Restore Your Core Postpartum Yoga

Postpartum Yoga

Restore Your Core Promotion

Postpartum Yoga

By Lauren Ohayon 11/29/2020

4 Min Read

Before you begin any exercise routine, consult with your doctor for medical clearance. Practice patience with yourself and your body, and rest, lots of rest! I recommend waiting at least 8-10 weeks before beginning any form of exercise.

Postpartum yoga can be a relaxing and beneficial way to begin introducing exercise into your daily regimen, but don’t feel bad if you’re not ready after the recommended 8 weeks after birth — every recovery looks slightly different, and for some women, it can take even longer before they return to exercise.

Postpartum yoga can aid the healing of your abdominal muscles, build pelvic floor and core strength, and improve body alignment and your mental health. As you begin adding specific yoga poses into your daily routine, you may begin experiencing relief from diastasis recti, pelvic floor issues, tight shoulders, chest, and hips, while also helping you feel more energized and relaxed when caring for your baby.

It’s important to note that not all styles of yoga are appropriate for postpartum recovery. It can be confusing for new moms with all the different forms of yoga and different ways to practice. That’s why it’s so important to find a movement class specifically tailored to your needs, in this case, your postpartum recovery.

In this article, we hope to address any questions or concerns you may have about practicing postpartum yoga.

What is Postpartum Yoga?

Postpartum yoga is a selection of yoga poses that are adapted and modified for your postpartum body. It’s a specialized practice that recognizes the physical, emotional and energetic changes your body goes through when you give birth and during recovery. It is much gentler than regular yoga and can help relieve symptoms of diastasis recti and a weakened pelvic floor. It’s also a way to relax and gradually regain strength as you recover.

Postpartum and Postnatal yoga are the same thing and the names are often used interchangeably.

While both regular yoga and postpartum yoga share the foundation of mindful movement and breath, the latter brings a specialized and nuanced approach that acknowledges the unique experiences of postpartum individuals. It serves as a gentle, supportive bridge for new mothers to reconnect with their bodies, promotes healing, and navigates the postpartum journey with mindfulness and care.

The main differences between postpartum and regular yoga:

  • Focus on Recovery: Postpartum yoga places a strong emphasis on physical recovery, specifically targeting areas affected during pregnancy and childbirth. It incorporates poses and movements that support healing, especially in the pelvic floor and core muscles.
  • Mindful Adaptations: Postpartum yoga instructors are trained to provide mindful adaptations to traditional yoga poses. These modifications are created specifically for the postpartum body, considering factors like weakened abdominal muscles, pelvic floor changes, and overall fatigue.
  • Emotional Well-being: Beyond physical benefits, postpartum yoga recognizes the emotional journey of new mothers. Classes often include elements of relaxation, stress reduction, and mindfulness to support mental well-being.
  • Pelvic Floor Awareness: Postpartum yoga places a particular emphasis on pelvic floor health. Practices include exercises to strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscles, which play a crucial role in postpartum recovery and overall women’s health.
  • Customized Approach: Unlike regular yoga, postpartum yoga is tailored to the specific needs of women who have recently given birth. The pace, intensity, and focus are adjusted to accommodate the postpartum body and provide a supportive environment for recovery.

How Soon After Giving Birth Can I Do Postpartum Yoga?

We recommend taking your time to heal and bond with your baby before you start exercising. So often, women struggle with feeling they need to get back into their normal regimen and daily activities without allowing proper time for rest and recovery. This can be especially true of women who experienced no pregnancy complications or delivered naturally. Allowing 8 weeks minimum before you start postpartum yoga or any other type of exercise is important for your health and overall well-being.

Engaging in exercise too soon after birth can put you at an increased risk of pelvic organ prolapse. Your core and lower back muscles are often weaker than before pregnancy and your joints and ligaments are more supple and flexible. That means you are more likely to cause injury the first few months after your baby is born.

Your whole body and especially your pelvic floor have been through a lot during pregnancy and birth and it’s normal to not be as strong as it was before you got pregnant. Your pelvic floor muscles are generally much weaker after delivery so if you go for a run or choose a high-impact activity, this can put pressure on your weakened muscles, which in turn can cause pelvic organ prolapse or long-term bowel and bladder problems. Equally, if you start doing intense core work and have undiagnosed dIastasis recti, you can risk the gap not closing.

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to rest and only return to exercise gradually once you feel ready. Even then, it’s not a straight line to recovery, and there may be days when your body just can’t do what you want. Be kind to yourself and your body; this is not a quick fix.

