Postnatal is not as popular a term as prenatal. Most women, if not all, give more importance to prenatal care while she is pregnant. Once the baby is out and the realities of motherhood and parenthood sink in, postnatal is pushed down the list of priorities. Often times, the woman even forgoes postnatal care to prioritize other aspects of life.
I have been fortunate enough to witness the benefits of both prenatal and postnatal care even before I had children. If I haven’t been a yoga teacher, I wouldn’t know about the benefits of slowly getting back on the fitness track and using small movements to “realign” the body again to find your “new normal” self after childbirth.
To be honest, it was hard to find time to do postnatal care after I had given birth to Mateo. There were so many new things going on as a first-time parent that it was the least of my concern – to take care of myself after giving birth made me feel guilty that I had to take time for myself rather than take care of my newborn child.
Wow, was I completely wrong about that! After much debate in my head, I finally tried a class and I was totally blown away at how difficult it was! I didn’t realize (even after 9 months of physical transformation) at how my entire body had just changed – muscles were weak, my core was not strong, etc. I was having a hard time at my practice – struggling to say the least. It was a real eye opener for me.
Seeing is believing, as they say, or in this case, practicing is believing. As I did the gentle practice in postnatal yoga, it helped me become more mindful of my movement and a deeper appreciation of my body. There was the realization that my body is already different and the acceptance of what is my new “normal” shape compared to my pre-pregnant state. What is more important is developing that practice of self-care for the mother. It is definitely not an easy thing to do when you are prioritizing other things in your life – partner, children, work, managing the home, etc, etc. Most mothers would probably relegate taking care of themselves to the bottom of the list because there is feeling of guilt when you try to do something for yourself or you just don’t put in the time for it.
Most of the time we want to become Wonder Woman when the reality is that it makes us tired most of the time. There is true strength to ask for help or support when needed and even bigger respect when you dedicate time for yourself to just relax, recover or to simply sip that cup of tea with no one bothering you.
To get started on any journey of self-care, or for me self-love, we can do it in small steps. Here are some easy poses to do at home or even better in the studio with other mothers who are most likely going through the same things as you.
INNER THIGH ADDUCTION
Start with a supine position to get acquainted with how your spine feels after giving birth. Notice if lower back is more arched. If there is any tension in the lower back, use a blanket under the back and hips to provide support.
Bend one knee and place the foot on the opposite knee. Use the effort of drawing the inner thighs together as if you’re squeezing a ball between the legs.
You can add more effort by pressing the palms down on the mat and focusing on drawing the belly in as you exhale.
There is a variety of supine poses that you can do to bring the strength back to your core muscles.
You can start off, with bent knees, just lifting the feet off about an inch over the mat. Letting the feet hover will activate your lower belly muscles. As you draw the belly in, make sure that you keep your spine neutral as you hold the pose.
You may add movement by lifting the legs up to a 90-degree angle and lowering down again.
You may also do the same core work from a tabletop position. Make sure you have your shoulders stacked on top of the wrists and your hips above the knees. Just press up to lift the knees about an inch or so above the mat. In this pose, you will bring back awareness in carrying your body weight as well.
Here are some easy standing poses to work on. You may even add carrying your baby to make it more fun or more challenging, depending on how you look at it.
The zig-zag walk is crossing one leg over the other as you draw the inner thighs together. If balance is an issue and you feel wobbly, then make the stance wider as you walk.
You may alternate doing the zig-zag walk with a static standing pose like eagle. It will focus on inner thigh adduction as well as pressing the elbows and palms together to widen through the upper back.
Getting started with these simple poses can help with your journey towards self-care. It is not as daunting as it may sound but it helps a great deal in managing stress, starting on a fitness program or taking time out for yourself either through yoga or any other activity you enjoy.
What’s more important is that first step towards taking care of yourself so that you become a better woman leading a happier life. ☺
Join Urban Ashram Yoga’s mother’s day celebration this Saturday, May 12. Click the link or the photo for more information.
Jo Bernardo Endaya is a vinyasa flow, pre and postnatal teacher at Urban Ashram Yoga, mom of 2 and entrepreneur. Her business Happy Helpers, provides jobs for women in the GK Communities.