Postnatal Yoga: Strengthening body and spirit after birth

Strengthening body and Spirit after Birth

A professional yoga instructor, an expert of the International Yoga Association, the author of patented prenatal and postnatal yoga techniques, Anelya Satybaldy, shares her experience in restoring the female body after childbirth.

According to doctors, the recovery of a woman’s body after pregnancy takes from six months to a year, depending on how the delivery went. Natural processes can be helped by observing a rational daily regimen, eating well, doing light exercise. Physical activity will improve blood circulation, increase metabolism, tone muscles and ligaments, and strengthen the heart. There are quite serious restrictions for sport activities in the postpartum period. One of the effective types of physical education that can be successfully practiced at home after childbirth is postnatal yoga. Postnatal yoga is a style of yoga that addresses the physical, mental and emotional challenges of being a new mother, as well as the aftermath of pregnancy.

The postpartum period in a woman’s life is considered to be the most difficult. Reorganization of the hormonal background, moral discomfort, postpartum depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety for the newborn, the establishment of the breastfeeding process, tireless stay with the baby, lack of time for yourself, dissatisfaction with the state of your figure after childbirth, disappointment and despair – this is not a complete list of problems and conditions faced by a woman who has recently given birth to a child. Yoga classes can be a lifeline in this difficult period. Postnatal yoga helps avoid postpartum depression.

There are also several specific groups of postures that are commonly included in a postnatal yoga class. In general, all the asanas recommended for practice in the postpartum period can be broken down into several areas: asanas focusing on the restoration of the pelvic floor, abdominal cavity and back muscles, opening and stretching the shoulder, chest and neck area.

The basic postnatal yoga postures address the most common problems encountered by most women who have given birth. New mother can start training in the first days after childbirth. However, such activities may only include breathing exercises and meditation practices. These practices can be practiced lying down or sitting next to the baby. So, abdominal yoga breathing will help restore the muscles of the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a concept that combines the organs and muscles located in the pelvis: the bladder, urethra, uterus, rectum, anus. Most women believe that if they give a birth by caesarean section, then positions to strengthen the pelvic floor are not relevant for them. But during gestation, the entire weight of the child fell on the pelvic floor area, therefore, regardless of which way the birth took place, it is necessary to pay attention to strengthening this area.

Kegel exercises are considered the most effective recovery for this area, and are recommended to be used in conjunction with yoga poses that engage the inner thigh muscles. For these purposes, any pose where you can squeeze a block between the thighs will be helpful, for example, inverted poses:

-Halasana (or Plough pose);

-Sarvangasana (or shoulder stand pose);

-Shirshasana (the Headstand pose).

An important note: if during pregnancy we tried to open the pelvic area and performed the appropriate asanas, then after childbirth, on the contrary, we need to strive to “close” the pelvis – to make it narrower, so you need to try to connect the legs, straining the inner muscles of the thighs. Restoring the appearance of the abdomen and its tone is a sore subject for almost all women who have given birth.

To address this issue, it is important to remember that the good appearance of the tummy will depend almost entirely on the restored abdominal muscles and the density of the skin. If the former can be achieved with special physical exercises, then the skin can be toned as a result of a combination of a contrast shower and oil massage in various non-aggressive techniques.

It is very important not to try to actively start pumping the abs or physically restore the abdomen immediately after childbirth. The fact is that in most women after pregnancy, there is a certain degree of diastasis (divergence of the rectus abdominis muscle along the midline).
At the same time, muscle divergence up to 2 cm is considered the norm and does not require special measures – the body itself will recover within 2-3 months after childbirth. With a muscle divergence of more than 2 cm, it is already required to perform certain exercises aimed at correcting diastasis. At the same time, it has been scientifically and practically proven that classical abdominal exercises not only do not contribute to the correction of diastasis, but can also aggravate the problem.

Therefore, in the postpartum recovery period, it is necessary to exclude all isolated abdominal exercises (twisting, leg scissors, bicycle, etc.), general exercises to strengthen the torso (straight planks, push-ups, and so on). 

Changing the pace of life after having a baby can be emotional stress for some women. Therefore, it is important in this crucial period to direct attention to the restoration of the physical and psychological state of the mother. During the first few weeks after childbirth, even routine procedures such as showers and self-care can be a luxury for some new mothers, given that many women now devote all their time and attention to meeting the needs of the baby. But it is important for every woman to learn to take a few minutes for yourself – this may be the only time throughout the day that you focus on your own needs.

In India, people say that the body of a woman after pregnancy and childbirth is like the Hindu god Shiva – the destroyer. Shiva personifies the destruction of all old habits and attachments, and this destruction is followed by rebirth. The practice of yoga in all its diversity will help you to come to this knowledge, to find harmony with your renewed body and sensations.

Even if you can only devote 10 minutes to yoga, you will soon feel refreshed and fulfilled. 

Remember: taking care of yourself will help you take care of others, because the mood and condition of the household depends on the condition of the woman. 

Welcome to the amazing journey of motherhood!


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