Yoga Can Help Drop Those Extra Pregnancy Pounds

Getting back into shape after having pregnancy is a real challenge for many women. Not only do you have to deal with the changes your body underwent during pregnancy, but, now that you’re busy looking after a baby, it’s hard to find the time and motivation to work out.  That’s why yoga is a great option for many women: you can do it at home, it’s gentle and relaxing, and you can tailor it to suit your energy and fitness levels.

The best way to make yoga work for your post-pregnancy body is to start when you’re still pregnant.  Prenatal yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for pregnant women.  It helps relieve many of the discomforts of pregnancy (like backaches, muscle cramps and swollen feet), while helping you build strength and flexibility in your spine to better support the increased weight in your midsection.

Practicing yoga during pregnancy can also make labor easier—many women find yoga breathing and meditation helpful for dealing with the pain.  Finally, women who regularly engage in prenatal exercise have an easier time recovering after labor: their overall fitness level hasn’t dropped as much and their muscles and joints are generally in better condition.

Before you embark on a postpartum yoga routine, make sure you are fully recovered from labor.  Most doctors will require you to rest for six weeks after giving birth—longer, if you had a C-section.  But, once you have the permission of your doctor, feel free to hit the mat.

Your local yoga studio or gym may offer classes for new moms.  If not, be sure tell your instructor that you’ve recently given birth.  She can help you work around your limitations—for example, if you’re breast-feeding, it may be uncomfortable to lie in certain positions, but the instructor can suggest modifications of poses you can’t do.

If getting away from home is too much, a DVD offering a gentle yoga practice can be a great place to start as well.  Be sure to start gradually and not push yourself too hard, as this will most likely cause you to lose motivation. As you get stronger, you can gradually build up to more challenging yoga routines.

Be sure to include core strengthening yoga routines in your practice. While getting fit in general will help you shed the extra pregnancy weight, core strengthening yoga postures, will firm your belly and help the abdominal tissues regain their pre-pregnancy tone.

A simple core strengthener to start with is Sunbird:

  • Come into Table Pose on your hands and knees.

  • Lift your right leg, so it’s parallel to the floor.

  • Keeping your gaze softly fixed on the floor, lift your left hand, so it’s parallel to the floor.

  • Hold for 8-10 breaths, breathing softly and calmly. 

As you get stronger, you can include more demanding core strengtheners, such as Plank pose or Vasishta asana.

It’s important not to be hard on yourself if you’re not up to the level of fitness you were before you had a baby.  Your body isn’t the same after being pregnant—especially not right after giving birth—and getting your old body back will be a long journey.  The important thing is to try and focus on rebuilding your strength and fitness slowly, in a way that feels right for you.

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