Class #1368

Postnatal Body Reconnection

20 min - Class


After having her son, Bennett, Leah Stewart is back to teach a Postnatal Mat workout. This gentle class is designed to get you reconnected to your body before you return to the Pilates work. It is a great chance for you to take a moment in between the demands of motherhood to focus on yourself and find the duality of energy and relaxation in your breathing. You will feel lighter and more open after this class.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video


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Hi there, welcome back. I'm Leah and I n not pregnant anymore. I had my little boy Bennett, I'm nine weeks postpartum now and I'm going to start my second postpartum series here at platas anytime, which I'm so excited about. So this is the very first class. So this class is really designed for you to experience pretty much those first couple of weeks after you have your baby or if your plot is professional looking at this video, this is something you can help your clients do before they come back into the studio with you. So we really want to focus on just energizing breath, just reconnecting with the body, um, really gentle class.

So I just want to open and stretch and just kind of feel good. So that's really what we're going to dive into here. And another thing is I want to encourage you to just do this on the floor in your house or what I like to do after I had both of my boys is do this actually just in bed. So, um, again, it's not a really a workout, it's just more of a breathing, energizing thing for you. But we are going to work on some of the postnatal concepts here. Okay, so let's go ahead and get started. So I want you to gently and safely get on your back.

Yeah, and just find a position that's comfortable and go ahead and just allow your pelvis to rest where it wants to rest here and bring your feet in the nicely comfortable, your feet flat, and just let your shoulders melt down into any surface that you're on right now. Whether you're on the mat, on your carpet, or whether you're laying on your bed. And I just want you to close your eyes and just feel your body. Get kind of heavy down into your mat and just start your gentle breath. You can place your hands wherever you like, but you're just taking a moment here in between the demands of New Motherhood, of having a newborn and just feeling your body breathe and relax and soften. Your eyes may feel very heavy as you have had much interrupted sleep as of late, but just let that heaviness happen and just feel the joy of relaxing your body for just a moment.

Now we're going to do a series of breathing here where we're going to work it down from the top of our rib cage down to our pelvis. So I'd like you to take your arms and wrap them around your torso so that one palm is on the left rib cage and the other palm is on the right rib cage. And just let your elbows relax. So as you breathe in, you're going to expand your vid cage out to the side and then exhale, just let it soften and fold back down into your body and inhale, expanding the rib cage, even feel the back widen on your mat. Then exhale, just soften your breath as all the air comes out and inhale and exhale and it's so important. Continue three more as you inhale.

So important that we use breath to oxygenate the body so that we really can kind of feel that zing of energy that kind of comes with that. And also a sense of relaxation as yes, we love our newborns and yes, we want to care for them, but it is taxing on us. And so just to have that sense of relaxation with the breath as well. So you really want that duality of energizing and relaxation. One more time. Inhale and XL.

Now this time I gently want you to place your hands on top of your abdomen and maybe a little Tinder right now, especially if you had a Syrian birth. But I just want you to breathe into your abdomen. Inhale and exhale. You're not pushing your abdominal wall out by any means. You're just gently breathing. Just feeling that connection, sending that fresh air down into the abdomen. Don't think of contracting your muscles as you exhale, just feel the natural rise and fall.

[inaudible] gave me two more and in hell and just feel how that lower back even opens and expands as you do your inhale as you breathe here. And then exhale, just let your body heavily rest down into the mat one more time and exhale. Now hands down in your pelvis, you could do a little triangle of index fingers on the pubic symphysis and Kinda heal the hands over by the hip. Bones are the Asi [inaudible]. And now here, I just really want you to take a moment to imagine kind of the inside of your pelvis. Just kind of go deep into that pelvis and as you breathe, I want you to feel like a flood of fresh air or a flood of water kind of coming down to that pelvis. So again, just re-energized [inaudible]. So let's take an inhale, exhale and inhale. Exhale. I know it can be difficult to breathe into certain aspects of your body, certain parts of your body, but with practice you'll be able to do so just breathing that air down into the pelvis and then fill that air. Just expand the pelvis as you inhale, and then XLR all that air, just seep out and just relax. Three more. Inhale and XL, last two, not the pelvis, not pushing them on the musculature. Just feeling that expansion, that fresh air. Inhale and XL.

