A nursing mother is faced with innumerable challenges of adjusting to the world around her, especially the physical challenge of nursing the baby. Nursing and taking your care of the new born can leave your shoulder and back aching- asking for a break.
It’s a tough time for most women after pregnancy who have to deal with its after-effects, such as weight gain, sagging of muscles, joint pain, backache, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, high blood pressure, and weakness due to some deficiency.
Yoga can help you counteract that hunched over feeling, with an emphasis on moving the shoulders down and back and reopening the chest. These yoga poses can help achieve body relaxation.
Yoga and meditation will help in relaxing your mind and help to settle within. It will give you immense support in handling the emotions you are bound to go through and develop strength that will enable you to take care of yourself as well as the baby.
Chakravakasana (Cat-Cow Stretch)
- Parallel hands and knees. Breathe in.
- As you breath out, curve your back over so it is as abounds as possible, your tailbone is tucked under, and your head is dropped down, imagine that you are curving the front of your body over a big ball. Stay in this position for a few breaths.
- Breathing in, arch upward, so that the top of your head and your tailbone are pointing at the ceiling and your back is dropped in curve. Now imagine that the ball is resting on top of your back, in the curve your back is making. Try to make your waist long, and draw your shoulders away from your neck. Stay there for a few breaths.
- Return to the starting position. Repeat. Continue for 5-10 breaths, moving the whole spine. After your final exhale, come back to a neutral spine
Salamba Bhujangasana (Sphinx Pose)
- Lie on your belly, legs stretched out behind you.
- Place your hands flat on the floor with your elbows slightly forward of your shoulders. Cross your forearms. You should be able to touch opposite elbows; this ensures that your elbows are shoulder width distance apart. Then stretch your hands forward. The bend in your elbows should be approximately ninety degrees. Spread your fingertips wide apart from one another and root down through your hands.
- Draw your legs towards one another. Root down through the tops of your feet, ensuring that your ankles don’t roll out to the sides. Push down through your tailbone.
- Keeping your legs firm, energetically pull the floor towards you to lift up with your chest and draw your shoulders slightly back. Keep the back of your neck long; do not crank your head back.
Engage through your belly to support your lower back.
- Stay here for as long as feels comfortable – usually 30 seconds to 1 minute –and then take Child’s Pose.
- For a gentler, yin approach to this pose, relax any tension or strength in the arms, torso and legs, instead adopting a soft, melting quality to the upper body. Hold for 5-7 minutes, then place one palm on top of the other and rest your forehead down.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
- Come to lie on the back. Bend the knees, bringing the soles of the feet parallel on the mat close to the buttocks. Lift the hips up towards the ceiling. Interlace the fingers behind your back and straighten the arms, pressing them down into the mat.
- Roll one shoulder under and then the other. Lift the hips higher. Draw the chest toward the chin, but do not move the chin toward the chest. Make sure the feet stay parallel.
- Release the hands and bring the upper, middle, and then lower back down. Rest, allowing the knees to knock together.
- Beginners: For a restorative variation, bring a block under the sacrum. Let your weight rest on the block. When coming down, keep the hands interlaced under the weight of the body for a shoulder opener.
Ardha Navasana (Half boat pose)
- Sit on the floor with knees bent, feet comfortably on the floor and your palms beside your hips. Lift through the top of the sternum and lean back keeping your back straight. Now lift feet to the height of the knees and when you find the balance lift the arms parallel to the floor, with palms facing each other. Hold the pose for as long as you can comfortably. Release down on exhalation and soften all the muscles.
- Do not tighten shoulders or arms, and do not round the back – continue to lengthen the front of the torso between the pubis and top sternum.
- Do keep your shins parallel to the floor, legs together and hold your torso and thighs at a right angle. Keep breathing!
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
- Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees underneath your hips.
- Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into an upside down “V” shape called Downward Facing Dog.
- Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Your heels should be slightly wider than your toes, so the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of your mat. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Work on holding for five breaths.
Utthita Trikonasana (Extended triangle pose)
- Regular practice of this asana taps energy stored in the tailbone, which is an important source of vitality and strength. This helps those who require more energy to function efficiently when under stress. The pose activates the spine, keeping it supple and well-aligned. It relieves backache, and reduces stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and knees.
- You will need a mat, wall and a wooden block. Practice against a wall supports the body, reduces strain, and helps to align the body correctly. The mat prevents your feet from slipping, helping to maintain the final balance in the pose. The block helps those with stiff backs to reach the floor, and allows for greater extension of the spine, neck, and shoulders.
- Spread a mat against a wall. Place a wooden block on its long side on the right edge of the mat. Stand in Tadasana on the centre of the mat. Inhale, then spread your feet about 1m (3.5ft) apart. Your heels and buttocks should touch the wall. Raise your arms out to your sides until they are in line with your shoulders.
- Now, turn the right foot out to the right until it is parallel to the wall. Turn your left foot in slightly to the right. Your left heel and buttocks should touch the wall. Keep your left leg straight. Stretch your arms away from your body, keeping them parallel to the floor, with your palms facing down.
- Bend to the right and extend your right arm toward the floor. Place your right palm on the block. Pull the tailbone into your body, keeping your left buttock and shoulders firmly pressed to the wall. Raise the left arm up toward the ceiling. Turn your head and look at your left thumb. Rest your weight on both heels, and not on your right palm. Breathe evenly, not deeply. Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds. Repeat the pose on the other side
Yoga affords new mothers a wide range of flexible, gradual workouts for getting back into shape and finding some much-needed inner calm.
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