Yoga after birth – when and how to restart your practice

The whirlwind of birth has settled, and you have finally started to find somewhat of a rhythm with your baby. A few weeks after baby is born, most new moms start to think about getting back into a Yoga or fitness routine. How can you restart your practice safely after pregnancy and birth?

Your doctor or midwife will recommend waiting six weeks before working out again. Depending on how often you practiced Yoga or went to the gym before birth, this can seem like a little or a lot. Remember that your body needs these first weeks to heal. If you jump back into working out too soon, you could do more damage than good to your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.

Start slow and listen to your body

In the first weeks, start your practice focusing on breathwork and relearning movement without your pregnant belly. Long walks can be a great way to spend time outside while safely rebuilding stamina. On your Yoga mat, avoid poses that put too much strain on your abdominal muscles, such as high plank or boat pose. Instead, use your Yoga practice to stretch your body and clear your mind, releasing any stress, worries or doubts that may accompany becoming a new parent.

Involve your baby in your practice

Who says babies can’t do Yoga? They can certainly be around for your practice if you want. It’s not always possible to get to a full Yoga class as a new mom. Even if you have a babysitter or family member who can help, there always seems to be an appointment or fever exactly when class is scheduled. If you don’t have a postpartum Yoga class near you that accepts babies, you can practice at home. Start by gathering a few toys that your baby likes beforehand and a pillow or mat for your baby. Spend a few minutes gently massaging your baby so that he or she is calm when you start. You can sing a lullaby or even start to chant the sound of ‘Aum’ (babies love this sound!). Giving your baby some attention before you begin can mean that have more time to practice as your baby will be relaxed next to you. If your baby does start to fuss or cry during your practice, you can sign a song while you hold a pose or move between poses.

Split your Yoga practice into smaller sessions

You might not have time for a usual 60- or 75-minute Yoga class during the early weeks and months of motherhood. Depending on feeding and sleep schedules, trying to fit a full Yoga class in at home or in-studio might cause you more stress than relaxation. Try making Yoga a part of your morning and evening routine so you enjoy little bits throughout the day, in the morning while baby is generally happier and, in the afternoon, or evening while baby is sleeping. There are lots of great, short videos for Yoga online that you can follow for a short, well-rounded practice including on our Kalila Community YouTube channel. Once you both get accustomed to the rhythms of this new life postpartum, you can figure out the best time to fit in a longer practice, moving from 15 minutes to 30, and eventually even a full 60-minute Yoga practice or workout.

Focus on what you get done, not what you don’t get done

This goes for everything in parenthood, not just for your Yoga practice. Life as a new parent is hard, and your energy should go into congratulating yourself on the many things you accomplish daily, not just into thinking about how much you didn’t get done. Maybe you started your practice with the intent of doing a full video online and you only managed to get the first ten done before your baby started crying and your phone starts ringing with something that needs your attention. It’s ok! Focus on how great those first ten minutes were and give yourself credit for having the motivation to get on the mat in the first place. As a new mom, you’re already doing an incredible and hard job; don’t forget that you’re caring for your baby 24/7 and that’s a lot of work. Give yourself a pat on the back instead and keep that motivation up for next time!