Now we're going to play with a little imagery here for pelvic reactivation, pelvic floor reactivation. So it might be a little bit tricky, but if you find it difficult when you redo this class with me, I think you'll find this to get easier and easier as you go along. So what I love to do, what I found to be most successful with some of my clients is you want to picture a little small red ball. Okay? You want to imagine that you're placing that red ball deep into your pelvis. So go ahead and just picture that so deep into the pelvis, into the birth canal if you want to think of it that way and as you exhale. So take a nice big inhale. As you exhale, you're going to enclose that red ball with the musculature, so you're going to feel the tightening of the muscular, just very, very gentle around that red ball with an exhale. Then inhale, release set, and then exhale, just kind of close the musculature around that tiny little red ball deep into the pelvis.

So you just feeling a slight bit of engagement of the pelvic floor musculature and then inhale, release it. Now continue to do that with me as I explain a little bit more exhale. If you don't feel the pelvic floor muscles activating because you just gave birth, if you tore, if you had episiotomy, that's totally okay. Don't worry about it. Those nerves have been damaged and stressed as long with the muscles of course, so that feeling, that sensation may not be there. Continue with your Xcels here, so as you practice and as you continue to do these pelvic floor reactivation exercises, you'll feel that sensation start to come back more and more.

Give me two more so XL and closing with that red ball. Just squeeze it tight into your pelvis and hold it there. Hold it there. Hold it there. Now Inhale, I want you to imagine that you released that red ball and it rolls out of the pelvis onto the floor, right by your heels. Just release. Then exhale. I want to mention it rolls back into your pelvis and you squeeze that with the Musculature, holding it there, feeling deep within the pelvis all the way to the surface, that engaging.

If you don't feel it, just imagine that sensation. Then in how we release that ball. Let it roll out onto the mat as you completely release the pelvic floor musculature and last time Xcel hold it and inhale, release. So quite a challenge there, but with practice you can do it. I want to do some shoulder openers here, so place both hands down by your sides.

Take your right arm up above the head, feel that beautiful stretch if you've had a Sicilian birth and this stretch is a little much on your scar here. Just go ahead and move maybe just above your shoulder to where you feel comfortable. So Xcel reach that right arm back. Inhale, Xcel switch. What I love about this movement as well is it kind of energizes you because we're moving the arms closest to the heart here, so you're just going to gently, you're not going to raise your heart rate by any stretch of imagination, but you're just gonna gently warm up that shoulder area. Just using that breath is going to energize you and taking the arms over head. You kind of get that beautiful stretch through your spine as well.

So just keep switching. Exhale, exhale. Let your pelvis rest wherever it feels natural. Exhale and exhale. Bring both arms, palms facing, and I want you to spread your fingertips out. I want you to bring your wrists into flex position. Reach your arms out to the tee position. Exhale. Then inhale, relax, service.

Come back in stretch and exhale and in Halen, so just wants you to feel that stretch across your chest, that stretch across the palms of the hands and it wants you to fill your Scapula, your shoulder blades gliding toward each other. This is just a really gentle way to kind of work that upper body work, the upper back and the safe position for you as you're newly in your postpartum period so that we just can acquire a little bit of that upper body postural control, which becomes so important postpartum as well as it was during your pregnancy. If your breasts are a little bit tender here because of your milk coming in, go ahead and just move as far as you can and just enjoy that opening. Go ahead one more time and I want you to hold it. Feel that beautiful tingle, that beautiful stretch, reach and bring the arms back. Unless you could make your fingers into that out of your hands, rather into the shape of a triangle here. Bend your elbows slightly. Xcel.

Take the arms over head. Feel that beautiful stretch, so your shoulders and upper back activation and in help bring it back and exhale and inhale. Just let your ribcage not rise, but let it widen. Let it expand as you take those arms over her head. Give me two more exhale and inhale up. One more time. Exhale and reach the arms overhead. Bring them down by your [inaudible] side and we'll just finish with some circles. Exhale, so just enjoy this mamas just as you have this few minutes series itself to just do a little bit of movement.

You're not in any shape early postpartum in these first couple of weeks to do any sort of intense workouts, but just movement, just breathing oxygen and Jason Circulation. Go the other direction that's we're focusing on. You should feel your mood or your energy starting to elevate here so that you can just end it. Keep experiencing the joy of being with your newborn and keeping your body nice and healthy. Take your arms down by your sides. Now we're going to do a little bit of pelvic stabilization.

A little bit of hip work here. So just very gentle wants you to Xcel. Lift your right leg up and inhale, take it down. Xcel, lift your left leg out. Now I'm not concerned about you holding this perfect neutral pelvis here. In fact, if it feels better for you to be in a slight posterior tilt because that's where your pelvis naturally wants to go, then go ahead and do it. But what I want you to do is really hinge deep into that hip.

