70% of a mama’s day is spent in a hunched over position.* Ok I made up that stat, but you will more often than not find a mama with children under 3 years old in a hunched over position. This could be feeding a baby, comforting a baby, picking up toys, holding a toddler, putting on a puppet show, spoon feeding solids, holding a toddler while putting on a puppet show and feeding solids to a baby… you get the picture. All of this hunching over can definitely lead to some discomfort in the upper body and in more severe cases, kyphosis. (an outward curving of the spine - ouch!)
Because of all of the aforementioned, one of the most common areas of discomfort for new mamas is the upper body: the upper back, upper arms, shoulders and neck specifically. All of this hunching weakens the segmental stabilisers and the core which support our ability to stand upright. To add insult to injury, this weakening of stabilisers and core begins in pregnancy due to our growing breasts and bellies as well as the increased production of relaxin and estrogen. Never fear, postnatal yoga has got your back! (Is that too cheesy…well here I am lapping up the cheese board.)
Postnatal yoga is a FANTASTIC tool to counteract all this baby holding. A great postnatal yoga class is riddled with chest openers, shoulder rotations and neck stretches. But before we dive into those luscious asanas, let's take a step back to the foundational posture of all yoga poses: tadasana. Tadasana is simply equal standing position, and the alignment cues sound a little something like this:
“Stand tall, with the four corners of your feet grounding into the mat and the top of your head lengthen up to the sky above.”
“Elongate the sides of your legs as you roll the inner thighs in and broaden through the knees.”
“Activate the pelvic floor by slightly scooping the pelvis up and lifting up the lower belly.”
“Elongate the sides of your torso as you broaden the collarbones.”
“Roll your shoulders back and melt the shoulder-blades down your back.”
“Lengthen up through the back of your neck.”
“Gaze forward and a smile.”
These alignment cues can be replicated throughout all active yoga postures…and can be replicated in all baby holding positions. When you’re in the midst of a yoga class, the intention of the alignment cues being given are to help you become aware of your body’s alignment in a pose. To encourage you to engage the right set muscles and support the body as it creates shapes and movement.
What I love about yoga, is the lessons from the mat are there for us to take home. So, in our postnatal yoga practice not only do we get to treat ourselves to 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour (whatever you’ve got) of nourishing yoga, but we can also take that awareness into how we hold our bodies throughout the day and night.
Rolling the shoulders back while you bend over to spoon feed baby.
Broaden the collarbones as you breast feed.
Lengthen the sides of your body as you walk the halls at night holding baby.
This practice of awareness will help our postnatal bodies come into alignment and allow us to enjoy these beautiful first years of motherhood with a little less tension.
For those reading on for some #postnatalyoga postures to take home, try these out:
Downdog with the wall: Start standing, facing the wall and place the palms of your hands firmly against the wall at shoulder width with straight arms. Back your feet away and slide the hands down the wall until you’re hands and hips are in the same line. Keep your head in line with your hips, arms and hands.
Clock arm stretch with the wall: Place your left hand against the wall, straighten the elbow and begin to turn right, bringing your chest and feet to point away from the wall as much as you can. You will feel this all the way down into the tips of your fingers. Keep the opposite shoulder rolling back so the chest stays open. Take at least 10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
For those ready for more postnatal yoga action, become an updogyogamamas.com member and enjoy all the postnatal (and prenatal) yoga your little ones will allow. Your first 7 days are free! Start your free trial >
*Fun fact: A breastfeeding mama counted up her total hours feeding bubba in their first year of life to around 1800 hours!
The Updog Yoga Mamas intention, is to provide a way for mamas to bring yoga into their daily routine without complication. To empower mamas to acknowledge their energy and their families energy each day, and then select the best practice for that day. Whether it be a 10 minute grounding meditation to balance out the emotional rollercoaster of motherhood, a 30 minute gentle yin to restore the body after a sleepless night or a 45 minute power flow to energise the body and mind - mamas now have the choice to cater their daily practice to suit their needs. Join now >