Motherhood is often stressful. When you’re busy caring for a new baby, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind.
Recovering your pre-baby body is tough if you aren’t blessed with either a fast metabolism or the willpower to exercise. Personally…I’ve always hated exercise. While I enjoy hiking or a nice walk outdoors, the thought of strength training or running on a treadmill indoors bums me out. I’ve had numerous gym memberships in the past, but I couldn’t motivate myself to keep going since I hate indoor exercise with a passion.
Taking long walks with baby is my favorite form of exercise, but walking alone isn’t enough to get rid of the post-baby pooch or to restore tone. I had a c-section, and I needed a way to restore strength to my abs once I’d recovered. Doing crunches was both boring and torturous, but some friends had great success with yoga. So when I read that yoga is a great way to ease stress and even to treat postpartum depression, I decided to give it a try.
After getting the go-ahead from my doctor, I started yoga when my baby was a little over three months old. I’ve been practicing yoga for almost 6 months. I do either a 60 or 75 stationary series at a local yoga studio as often as I can. It’s a strenuous full body workout that even an exercise-phobe like me enjoys because of the stress relief and stretching. While I haven’t met my fitness goals yet, that’s mainly because I find it hard to squeeze exercise into my busy schedule. But finding something you like to do is at least half the battle.
If you want to start a post-partum yoga workout, here are my tips:
- Learn the poses properly:I own Wii fit (full review here) and tried yoga for the first time using the Wii fit yoga program. Ouch! I wasn’t doing the poses properly, and I strained my back. I found a great Yoga studio near my house and enrolled it its month-long beginner program. I learned how to do the poses safely and properly over the course of eight classes (2x per week). If you don’t have the time or the budget to enroll in classes, try a DVD rated for beginners and ask a friend to spot you the first time to see if you are doing the poses properly.
- DVD Recommendation: If you’re already in great shape, you might be able to do a regular beginner yoga DVD. But some beginning yoga DVDs do not included modifications of the poses for inflexible people, true exercise beginners, and people recovering from injury/surgery. As a result, you might strain yourself by pushing yourself fully into a pose without the proper positioning. A good yoga teacher will tell you that it is more important to do the pose properly with a stable footing rather than pushing yourself beyond your capabilities. Yoga For Inflexible People is a great DVD for true beginners since it shows various ways to modify the poses depending on your current fitness level. Yoga Journal rated this DVD as one the Top Yoga DVDs ever produced.
- Class Alternatives for Intermediate-Level Yoga: If you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars a month on studio classes, you can join the Gaiam Yoga Club for only $5 a week and get access to fresh daily online yoga programs and classes. I wouldn’t recommend this for true beginners, but it’s a great program for people who know the poses.
Once you know what you’re doing, you’ll need some gear. Here are my recs:
- Yoga Mat (Basic): Hugger Mugger Tapas Nature Collection Yoga Mat (68-Inch, Sunset) This is a basic sticky mat (measures 1/8″ x 24″ x 68) for under $25. Yoga Mat (Luxury): Devi Yoga Mats are so beautiful that you’ll feel inspired and motivated to work out. Devi, a luxury yoga brand, offers unique mat designs based on natural elements (earth, wind, fire, water) and the universe (Northern Lights, starscape). The mats measure 24″ wide x 72″ tall x 1/4″ thick. The extra thickness is great if you have sore joints or just want more cushioning. I own the “Wind” mat (pictured here). At $99.95, it’s a splurge…but I’ve received many compliments on how pretty it is.
Yoga Towel: You get really sweaty during a yoga practice. I used a Yogitoes Skidless Premium Mat-Size Yoga Towel($39). It absorbs sweat, keeps your mat clean and reduces slipping.
Cute Yoga Clothing (Luxury): This is a splurge and not a necessity, but I love the stylish designs by Beckons Organic. (Click here for full review.)