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Yoga Sequences

20-Minute Sequence for a Strong + Stable Core

Designed especially for mothers, this core work with leg lifts and lunges is for those moments when children push you to your very edge.

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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.

Warm-up
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.

Practice tips
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.

Want more yoga with Janet? Stay tuned for her 4-week course on aimhealthyu.com

Corpse Pose, variation

janet stone, Corpse Pose, variation, savasana

Savasana, 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

Crunch

janet stone, crunch

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.

See also Two Fit Moms’ Picks: 8 Best Yoga Poses for the Core

Crunch, variation

janet stone, Crunch, variation pose

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.

See also Yoga Girl’s Spring Break Core + Balance Sequence

Bridge Pose

janet stone, Bridge Pose, setu bandha sarvangasana

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.

See also The Most Versatile Backbend: Bridge Pose

Cat and Cow Poses

janet stone, cat pose, marjaryasana

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.

See also Add Cat Pose and Cow Pose to a Gentle Vinyasa Flow

Cat-Cow Pose, variation 

janet stone, hand and foot extension crunch in tabletop

1 minute, 8–10 breaths, each side

From Cow Pose, extend your left leg behind you, with the knee and foot at hip level. If that feels OK, extend your right arm. Feel length from the fingertips to the toes. On an exhale, draw your left knee and right elbow toward each other, rounding into your back and breathing deeply into the back of your heart. Let the back of the neck remain long. Repeat 4–5 times with the left leg and right arm.

See also Core Yoga: A Vinyasa Flow to Target + Strengthen Your Abs

Cat-Cow Leg Lift 

janet stone, table top Leg Lift pose

30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each side

Bring your hands and knees to the earth. Inhale to extend your left leg, then bend the leg, aiming to bring it to a 90-degree angle, with the sole of your foot facing the sky. Pull your low belly in toward your back. Allow your shoulder blades to soften down your back as you energetically pull your hands toward your knees. Open your heart to the space in front of you.

See also Two Fit Moms’ Energizing Back-to-School Sun Salutation

Low Lunge, variation

janet stone, Low Lunge, variation

Anjaneyasana, variation

1 minute, 8–10 breaths, each side

Curl the toes of your right foot and draw your left foot between your hands as you lift your back knee (for a gentler practice, leave the knee down). Energetically draw the right foot forward and the left heel back to engage Mula Bandha (Root Lock: an energetic drawing-up from the pelvic floor). This will provide post-labor support to the perineum (the area between the anus and vagina), and can support healing if you had a perineal tear or episiotomy.

See also A Guided Meditation for Your Next Free Moment

Twisted Lunge, variation

janet stone, Twisted Lunge, variation

30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each side

Extend your left arm to the sky for a twist. Keep your left hip dropping toward the earth and press the back heel toward the back of the mat. Spin your low belly to open into a twist. Breathe slowly. On the exhalation, draw the feet together isometrically; on the inhalation, allow your heart to open to the sky.

See also Do Twists Really Wring Out Toxins?

High Lunge, variation

High Lunge, variation

1 minute, 8–10 breaths, each side

Bring your left hand back to the ground. Then rise up to High Lunge (for a less strenuous version, you can lower the knee). Open your arms wide, with the elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Bring your attention to your legs and feel the feet both energetically press into the earth and draw toward one another. On every exhalation, move from your center to draw your elbows to touch, while you draw your chin down. Keep the back leg straight and the heel extending back. On the inhalations, open your arms and heart again.

See also 10-Minute Meditation on Self-Care for Mothers

Lunge Kicks

janet stone, Lunge Kicks

1 minute, 8–10 breaths, each side

Bring your attention to your front foot and feel the connection to the earth. As you exhale and draw your elbows back, engage your core and draw your back knee into your chest. Inhale to extend your leg back into a lunge and sweep your arms alongside your ears. Repeat this action 4–5 times.

See also A Meditation on the Joy of Motherhood

End here with Savasana for 2 minutes
OR, HAVE 10 MORE MINUTES?EXTEND YOUR SEQUENCE.
Return to 16 Poses for a Strong + Stable Core

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.