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The Union of Mom and Mat: Staying Connected to Your Postnatal Yoga Practice
On May 15, 2012 in
Its during this postpartum time, and in the midst any other radical life transition, that it’s critical to stay connected to one's practice. Especially as women, who are natural caregivers, it’s easy to forget that we must always secure our oxygen mask before helping another. Often that breath of oxygen, that deep inhale, is found only on the mat amidst the chaos of new motherhood.
Perhaps in mastering the transition from hovering half moon to Warrior II, one can also start to conquer the uncertainty and challenge that accompanies any change in life, especially those related to life as a new mom.
Committing to time for self-reflection on the mat allows one to move from a human being in transition, to one in transformation.
Transformation is intentionally. Is it the choice to change with a certain power and decisiveness. Those qualities of strength, power, and fearlessness gestate on the mat, so that they too can be born into one’s life.
Considerations for your Postnatal Yoga Practice
Always consult your physician before beginning any form of postnatal exercise.
The most common discomforts after having a baby include a weak pelvic floor, loss of endurance, aching neck and shoulders, weak abdominal muscles, and fatigue. Although any yoga is better than none at all, there are certain poses that better facilitate recovery from pregnancy and childbirth. Unlike prenatal yoga, where the focus is usually on opening the hips and stretching the side bodies, postnatal yoga has different goals and intentions, and includes hip neutral and hip closing positions to help bring the pelvis back into stasis.
Beneficial standing postnatal poses include:
Forward folds, standing splits, chair pose, crescent lunge, warrior I, warrior III, pyramid, and eagle.
Additionally, focus on poses that open the heart and stretch the chest, shoulders, and neck. Many hours are spent holding and feeding a new baby, which results in rounding the upper back, collapsing the shoulders, and straining the neck.
Beneficial shoulder opening poses include:
Forward folds with hands clasped behind the back, cactus arms, creating big circles with the arms, standing backbends with hands behind the head, dancer, bridge, camel, bow, plow, and wheel.
Abdominal work is another important focus for new mothers and required especially to weave the rectus abdominis muscle back together if the common separation or diastasis of this muscle occurred with the expanding uterus.
Beneficial abdominal poses include:
Boat, side plank, knee to chest from downward facing dog, plank.
A weakened pelvic floor and associated discomforts are common concerns for the postpartum mom. There are several poses in which we employ a root lock, mula banda, or kegel contraction for stabilization.
Beneficial poses to tone the pelvic floor include:
child’s pose, downward facing dog, tree, triangle, extended side angle, fish, pyramid, chair, and hero.
Its no surprise, the that best poses for fatigue are already listed on this page and offer benefits to not only the postpartum body, but also to a new mother’s mind and heart. On a final note, if you are breastfeeding, it may be uncomfortable to lie on your stomach in cobra and spine strengthening exercises. Instead, come to all fours and take the variation from a tabletop position. Lastly, avoid deep hip openers such as runners lunge, humble warrior, and malasana.
By Jennifer Lux
Jennifer Lux is a yoga instructor, birth doula, and mother. She teaches for Warrior Academy Yoga, with the philosophy that creating powerful bodies and open hearts on the mat will serve to improve the world around us. As a doula, Jennifer encourages women to use aspects of their yoga practice, including the breath, mantras, visualizations, vocalizations, and poses to ease and invite labor. Learn more at
Prenatal Vinyasa Flow
by Jennifer Lux
by Jackie Casal Mahrou
Gentle Hatha #4
by Jackie Casal Mahrou
8 Reasons Why Men with Back Pain Should Practice Yoga
Back pain is a serious problem in the modern day with 80% of Americans expected to experience it at some point during their lifetime. So, any activity that can help to guard against it should be welcomed right? Well, this is exactly what yoga can do. As the flexibility and increased range of motion it gives you can really take the pressure and strain off your back throughout the day. While the core strength you’ll gain will keep your back better supported while also improving your posture. However, despite these benefits most yoga classes continue to be dominated by women as many men remain reluctant to give it a try. But why is this?
