Our hectic lif style and busy schedule often leaves us stressed out and tired. Yoga is a centuries old way of relieving stress and improving strength and flexibility so that we can have a healthy body and mind in the long run. It helps in harmonizing our inner being with the world and bringing forth peace and tranquility. At physical level, it helps in improving posture, toning and strengthening the muscles, relieving stress and reducing the risk of diseases. Yoga also helps in improving the health of would-be mothers and reduces pregnancy complications. It also helps in quickening the recovery after delivery, relieving post-partum complications and pain and promoting weight loss in a healthy way.
Motherhood is the beginning of a new life for every woman and yoga helps in bringing about a balance in between that previous and the present life and helps the body to get back to its normal rhythm gradually. But it is best to start doing yoga only after 6 months of delivery to avoid injuries and complications.
Carrying the baby for nine months along with the strain of delivery (C-section or normal) puts a lot of pressure on the body and the body goes through a lot of pain. Practicing gentle yoga poses and pranayama helps in speeding up recovery, relieving lower back pain and comforting the strained muscles of the shoulders, arms, back, hip and legs.
The strain of pregnancy can have serious effects on the mother’s posture. The pressure of carrying the baby for nine months, lifting, carrying and nursing the baby and pushing the stroller often takes a toll on the spine and back muscles and deforms the posture. Regular practice of yoga before and after pregnancy helps in improving posture by opening up the shoulder and chest and relieving stiffness of joints.
One of the most common after-effects of pregnancy is excessive weight gain, and almost all women suffer from this problem after child birth. It becomes extremely difficult to shed the pounds that a woman puts on during pregnancy. Yoga is a gradual and effective way of toning the sagged muscles and reducing weight and excess fat from the belly region. It is ideal to lose weight slowly and gradually post pregnancy. However, it is best to avoid strenuous poses like wheel pose and half wheel pose that exert excessive pressure on the belly.
Women become physically weak after child birth which is seen in the lack of endurance and stamina. New mothers often complain of excessive tiredness, chronic fatigue and aching muscles and joints. Practicing yoga after pregnancy helps in stretching the strained muscles, improving core strength and boosting endurance levels so that new mothers can have a healthy body and celebrate and enjoy the new phase of life to the fullest.
Yoga is one of the safest and most effective ways of shedding the excess weight after pregnancy and getting back into shape and it has no side effects.
The Tiger pose is extremely beneficial for women after giving birth. It helps in relieving physical complications post pregnancy, relieving back pain, rejuvenating the female sexual organs, toning the muscles of legs, arms and shoulders, aiding weight loss and improving digestive health.
Get up on your hands and knees as shown in the figure, now raise your left knee and bring it in towards the chest while bending your head in. Do this while exhaling. Hold this position for 4 seconds and swing your raised knee backwards to stretch your leg and raise your head up. Do this while inhaling. Hold for 4 seconds, come back to the starting position and repeat it with the other leg. You will feel a tension in your abdominal, hip and back muscles- exactly the areas that need to be worked on after child birth. Repeat it 5 to 10 times at a stretch or as your body permits.
The Cobra pose or Bhujangasan is extremely effective in relieving lower back pain – a common problem for women after delivery. It helps in firming the buttocks, toning the abdomen, arms and shoulder, strengthening the spine and improving blood and oxygen circulation to the pelvic region.
Lie flat on your stomach on the yoga mat and relax your body. Put your hands on the mat just under your shoulder and lift your chest up from the mat while inhaling. Keep your feet joined and fixed to the floor at all times. Stretch your back as much as possible without hurting yourself and form a nice arc with your back. Hold the pose for 10 seconds while breathing normally and exhale while lowering your body to the mat. Repeat it 5 to 8 times at a stretch.
The Pigeon pose helps in toning the lower part of the body – the hips, thighs and leg muscles. It increases hip flexibility and reduces the stiffness of the lower body. It also helps in relieving stress and anxiety. It opens the hip joint and prevents urinary infections that women often suffer from after pregnancy.
Kneel on the mat and stretch the left leg backwards while bending the right knee so that the right foot rests near the pelvic bone. Lean forward to support the position and place your hands on the floor in front of you for balance. Hold the position for 10 seconds and come back to the starting position. Repeat it with the other leg. Do the entire exercise 4 to 5 times at a stretch.
The Wide legged child’s pose is the perfect post-partum yoga pose for stretching the tense lower-back and hip muscles. It also helps in toning the thighs, glutes and relieving the stiffness of ankles. Practicing this pose brings about calmness and relaxation and reduces the effects of stress and fatigue.
