White: Getting your post-baby body back with boat poseWritten by Jennifer S. White | | firstname.lastname@example.org
New motherhood is one of the best places to be in life. It’s filled with exhaustion and worry, of course, but the rewards and joys are much more bountiful than the pitfalls. Still, no matter how hard you tried to stay in shape during your pregnancy, your body is bound to be a little softer.
On the plus side, you still have relaxin in your system and might still benefit from a little boost of flexibility in your practice, and with birth behind you, you now know that you’re capable of almost anything. Keep this in mind as you get your core back in shape after baby.
Not many people like doing core work. It’s one of those things that feels like pure torture while you’re doing it, but the aftereffects make it worthwhile. Maybe you felt that way during pregnancy, too. In honor of — perhaps even your first — Mother’s Day, we’re going to strengthen and tone our midsections.
Having a fit abdomen is empowering, and empowerment is something that all new moms need. Taking just five to 10 minutes a day to do some core work will have numerous benefits, not the least of which is a boost to your self-esteem. So let’s get started.
Boat pose — it’s a pose in yoga that many people do incorrectly. One of the worst ways this happens is pushing yourself too far and losing correct alignment. We’ll begin with a modification that is guaranteed to get you strong.
Begin with bent legs, your feet on the floor. Engage your lower belly and feel length in your tailbone. Don’t lose that but begin to firm your shoulder blades to your heart center and smile through your collarbones. Then lean back just enough that your toes become light.
Feeling stable on the tripod of your sitting bones and tailbone, let your shins come parallel to the floor. Try to squeeze your knees together, imagining that you’re firming yourself into the midline of your body. Your feet are together but not crossed at the ankle as you spread and activate even your toes.
Now, before you extend your legs straight and into full boat pose, pull your knees closer to your chest. You’re much better off keeping your knees bent and hugging them in than sloppily extending through your legs just for the sake of it. More importantly, make sure that you haven’t lost the length and engagement in your lower abdominals and the lift and opening of your upper chest.
Your hands can be doing several things. Your fingertips can be on the floor behind you for a little extra support; you can lightly hold the backs of your thighs; or you can challenge yourself by extending them alongside your shins so that they’re parallel to the floor. Open and spread the area between your shoulder blades without losing the lift and broadness of your heart and collarbones. Rotate your pinkies slightly in and extend through your fingers, keeping your thumbs parallel to the rest of your fingers rather than in a “hitchhiker” position.
Lastly, lift up through the base of your skull to lengthen and release your neck. Your shoulders are dropping away from your ears and still firming in as you breathe fluidly in and out of your nose. Work up to holding your boat pose for one full minute.
Boat pose is wonderful for everyone, but for new moms it both encourages confidence and builds strength. You’ll begin to notice tone in your legs and hip flexors as well as your abdominals if you work this pose daily.
Mother’s Day is a reminder that all moms need to feel appreciated and valued, and taking time for yourself and your health is a reward for your family as well as for you. Say thanks to yourself for all of your hard work by setting aside a little “me” time every day, even if it’s just for a boat pose — or two or three. Happy Mother’s Day.