We’re so excited to share this guest post by the amazing celebrity yoga and pilates instructor and mom to brand new twin boys (plus a 3.5 year old!), Kristin McGee. Her new book, Chair Yoga, offers up 100 yoga poses and exercises that can be done anytime, anywhere, in/with a chair, in just minutes a day (shout out to those of us to sit behind a computer a good portion of the day!)
Getting back into the swing of strength and conditioning your new body and with a new schedule (read one that no longer revolves around you working out!) can be pretty tough for the first few months. We love that these exercises are approachable, will help strengthen where you need it most, and can all be done at home in the comfort (and exhuasted-ness) of your own home. 😉 Of course, these chair poses are great for anyone, especially while sitting at your desk. Let us know if you try them in the comments below!
Postnatal Chair Yoga Poses to Build the Core and Regain Strength
By Kristin McGee
I recently gave birth to twin boys and let me tell you it is no joke. I am also a mother of a three and a half year old boy. I had forgotten how incredibly tough those first few months as a new mom are; and let alone having two instead of just one! Moms are the glue of the family and we do more than anyone. It’s very challenging with newborns to find any time for ourselves. Yet, we really need the de-stressing the most. It’s also important for us to start rebuilding our strength once our doctor gives us the green light to move.
In the beginning, it’s important to start slowly as we rebuild strength in our core. We may have also been less active during pregnancy and now is the time to get our stamina back. Chair Yoga is really a godsend for new moms because it is low impact and can be done easily in the home. When we have even just a few minutes after a feed or during one of the baby’s (or babies in my cases) naps, we can bang out some of these chair yoga exercises to get our bodies back in tip top shape.
Start slowly, listen to your breath, and try and incorporate these simple chair yoga poses three to four times a week.
Cat/Cow—These pelvic tilts are great for warming up the spine and strengthening the abdominals and pelvic floor muscles, a must after giving birth.
- Sit at the edge of your seat with your feet planted firmly on the floor.
- Inhale and open up your chest as you arch out of your lower back.
- Exhale, pull the abdominals in and up as you round your spine and tuck your chin to your chest.
- Repeat this arching and rounding for ten breath cycles.
Sun Salutations with Twist—Yoga twists are among the best things you can do for your spine and core, which are often in compromising positions when slouched over holding a baby or nursing.
- To start, sit tall with your feet on the floor, hips toward the edge of the chair, and your back straight.
- Inhale, reaching your arms overhead to press your palms together.
- As you exhale, drop your arms down as you twist to the left, bringing the right hand onto the left knew and the left arm behind you to the top of the chair.
- Inhale back to center, and repeat on your right side.
- Continue this flow 8 to 10 times.
Triceps Dips—The perfect move for new moms to strengthen the back of the arms and upper back while opening up the chest.
- It’s very easy to get rounded forward from nursing and/or carrying a baby; these dips will help combat poor posture.
- Start at the edge of your seat with your hands on either side of your hips. Slide forward keeping your hips near the chair and walk your feet out in front of you.
- On an inhalation, bend your elbows to the sides as you lower your hips towards the floor.
- Exhale and press back up to starting position.
- Try two to three sets of fifteen repetitions.
Eagle Arms—Another great pose is Eagle Arms, which helps to open our shoulders, upper back, elbows, and wrists.
- To start, sit tall with your feet hip-width apart and firmly on the floor, hips toward the edge of the chair, and your back straight.
- Take your arms out to the sides at shoulder height, palms open to the ceiling. Next, wrap the left arm under the right arm as high as you can, then double cross your forearms and try to press the palms together. If you can’t touch your palms, press the backs of the hands instead.
- Work on lifting your elbows while softening your shoulders.
- Hold for 5 to 8 breaths, before releasing your arms and repeating with the opposite arm crossing.
Pigeon—Pigeon is one of my all time favorite poses; it really opens up the hips and entire lower body. Pigeon also stretches the hips flexors, which get tight from standing holding our babies or sitting and nursing or bottle-feeding.
- Start with your right outer thigh on the seat with the knee open to the side.
- Extend the left leg back behind you and press through the ball of the foot.
- Hold for five to eight breaths then repeat on the opposite side.
Warrior Two—As a new mom, especially if it’s your first time, you need all the confidence you can get. You also need to learn to trust yourself and instincts. Yoga builds mental and physical strength and warrior two is a great pose for doing both.
- Sit at the edge of your seat, turn your right leg out to the side bending at the knee as you straighten your left leg behind you and press through the outer heel. Extend your arms out to the sides and look over your right hand.
- Hold for five to eight breaths, and then repeat on the left side.
Triangle Pose—Finally finish with a standing yoga pose using your chair. Triangle is great for stretching out the sides of the waist and opening up our chest. Triangle also strengthens the legs, pelvic floor and abdominals.
- Stand just in front of the seat of your chair, walk your legs one of your own leg lengths apart.
- Turn your right toes out ninety degrees and your left toes in seventy-five degrees.
- Hinge to your right and place your right hand on the seat of the chair.
- Look up to your left arm and imagine your self between two narrow walls.
- Keep your legs actively engaged and your abdominals drawn in and up.
- Hold five to eight breaths and then switch sides.
As a new mom, it’s so important to treat your body well and give yourself some TLC. Chair Yoga is one of the best ways to nourish your body, mind and spirit.
The chair yoga poses listed above will gradually help you stretch and strengthen your body. You will find more poses in my new book, Chair Yoga: Sit, Stretch, and Strengthen Your Way to a Happier, Healthier You available in bookstores and on Amazon. Practicing chair yoga for a few minutes a day, anytime, anywhere, in your chair, will get you big results and help you to feel looser, healthier, and happier.
Kristin McGee, celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor and author of Chair Yoga: Sit, Stretch, and Strengthen Your Way to a Happier, Healthier You (HarperCollins January 17, 2017). For more information about Kristin McGee go to http://www.kristinmcgee.com.