When new moms feel that they are ready to get back to their yoga practice, many ask me if they can start with their Prenatal Yoga DVDs.
It sounds like a good idea, but actually preparing for birth and recovering from it are completely different projects.
When we prepare the body for birth, we focus on opening up and widening the pelvis.
When we recover from birth we need to pull everything together. Our pelvis is already wide enough after 9-10 months of pregnancy and childbirth itself- the last thing we want to do is stretch and open it more.
The post-partum period, especially the first three months, is a great time to expand your view of what fitness is. Rather than focus on getting back in shape, see if instead you can focus on building your vital energy. Vital energy is the amount of life force that it took for you to grow a new life inside you and then birth that life into the world. Now you are sustaining that life through your attention and care, which affect you on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. Trying to get back in shape when you are already low on vital energy doesn’t work that well and may actually be more depleting.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to do nothing!
The two main ways to build vital energy are to rest and to eat nourishing, mineral rich foods.
Another great way to build your vital energy and to begin building your abdominal and core awareness is through conscious breathing.
In fact, conscious directed breathing is ESSENTIAL for your recovery. It is the building block for re-establishing strength in your pelvic floor, so that you can avoid or alleviate symptoms like incontinence, prolapse, and simply feel supported so that you can resume all the activities that you love without the risk of injury.
Before you start a movement practice, you want to be sure that you have re-established a connection with your pelvic floor and your abdominals. You also want to make sure that you do not have a diastasis, which is a split in your abdominal wall, before you begin. You can check yourself- this video shows you how.
So if you are looking to begin a yoga practice again after having a baby, put away your prenatal yoga DVDs and start with directed breathing, gentle spinal movements, and remember that your focus is on pulling everything back together. You may need to do some rehabilitative core stabilizing before jumping into something that looks like the yoga you are accustomed to.