat: A prerequisite for yoga is a soft rubber mat; not only does it provide cushioning between your body and a hard floor,  it also makes for a firm non-slipping surface preventing possible injuries.
  • A Blanket: Certain poses require additional padding to prevent discomfort. Choose a blanket of medium thickness that is made of a soft material.
  • Blocks: Blocks are useful for advanced poses which require extreme flexibility; beginners can perform advanced manoeuvres with the help of blocks.
  • A Strap: Straps are very useful support devices that aid in stretching and supporting limbs for certain difficult to perform yoga poses.
  • Sportswear: Proper gear and clothes are essential for any type of work out routine. Yoga involves a lot of stretching and complicated postures; it is essential that the clothes worn during these sessions can stretch and move along with the body without getting in the way.

Yoga to lose weight

Post Pregnancy Yoga Poses for New Moms

Given below are selections of twelve yoga poses and manoeuvres that would be useful for women who have just conceived. The first few poses help with stretching, warm up and flexibility which is followed by poses for more advanced benefits.

  1. Neck Stretch (Roll):

This pose is great for stress relief but needs to be performed cautiously.

Benefits: 

Imparts flexibility to the neck, eases muscle tension, provides a warm-up for more advanced poses.

How to Perform: 

Sitting in a cross-legged position, inhale deeply, slowly turn your head to the right till muscles feel stretched. Take three deep breaths and slowly return to the normal position.

Yoga to lose weight

  1. Shoulder Stretch (Roll):

This pose imparts flexibility to the shoulders.

Benefits: 

Eases muscle tension, loosens shoulder muscles and provides a warm-up for more advanced poses.

How to Perform: 

Sitting in a cross-legged position, keep your arms straight on the sides. Slowly move your shoulders forward, and bring them towards your earlobes without moving your arms, essentially in one rotation. Continue rolling and move backwards and then downwards. This completes one rotation. Repeat the movement seven times, pause for five seconds, and then reverse the movement and perform seven repetitions.

  1. Chest Stretch:

This can be used as a warm-up pose after which high-level poses can be done.

Benefits:

Stretches, loosens, and relaxes chest and upper back muscles, and eases muscle tension in the thorax.

How to Perform: 

Sit up straight in a cross-legged position. Keep your arms straight on the sides and your spine straight. Now close your eyes and inhale deeply, expanding your chest and abdomen muscles. Hold for five seconds and slowly exhale; pause for five seconds and inhale again, repeating the motion for at least twenty repetitions. Note that this exercise has to be performed slowly, and in case of discomfort, breathlessness or dizziness, stop immediately.

  1. Feet Stretch :

This pose is good for the lower part of the body.

Benefits: 

Stretches the feet, exercises the calf muscles, and improves circulation.

How to Perform: 

Get into position by resting both knees and hands on the mat. Slowly walk your hand backwards lowering your back till your bum has touched the heels of the feet. Now rest the bum on the heels of your feet and straighten your back. You should be sitting straight with your hand on your thighs, and your bum will be resting on the heels of your feet, at this point, the soles of your feet should feel stretched. Hold the position for eight seconds before relaxing. Repeat this movement five times and try to increase the holding time.

  1. Pelvic Tilt :

This pose helps strengthen the core.

Benefits: 

It exercises the muscles of the lower back, abdomen and buttocks.

How to Perform: 

Lie down on the mat and fold your knees, keeping your feet on the mat and the palms of your hand alongside your hips, touching the mat. Maintain a neutral spine inhale while lifting your hips. Pause for three seconds and exhale slowly, bringing your hips back to the mat; rest for three seconds and repeat. Twenty repetitions per session of this movement should suffice.

  1. Kegel Exercise :

Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor.

Benefits: 

Pregnancy often results in a weakened pelvic floor which can result in a lessening of sexual pleasure and control on the urinary bladder.

How to Perform: 

Lie down on your back, fold your knees with the soles of the feet touching the mat and your hands on the navel. Contract the muscles of the lower abdomen – the muscles that you would use to stop urinating mid-way – hold five seconds. Release and inhale, pause for five seconds and repeat. Practice twenty repetitions per session.

  1. Pelvic Rocking :

This position helps in the release of flatulence.

Benefits: 

Pregnancy puts pressure on the abdomen resulting in weakened muscles. Pelvic rocking strengthens the abdominal muscles.

How to Perform: 

Lie down on your back with your knees folded and your hands on the sides. Exhale and move your navel upwards and inwards. Inhale and move your navel downwards, pause for three seconds and repeat. Do twenty repetitions per session.

  1. Tiger Pose :

This works on all the major muscles of the body.

Benefits: 

It helps to relieve back pain and rejuvenates the reproductive organs.

How to Perform: 

Get into position with both knees and palms resting on the mat. The knees should be in line with the thighs, and palms in line with the shoulders. Now, lift your right knee and stretch out your right leg, bringing it in line with your hips and parallel to the floor. Raise your right leg, bend your knee, and bring the heels of your feet towards your buttocks. At the same time, raise your shoulder and tilt your head backwards. Inhale during this movement and hold for four seconds; then, exhale and move your knees towards your chest and lower your shoulders. Move the head towards the chest trying to touch your head to your knee and hold for four seconds. Pause for four seconds and repeat with the left leg. Perform this movement for five repetitions.

  1. Cobra Pose :

The Cobra pose helps to tackle back pain problems after delivery.

Benefits: 

Strengthens the arms, shoulders, spinal column and buttocks.

How to Perform : 

Lie down on your tummy keeping the whole body straight and feet together. Bring your arms below your shoulders, inhale, and gently lift your upper body, while keeping your waist firmly on the mat. Lift as much as possible without hurting yourself, hold this position for ten seconds, then exhale and return to lying down and relaxing. Repeat this manoeuvre ten times, twenty times if possible.

Cobra pose in Yoga

  1. Camel Pose :

The camel pose is the best yoga after delivery to reduce the weight around the tummy, along with strengthening all the major muscles of the body.

Benefits: 

The excess belly fat left over after delivery is a source of discontent amongst many new mothers.

How to Perform: 

Kneel down on the yoga mat keeping your spine upright and knees below the hips. Slowly tilt backwards while inhaling, touching your feet with your palms one after the other. Your shoulders, chest and arms should be stretched with a significant arch formed on the lower back. Hold this position for approximately 8 seconds while breathing normally. Repeat eight times per session.

  1. Scissors Pose :

This move mimics the movement of a scissor in action and helps strengthen the abdomen.

Benefits: 

It helps reduce belly fat and improve the flexibility of the hips and spine.

How to Perform: 

Lie down on your back keeping both legs and both arms facing towards the ceiling. Move your left arm and leg upwards at the same time as you move your right arm and legs downward. Reverse the motion and repeat five times.

  1. Relaxation Pose:

This pose can be done as a replacement for a power nap.

Benefits: 

Helps relax after a workout while stretching the area around the hips and groin.

How to Perform:  

Place a pillow lengthwise on the mat and lie down on it. With your head placed on the upper edge, close your eyes and breathe deep and slow. You should begin to feel relaxed very quickly.

Yoga can help a woman’s post-pregnancy body to closely resemble her pre-pregnancy form. It is to be noted. However, that six months should be given to the body to recover from pregnancy before initiating yoga.

Also Read: How to Lose Weight After C-Section Birth