by Angela Clark
Whether you are four weeks out or four months out (and I would even wager four years out) your body is still shifting. You just had a baby! It’s trying to get back to what it was before, not realizing that it won’t, nor should it. Just like your ‘”life has changed forever” so has your your body, your mind, and probably a lot of other things. Today we’re going to stick with the body.
When you’re six – nine weeks postpartum, your body is still raw. It’s just been through a huge ordeal and is just starting to get its bearings. It’s also hard to think about what you’re even capable of doing at this point. A lot of your old exercise routines are not applicable here. So, what do you do?
If you have recently given birth, allow yourself time and space to feel like you’ve got control over your body again and move slowly. Just when you think you should start exercising, give yourself another week. I want to share with you just a few things that I found helpful in gaining strength back to my hips and core.
Give yourself plenty of time to rest before beginning any physical activity! Time wise it all depends on you and your experiences like how did your labor go? Was it long, short, natural, caesarean? And did you have any pre-existing injuries before pregnancy or did you get back pain during your pregnancy or twist your knee funny? It all counts, it’s all worth noting and honoring.
Take your time. One thing I experienced was how winded I was when I first started practicing again so remember to take your time. When you’re in class if you need to take five breaths to get from a Standing Forward Bend to Downward Facing Dog, then take five breaths.
Work symmetrically! This close to birth, your body is best served by symmetrical poses, especially in the pelvis, so stick with this sequence:
1. Table Top with Mini Cat/Cow: Remember to engage your pelvic floor. And, I rotated my arms externally so my forearms could get a stretch after all that holding of the little one!
2. Modified Plank: Lengthen the tailbone towards the knees a draw the belly gently away from the floor.
3. Downward Facing Dog: Just appreciate the stretch of the back body here – no need to push it.
4. Utkatasana (remember doing this one at the wall?): Ugh, yes. But, still a good one to do!
5. Standing Shalabhasana: A great one to help open up the chest, the fronts of the shoulders, and to counter all that holding.
6. Urdhva Hastasana (Arms Up Pose): Having the block there helps to draw the body back together. This pose will help to strengthen your legs, core, back and shoulders! A time saver!
7. Bridge: **NOTE: This is only for when you are ready to lie on your back. Took me 8 weeks; may take you more or less time.
Don’t worry about how high your pelvis gets, remember to keep the knees inline with the ankles. Think about the ASIS bones on the front of the pelvis drawing together gently.