Benefits of Postpartum Yoga

After having a baby, your body needs time to heal and rest — and so does your mind. Postpartum yoga, also referred to as postnatal yoga, can help with both. This form of yoga focuses on recovery and restoration and can alleviate stress and depression after giving birth. 

You can start practicing yoga a few days to a few weeks after childbirth, depending on how your delivery went.   

What Is Postpartum Yoga?

Postpartum yoga is a modified, low-intensity yoga practice. A lot of changes happen to your body after childbirth. This type of yoga is designed to help your body recover. Postpartum yoga offers the most benefits during the first three months after childbirth.

For example, postpartum yoga has been shown to decrease the risk of postpartum depression. Yoga can help balance your energy, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress and anxiety. 

Postpartum yoga may also offer the following benefits:

  • Increased calmness
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Reduced irritability and anger
  • Increased energy
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Relaxation through meditation 

Why You Should Try Postpartum Yoga

Yoga is about balancing your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual self. Postpartum yoga and exercise can be helpful while getting through the newborn stage. It can increase your mood and energy and help you slowly reconnect with your body. 

Practicing yoga after childbirth has been shown to alleviate symptoms of postpartum depression, which can occur after the birth of your baby. Postpartum depression may appear mild at first. Symptoms can develop within weeks of childbirth or even a year after childbirth. Symptoms include: 

  • Severe mood swings
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Trouble bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • No appetite or eating more than usual
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Extreme fatigue
  • No interest in activities you enjoyed before
  • Irritability and anger
  • Fear of not being a good mother
  • Hopelessness or feelings of shame or guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Thoughts of harming yourself

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms after having a baby, contact your doctor. They can help you understand these feelings and offer treatment options.

Beyond alleviating anxiety and depression, postpartum yoga can simply help you relax. Take your time and be careful as you get back into yoga, though. Make sure to mind your body and know when to stop. Going too hard and too fast can be harmful.

Continued

Postpartum yoga classes should involve modified poses. Avoid overexerting yourself, especially in the first few weeks and months after childbirth.

This calming yoga flow can help you get started doing postnatal yoga:  

  1. Breathe in and connect with your body and mind. 
  2. Take a big breath into your belly and connect with your core. 
  3. Move your spine with a cat-cow pose
  4. Restore your abdomen and promote blood flow with child’s pose.
  5. Reset your body and balance your nervous system with the Legs-Up-The-Wall pose
  6. Rest your body with a modified savasana pose

You can also practice yoga with your baby, which can be a good way for you to bond with your new child. In the newborn stage, your baby will spend most of the class sleeping. These classes can also help you socialize with new moms. A community for you to lean on can release some anxiety that comes with being a new parent. 

Safety Considerations

Postpartum yoga is an easy way to get your body moving again. You may want to exercise at the level you did before pregnancy. However, your body is not ready for that intensity. If you push yourself too much, you could hurt yourself.  

Keep in mind that abdominal wall separation occurs during pregnancy as your belly stretches. Because of this, you should talk with your doctor before doing extensive core work. If you notice increased bleeding, dizziness, or have a rapid heart rate, seek immediate medical care.

You’ll need to be as mindful of your body postpartum as you were during pregnancy. There’s no rush getting back to your pre-pregnancy body. It’s important to focus on how you feel and letting your body heal. Childbirth is a strenuous activity that puts a lot of stress on your body. Postpartum yoga is meant to help your body slowly return to a healthy new normal you. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 02, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal: “Postpartum Exercise.”

Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: “Systematic review of yoga for pregnant women: current status and future directions.”

International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Medical Sciences: “TO STUDY THE EFFECT OF YOGA ON POST-PARTUM STRESS AND DEPRESSION.”

Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine: “The Efficacy of Yoga as a Form of Treatment for Depression.”

Mayo Clinic: “Exercise after pregnancy: How to get started.” “Postpartum depression.”

The practicing midwife: "Mother and baby yoga is good for you."

Yoga Journal: “Calming Postnatal Yoga Sequence for the ‘Fourth Trimester.’”

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