The first forty days of your postpartum journey are a sacred time for you to connect and bond with your baby. It is highly recommended that you spend this time resting, recovering from labor and giving your body time to heal. Below are a few poses I practiced during the first few months postpartum, known as the fourth trimester.
Apanasana: knees into chest
Begin on your back and hug your knees into your chest, giving yourself a huge hug for all that you do and being the wonderful mother that you are. I really missed this pose during my pregnancy. It felt good to practice during postpartum as it helps to relieve tension in the lower back, hip flexors and aids in digestion.
Open the arms to the sides and lower the knees over to the right. You can use the right hand to assist the twist by placing it on the outside of the left thigh and look to the left to continue the spiral into the neck. Take 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side. This helps to reset the nervous system and ease any tension in the low back + spine.
Cat / Cow
Come up to your hands and knees, creating a “box” shape in the body. Take an inhale and pull your sternum through the gateway of the arms, creating a slight upper backbend. On the exhale press down into the hands and round through the upper back, spreading the shoulder blades wide to wrap around the chest. Continue this movement a couple of times to open up the shoulders and if it feels good, you can create barrel rolls in the rib cage and circles in the neck to break up pockets of tension + stress.
Come down onto your forearms and step the feet back, lowering your hips onto the ground. Bring the feet hips-width distance or together. Press down onto the tops of the feet so it engages your legs and lengthens the lower back. Continue to lift through your sternum and broaden the collarbones. Feel free to take some variations here including neck rolls and reaching back to grab one foot to stretch the quadriceps.
Lay down on your belly and reach your right arm out to the right, in line with your right shoulder. Place your left hand flat next to your lower left ribs. Bend your left knee and roll onto the right shoulder, placing your left foot on the ground behind the right knee. Keep the head on the floor and if it does not reach the floor then use a blanket or soft pillow to support the head + neck. Breathe here for a few moments before rolling back onto the belly to switch sides. This pose was great to open up the shoulders which felt tight from long hours of sitting, nursing and holding baby.
Press down into the hands and bring your hips onto your heels, resting your forehead on the floor or on a pillow in between the thighs. Close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths into your back body. Imagine as though you could inflate your hips as you inhale and decompress as you exhale. Feeling the third eye space connect to the floor helps to open up your intuition and calm the mind. This pose is great for opening up the hips and resetting your nervous system.
Shift forward back onto your hands and knees, tuck your toes under and lift your hips to the sky so you create a triangle shape in the body. If your hamstrings feel tight, bend your knees. If you feel a lot of pressure in your wrists, widen the hands, spread the fingers and press down into the forefinger knuckle. Try to keep the ears in line with your arms by broadening the collarbones. Keep the feet hips-width in distance or a little wider if that feels more comfortable in your pelvis. Feel free to pedal out the feet or sway your hips from side to side to stretch and strengthen the side body.
Also known as “legs up the wall” this pose is amazing for postpartum recovery as it helps to relieve swelling in the legs, ankles and feet while reversing the flow of energy back into the heart. It has been known to help with anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, blood pressure, migranes, headaches and more. I have found that just 10 minutes in this pose will give me the energy I need to make it through the rest of my day feeling restored. Sit closely next to a wall (or you can even do this in bed!), roll onto your back and run your feet up the wall. Feel free to use a towel or strap to help keep the feet together and bend the knees as much as you like. If you have a pillow nearby, slide it under your hips for a gentle version of shoulder stand.
As a couple of side notes…it’s important to be patient with your body as it heals from pregnancy and delivery. If any of these poses do not feel good or appropriate, then skip them. Please consult your doctor before engaging in any sort of exercise. If your baby is around, feel free to include him/her in your movement. From my experience, babies love to be involved and can feel your calm energy which also helps to soothe them. If you need to pause and break while taking care of baby, feel free to do so and return to your practice another time. Before I had my daughter I was so attached to the way things “should be” or getting a full practice in. Now, I realize that going with the flow and being present with my baby is the practice and I am humbled each and every day to exercise that muscle within me to stay calm, present and peaceful even when things seem a little chaotic and crazy! Enjoy mammas!
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