Global Wellness Day special: With post-pregnancy yoga and workout, experts claim women can recover within 40 days
We all know the benefits of yoga, especially for pregnant women. However, most women after pregnancy deal with after-effects such as weight gain, sagging of muscles, joint pain, backache, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, high blood pressure, and weakness due to some deficiency. If a woman is keen on getting back in shape physically and mentally, then yoga and workout are recommended by experts. With regular yoga practices (Padma Sadhana and Surya Namaskar) after 40 days of delivery, one is sure to lose weight and feel healthy. In fact, Yoga experts also claim that women experience less health issues and labour pain if they start practicing yoga a little before their delivery.
Burn it out with caution
The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. Health and wellness expert, Mallika Parekh explains that during pregnancy the body produces a hormone called ‘Relaxin’ which relaxes our pelvic muscles, ligaments and joints to prepare our bodies for childbirth. “Relaxin stays in the body long after delivery, which is why the method of exercise we choose is key to our postnatal recovery process,” says Mallika, who brought Physique 57 to India, a barre-based workout that originated in New York.
Mallika also elucidates that post pregnancy woman’s body experiences other changes due to the excess weight in the core such as lordosis (sway-back), kyphosis (rounded shoulders), lower back pain, knee pain, weakened foot arches, weakened pelvic floors, loss of balance due to a shift in center of gravity and poor circulation. “Engaging in physical activity that is low-impact but moderate to high intensity is the best form of exercise for women in their postnatal journey,” says Mallika suggesting that apart from caloric burn which is the most desired feature of exercise by new mothers for weight loss reasons, working out for a full-body exercise that focuses on reversing issues developed through pregnancy is crucial to ensure postnatal recovery and limiting long-term physical damage.
Internationally renowned yoga expert and author Mansi Gulati suggests that women after delivery should begin with warming and stretching for five minutes. Split workout into three shifts of 15 minutes each spread through the day—cardio (walking around the house briskly), strength (body-weight exercises and light weights) and core and flexibility. Kegels (pelvic floor exercises), isometric core exercise and pelvic tilts, and supine toe taps within the first 24 hours of childbirth are equally suggested. “Yoga can improve your posture and decrease some common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue. And it will take two months to gain complete fitness,” claims Mansi. To this Mallika cautions to remember that despite progress you may see in others, it may take up to 18 months to fully recover from pregnancy and delivery. “This is not something that is commonly discussed but everyone has their own journey,” she opines.
Mind your food
Apart from keeping your body active with workout, experts suggest it is equally important to have a healthy diet. Women post-pregnancy are encouraged to stick to the diet they had during pregnancy such as protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates; vegetables and fiber. “Fiber is critical to cleanse the system, and the other food groups consumed in balance are critical for recovery, replenishing nutrients potentially lost through delivery or breast-feeding, and fueling the energy requirements of being a new mother,” Mallika clarifies.
On the other hand, Mansi emphasises the importance of liquids. “Every half an hour, drink half a glass of water. Drink, milk and fruit juice,” she suggests adding to avoid junk food.
Mental health is important
Postpartum depression is said to affect at least one in 10 mothers globally, with postpartum ‘baby blues’ affecting anywhere from 3-7.5 of 10 mothers. While the latter usually subsides within a few days or weeks, it is important to take time to take care of yourself during these busy and emotionally draining times. “Physical activity is a perfect way to relieve stress and experience the benefit of post-workout endorphins. Exercise also helps assist in quality of sleep, which immediately plummets for new mothers. Enabling new mothers to both look and feel healthy and strong is a critical part of their postnatal recovery and early child development,” states Mallika.
In order to keep yourself active physically and your mind at peace, yoga is suggested to be helping in focusing on mental health to manage stress and anxiety. “Practicing yoga during pregnancy is a great way to balance. Mindfulness and meditation are methods that can help you to focus on positive thoughts and minimise negative ones,” Mansi confirms.
Yoga pose that calms mind
Child’s pose - Kneel on a yoga mat making sure your heels are touching your butt and your big toes are touching. Gently lay your chest down and let your forehead touch the mat. Extend your arms straight ahead of you with your palms resting flat on the ground.
Relax and hold this pose for 3-5 minutes. You’ll immediately notice its restorative effects both for your body and mind. It helps reduce stress and anxiety.