Now that your baby has come into this world, I’m sure that you are thrilled, overwhelmed with love and excited to spend your life mothering this new bundle of joy. Everyday your newborn requires your immediate attention and nurturing for safety and security. As much as it is a wonderful time in your life, there is always the concern of experiencing the effects of the blues. Postpartum blues do not always mean mild, unexplainable depression. Another aspect that may linger on well past the 6 weeks of typical postpartum baby blues is known as “the body blues”.
The physical blues can linger on until the baby weight comes off or until you resolve to reconnect with that wonderful body of yours. There are a few reasons why some women can’t seem to love their bodies again; one is finding the time for you. When can you find the time to exercise when you are on “mom duty ” 24-7? Weight loss seems like too much of an up road battle to tackle, especially when you are too tired and unmotivated. My three techniques for combating the “body blues” are simple and do not require hours of exerting physical regime. It does not require you to pack a gym bag, find a sitter and go through a series of stressful organization strategies to have someone look after your baby while your at a gym. Rather, it can be done while you relax and feed your baby. Sound too good to be true? I know it does, but believe me these yoga tools are effective in helping you reconnect with your body, making you feel better mentally.
Yoga is modality that embraces mind-body-spirit, using a combination of breathing, movement and concentration to achieve an overall feeling of goodness and wellbeing. In order to get you on a path to beat your blues I will teach you a simple breathing exercise, a muscle technique and words that will truly start changing your body and hopefully encourage you to begin the journey of full recovery. Breathing is essential to your everyday survival, but it is also an essential strategy for managing stress, pain and discomfort. The body uses organs and muscles to inhale and exhale that are vital to sparking weight loss. The deeper you breathe the more effort you are putting into making these muscles work, burning more calories and making the muscles more toned. This simple breathing technique is The Extended Exhale. Think of it as mindful, deep exhalations. For each breath you take in, you simply take a little longer to exhale it. The key is to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. As you exhale, pull your belly muscles in as much as you can and hold them. Think of it as scooping your belly out with an ice cream scoop. As you get better at it, gradually you lengthen your exhalation time and reap more body benefits. Along with the abdominal benefits this extended breath can improve your sleep quality, reduce anxiety and improve your energy. Try it: Before bedtime to help support sleep, in the middle of the night when you’re struggling when your up with your baby, anytime you are breastfeeding or at any time of the day to calm stress or anxiety.
Now that I have you breathing, I want to add a simple muscle focus to this breathing technique. It’s called the Root Lock. This muscle contraction can be as effective as sit ups if practiced daily. It’s not quite your kegels but a little more intense and deeper. The root lock targets muscles from your below your navel to your perineum. In yoga energy, this is your sex center. Let’s get you finding your root. Start with your basic kegel, got it? Now, pull your muscle between the rectum and the cervix inward, don’t stop there, and pull all those lower abdominal muscles in all the way to the belly button. This entire area is your root. Pulling it in tightly and holding it is called the root lock. You can intensify this lock by practicing it while you work your extended breathing. The benefits to the lock include, abdominal diastasis repair, bladder muscle strength, uterus repair, and if you’re ready it can stimulate your sex energy and improve your orgasms.
The next technique, is vital to your recovery and reconnecting with your body again. Most of our “blues” can be tackled simply with mindful encouragement. What you tell yourself can make a big difference to how you look, how you feel and how much energy you have into making your recovery a health one. In yoga we call these words mantras. Do these words sound familiar: aggggh look at my stomach its so flabby, ohhhh I’m never going to lose this pregnancy weight, I’m sooooo tired I just can’t think of exercise, How will I ever lose this weight. If you have said any of those things or along those lines then you need to change your words immediately. What we tell ourselves becomes what we are. There is no way you recover from the “body blues” if you don’t believe you can. If you see yourself as fit, see yourself healthy and happy and tell yourself that you are then before you know it you will be, because you will make the efforts to be those things without even knowing it. The reason this works is because our emotions trigger hormones that can either make us happy or sad. When we say negative things about ourselves we lower our energy and spin in a negative cycle. By having happy positive thoughts we release dopamine that actually stimulates us to move, have energy and stay happy. Dopamine’s are reward driven learning chemicals in the brain. So let’s improve your rewarding process to be effective in beating the body blues. Write down three statements that you want to be true about yourself physically. Go ahead write them down. Now I want you to slowly say each one ten times and visualize it. Do you notice how you feel? Pick the one that you are most happy with when you repeat it. Trust me you will know when you say it. You will feel your energy change. All you have to do now is add it to your root lock and breathing exercises. Just visualize the mantra over and over again. If you can I strongly recommend that you repeat it out loud. That triggers a sound response and makes it a stronger statement.
With these three simple techniques you will be well on your way to feeling good and loving your postpartum body. You will get fit and you will feel better. As time goes on into your post pregnancy journey these techniques will award you energy, motivation and positive reinforcement that will turn into a long term healthy lifestyle commitment.