How soon should I go back to yoga after giving birth?
Always ask your doctor first, but most experienced yoginis wait at least 3 weeks before resuming yoga to allow hormone levels to drop and stabilize. For some women 4-6 weeks postpartum is a better time.
But ultimately you'll know when it feels right to start exercising again – listen to your body. Take into consideration how you're feeling, sleeping, and recovering. You may want to start doing a few low-impact Bikram pregnancy yoga series poses at home in a warm room, and see how you feel afterwards.
Benefits of doing Bikram yoga after giving birth
Yoga is a wonderful way to reconnect with your body, mind and spirit and get back into the swing of things. Yoga is not just about returning to your pre-pregnancy weight, but it also helps your spine, joints, hips, rib cage and abdominal organs return to their normal places, size and alignment.
Yoga may even help with the extreme mood swings so often caused by the hormonal changes of pregnancy and post-birth.
Yoga gives you an incredible endorphin rush that improves mood - instantly. Simply being able to take a couple of hours to yourself, for yourself, when no one needs something from you is critical to make you a happy, loving, and productive human being – and mother. Particularly if you think you might be experiencing postpartum depression you'll discover that it's amazing how a little time to yourself and some exercise can make you feel.
Loose joints and yoga
The hormone relaxin that helped your body get ready to open and stretch your pelvis during delivery remains in your body for 9 months after birth. Relaxin softens the ligaments in your body, but ligaments hold your joints together, so looser ligaments means looser joints – so you need to take extra care against joint injury.
Concentrate on developing the strength in the muscles that support the joints, especially the weight-bearing joints. This is particularly important in one-legged, standing balancing postures.
You must equally contract the quadriceps and hamstrings muscles over a straight knee joint to "lock" the knee. These muscle groups compliment each other and result in a strong, stable knee. Plain old walking is also a good exercise to strengthen leg muscles – particularly up and down gentle slopes.
Weak abdominal muscles after pregnancy
Your abdominal muscles will bear the brunt of your pregnancy. Not only will they be weak from lack of exercise during your pregnancy, but also because they were stretched to the nth degree over something the size of a watermelon! It takes time for them to contract back to their normal size and tone up and strengthen.
Concentrate on contracting your abs during all your postures – you’ll be amazed at how this will also energize your entire practice and aid in balancing. With each class you will notice improvement. Also remember that strong abs will support your spine and protect against lower back pain as you carry your growing baby.
Breastfeeding and yoga – it's all about hydration!
You've probably already learned how much more water your body needs when breastfeeding - the same applies in the hot room. Your body is making milk the whole time and needs water to fuel the process constantly, so make sure you're drinking water early on the day before your class, and a minimum of at least half a litre of water in class and more afterward. And don't forget your electrolytes.
We suggest organic coconut water before and after a class – it's a natural alternative to sugary and artificial-colour laden sports drinks. Also remember to be gentle with your tender breasts – this means certain poses will be too painful and you won't be able to lie on your belly.
So do the pregnancy savasana or even the pregnancy modifications for any belly-down poses. And remember, listen to your body! So if any pose is painful, just sit it out. Be patient with the process.
Yoga and losing weight
Most of us want to lose the 'maternal fat stores' from 9 months pregnancy - if not for vanity's sake, then for practical reasons like soon you'll be chasing around an active toddler and you'll need to keep up!
Bikram yoga burns a lot of calories, so it makes sense to go back to yoga after pregnancy but also to combine yoga with healthy diet.
If you are breastfeeding, please remember that it is not recommended that you consume less than 1800-2400 calories per day without adverse effect on your supply.
On the days that you practice, you will need to supplement your food supply to reflect an additional 600 calories at a minimum.