Postpartum Yoga After Vaginal Delivery

If you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you may begin feeling like yourself much sooner than someone who experienced either a c-section or complications during their delivery. However, it is still important to rest and to gradually introduce yoga poses into your daily routine. Make sure that you feel comfortable during your exercises, and if you experience any pain or discomfort, wait a few more days to a week before returning to your yoga practice.

When Can You Do Postpartum Yoga After C-Section?

If you delivered via c-section, it may take longer for you to begin feeling like yourself again. That’s okay! You’ve experienced a lot of trauma and pain during your delivery and it is important for you to rest. We recommend a 5-5-5 step program – 5 days in bed, 5 days within reach of your bed, and 5 days within a short distance of your bed. Talk with your doctor before beginning any exercises or yoga poses that may affect your abdominal muscles and belly.

There are yoga poses to avoid after c-section as they put excessive strain on healing tissues. These include:

  • Boat pose (Paripurna Navasana)
  • Bow pose (Dhanurasana)
  • Revolved Belly pose (Jathara Parivartanasana) and other deep upper body twists

What Are The Benefits of Postpartum Yoga?

There are many benefits to be gained from adding postpartum yoga into your daily routine:

  • Body Awareness: Postpartum yoga can help you become familiar with vital parts of your body as you begin to recover.
  • Body / Posture Alignment: Your body has undergone a lot of physical changes and stress during your pregnancy and delivery. Many women experience shoulder, neck, bain, back, and hip pain due to delivering, carrying, and breastfeeding their child. Yoga can help restore your body’s alignment and help loosen those tight muscles in your shoulders and chest!
  • Postpartum Complications: It is also common for your organs to prolapse during your delivery, postpartum yoga can help to support healing prolapse and other injuries.
  • Mental Health: Participating in a postpartum yoga program can help you to connect with other people in the same phase of life. Postpartum yoga can help to reduce stress and postpartum depression.

How Do I Get Started with Postpartum Yoga?

There are many approaches to postpartum yoga. At RYC® we have adapted traditional yoga to be more appropriate for postpartum healing. We have taken the time to ensure all of the movements are 100% core and pelvic floor-approved and safe for your postpartum healing journey. Below we have compiled a selection of RYC® approved movements we believe are beneficial in your early recovery.

Puppy with Shoulder Stretch

  • Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Your wrists should be directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  • Slowly walk your hands forward, extending your arms as far as you comfortably can while maintaining a straight line from your hips to your hands.
  • Keep your hips stacked directly above your knees to ensure a safe and effective stretch.
  • Lower your chest towards the floor while keeping your arms extended and your palms pressed firmly into the ground.
  • Relax your neck, allowing your head to hang naturally.
  • Take slow, deep breaths and gently sink deeper into the stretch as you exhale.
  • Hold the pose for about 30 seconds
  • To exit the pose, slowly walk your hands back towards your body, returning to the tabletop position.

Seated Cat Cow:

  • Sit comfortably on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, hands on your knees and your spine long.
  • Inhale as you draw your shoulder blades down and back and push your chest forward and lift your gaze toward the ceiling.
  • Feel a stretch across the front of your chest.
  • Exhale as you round your spine, tucking your chin to your chest and draw your navel toward your spine, rounding your entire back.
  • Feel the stretch along your spine, especially in the upper back.
  • Flow between Seated Cat and Seated Cow, coordinating your breath with each movement.
  • Inhale for a Seated Cow (arched back) and exhale for a Seated Cat (rounded back).
  • Repeat the flowing movement for several breaths, moving at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

Shoulder Rotations:

  • Stand or sit with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed.
  • Position your feet about hip-width apart for stability.
  • Let your arms hang naturally by your sides.
  • Inhale as you begin to lift your shoulders towards your ears.
  • Continue the circular motion, rolling your shoulders forward and then downward in a smooth, controlled manner.
  • Exhale as you lift your shoulders towards your ears again, but this time rotate them backward in a circular motion.
  • Complete the rotation by bringing your shoulders back and then downward.
  • Continue the rotation sequence, alternating between forward and backward movements.
  • Aim for a slow and controlled pace, allowing your shoulder joints to move through their full range of motion.

Candles

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose, expanding the ribs.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth, imagining you’re blowing out 100 candles on a birthday cake.
  • Focus on making the exhale longer than the inhale, promoting relaxation and feeling your core respond..
  • Repeat the inhale-exhale cycle for several breaths.

Candles – hands and knees

  • Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be directly under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose, expanding your ribs.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth, imagining you’re blowing out a candle.
  • Focus on making the exhale longer than the inhale, promoting relaxation and feeling your core respond.
  • Repeat the inhale-exhale cycle for several breaths, maintaining the hands-and-knees position.