So you feel that beautiful crease in the head as you alternate your legs. Exhale, and last time with the left x sale. Now with the right, you're gonna go. Exhale, extend the leg, bend the knee and bring it down. So we're carrying on left leg. Exhale, extend the leg. Feel the hamstring stretch, bend the knee and down. So I don't need you to think of really tightening your abdominal wall intensely. It's just again, that sense of moving at the hip joint, just feeling that little bit of that stability through your pelvis and through your torso, and that in and of itself is really going to be a good challenge for you as you just are new. So, so brand new in your postpartum period.

Let's go ahead and rest there. Now here as you bring your right leg up, I want you to gently just rock your pelvis back into a deeper tilt and bring it back four times. Does a gentle rock. Again, I can't emphasize enough, I don't need it to be this big contraction, just a gentle rock. You just reawakening those muscles, just kind of letting those muscle fibers start to heal and you're just guiding them along their way. Left leg up, Xcel rock and they're stills really beautiful and your lower back as you just massage it into the net. Just gentle massage. Exhale, and last one for me. Exhale, just really gentle. Now this time I want you to bring both knees into your chest, grabbing onto your knees with your hands and just draw it in.

Breathing in and exhale and just feel your pelvis. Get heavy onto the mat and fill out that length is out. Your lower back. When you're holding your newborn is really easy to slip into an anterior tilt of your pelvis and put strain on your lower back just because of the postural adaptations, but also because of your lax and weak abdominals that were so stretched during your pregnancy. Have a long way to go for their healing process. Just stretching out that lower back. Gently place your feet down.

Cross your left leg over your right and I want you to gently drop your legs down to the right side of your body. Take your arms out to the t and I want you to turn your head to your left and actually it might be nice for you to take your right hand onto your left rib case. I didn't want you to breathe here. You just enjoy this rotation. Inhale, exhale. Just feel that expansion of that left rib cage in hell and exhale last one and in hell and exhale slowly and carefully draw your legs back to center and go ahead and switch legs for me and take your legs gently down to the left side of your body. Turn your head to the right and place your left hand on your right rib cage and just breathe. [inaudible] when I've done this myself, this little routine after I've had Turner, my oldest son who you guys have seen and also Bennett, my new baby, I've always tend to do it in the evening at night in a nice dark room and it just really feels really lovely and it gives me just that time I need for myself.

You have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of your little babies and come back to the center for me and, and twist your legs here. Now place your hands down by your sides. This is one of my favorite little fun little moves that we can do postpartum here. So just really early. So I want you to push your arms down into the mass. He can feel the triceps activate here and go ahead and release them. So now when you do that again with your XL, you're going to draw your scapula together. You're literally going to lift your chest up toward the ceiling.

So you're kind of arking your back here. And then with an inhale, you're just going to literally release everything in, melt back into your mat feels so good. XL Drug, glide the scapula together toward the spine. Imagine that the skeptic going to touch the spine, push your hands down into your mat and then just release and let the ribs are the scapula glide apart and XL. Draw them together, filling that lift through the chest and in how release you're feeling a little bit of ironwork work. You're feeling some backwards, just so important, and we've already warmed up the shoulders in this chest, so you should feel really good in that chest opening here. Exhale, try not to activate your lower back too much. Then inhale, just release says, and one more time for me. Exhale and release. Go ahead and read. Adjust your head if you need to. Now with your right leg, you're, he just wants you to slide it halfway out with the next sale and bring it in five times.

Slide the right leg halfway out with an exhale and bring it in. So again, we're working a little bit on that stabilization, but we're not putting so much stress and demand on the body. It's just a little bit of a glide of your floods and back to center. Let's do the other side. I often find just intuitively I want to place my hand on my abdomen just to kind of get reintegrate with those abdominal muscles. Yes, there'll be loose skin.

Yes. If you have a scar there from a Syrian birth, it might be a little bit sensitive, but it puts your touch on that area, that wonderful area that, how is your baby let it grow. Just give it a little TLC here and back to center and just go ahead and just kind of rock your body, sway your hips a little bit, just kind of get settled into your mat. To finish. I'd like you to roll onto one side. Just varies simple here. Keep your knees bent. Take the one arm down by your side with an x. I want you to stretch that arm over, touching your fingertips and inhale back.

