Am I ready to start yoga after giving birth?


Whether you like it or not, after birth, you will be in a somewhat fragile condition and need time to rest and recover. Even if you were in great shape prior to pregnancy, even if you had a dream birth, the changes that your body has gone through over the last nine months will definitely have had a huge impact and you need time to recover.

Take it easy mama!

After childbirth, those changes are going to continue to have an effect for a few weeks, or even months. Bearing this in mind, you will need to limit any strenuous activity. Pushing yourself as hard as you can is definitely off the table, and you can’t train as if you’re trying to compete in the next Olympics. I once had a student in a YogaBellies for Pregnancy class tell me that she was planning to run a marathon three weeks post-partum. Aside from being unsafe and being entirely unrealistic, I imagine this venture would have required a whole lot of TenaLady. Thankfully, once baby arrived, she decided to honour her body and not to run the marathon.

Even if you’re not pushing yourself, you should still pay attention to signs from your body that you’re not getting enough rest and that, perhaps, you have to slow things down a notch.
Some of these signs are the kind of thing you would expect to happen when you work out, such as a shortness of breath. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it is a sign from your body that it has had to strain itself, and you should avoid going even this far, within the first few weeks after birth.

What signs should I be looking for?

More importantly however, you should be aware of any cramps, muscle tenseness and other ‘painful’ muscle related symptoms. These are more telling signs that you’re moving a little too fast and if you find yourself facing any of these symptoms while practising asana, you should stop whatever you’re doing and rest for a while. Just pop yourself into Balasana (child’s pose). Once you have rested and the cramping has gone, try another posture and see if the pain has subsided. If it has, feel free to continue, but if you persistently have the same problem, then you need to see your GP or your health visitor.

All said and done, you should basically just pay attention to your body, and how it reacts to your yoga practice. Start with gentle but firm post-natal yoga, and work back up to your arduous Ashtanga practice, if that is where you were at pre-pregnancy. Do that, and you should be just fine.

This is an extract from Cheryl MacDonald’s new book YogaBellies for Pregnancy available in paperback and Kindle on click here

February 15, 2016

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