How Yoga Helped Me In My Postnatal Recovery

Updated: Jul 10, 2018

Practice yoga during pregnancy
39 weeks pregnant on my mat

After 9 months of continuous changes, sleep deprivation, heartburns, heaviness, feeling tired, breathless and constant trips to the loo, it happens. The day has come, you've been upgraded to a powerful, unique and incredibly exciting role. You are now a mom :)

Congratulations! Because that moment is incomparable. You've made it, you gave birth to the most beautiful, tiny and defenceless creature, and nothing ever will change that

Yoga and Postanal recovery
1st week with Mateo

I tend to think about moms like super heroines. We take so much during pregnancy, our bodies change so much, sometimes they never come back to what they were. We have to live with all the symptoms on a daily basis, we have trouble sleeping, dressing up, putting our shoes on, craving all types of food, being emotional and so much more. This is not something anyone could do. This is our super power as women, and we need to acknowledge and love ourselves for the wonderful job we do.

During the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy I practiced yoga almost every day. I did not feel a big change in my body besides some nauseas and tiredness. But right after the 22nd week when I started feeling strong kicks and movements in my belly, I remember thinking: this is it, this is the life I am creating, this is MY baby. And from that moment on, I transformed my practice into a more calming, opening, strengthening one, preparing my body for labour and all the things to come

Before that I was completely normal, I was doing standing poses, hip opener, inversions, breathing exercises and mindful meditation. All this helped my a lot to be stay centred and connected to the present moment, because something you inevitably do when you are pregnant is think too much about the future and how your life will change after birth. My daily practice helped me to keep my sanity, to stay grounded and balanced and avoid panicking so much about the future. That way 40 weeks went by and before I knew it, I was in labour.

First day with Mateo

After giving birth, my body was totally different. I was lacking strength, my muscles basically disappeared, my balance was inexistent, I developed an umbilical hernia and I was obviously dealing with some extra weight. On top of that, I was very emotional, hormonal, stressed and worried about being able to breastfeed my little one. It is tough, waking one day and having a little human under your care. It is your responsibility to keep him safe, well and happy. So yes, the whole process was very scary, but as you might have heard before, it's totally worth it.

That is when I remembered why I love this practice so much. Yoga gave me the peace I needed in the stressful moments, the clarity to know what to do on the crazy days and the patience to breathe deeply every time I wanted to scream and run.

My baby boy in my belly cast

It is a process of letting go the scary thoughts and the ego, of working on non-attachment to my life before baby, of accepting my body as it was with all the flaws, cellulitis, and imperfection I might now have, of loving myself more than ever, because what I did was huge and it made me what I am today, a mom.

My practice was also a powerful source to find balance in my diet after eating very poorly during the last two months of my pregnancy, I was craving so much sweets, cakes, chocolates, and at that point, I really didn't care to gain some more weight. So, I ate, a lot! But once you look at yourself in the mirror and realise that there are no more excuses to eat that way, that it is unhealthy for you and for your baby (specially if you are breastfeeding) you regain the strength and motivation to start a clean diet and find your balance again. Yoga reminded me how important it is to keep my body free of toxins as it will help me recover quicker and would also help me balance all the hormonal changes I was going though.

Your life is transformed with a newborn and with a life-changing event like this, it comes an infinite number of questions, doubts and fears. Being able to meditate for at least 5 minutes every day was a complete blessing. I used to meditate while breastfeeding or sometimes, I used to do my breath exercises while rocking the baby to sleep. I used the sound of my ujjayi breath to calm him and relax him to sleep. All this created a deeper connection between the two of us. It made me feel like he was still in my belly, feeling my breath, feeling what I was feeling. It gave me peace, stillness and a clear path to continue.

I did not do a physical practice for the first 6 weeks, I gave myself time to recover, to reconnect and restore. But soon after that, I was crazy to be on my mat again, to move, stretch, to feel my body again. Every gentle stretch, every posture, helped me to recover my muscle tone, to strengthen my pelvic floor, to regain posture, to feel myself again and most importantly to stay safe and well to take care of my baby boy. I am grateful I have this practice in my life because otherwise, I'm not sure where would I be.

There is not secret formula to deal with all the things that happen after birth but, I promise you this: allowing yourself at least 30 minutes on your own, to listen to your body, to let go the challenges of the day, to enjoy a nice and long bath, a deep nap, a yoga session, to call a friend, read a book or do whatever you like, it's the key to true happiness. So, no matter how busy, difficult or lonely your day might get, take those 30 minutes and come back refreshed, to give all of your love to your little one, because to him, you are the world and now you are whole with him by your side.

Written by

Adriana Salazar

Mom of Mateo