Glute Bridge

  • Lie on your back on a mat or a comfortable surface.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  • Keep your arms relaxed by your sides, with your palms facing down.
  • Push your feet into the floor tucking your pubic bone towards your belly button, and slowly lift your pelvis off the mat while maintaining the pelvic tilt.
  • Keep your ribs on the floor, focusing on feeling the exercise in your glutes.
  • Slowly lower your hips back down to the starting position, avoiding a sudden drop.

You can find our postpartum-safe, adapted core and pelvic floor-approved exercises in our 12-week online program, Restore Your Core®.

Conclusion

Embarking on a postpartum yoga journey is a gentle and mindful way to reconnect with your body after childbirth. It offers a tailored approach to physical recovery, emotional well-being, and pelvic floor health. While postpartum yoga is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it provides essential benefits such as improved body awareness, posture alignment, and mental health. As you consider postpartum yoga, remember the significance of patience and rest in your recovery process. Whether you’ve had a vaginal delivery or a C-section, gradual reintegration of yoga poses, like those mentioned in our article, can support your healing journey. Restore Your Core® (RYC®) incorporates postpartum-friendly movements, offering a holistic approach to recovery.

What is Postpartum Yoga?

Postpartum yoga is a low-impact practice adapted for the postpartum body, focusing on physical recovery, mindful adaptations, emotional well-being, and pelvic floor awareness.

How Soon After Giving Birth Can I Do Postpartum Yoga?

We recommend waiting at least 8 weeks after birth before starting postpartum yoga to allow proper healing, especially for pelvic floor and core muscles.

What Are the Benefits of Postpartum Yoga?

Postpartum yoga offers body knowledge, alignment restoration, support for postpartum complications, and mental health benefits, including stress reduction and postpartum depression support.

How Do I Get Started with Postpartum Yoga?

While RYC® is not a postpartum yoga program, it includes postpartum-friendly movements. Begin with gentle poses like Puppy with Shoulder Stretch, and Seated Cat Cow, and incorporate mindful breath exercises like Candles – Supine with Feet on the Floor.

When Can I Start Postpartum Yoga After C-Section?

For those who had a C-section, it’s crucial to consult with your doctor before starting postpartum yoga. Generally, it may take longer to begin, and the 5-5-5 step program (5 days in bed, 5 days within reach of your bed, 5 days within a short distance from your bed) is recommended.
Remember, postpartum recovery is a unique journey, and it’s essential to listen to your body, progress gradually, and seek guidance from healthcare professionals when needed.

Got Questions ?

Unfortunately there has been little research conducted on whether or not postpartum prolapse will heal overtime. However, we do know that some women will have relief from symptoms within six months while others may experience chronic problems for years if not decades. The severity of prolapse also plays a role – those with milder cases usually recover more quickly than those with a severe prolapse.
We don’t have a direct correlation that says if you have more babies, your pelvic floor will be weaker or stronger. Studies show women who never had any kids also experience prolapse alongside mothers of multiple children with minimal to no symptoms of prolapse. If you have a prolapse and want to have more children, do so without fear.
Prolapse is a condition that occurs when the pelvic organs fall into or out of their normal positions. This may occur after childbirth, but it can happen to anybody - even if you delivered your baby through cesarean section! One in two women will experience prolapse during their lifetime. 
Every woman is different and the recovery length can change depending on many factors. Healing ranges from a few months to over a year, depending on whether or not there are underlying conditions which may be increasing the pain. While there are no overnight success stories, there are many successful people like you who have healed their pelvic organ prolapse.
Physical therapy is the least invasive option for treatment of prolapse. During your evaluation, your physical therapist or doctor will assess your posture and pelvic strength as well as perform an internal examination of the pelvic floor muscles, and suggest exercises and best practices to reduce intra-abdominal pressure in the future. You may also learn breathing techniques to perform during bowel movements or while lifting something heavy.
Loose skin after pregnancy is not something that can be fixed overnight. Diet and exercise postpartum are key to reducing the appearance of loose tummy skin, though it will take time for your body's shape to return back to a healthy, restored state. It is important to understand that a slim body is not the sole sign of strength, health, and restoration.
No matter how you gave birth, never underestimate the need for recovery. Your body has been stretched and stressed to the max during pregnancy, labor, and delivery so it needs a chance rest now! The first six to eight weeks postpartum are considered the standard recovery time. You may have had an easy pregnancy or childbirth but your body is still recovering from all of that stress. There's no quick fix/solution after giving birth.