By Michael Gleason
Can Yoga relieve postpartum depression? Entering motherhood can be an exciting time: buying baby clothes, either turning a spare bedroom or making space in the home for a nursery, and choosing a name. And then the woman goes to the hospital around the baby’s due date and comes home as a mother with an infant. Due to the rapid changes in the body – especially when it comes to hormones and core muscles – it is not unheard of for the postpartum period to bring about feelings of sadness or develop a condition known as postpartum depression. In this modern age, a mother may only be allotted six to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave from her employer. Even if paternity time is unavailable for the father, or the baby is constantly fussy then postpartum blues can be exacerbated.
An easy remedy is yoga for postpartum depression. Sally Susinno, RYT-200, of Wellesley, Mass. described depression as “something that expresses itself in the body.” In addition to the sparse few months of maternity leave, new mothers might also be melancholic due to environmental factors such as their pre-pregnancy clothes no longer fitting the same way or going out with girlfriends on the weekends transitions into playgroups on weekdays. Yoga and meditation, with their emphases on mindfulness both on and off the mat or cushion, is one way for young mothers to become re-acquainted with themselves.
Once on the mat, getting back into your body and nourishing just yourself is going to be critical. One thing a mother should tell her yoga instructor is if she has what’s called “mommy belly” also referred to as diastasis recti abdominis. Once on the mat here is what to keep an eye on:
– Use the cat and cow poses to suck in your stomach
– Be mindful of staying in the Umbanda pose so the pubic and pelvic regions re-gain back their strength
– Give yourself extra spine strength
– And re-condition your core muscles
Once off the mat and living with postpartum depression keep the mindfulness at the forefront. Simple, quick choices will re-emphasize this:
– When out running errands choose that apple vs. sweets
– Ask your barista for a green tea instead tea of that 20-ounce mocha latte
– Deliberately give something vs. receiving such as charity or volunteering
All of these actions for postpartum depression will help address the symptoms. It is
important to remember that depression is an emotion vs. a condition. So those bodily aches and pains or feelings of emptiness might have generated in your head. The sooner a mother can enroll in a Mommy & Me Yoga Class to help address the postpartum blues will be the best bet. It will also be a chance to bring your own flesh and blood into the mind-body benefits of yoga, too.
Even if you cannot attend a full Mommy & Me Yoga session just 10 minutes of these poses will help move alleviate PPD:
– Downward facing dog but start in tabletop pose so your knees are already hip-distance apart and wrists stacked over your shoulders
– Forward fold with shoulder expansion: remember to keep your weight shifted into your toes!
– Cobra pose: this is that chance to get into Umbanda and bring strength back to those core muscles
– Triangle pose, you can get a good strength along the length of your body
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