You're going to feel a beautiful stretch of that side. Exhale over and inhaling, Xcel over. And then Helen, one more time, Xcel oh of her and just hold that stretch. Reach it further breathing well my breath and so slowly up. Swing your legs to the other side. Do the other side of this. Very gently Xcel overhead and then have about carry on for me. So just again encouraging self to realize that this little routine, this little plotty session is for week one, week two weeks, right week four. Usually you'll get the clearance about six, seven or eight weeks to start exercising. And, and this is what I'd like you to do before that just really gentle, really soft and that will just really set your healing process on the right track and stretch and stretch.

[inaudible] one more time. [inaudible] [inaudible] sensations. You should feel slowly sit yourself up. She'd feel a little bit lighter as you have all that fresh air pulsating through your body, so you'd feel stretched in your sides, stretched in your lower back, a little bit connected with that pelvis, a little bit connected with those hips. Again, if the sensations aren't there for you, don't worry, don't stress again, that healing process is happening, but you just want to have those images and that, that breath and you want to start that process. So don't be discouraged if you're like, I don't know what she's saying. It doesn't make any sense to me. Just keep at it.

Hopefully that little red ball imagery works for you and congratulations on the birth of your baby. And again, if you're a [inaudible] professional watching this for ideas to work early postpartum with your clients, just encourage them. And if you're a new mom here, listen to your body. If anything doesn't feel comfortable for you, don't do it. Just do what feels good. That's so important for you at this point. My next class we're going to do, we're going to be working on really kind of diving into some more of that. Um, pilates work and getting a little bit more with the body. So thank you for joining me today. I hope that you feel good and open and ready to go and ready to nurse and feed your baby and hold your baby rocky baby and all those wonderful things we get to do. Thank you so much for joining me today.


1 person likes this.
Congratulations Leah! What a pleasure to have your wise influence available on line. Your emphasis on slow and gentle, connection to the breath, talking about the baby throughout the session...I can happily and proudly send all the many mamas I work with as childbirth educator, doula and midwife to you on PA.

Joni - Thank you so much! I always feel that women and professionals do not know where to start after labor and pregnancy. Slow and steady, safe and gentle is how we should start. Too often women are in a hurry to "get back in shape" and too often has the potential to create problems physically and emotionally for new mothers. Being kind to the post-natal body is the biggest challenge postpartum women face today. I hope that my classes will help women love and honor their body even will it's changes
Dear Leah,
still have 3 months to go but already checking out your postnatal classes From which week postpartum could this class be done?
1 person likes this.

You can do this gentle, short class within a couple of weeks of giving birth if you feel comfortable. If not, I would recommend you focus on doing the breathing exercises and slowly begin to integrate some of the other exercises.
Dear Leah,
I'm 5 weeks postpartum via csection and I don't have diastasis recti. Would you recommend that I add or avoid any exercises from this series. I followed your classes throughout my pregnancy and swear by them. They gave not only physical health but mental and emotional health. You're amazing!

Congratulations! It sounds like you are feeling great, and I am so happy for you, that is wonderful. I am also so happy that the pre-natal Pilates work kept you feeling good and strong during your pregnancy - yay!! I would love to hear more of your birth story If you'd like to share, please email me

This is a great class for you after a caesarean birth, it's very gentle and restorative. My biggest recommendation for this series is that you listen to your body and take it nice and slow. You are not only recovering from the effects of your pregnancy, but also from the major procedure that is a Caesarean birth.

continued in next post...

Even if you feel great, move forward in your exercise progression at a steady, gradual and gentle pace. The first 6 months or so, you will be to pay extra attention to your healing. I always tell mothers that have had a Caesarean birth that they may need to modify some of the prone positions (lying on your tummy) the way we did during the pre-natal classes. And initially, stretching your arms over your head may create a sensation of pull on the incision site (not always), so be mindful of that. As far as re-introducing abdominal exercises, the exercises in this series are all safe for you, but you may need to incorporated them a bit more slowly, dependent on how your body responds after you perform the initial exercises.

I hope that this helps a bit.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

All the best to you, and soak up all that newborn baby goodness!

Lovely class!
Thank you for your ideas for the very first post-natal classes.
Leah have recently had a prenatal and a post natal client and your classes have been a life saver. Could you please do a few classes for women who might still be recovering from diastasis rectii ?
Thanks !
1 person likes this.
agirlabtpilates - I would love to do more classes on DRA recovery, I will definitely discuss it with Kristi for when I return to PA some time in 2015. Thank you!
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