Yoga-related tools for mum-to-be and new mums
At the end of a pregnancy and into the fourth trimester, it’s common to experience sleep deprivation. And more than we would like to, it is simply out of our control how many hours we get to sleep. Luckily, there are easy yet powerful tools that exist to help us improve our sleep so we can stay alert and energised to embrace this period fully.
Yoga teacher, mum of two and with a background in Investment Banking, I have tested many tools over the years to improve my sleep and function as best as I can.
Here are my go-to tools, which do not require any yogic skill:
1. Have a sleep routine
This is great to create new neural pathways in your brain. This means that the more you repeat the same actions, the more your brain will automatically understand that when you put your phone away and grab a book (this is just an example), it needs to get ready for sleep and it will. For me, it’s doing point 5.
It consists in writing down everything that is on your to-do so it gets it out of your head. Studies have found that it decreases the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep by 50%.
3. Gentle movements
End of day movements are great to release tensions and create lightness both physically and mentally. Prefer forward fold (Ragdoll, Paschimottanasana) to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system. Child pose is great too as it helps with stress, insomnia and digestion as well. Happy baby or half happy baby is another option to rebalance the hips and release blocked emotions.
This is a great tool for emotional release making it very suitable for pregnancy being an emotional roller-coaster! Every human body is made with fascia, a connective tissue holding everything together, surrounding every organ in the body, around muscles, bones, blood vessels, just under our skin. It was recently discovered that fascia was mostly made of water molecules. And water has the ability to store emotions. When we stretch and relax the muscles, we also stretch the fascia and what is stored may escape. So if you start crying, please don’t freak out this is absolutely normal and means this is working well. It can be as simple as sitting on the floor and side stretching with the right hand on the floor and the left up and over so you stretch the left side body. This muscle (quadratus lumborum is the muscle we use to sit, stand and walk so daily stretch is key!). Please be mindful of how deep you go while stretching because during and beyond your pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin is flowing through your body making you hyperflexible.
5. Legs up the wall (Viparita karani)
This posture (please add the link to this article for more information) has done magic for me. For years it took me 30 minutes to fall asleep and now it takes me a couple of minutes only. It is so simple and does not take additional time. I do this reading or just for 5 minutes when going to my bed before properly lying on my back. It works also beautifully for your lymphatic system helping the lymph to flow better naturally boosting your immune system.
It has been scientifically proven that meditation provides deeper rest than sleep so always a great option to explore. Several types exist: mantra-based (repeating a mantra), concentration focused (fixing your attention on something. It is not the easiest so would recommend another type to start with) and open-monitoring (also known as mindfulness). Adopt an open mind and explore to see what works best for you. Sitting in meditation can seem weird and scary but like anything you need to give it a go before drawing a conclusion and you may even like it!
7. 4:6 Breathing
A lovely soothing breath that brings a sense of calm and serenity. Great if you feel a bit stressed. You inhale counting up to 4 and exhale for 6. By bringing a longer exhale, you stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system where the body can reach a deep state of relaxation. This state allows the body to repair, regenerate, rejuvenate, digest, balance our hormones, etc. It also stimulates creative thinking, helps clear the mind and balance emotions, and so much more.
8. Yoga Nidra
It has saved me many times when my kids were waking up through the night. This practice is the easiest you will ever find, you simply have to lie down and let the teacher guide you. Your body and mind will fall asleep while your consciousness will stay awake. This is extremely restorative. One hour of Nidra is as restful as 4 hours of sleep. You can do this during the week when you feel down or pick a Nidra for sleep practice.
As you see there are many tools and you may not resonate will all of them but life changes, we change and it’s good to have a toolbox so you can test various techniques and get to know which one work depending on your mood or energy levels.
Maud Eeckman teaches Yoga Vinyasa, Nidra, pre-natal yoga, meditation and breathwork. She has been practising for 10 years and deeply believes in the power of wellness routines and simple tools to get to know yourself better and live in alignment with your values. She empowers perfectionist women with yoga-related tools so they can unwind from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and feel calmer in the mind and stronger in their bodies. You can connect with her via her website (https://www.maudeeckman.com) or follow her journey on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/maud.eeckman.yoga/).