Why new moms should roll out the yoga mat

 Yoga  Comments Off on Why new moms should roll out the yoga mat
Jan 292017

guest post by Ben Stanford

It’s hard to imagine doing much other than care for your newborn when you first give birth, but as the weeks fly by it’s a good idea for new mamas to focus on caring for themselves, too.

Self care is KEY in the sanity-saving department, and a big part of being a good parent.

IMG_4201 When it comes to self care for new mothers, yoga classes are probably one of the most valuable uses of your time. As little as one hour on the mat per week has mental and physical impacts that will get your through all the challenges of raising a wee one.

Let’s start with the physical benefits of yoga, and get right to the point.

Shrink the uterus and tone the abs
During pregnancy the uterus grows in size to accommodate the fetus, and the hormone Relaxin encourages the muscles of the abdomen to release, to make for an easier birth experience.

Both of these are perfectly normal, truly amazing functions of the female body, but after giving birth there are ways to gently help the body back to its natural, non-pregnant state. A strong, tight lower abdomen is essential for all sorts of mama-related duties, like lifting, carrying, and cuddling baby.

IMG_4203Yoga poses like twists, planks and core strengtheners (think “boat” pose) are marvelous for revitalizing the lower abdomen post-pregnancy. What’s even better, yoga focuses on gradually building strength and flexibility, which will ensure you don’t strain such an important part of your body. It’s important to make sure you do not have an ab separation (diastasis recti) before working on your abs in this way.

Build upper body, baby-lifting strength

The abdomen isn’t the only thing affected by Relaxin: you may find that you come back to the mat (or the gym) with a little less arm and shoulder definition than before.

As new moms learn at Mothering Touch, in Victoria, you’ll be lifting a pretty precious load all day long, and arm strength and flexibility prevent against the aches and pains that can ensue (especially since Relaxin will have depleted a lot of your previous strength).

Yoga is a full-body practice, which means you’ll be using your upper body as much as your core and lower body. The overall effect will mitigate back and shoulder issues that are often attributed to holding baby (especially while breastfeeding).

Ease and/or prevent Postpartum Depression

A huge component of yoga is mindfulness, the ability to notice our thoughts and feelings, without allowing them to control us. Mindfulness is thought to be one of the most effective natural antidotes to depression and anxiety, which, let’s face it, a significant percentage of new mamas face.

When you go to a yoga class, expect deep breathing, subtle reminders to come back to the present moment, and lots of silence. These elements might throw you off at first if you’ve never been to a class, but they’re all a part of training your mind not to downward spiral.

Whether you’re suffering from PPD or not, lack of sleep and being at the beck and call of a tiny, crying being can bring even the most mentally tough woman to her knees. Training your mind to stay present and move through challenges with grace certainly can’t hurt.

Get true, deep rest

Our nervous system is comprised of two distinct systems: the sympathetic, and parasympathetic nervous systems.

The sympathetic system is associated with our body’s “fight or flight” response – it’s where we go when we’re stressed.

The parasympathetic system is dubbed “rest and digest”; when we’re in this state our body actually relaxes and regenerates.

Only one system can be activated at one time. Want to take a guess which one sees a lot of action when we’re waking up every hour to the screams of our most precious loved one?

The aforementioned deep breathing and mindfulness of yoga allows your body to slip into the restful state we enter when the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged.

In short, when you attend a yoga class as a new mama, you actually get the chance to REST.

Enough said, really.

Where to Go to Get a Yoga Hit

IMG_4202Any city is likely to have yoga studios that offer gentle yoga classes, and pre-and-post-natal clinics that offer postpartum yoga. Jenny Berthiaume offers a variety of yoga classes for new and expecting moms in the Montreal area.

Whichever way you do it, if you’re a new mother you might want to think about making time for a weekly yoga class. Your mind & body will thank you.

Ben Stanford writes about various services to help you to achieve optimum health. He likes to provide you with the tools and knowledge to achieve your goals, move better again, and lead a strong, happy, and healthy life.

Self Care

 Health, Yoga  Comments Off on Self Care
Nov 232014

camelEvery Wednesday, before I teach a postnatal yoga class at Happy Tree, I try to make it to Christine’s Hatha/Yin class. I love the class and it gets me in a great place to teach all those mamas and babies!

Admittedly, my life is no longer babies, babies, babies. I spend some time away from my family for work and school. I have a bit of me time. I can breathe.
But this Wednesday, something happened. I realized I wasn’t taking care of myself like I should be.
A scenario any working mom is familiar with: I had to leave at 9am. I tried waking at 7:30 to have a shower and make some coffee. As I tried to sneak out of bed, Babe woke up. She wanted to cuddle and I convinced her to cuddle with Bug. She cuddled him too hard and he woke up crying and asking for “muck” (milk).
So then everyone was awake and I spent time trying to peel them off me. I put oatmeal on the stove, did a load of laundry.
Papa was up to his elbows in dishes from the busy days before. I changed Bug’s diaper and got him dressed for the day, which is an intense physical workout. I helped Babe do her hair and searched the entire house for a pair of tights. Heaven forbid she wear cords or jeans. Must always be tights.
Needless to say, I rushed out of the house. I don’t remember if I brushed my teeth
I made it to Christine’s class on time. I noticed a few things I’d rather not be preoccupied with while on the yoga mat. My pants had cat hair on them. Even though my head is shaven, I had bed head (thank you, large-ass mirrors!) Downward Dog gave me a good look at my sad-looking toes. I closed my eyes and followed the rest of the class that way.
It gave us some good talking points our my postnatal class. Self care.
I shared my experience with the students. They shared theirs. There, with their new little babies, these women looked awesomely put together. They came with great ideas–little things they do for themselves to feel… Human. I felt inspired.
We mamas are incredible. We give it all to our kids. Maybe some to our partners. What have we got left for ourselves?
I still need a pedicure.
Please mamas, how do you practice self-care?