Back in the summer I had a guest blogger – Alicia Poldino – talk to us about the importance of having a prenatal yoga practice during your pregnancy and within the post she also discussed her postnatal classes on offer.
I mentioned in the post that I looked forward to getting to one of her classes once Ace was born – and, nearly three months later, I did it!
Alicia offers a variety of postnatal options – one on Tuesday evenings just for moms, a Wednesday morning Mommy and Me class, and then Alicia can also work with new mommas during in-home sessions.
Mommy and Me is where it’s at for us. I haven’t stretched or really moved my body since Ace was born. (Aside from running up and down the stairs with loads of laundry, carrying a two-month-old in one arm and a two-year-old in the other, sitting down only to get back up again, and taking stroller walks so we still have some connection to the outside world. Ok, I kid. We actually get out quite often.) But, I thought I would be back into yoga a lot sooner. But, I have two little babies. So, it’s taken a while to carve out that time that I know my body – and my mind – needs.
When I realized I could bring Radley and Ace with me to yoga, there was no doubt I could fit it into my schedule. And, what was particularly great to find out about Alicia’s class is that there is a big ‘ol bucket of toys for Rad and someone (Angela!) to hang out with him while Ace and I do yoga.
So, we went to our first class two Wednesdays ago, and, how was it? Absolutely perfect. There is an ease within the class, an understanding, that allows you to feel comfortable nursing while everyone is in the midst of holding tree pose. Even though Radley shared all of his crazy and threw balls between mats and raced race cars around the floor, no one seemed to break their breathing. I felt like it was ok to be there. And that’s a huge thing to feel good about.
What else felt great was finally moving my body and starting to stretch it out. As I said, it took a little bit longer to get back to yoga than I thought it would. And, what a difference I’ve noticed in my posture, my focus. My back aches a bit again as it used to. I have numbness in my left arm sometimes in the middle of the night, as I used to. Something weird is happening to a muscle in my right calf and sometimes it pulls through my heel and hurts like crazy. (That there is new.)
So, while I would say, “I feel great!” because immediately after having Ace my body seemed to get right back to normal, I do also sometimes feel sluggish, hunched over and, yeah, a little achy. (And, I know the culprits – how I hold Ace sometimes breastfeeding, how I hold the kids on my hips. I need to get my core strengthened again.)
Stretching my kinks out felt incredible. It reminded me a) how great it feels to do yoga and b) how easy it is to pull out my mat at home and do a few poses.
Even though I barely remembered much from that first week’s class more than doing a down dog at one point (you know, tired mind coupled with being new, and trying to make sure Radley didn’t throw a car at anybody, and hoping Ace wouldn’t cry even though he usually doesn’t but I still worried about it) just being in that community of women felt so great.
Instead of ending the practice with a savasana, we ended it by sitting in a circle and talking to each other about one great new thing that is happening in our lives. (Because, as Alicia says, savasana is just not gonna happen with our wiggly babies around. So on point.) And, ending class that way was so nice – to hear positive words from everyone and to feel positive support from the group.
I know as we continue to go to class Radley will get used to being there and I will get used to being there (and I will nurse Ace before I walk into class) and I will have a bit more time to focus on my practice each time.
But, even that first class, where I was finding my body again, made me feel amazing.
And, what is good for new mommas is that Alicia is taking care to make sure the poses we are doing are safe for our bodies and helpful in rebuilding the parts of our bodies that were pulled and stretched to make room for our new little humans.
I wanted Alicia to share some words about the importance of postnatal yoga and what it is exactly we focus on in class so that any of you new mommas out there can get an understanding of why this might be something you should look for in your community.
Just think – you get to feel better and you get to get out of the house with your kiddos. Win, win.
Postnatal Yoga Q&A with Alicia Poldino of Utah Prenatal Yoga
Why is a postnatal yoga practice important after birth? Or, how does a postnatal class differ from regular yoga classes?
Yoga can be a very gentle and effective way to return back to physical activity. It’s important to take time and be mindful about how you exercise after giving birth and a postnatal yoga class is structured in such a way that the healing process is honored. Finding a class that is tailored to the needs of a new mom is important! There are many things to consider when it comes to recovering from birth. For example, maybe a mom doesn’t realize she has a separation of the abdominal tissue (Diastasis Recti) and she’s practicing some asana in a regular class not knowing that it’s actually making the separation worse. Or maybe pelvic floor issues are a concern but there isn’t the dialogue in class about how to improve function or how to avoid compounding the problem. One of the great aspects of the postnatal class is that there is a common thread among the group. The conversation, practice, and focus is shared and women have the chance to really connect with the experience. And it’s not weird if your boobs are leaking…
What parts of a woman’s body need healing and restoring after birth?
Everything! Really, though, the body goes through so many changes during pregnancy and just about everything is affected. From growing and creating space for the baby during pregnancy, to the active birth process when a mother physically separates from the baby, and beyond birth – milk production, internal organs moving back in place, hormone levels changing and adjusting, and so much more. The main focus is about restoring the core, which is impacted most during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period: shoulders, ribs, abdominal muscles, diaphragm, pelvic floor, hips and glutes. The asana is carefully considered in order to address all types of recovery so that everyone can get what they need. And not just the body! Women experience a range of emotions and logistical changes during the birth year and that’s something I want to honor when leading a practice that can really benefit mothers during the healing process.
What do postnatal yoga classes focus on? What types of poses?
A postnatal yoga class should focus on healing from pregnancy and birth as well as increasing strength and stability. Poses are selected to address the basics of birth recovery as well as Diastasis Recti, pelvic floor dysfunction, Cesarean birth, back pain or other injuries. It’s a lot like a regular yoga class with a variety of different poses and movements, we just don’t include some of the asana until the body has had a chance to recover. There are many options during the practice so that moms in different stages of healing can adjust the poses for what they need. Additionally, a postnatal class will center around the transition into motherhood, self-care as a mom, finding the balance in changing roles and generally holding space for all of the big emotions and adjustments that come with having a new baby. The class may include the option to bring your children (like the mommy and me class you attended) or it can be dedicated as time away just for mom.
How long should women continue with their postnatal classes before joining back into their regular yoga classes?
It really depends on the individual. Some people experience fewer complications from pregnancy and birth and are ready to get back to their regular class (or whatever type of exercise they love) sooner than others, maybe just a few weeks. Other people may take longer to recover, even a year or two (here is a great article about why it takes a while to recover.) My postnatal classes are intended to help moms get back to what they love doing, safely and effectively. If that means they come for a few weeks or months and are ready to move on that is great! If that means they come for two years, I hope it’s because they are seeing the benefits and they have found something they love doing. I don’t set a time limit on the class, my goal is to help moms heal and recover and everyone gets to do that at their own pace.