This sequence is designed for mothers. The seated poses will fire up your core and help balance out a stressful day of parenting.
This is a practice for all mothers, whether pregnant or facing an empty nest, recently post- partum or recently adoptive, single or partnered. It is equally appropriate for the highest highs of parenting and for those moments when children push you to your very edge. It’s a practice focused on building your core—a strong physical core and a strong emotional core to sustain you through the overwhelming love and challenges of motherhood.
Start seated with your hips propped on a blanket or block, and find your breath. Allow your eyes to close, and scan your body to notice how it feels at this moment. Stay here for 5—10 minutes, until you begin to feel ease in your breath.
If you’re a new mom (for the first or fifth time), listen with particular care to your body’s needs and messages. Start slowly and ease into the more challenging poses and a longer practice over time. If you recently delivered via C-section, get clearance from your doctor before engaging in any movement or physical activity. Your daily schedule may be unpredictable (and very, very full). So when you do find time to practice (or even just fully inhale and exhale), feel into your body and your being, and come back into your center.
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Corpse Pose, variation
3 minutes. 24–30 breaths
Place two blocks at the top of your mat, about 6 inches apart. The topmost block will be at its lowest level, and the other will be at a low or medium height (medium is more intense). Lie back and allow your head to settle on the upper block; adjust the lower block to land directly under your heart. Allow your arms to open wide, and breathe deep into your lower lungs.
See also The Purpose of Corpse Pose
1 minute, 8–10 breaths
Remove the blocks and bend your knees. Spread your toes and energetically draw your feet back toward your hips. Cross your arms around your low ribs and lightly draw your hands inward to knit the ribs together. This is especially great for moms who experienced a diastatis recti, or abdominal split, with pregnancy and birth. Exhale to press your low back into the ground while lifting your shoulders off the ground. Keep your neck long. As you inhale, slowly relax back. Repeat 4–5 times.
1 minute, 8–10 breaths
If you feel ready for a more challenging version of a crunch, extend your legs and lift them 1–2 feet off the ground. Then, on an exhalation, lift your shoulders off the ground. As you inhale, release your legs back to the ground with gentle control. Continue, exhaling as you lift your legs and shoulders and inhaling as you release them. If you feel this in your low back, lift your legs a bit higher or again try the first crunch option, above. Repeat 4–5 times.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
1 minute, 8–10 breaths
Relax back to the earth and bend your legs, placing your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart under your knees. Slowly roll your tailbone toward the sky and allow your hips to rise. Extend your arms and clasp your hands, or open the arms wide. Feel the feet, arms, and head on the ground. Draw each breath deeply into the lowest part of the lungs and exhale fully. Hold. Exhale to lower.
Cat and Cow Poses
Marjaryasana and Bitilasana
2 minutes, 16–20 breaths
Roll to your right side and rest for a moment. Then come to your hands and knees. Place your hands directly under your shoulders, fingers spread wide, and your knees directly under your hips. If your knees are bothering you, feel free to cushion them. Inhale and allow your heart to open; exhale to drop the tailbone to the earth and lift the midback to the sky. Repeat 4–5 times.
About our Pro
San Francisco–based teacher and model Janet Stone started her practice at age 17. A student of Max Strom and meditation teacher Prem Rawat, Stone teaches vinyasa flow at events around the world. Her new kirtan album with DJ Drez, Echoes of Devotion, hit number 1 on iTunes’s World Music chart this year. Stone has two daughters and offers this advice to moms: “Motherhood offers infinite lessons in the realms of surrender, empowerment, grace, mistakes, and patience, and then some more patience—as well as the endless unfurling of transitions and change. Practicing yoga amidst this adventure can support us in myriad ways to find our center.” Learn more at janetstoneyoga.com.