Healthy Mamas: Postnatal Pilates (Part 6)

Mindfulness is Enlightenment itself. You only need a few seconds to get enlightened. To be aware that you are alive, with a body that is strong enough and healthy enough – that is Enlightenment. Our body is a wonder.

Thich Nhat Hanh

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Yesterday was a day full of love…not only was it Valentine’s Day (I actually baked a cake with Z…but that’s another story!), my littlest turned ONE month old, and I returned to the studio (my second home!) for my FIRST postnatal Pilates workout. It was a pretty great day!

I had been patiently waiting to get back in the studio, but was respecting my body and the healing that needed to happen after giving birth.  I am so grateful that I was able to have a peaceful, natural birth, with no complications and am very thankful that I only had a minor split in my abdominals (diastasis recti- a very common issue that happens in pregnant women).  Despite the labor and birth going as smoothly I possible, my body still took time to recover.  Those first couple of weeks were rough! I spent a lot of time resting after giving birth (well, as much as I could with a toddler and newborn!) and began doing abdominal strengthening after two weeks (the Pilates “scoop”, breath work, and small upper ab curls with a very intentional scoop first).

I felt the toll that this second pregnancy took on my body, even more so than the first, and I have been really gentle with myself as I begin the journey to find my new strength.  I will never have the body I had before kids- that would be impossible.  That doesn’t mean I won’t be the same weight or fit into my same clothes, it just means my body is different!  Major changes have happened, but I can still find strength, stability, power, grace, and freedom of movement, just in a new way!  Women’s bodies are AMAZING!  I am in awe of what mine did for me over the past year and I am excited to “Return to Life” as Joseph Pilates would say, through the Pilates system!

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It felt amazing to walk into the quiet studio and lie down on the reformer.  I have missed the sound of the springs, the feel of the foot bar on my feet and the straps in my hands, and the immediate connection to my body and breath that I get from Pilates.   I started on the reformer- it felt great to just be able to lie on my back without getting winded or dizzy!  I found myself getting excited for each exercise…

  • stomach massage- yay!  my belly doesn’t get in the way AS much now!
  • pull straps and T- YES! I can lie on my stomach!
  • elephant- I can feel my deep abs in a safe and strengthening way
  • side splits, Russian splits, front splits kneeling?!- my hips have missed the stretching and strengthening

Like so many things, we gain even more appreciation for something when you step away from it for a while.

I went through a modified Level 3 reformer workout avoiding the more challenging exercises for my outer abdominals such as 100s, teaser, long stretch and short spine. Being completely in tune with myself and my body was like a breath of fresh air- it has been a while since I had the space and time to do that!

Pilates is the perfect system to help heal and retrain the postnatal body.  When the movements are done with integrity and intention, the principles of Pilates promote uniform development of the mind, body, and spirit.

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photo credit: Heba Salama Photography