Sit in the Rock pose and start stretching your knees apart as far as possible while keeping your toes joined. Now, lower your body while exhaling slowly so that your forehead touches the mat, stretch your arms straight in front of you. Hold the position for 10 seconds, close your eyes, focus on your breath and relax. Come back to the starting position while inhaling gently. Repeat the entire exercise 5 to 10 times at a stretch.
The Camel pose or Ustrasana is extremely beneficial in stretching and toning the aching back and shoulder muscles. It also helps in toning the flabby post pregnancy belly along with the arms and chest. It is a multipurpose pose, that when performed correctly helps in working out almost all major muscles of the body. In addition, it also helps in treating asthma, thyroid and parathyroid disorders and spondylitis.
Start by kneeling on the yoga mat with your knees hip width apart with your feet resting flat on the floor. Place your hands on the hips and tilt back slowly while inhaling. Now place your arms on your heels one at a time and keep your arms straight. Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds while breathing normally; come back to the starting position while exhaling. Repeat it 4 to 5 times at a stretch.
The Quarter dog pose is an easy yet effective variation of the downward facing dog pose that helps in stretching and toning the legs, hips and hamstrings while relieving back pain and increasing strength. It also helps in toning your arms, shoulder and upper back muscles.
Begin on your hands and knees. Make sure that your wrists are under your shoulder and your knees under your hips. Now raise your hips upward while exhaling, straighten your legs as much as possible and try to keep your heels fixed on the ground. Hold the position for 10 seconds and come back to the starting position. Repeat it 5 to 10 times at a stretch.
Triangle pose or Trikonasana is the perfect pose for new mother for losing belly fat and reducing the waist size. It improves balance and strengthens lower body, arms and chest by stretching the spine, hamstrings and calves. It also helps in treating digestive disorders and relieving stress and anxiety.
Stand straight on the yoga mat with your feet at least 4 feet apart. Turn your right foot by 90 degrees and bend your body to the right side from the hips and touch your right feet with your right hand while raising your left hand straight in the air. Maintain balance on both feet and breathe normally. Hold the position for 10 seconds and come up to the starting position while inhaling. Repeat it on the other side. Repeat this whole exercise 4 to 5 times at a stretch.
Eagle pose helps in improving joint stability by increasing the strength of knees and ankles and raising physical equilibrium. It helps in releasing post-partum stress and tension and strengthening the muscles of shoulders, arms, upper back and legs. It also helps in working out the pelvis and opening the space between shoulder blades.
Stand straight on the mat and raise your arms to the shoulder level. Now cross your left arm over the right one so that one elbow is on top of the other, wrap your forearms around each other and keep your fingers straight while your palms touch each other. Bend your knees and put your right leg over the left one just above the knee. Hook your right foot over the left calf or ankle. Tilt your head towards the ceiling. Hold the posture for 60 seconds while breathing normally and come back to the starting position. Repeat it with the other leg. Repeat this pose 5 to 6 times at a stretch.
The Half tortoise is a relaxing pose that helps in stretching the lower back and hip muscles. It stretches the lower lungs and spine, tones the glutes, thighs and hips and improves flexibility of the scapula and deltoids. It helps in improving digestion and helps the body to relax.
Sit on your knees with your buttocks resting on your heels. Raise your hands up inhaling, bring your palms together, and lower your body from the waist while exhaling till your forehead touches the yoga mat. Hold this position for 30 seconds while breathing normally. Come back to the starting position while inhaling and place back your arms on your knees while exhaling. Repeat the pose 4 to 6 times at a stretch.
The Half-spinal twist pose is extremely beneficial for increasing the flexibility of the spine and relieving back pain experienced after pregnancy. It helps in improving blood flow to the spine and tones the muscles of back, hips, abdomen and shoulders. It also helps in treating nervous disorders and relaxing the mind.
Sit on the yoga mat and bring your left foot over the right one and place it the right side of the right leg. Twist your body from the waist towards the left and grab your left ankle with your right hand while looking over the left shoulder. Place your left hand behind you and let it rest on the floor. Keep your spine straight and hold the position for 30 seconds while breathing normally. Come back to the starting position while inhaling. Repeat it on the other side. Repeat the whole exercise 4 to 5 times at a stretch.
Therefore, start off with your post pregnancy weight loss plan and lose weight gradually in a healthy way. But set out a realistic goal, wait until the first post-natal checkup and definitely consult your doctor before going ahead with your weight loss program.
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Deblina Biswas has an M.Sc degree in Nutrition from the University of Osmania and has tons of experience in Fitness and Nutrition. She loves everything about food and fitness and the fact that she has been able to follow her heart when it comes to her profession. When she is not working, she likes to rustle up delectable concoctions in the kitchen, of course keeping the health quotient intact. She says, everyone just loves her healthy biryani she makes for special occasions. She believes that most ailments can be cured with the right amalgamation of nutrition and fitness.