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“Yoga is union, breath, stillness and love,” Colker-Arison says. So bond with your baby while doing these moves. The program focuses on the connection between mother and baby, while strengthening the muscles most taxed during pregnancy and delivery. Begin by trying 1 pose at a time, repeating for 5 full breaths and progressing to 10. If you feel any discomfort, stop and wait a few days before trying again. It’s best to wait 6 weeks before starting any fitness program—longer if you had a C-section—so check with your doctor first.
To Begin: Union Meditation: Sit erect on a pillow in a comfortable, cross-legged position, cradling your baby close to your heart. Close your eyes and inhale deeply through your nose, filling your belly and expanding your ribs. Exhale deeply through your nose, feeling your belly draw in. Continue to breathe deeply as you feel the connection between you and your baby. Gently strengthens your ab muscles, increases lung capacity and creates a strong mother-baby bond.
1. Sole to Sole: Sit on a pillow with the soles of your feet touching. Place your baby on a pillow or blanket, lying faceup between your legs. Keeping your right hand on your baby, sit up tall and draw your abs in. Inhale, then exhale as you lift your left arm up and lean to the right. Repeat on the other side. Then, inhale and exhale as you lean forward and round your spine, playing peekaboo with your baby. Repeat sequence 5–10 times. Stretches your torso, inner thighs, lower back and hip as you interact with your baby.
2. Rock and Roll: Lie on your back on a comfortable surface, bring your knees close to chest and hold your baby securely on your ankles or shins (depending on whether he can hold his head up). Exhale as you draw your belly in and lift head and shoulders off the floor, bringing knees and baby closer to your chest as you make eye contact with him. Lower head and shoulders to starting position and repeat 5–10 times. Strengthens abs and gives baby a fun ride.
3. Reverse Tabletop: Place your baby on a comfortable surface between your feet. Sit tall with your legs bent, palms down and behind hips, shoulders back and down, chest lifted. Pressing into your hands and keeping shoulders back and down, inhale, then exhale as you lift your hips to a comfortable position, keeping neck in line with your spine. Hold for 1 full breath, then lower hips to starting position and repeat 5–10 times. Strengthens upper back, shoulders, buttocks and abs, improving overall balance and coordination.
4. Sphinx to Down Dog: Lie on your belly, legs straight and slightly apart, your baby lying faceup. Place palms down, elbows under shoulders. Draw abs in and squeeze buttocks, shoulders back and down. Press into forearms to lift chest slightly. Hold for 1 full breath, then bend legs, straighten arms and push back into Down Dog. Hold for 1 breath, then bend legs and slowly lower onto belly, repeat 5–10 times. Strengthens back, shoulders, arms, chest and abs. Stretches hamstrings, calves, back and shoulders.