Are you wondering why Yoga can help with postnatal depression? Well, there is no single magic cure for getting over depression, but it is rather a combination of several factors and Yoga is one of them for me. The reason is that YOGA IS MAKING ME HAPPY.
And it may be for you, too!
Yoga is a great combination of exercise for the body and mind. It makes you physically stronger, more flexible and even aids in losing the extra kilograms gained during pregnancy. And on the other hand, it is good for your mental well-being. Also, it reduces stress and helps with relaxation.
See below all the benefits of practising yoga, which helped me gain back the trust in my body and got me a step closer to a happier self.
Getting out of the House
With a baby, we are constantly busy in and around the house. Preparing food, feeding the baby, cleaning the dishes, washing, playing with the little one – and the list goes on…
But when I am going out to my yoga class, this is something I am doing just for me. This is my ME-TIME. It is a great feeling to be out of the house for just an hour, doing something by myself and for myself. We mamas are always thinking about our family first, but we also need to do something which is good for us. We deserve this.
Learning Something New
Isn’t is exciting to learn something new? The thrill, nervousness and extra energy you get when you discover a new territory, something which widens your horizon?
And as with many things, the start is not always easy. It took me a couple of classes to get the ‘hang of yoga’. But now I am understanding the concept of it more and more and I am learning something new with each practice, e.g. how to finetune a pose or if I am at home I like to research what a certain pose is beneficial for.
I started seeing results after only a couple of yoga classes. I am getting stronger, more flexible and more relaxed. Seeing such progress is great motivation to continue and to get better and better.
Yoga gives me something to look forward to all week and I am really trying to make my twice-weekly yoga classes happen.
It also gives me energy and the strengths to plan my day and actually get other things done in my life. Isn’t it ironic? Getting more done when you have other appointments to keep? Well, I actually have to structure my day and this makes me more productive.
Yoga is a great form of exercise. And I like especially that it is a low-intensity training, which means seeing amazing results without jumping around like crazy. It helps to gain strength, flexibility and to get fitter overall.
Finally, I am starting to like my body again. Actually, I am getting fitter than I was before having my baby.
And an added bonus is that I can practice at home if I don’t have time to go out to a yoga class.
Yoga is not just physical exercise, but it trains you to be fully aware of your body and it’s strengths during this class. You learn how to actively observe your body. And the anchor is your breath, which is the connection between your mind and body.
Using the breath is the channel for tuning in to my body and letting my mind relax and blending out my surrounding. No thoughts wandering around. And so the body follows to relax as well.
I also enjoy the short relaxation/meditation session at the end of each class, which is about 5-10 minutes.
I have to say, this part took me a while to get into, and to understand the meaning behind it. At the start, it seemed to me that I was “just sitting or laying around and breathing”, it felt like a complete waste of time. But after a couple of classes and reading about its meaning, I began to understand the concept of just letting go and embracing the moment.
Releasing Stress and Tension
It is the combination of the physical exercise and the relaxation/meditation session, that I am able to release stress and tension. Yoga helps me to forget about all worries and the busy day. I don’t think about anything else but listen to my body. Not drifting away with my thoughts, not worrying about anything else. I am just there at the moment. Let my busy mind relax and my body is following.
And I end up being more relaxed physically as well. So, after each class, I am going back home as a more balanced and energised person.
Before I started with yoga, I was not able to accept that my body has changed and I couldn’t feel any positive vibe towards my body as I used to pre-pregnancy. Yoga helped me build a positive connection with my body again. (Read more about my story with postnatal depression here).
AFTERWORD: Get the OK from your Professional Healthcare Provider Before Starting to Exercise
As tempting as it may be for some to get back to full exercise after birth, make sure your postpartum body has healed appropriately, otherwise, you can do more harm than good. Your GP or physiotherapist can help you find the right exercise for you. If you are not yet ready for regular exercise classes, there are special postnatal classes (e.g. postnatal yoga classes), which consider the special requirements of mum’s postpartum body.
I personally needed 6 months to really recover from birth. Only then was I physically strong enough to start regular yoga classes.
What can I do before?
The first couple of months are especially hard with sleep deprivation and the body still recovering from birth. For me, there was little motivation or strengths for any exercise (read more about how I and my baby were getting more sleep after attending baby-sleep-school). But an easy way to slowly regain strengths is – going out for a walk each day. It took me a couple of weeks to increase my walking time to 30 minutes a day. And after a couple of months, I needed more than just walking and was able to do some short 10-minute prenatal exercises.
If you don’t feel like starting exercise right now, don’t feel bad. You will get stronger again and it is never too late to start.
Absolutely worth the extra money. Their original examination including a professional chat about my goals and their specifically postnatal designed classes (I did clinical pilates) is not cheap but is the main reason why I was able to heal my body.
Tip: If you are in Australia you can claim a rebate from your private health insurance.
The physiotherapist is able to asses your weaknesses and give you the correct exercises (in the studio and for home) to heal and regain strength.
Like many other mums, my main issues were:
- Weak Pelvic floor
- Abdominal Muscle Separation (also called diastasis recti)
WEAK PELVIC FLOOR
My pelvic floor was an absolute mess. I did not do any pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy. So wrong. My bladder was weak and I was farting like crazy. Not able to control it was super embarrassing.
The problem was, I didn’t know how to allocate my pelvic floor muscles in order to do the right strengthening exercises, but my physio was able to help me to find them and give me the correct exercises to strengthen them, which solved the problem of not being able to control farts or peeing when I didn’t want to.
Read more on how to restore your pelvic floor.
ABDOMINAL MUSCLE SEPARATION
I had a so-called “Mummy Tummy”, which means my belly was bulging out and the reason was that my abdominal muscles, which naturally stretch during pregnancy, have not closed months after birth. For some women, the abdominal muscles close naturally after a couple of weeks or latest months, but I had to actively work on closing them again. And it also aids with back pain.
My physio taught me that certain exercises are a No-No, e.g. sit-ups. This causes too much strain on your abdominal muscles. Read more on how to heal diastasis recti.
A healthy mind is living in a healthy body.
While Yoga is helping me massively, it may not be for everyone. Have you tried Yoga before? What are your thoughts? Or what other exercise is making you feel great? Please share and let other mum’s know what is your physical exercise motivator?