I am not a Yoga Expert but I have participated in a few yoga classes and have really enjoyed them.
I know a lot of new moms who have practiced yoga throughout their pregnancy as well as postpartum to help with recovery, strength and stress levels.
And from what I’ve noticed anyone who starts yoga, continues yoga…
So I decided to interview my dear friend, Julie Hinton, Elite Yoga Expert and Mom of 2 beautiful children.
Julie helps me to uncover the many amazing health benefits of yoga for New Moms.
Here is what Julie has to say;
Yoga is a great way to help new moms get physically and mentally back on track after 40 weeks of pregnancy. With all the joy your new bundle brings, you will also undoubtedly feel heightened responsibility and worry. In addition to its many physical benefits, yoga helps quiet the mind. Yoga helps with postpartum, anxiety, fatigue, and mild depression and will help you through the many aches and pains after delivery.
1. How can a new mom start her yoga journey?
If you are a new mom starting yoga, it is important to wait until your doctor says it is ok to start exercising again. Once you are cleared, you should start with restorative yoga which will calm and relax the whole body. Restorative yoga uses props like pillows, blankets, bands and bolsters. The props help your body and muscles to relax into a gentle stretch. Playing calm music during your session will also aid in relaxing the mind. Restorative yoga can be used by everyone however for those already accustomed to some poses and movements, more advanced yoga is appropriate as well. For more of a challenge incorporate Bikram and Vinyasa flows.
2. What are your top 5 favorite yoga moves for a new mom?
As a new mom I know it is difficult to find time to do even the simplest things, but setting aside a few minutes to incorporate these 5 yoga poses (and 1 tummy tightening move) into your daily routine at home will really help!
To begin, lay on your back on your mat or towel in the shavasna position. Here you place your hands on your belly and breathe in through your nose for a count of 4 and out through your mouth for a count of 4. Complete this cycle 4 times. If you have time at the end of your 5 poses, I would suggest you do this same breathing exercise again to finish.
1. Cat and Cow. This move will lubricate the spine and get it going. Start on your hands and knees and slowly drop your head down while arching your back as high up as you can. Then slowly drop your spine, vertebrae by vertebrae until you are curving your spine downward while tilting your head up. Complete this cycle 4 times.
2. Child Pose. Start in the kneeling position and drop your behind to your heels as you stretch out the rest of your body by leaning forward and down, placing your forehead on your mat. While fully stretched, rest your arms in a relaxed position along the floor. Think about drawing your belly in as you are in this pose as it can help strengthen your pelvic floor. Hold for 1-2 minutes.
3. Forearm Plank. Place your forearms on your mat with elbows aligned below the shoulders, and arms parallel to your body at about shoulder-width distance. With your toes grounded in your mat, use your legs, glutes and core to elevate and stabilize your body. Be careful not to lock or hyperextend your knees. Neutralize your neck and spine by looking to a spot on the floor about a foot beyond your hands while your head remains in line with your back. Hold this position for 20 seconds or longer, never compromising form or breath. When you feel ready, try a full arm plank where you place your hands directly onto your mat with un-bent arms.
4. Apanasana (knees to chest). Lying on your back with knees to chest, allow your breath to even out and gently rock from side to side. This is a great way to release your back and start to get in touch with your new postnatal body. Complete at least 4 full motions.
5. Supta Badakonasana (reclined supported bound angle pose). This is a wonderful restorative pose as well as a gentle hip and heart-opening pose. Lie on your back with the bottom of your feet together and knees open out to the side. You can use blankets or pillows under your knees for support and to reduce any strain you may be feeling on the hips in this pose. Hold for 5-10 minutes, time to rest and relax!
3. What would you suggest to a new mom who is intimidated to start yoga?
Yoga can be intimidating at first, like the first time you try anything new. Don’t let that discourage you! Finding the right beginners class is key. You want to make sure it focuses on the fundamental poses as well as guiding you through your breathing. Practicing with a group of people can help to unite your collective energy as well as invigorate you at the same time. It is also fun and more affordable than private lesions. I do think having private lessons however can be very helpful as yoga is traditionally taught one on one to help meet each student’s specific needs.
4. What are the benefits of practicing yoga during pregnancy?
I practiced yoga a lot throughout my first pregnancy while not as much during my second and I really noticed the difference. There is a long list of benefits that comes with practicing yoga during your pregnancy; studies have suggested that it helps reduce stress and anxiety, improve your sleep cycle and gives the mind an overall feeling of happiness and calmness. Yoga during pregnancy is a great way to help strengthen the body and bring more flexibility to it, which will really help during your delivery process. Learning how to control your breath in yoga classes will also help you to stay calm in delivery if you can practice what you have learned.
5. How does yoga help with postpartum recovery?
Postnatal yoga is quite important. It really helped me get back to feeling like myself and staying away from the postpartum blues. It also allowed me time for myself and to detach from my baby. Postnatal yoga helps strengthen the upper body, which is constantly being used to hold your new baby. It concentrates on strengthening abdominal muscles that were over stretched during pregnancy. Twisting poses can also help to shrink the uterus. Practicing yoga during this time can help you to be much more patient and relaxed during the upcoming days and nights with baby.
6. What are your favorite styles of yoga?
I have two favourite styles of yoga: Bikram, and Astanga vinyasa flows. Bikram is always the same 26 postures done twice. It opens and closes with a breathing exercise and you come to rest in between each posture. The room is heated to a minimum of 40 •c. and it is always a 90 minute class. Bikram focuses a lot on back bends and stretching the neck and shoulders. You get an amazing detoxification as you sweat.
Astanga vinyasa is much different then Bikram in that you are constantly flowing in between poses, which can be a lot for your wrists, especially as a new mother. It is great for building upper body strength however the poses can be very advanced for beginners. It is also done in a warm room and also always 90min. It opens and ends its practice with a chant. I have come to feel very connected to the power of chanting.
7. Why do you love yoga?
The top 3 benefits that keep me coming back to yoga day after day is the feeling I have after each class. I feel lighter from the inside out. My mind is calm, more focused and organized. The things that are not really important seem to melt away during class. I love the flexibility and strength yoga has brought to my body. After a Bikram class my skin feels so tight and clean.
8. How did yoga become apart of your life?
It’s funny how yoga came into my life. I had won Miss Swimsuit Canada 2004 and with the title came a trip to Jamaica. The week-long trip ended up being a disaster as it was filled with some grumpy, negative people. I saw a poster in the lobby to try yoga at sunset and went for it. That one class helped me to go within and focus on myself. Once I got home I immediately started to practice yoga. I could not imagine ever stopping.
9. Would you say that yoga has helped you be a better mother to your 2 children?
Most definitely. Yoga has made me a stronger mother because it has given me great patience! Patience to deal with my kids and situations that pop up each day. I grew up in a home with a lot of yelling and some negative vibes. There are not too many things, if any that make me yell. Going through life with an underlining calmness is all from my practice and dedication to yoga.
10. Where do you teach yoga?
I have been teaching yoga at an in-patient drug rehabilitation centre where the students need stretching as much as all the spiritual energy that comes with certain types of yoga. I also work with people faced with anxiety one on one. Because my kids are only 2 and 4 years old I can’t make a studio commitment just yet. Please feel free to reach out to me through Coach JVB.
Thank you so much for your time and expertise Julie.
I may just have to take you up on some yoga lessons 🙂