Yoga For Mums – How Helpful is it REALLY!??
The benefits of Yoga for mums, parents or anyone caring for a baby or child are enormous. In general, Yoga can help with stress, anxiety and improving your overall sense of wellbeing and calm.
But when it comes to Mums, it’s like these benefits are explosive in their power to help, those early days with a newborn, those tough days with a toddler, or those tiring days when we haven’t had much sleep (does that ever stop!?) Yoga helps with us to deal with those days. To take the edge off the overwhelm or the enormity of the task at hand on those days. Yoga helps through sneakily teaching us to breath, to smile, to laugh, to slow down, in advance, in the studio or at home, so that when those big days hit us, the techniques are already inside us and the benefit kicks in.
Here we look at some of the specifics of how Yoga can help Mums physically, mentally and emotionally live better lives.
Physical Benefits – movement of any kind is beneficial to our bodies. Yoga positions (asanas) help mums in so many ways, here are a few :
- Pre-Natally it helps by keeping the body strong and flexible in preparation for childbirth. I’ve heard an obstetrician say that ‘the fitter you are, the easier the labor, so keep moving for as long as you can, but listen to yourself and don’t over do it’
- Early Post-Natal it helps the body firstly recover from childbirth and then rebuild back the strength it lost through pregnancy. Typically the huge benefits are felt through gentle stretches to ease tight shoulders (from feeding and baby holding and rocking) and to ease lower back pain that kicks in from the lack of core strength and all the lifting, bending, rocking, jiggling, walking (etc!) that you are now doing all day, every day!
- You may also be surprised to hear that at the early Post-Natal stage the breathing helps to move the fluid on in our bodies. Deep belly breathing helps with circulation and this can help get the fluid and water being retained to move on in our bodies.
- Later Post-Natal it’s about getting strength back into the core (which often will help ease the load on the back) and to start to recover body shape as the yoga positions help to bring back tone, rebuild muscle and move on those extra kgs.
Mentally and Emotionally – anything that focuses on the breath and slowing the thoughts is teaching your mind calming techniques that it can draw on later (when it needs it). The breathing techniques don’t have to be fancy, in fact often it’s the simplest ones that kick in and you may not even realise or notice that you are drawing on them in the future, at that time when you need to. After the moment has passed though, you’ll feel a bit calmer and everything may start to seema tiny bit easier and that you are ‘taking life and everything in it’s stride a bit more’. Here are some specifics as to how Yoga breathing and (pranayama) and mindfulness will help mums:
- Pre-Natally it helps us to accept that we can’t control what’s happening and to breath through the nerves, the uncertainty, the limitless amount of advice that we receive from everyone and anyone and the confusion and decisions we need to make J
- Early Post-Natal slow breathing helps to tell our nervous system to slow down and to move our body towards a calm state. Frequent wake ups, uncertainty about why baby is crying, confusion or challenges with feeding, not to mention the juggling of newborn with other toddlers and children means that overwhelm can turn to stress and to anxiety very quickly. And research tells us that babies pick up on the stress levels of mum, so the simpleness of slower breathing slows down the heart rate, and in turn calms both mum and bub and this can have a huge, beneficial knock on effect.
- Later Post-Natal the breathing and calming of the mind still has the same benefits, but these kick in when we start to face the normality of life, the ongoing changes and for some of us, the return to work and the juggling that brings.
Mums and Bubs/ Bring Your Baby Yoga Classes – offer an additional layered benefit for Mums and any parent or person caring for a child, as it adds in that community, coffee and chat factor, that we all need! What is that saying “it takes a tribe?” well when you find the right group, the companionship, discussions, adult conversation and sometimes even just a reason to get out of the house is so HUGE.
As humans experiencing change, we need a support system and any community group of like-minded people with positive intentions can do so much to helping us navigate the changes and questions along the way. AND if we can couple that community with the benefits of movement, breath, mindfulness and emotional support – then the benefits can be exponential.
It’s hard to explain all the benefits of Yoga, and I’m not sure if we’ve done a good job trying to do that here.
However we know from personal experience that the saying ‘You have to look after yourself to be able to look after anyone else’ is so true. And we get that totally wrong when we look at Yoga as being selfish, through taking time for ourselves as the benefits felt by everyone around us are tangible.
We encourage you to experiment with this for yourself. Try some Yoga, and ask those around you if they notice a difference. You might be surprised with the positivity of response that you get.
Yoga Everyday at Stafford offers Bring Your Baby classes every Monday at 9.15am. This is suitable for Mums, Dads or anyone caring for a 6 week to 12 month (walking stage) baby. For babies who are walking up to about 3 years old we offer fortnightly classes on a Friday at 9.15am, called Bring Your Toddler.
Our beginners and general classes are suitable for Pregnant Yogis, email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how you can modify general classes to suit your pregnancy.
This article is written by Paula owner & teacher at Yoga Everyday and most importantly Mum to 13 month old Max!