New parenthood, and in particular new motherhood, can be an all consuming time in our lives, and so it should be, a new soul has just entered our existence and will be an integral part of our journey forever more. During this intense and keenly focused time it is vital to remember that in order to effectively care for others we need to ensure we are caring for ourselves. More often then not the quiet reflective time we previously allocated to yoga practice has all but vanished.
Try to be patient with yourself and with your baby, take a “babymoon" for as long as you both need. If you set the intention the time to return to your mat will emerge eventually. Release expectations and ridged ideals of how your practice will present, instead work on welcoming the reality that solo mat time post baby may be significantly shorter and possibly interrupted.
If you can get to a local mums and bubs yoga class it will be an amazing space to meet like minded mums and pick up some breath (pranayam), asana (postures) and relaxation (mediation) practices that are safe, suitable and focused on where you are in this postnatal period. For a home practice consider including bub, using the time to establish, nurture and deepen your connection and bond. Babies thrive on physical contact and you are introducing them to a practice and philosophy that can support them (and you) through their whole life.
Ideas for a Baby Friendly Practice
- Take a few deep belly breaths together with baby sitting in your lap or with hands resting on them while they lie in front of you. Belly filling and expanding on the inhale and then belly and pelvic floor draw in and up on the exhale.
- Consider starting with a short baby massage to connect with bub before moving onto an practice more deeply focused on yourself.
- To release tight shoulders and neck try Garudasana and Gomukasana arms (seated or standing).
- Cat - Cow series is a simple and effective movement to bring awareness back to the pelvic floor and reawaken the abdominal muscles. Pelvic floor engages as you exhale up into cat. Baby can rest in between the hands.
- This simple flow can help to rebuild all over strength; start in table top (hands and knees), lift seat into adho muka svanasana, draw forward into supported plank (knees down and abdominals engaged) then draw seat back into adho mukha virasana. You can flow through this series or hold each position for a few breaths. Baby can rest in between the hands.
Sometimes, simply practicing tadasana while holding baby will be enough for a standing pose. Bring awareness to the balance of weight in the feet, neutral position of the pelvis, lengthened spine and releasing shoulders.
Often Shavasana at the end of practice with a baby is either cut short or skipped. If bub has had enough take the opportunity to tend to their needs, feeding or settling them to sleep. Use this time as a mindfulness practice tuning in deeply firstly to their needs and once settled into your own.