by: Melinda Parrish
Becoming a mother is a magical journey that affects every area of your life! Especially your body. Moms can benefit greatly from a consistent yoga practice, whether you’re pregnant, postpartum, or just trying to juggle yoga with the demands of life as a busy mom!
I sat down with yogi, mom, and studio owner Lindsey Canaley to discuss different ways for moms to incorporate props into their yoga practice (safely!) at the various stages of motherhood. I frequently practice with Lindsey at Refresh Yoga, the studio she co-owns in Alexandria, VA. She has been my personal guide to practicing yoga as a mom, beginning with prenatal yoga during my first pregnancy in 2017. Lindsey is completing her RYT-500 this year with a thesis presentation on a holistic approach to the pre- and postnatal yoga practice.
Yogi, mom and studio owner Lindsey Canaley.
There are many benefits to practicing yoga throughout motherhood!
“A regular practice is going to help you keep your strength up,” says Lindsey. “It will also keep your muscles and joints mobile!”
Throughout pregnancy especially, your body goes through a series of biological changes to prepare you for labor and delivery. By practicing yoga regularly, you can ensure that you maintain strong muscles, healthy joints, and even a calm mind throughout this process!
“Yoga gives your system a chance to downregulate,” says Lindsey. Meaning, when your sympathetic nervous system is activated by the stresses of life, it upregulates, and your yoga practice is a way to encourage downregulation, which is like a muscle you build over time to regulate your stress levels.
This is especially important postpartum and as your motherhood journey continues into the stresses of parenting older children!
Gaiam blog contributor Julie Kailus emphasizes this in her post, “Calm Mom: 5 Ways to Be a Present Parent.”
“Let’s face it, life with kids is challenging. Yet you see those moms who seem to breeze through it all, unflappable. They have an annoyingly effortless way of seeming cool, collected, kind, peaceful and in control — even when surrounded by chaos,” says Julie.
Yoga is a great way to take space for yourself and cultivate more calm as a mother!
Use bolsters to prop up your “Queen’s Chair” posture during pregnancy, instead of lying flat on your back for savasana or other restorative poses.
“Every mama is different! The changes in her yoga practice can be substantial or minimal. I think the key is to try not to have any hard and fast expectations and to explore the changes with an open mind,” says Lindsey.
“Lying flat on your back after the 2nd trimester is generally discouraged (though some may still be able to do so!),” says Lindsey. “The bolster is great for easier relaxing!”
Prop yourself up in this pose using rectangular or round Yoga Bolsters as well as any other cushions or blankets you need to relax and feel comfortable.
Blocks give you maximum stability as you work to increase strength and flexibility in your practice. During my own personal practice postpartum, I relied on blocks more than ever before to help me get back into certain postures.
From a strength perspective, it takes 18 months to get back to your “pre-baby body,” Lindsey advises. “Take comfort in knowing you can't rush this journey and celebrate the strength you build and your new life as a mama.”
“The blocks can help support the hands to bring the earth a little closer,” says Lindsey.
In any stage of motherhood, you may benefit from the use of straps to help you deepen your practice!
“Straps can help give you access to stretches that may be less accessible or to add stability,” says Lindsey.
This strap will allow you to gradually and safely increase your reach, and make certain poses more accessible.
Motherhood can be such a joyous, transformational journey. But it can also be really overwhelming and cause us to distance ourselves from self-care practices, such as regular yoga!
But, consistently practicing yoga throughout all stages of motherhood can make us calmer, stronger, and more present as mothers. If you’re struggling with your practice, consider grabbing some of these props to support you.
For my own motherhood journey, the community I’ve found at Refresh Yoga with people like Lindsey has also been instrumental in getting me to the mat on a regular basis. So find your yogi tribe of moms that will support you pre- and postnatal, and well into your motherhood journey beyond!
Lindsey Canaley Bio:
Lindsey discovered yoga 15 years ago via a VHS workout tape as a teenager in her native Los Angeles. After a personal practice for many years, she got the courage to step foot in a real yoga studio in DC in 2011 and fell in love all over again. Lindsey is a RYT-200 and completed her studies at Tranquil Space and her prenatal training at Mind the Mat. She will be finishing her RYT-500 this year with a thesis presentation on a holistic approach to the pre- and postnatal yoga practice.