Yoga for Crossfit: Why it Improves Performance & 3 Poses
Yoga is not only a good way to relax your mind and body, it is also being praised for improving Crossfit performance. Yoga creates more flexibility and creates more mobility, which are beneficial for the rigors of Crossfit as well as reducing the risk of injury. While the practices are different in many ways, Crossfit and yoga actually have a lot in common, so if you practice yoga, it’s can be easier to learn to practice Crossfit, and vice versa. Benefits of Yoga for Crossfit: Here are a few reasons why you should consider using yoga as a part of your crossfit training regime. Yoga has many gentle poses that develop your core which is an important part to Crossfit. Being capable of balancing and holding the body with the core is essential. When you regularly practice yoga, you promote strength, endurance, and flexibility and have a greater awareness of how to use your core effectively. You also find your inner strength which is important in Crossfit training. You practice cultivating calm, in challenging moments in yoga, and that can really help during Crossfit. Yoga can help us have more fun in Crossfit. Studies have found that yoga allows you to become more self-aware and improves your energy levels, helping you to enjoy life more fully. Sometimes in Crossfit, training and progress becomes such a focus point that we forget to be light and have fun. Yoga can help here.
4 Reasons to Branch Out in Your Yoga Practice
Sun Salutations, Warrior Poses, Downward Dog – every yogi has their favourite tried and tested poses and flows that they may be able to do with their eyes closed. As you move through your daily routine on the matt, you might notice your mind drifting. The flows that once took concentration and took your mind away from the humdrum day to day thoughts are now second nature, and you’ve lost your sense of zen. It’s easy to get into a rut if you stick to your comfort zones in life – and your yoga practice is no different. This week we’re challenging you to try a new class every day for two weeks. Here are four key benefits that branching out in your yoga practice can bring you. 1. Keep your brain active Did you know that learning a new skill, such as a different language or something creative like a musical instrument can help your brain form new connections? The same applies when you learn a new yoga flow or try a challenging pose. Stimulating your brain in this way can increase your memory skills, concentration and even your creativity levels. Learning something new, like figuring out a new yoga challenge can create neural pathways in the brain, increasing brain power.
9 Tips to Show Up On Your Yoga Mat Consistently
Several years ago I read something that said something along the lines of 'mastery' simply being the result of doing things you've committed to or decided you would master, even in the moments when you really don't feel like it. I resonate with this, and have often returned to the lightbulb moment this perspective gave me, on days when I do not feel like showing up on my yoga mat. When I manage to overcome the obstacles of getting onto my mat (which are usually made up excuses), almost always, I'm happy I practiced. Very seldom, if ever, do I regret taking the time to do yoga. Can you also relate to this? The benefits of yoga are too numerous to list, and so rich for those that feel the effects of a regular practice on their well-being. Life can feel challenging sometimes, and having something to return to that brings a greater sense of peace, is priceless. I've learned that for whatever reason, the yogic combination of focusing on the breath while putting the body into these powerful shapes, has the ability to transform our thinking, and has left me feeling more relaxed, happy, and content, time and time again.
6 Easy Life Hacks to Fit Yoga into Your Busy Schedule
Life is pretty busy, and although we might love the idea of slowing down, taking some time for ourselves, and reaping the benefits yoga practice promises, sometimes in practice, it can be hard to simply just find the time. Yoga urges you to slow down, but sometimes, work, housework, responsibility and family duties don’t give you an opportunity for some time off to roll out your mat. If you’re finding it hard to juggle a busy schedule, you might have brushed off yoga as something you just don’t have time for, and start denying yourself those minutes in the day that are just for you. Taking time for yourself is important, and yoga can massively benefit both your physical and mental health - so don’t be so quick to write it off as something not important. Even the busiest of people can benefit from all yoga has to offer - here’s some tips on how to fit yoga into your busy schedule. Keep Your Yoga Mat in Eyesight
5 Reasons Online Yoga Classes Enrich Your Yoga Practice
Online classes are not always given the respect they deserve. While they have plenty of differences than in-person classes, they nonetheless offer room for growth. My first experience with yoga did not happen in a studio or group setting. It happened with a Power Yoga DVD that I picked up from the store. Eventually I started going to a studio, but practicing yoga by myself with a DVD was my first step. Since then, I have enjoyed the wide variety of online classes available to explore other yoga styles and teachers. In every yoga class, online or in person, you learn something new. It ranges from the external, such as a pose cued by the instructor, to the internal, such as building self-awareness. I have been practicing yoga for nine years, and continue to learn new things from every teacher and class I attend. Online platforms bring the teachers, classes and learning experiences to you- you just need to be ready for them. Here are 5 of the ways online classes enrich you’re your yoga practice (in ways in-person classes do not).
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