There’s already so much going on with the body throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery. And when they send you home with your brand new baby to survive everything on your own, the exhaustion and sleepless nights really start to take a toll. By the time you get clearance from your doctor or midwife for exercise, you could probably use an awesome massage.
Here are 6 poses that I turned to in moderation in the early months – a bit of therapy, a bit of practicality and a bit to get your body back to feeling like it did pre-pregnancy.
1. Prasarita Padottanasana C – wide leg standing forward fold with hands clasped behind the back. I like this posture especially for the clasped hands position and how it helps open the chest in front. Nursing and cuddling a baby around the clock leaves the whole front side of the body collapsed. You also get the stretch in your legs while strengthening your back.
2. Camel. You’ll have to take it REALLY easy with camel until you’re back to full strength. You may not even get further than leaning back a little and looking up. Protect your lower back with your hands and push your chest upward. Like with the clasped hands stretching behind the back, camel works on opening the chest while starting to work on spinal flexibility.
3. Modified boat pose. Time to strengthen those core muscles again and activate mula bandha! Don’t get too down about feeling really weak in this area and not being able to get your legs up and straight like you used to. Modify the pose by bringing your knees in and take some strain off your back.
4. Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (modified) – standing balance with leg in half lotus. This one is useful for removing footwear while holding a baby. I know it seems silly to practice one posture for the sole purpose of putting on and taking off shoes, but it happens a lot at my house. I’m thankful for having one-legged standing balance. The half lotus is also a nice little hip stretch.
5. Paschimottanasana – seated forward fold. Something about holding a baby while standing, rocking and shimmying forces your posture to change in a bad way for your back. To keep the baby comfortably held against your chest, you’re probably leaning back while jutting your hips forward. Paschimottanasana is the counter pose for all that bad lower back pain.
6. Extended child’s pose. Keep the shoulder blades down while extending and pressing your hands in front. This is a great back stretch and relaxing pose when you need some time to shut your brain off and breathe. People know to leave you alone when you’re in child’s pose, breathing deeply into the stretch. This is also a pose that releases emotions when you’re all hormoned-up. It’s okay to cry and let it all go while in this posture.