Pregnancy and the postpartum period can be a difficult time for a woman’s body image. While some women love their new curves and feel their best pregnant, it’s not universal. Before you have a noticeable bump, you may feel flabby, bloated and uncomfortable. In the last few months of pregnancy you might feel huge, swollen, and like your body is somewhat foreign. Postpartum is not much better. With the standards of beauty in our culture including “MILFs”, and Heidi Klum walking the Victoria’s Secret runway six weeks after birth, keeping reasonable expectations for what we “should” or will look and feel like post baby is really difficult. Relax. Yoga is here to help.
A yoga asana practice (physical postures) can help you feel more integrated within your own skin again. As we stand in mountain pose, bringing awareness from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head can help you see and accept yourself for who you are in that moment. As you move through familiar poses, you can also regain a sense of pride in your body, not just for what it looks like, but for what it can do. Not only can it rock this warrior 2, but it can grow an entire new being as well! And yoga will help you feel physically better. With reduced aches and pains, you can be more comfortable in your changing body and learn to love it more.
The philosophy of yoga can be a helpful lense through which to view your changing body as well. Particularly the practice ahimsa, or nonviolence, can be very meaningful. Nonviolence means not only treating yourself (and others) without malice, it means treating yourself kindly, lovingly, carefully. It means having compassion for yourself, for your grumpy moods and frumpy feelings, and loving yourself unconditionally anyway. And if you’re still striving to embrace yourself, try practicing santosha, or contentment. It’s not to say you don’t want things to change, it’s an understanding and acceptance of things as they are that leads to a much deeper sense of calm and peace.
Have you had body image issues during pregnancy? How have you overcome them and learned to love the new you? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or when we see you in class this weekend!