The Bikram yoga practice is comprised of 26 hatha yoga poses.
It is intended to be done in a room that has been heated between 80 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
The high temperatures, commonly used during hot yoga, is believed to help loosen muscles and joints so that the body can move more easily and deeply into each posture. The thought is that hot yoga also helps toxins leave the body through sweat and breath.
The practice focuses on protecting and mobilizing the spine. When done correctly, it can be done safely when breastfeeding. Although, you will want to discuss the practice with your doctor. Notwithstanding, here are a few yoga tips for breastfeeding moms.
Yoga Tips for Breastfeeding Moms
Note that many of the tips provided within this article mention hot yoga, although the most of these yoga tips can be applied to other types of yoga for breastfeeding moms.
Start out slowly. If you are recently postpartum, you will not be quite ready for the Bikram postures. Your breasts will be full of milk, and it will be hard to do any bends or to lay on your stomach.
These movements are features of the sequences. Your pelvic floor muscles will also be weak, and the muscles in your stomach and hips will not be as supportive as before. Strength does return, but you need to be patient. Start out exercising slowly by taking walks and doing Kegel exercises every day.
Talk to Your Doctor
This step can’t be emphasized enough, as we are not medical professionals. We are not authorized to provide medical advice.
Consequently, you should always consult a medical professional before using our tips. Note that I’m merely trying to be helpful because of my passion for yoga.
The body goes through intense changes during pregnancy and childbirth. Most doctors will suggest you wait about eight weeks following the birth of your child before you do any vigorous exercise.
Others feel that as long as your delivery was uncomplicated, you can start exercising when you feel ready. Check with your doctor or midwife about participating in hot yoga.
They will let you know when it is safe to start. Let your yoga instructor know that you are postpartum and that you breastfeed. They might teach you some modified poses.
Always go easy during your first few classes. Adjust to the heat first and feel free to lie on your back to rest as you need to during a class.
The National Institutes of Health tells everyone that it takes six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water to stay hydrated every day. As a breastfeeding mother, you need to stay hydrated to stay healthy. Bikram yoga will cause you to sweat a lot. Drink an additional 2 ½ cups of water or other liquid per class.
Many students already aim to drink a liter of ice water during class. You might also do this or switch to an electrolyte drink to replace the fluids that become lost when you sweat.
Be aware of symptoms of heat exhaustion. If you feel dizzy, nauseous, confused, have cramps, muscle weakness or a high pulse, take a break and lie down. If they do not subside in a minute, leave the class and lie somewhere cooler. If they still do not subside quickly, seek medical help immediately.
Does Exercise Affect Milk Supply When Breastfeeding?
There are rumors everywhere that some exercise can ruin the taste of breastmilk for a baby. The belief is that exercise takes away some of the nutrients, or it increases lactic which causes the baby to dislike the taste.
Moderate exercise, at least, has no noticeable effect on breast milk’s quality or taste. To make things more comfortable for you, you could always use a breast pump before you take a strenuous exercise class like Bikram’s yoga.
If you notice that your baby does seem to dislike your breastmilk after exercising, pump after you complete a vigorous exercise session and discard it. We recommend the Medula portable double pump system (amazon link), which is a lightweight electric breast pump and includes an on the go tote bag.
By the time your baby reaches the age of five months, milk will be produced only at feeding time so that exercise will be much less of a concern for both you and your baby.
How Soon After Giving Birth Can You Do Bikram Yoga?
Bikram hot yoga is a strenuous series of 26 poses done in a heated room. You can, and some women do, take Bikram yoga up until their due date. You should discuss the matter with your doctor or your midwife. Several things will help you make a better decision for yourself
The founder of Bikram, Bikram Choudhury, suggests that you start yoga as soon as you are out of bed following the birth. This is if your delivery was healthy. In the founder’s book about beginning yoga classes, he says you can do all exercises from the third day without a problem.
According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, there is no set rule on when to go back to exercising. The advice is to start when you feel good about it.
Always be easy on yourself in the beginning. If you are brand new to yoga, listen to your body and rest as needed during the class. Advanced yoga practitioners can get back to regular classes sooner.
Adjust with Modifications
Some doctors will tell new mothers to avoid poses that put their hips above their head. They suggest waiting until lochia, a light bloody discharge after birth, stops.
Some studies suggest that four of the Birkam poses could be risky. These include Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose or the Hands to Feet Pose. If you don’t want to avoid doing certain poses while the rest of the class is performing these poses, ask your instructor for modifications.
Doing Hot Yoga After a C Section: (Caesarean Section)
First, as a reminder, you consult your doctor before taking the advice within this article. Now, our tips: You will want to wait much longer to get back to doing yoga.
Make sure all of your incisions have healed completely. This is also a suggestion if you underwent an episiotomy. Do not take chances. Get your doctor’s approval as to when to exercise after surgery.
Healing can take up to six months. You might be able to exercise sooner, but even then, you want to follow Bikram’s advice to stick to the minimum stretch. Work up to a full stretch gradually or modify postures to those done during pregnancy to start back safely and slowly.
Things to Consider
If you wish to discourage any breast milk from leaking, breastfeed your baby before class. One advantage of going to a hot yoga class is that you are going to sweat a lot.
It might cover up any issues, but you should be wearing the right type of sports bra to support yourself.
Your breasts will be heavier and more sensitive than usual, and they need a supportive sports bra, especially if you have large breasts. Learn more about the best yoga bras for women with large breasts.
You may also want to disguise any bulky feminine napkins by wearing two pairs of shorts. One should be form-fitting, and the one over them should be roomier.
Stay Hydrated While Doing Bikram Yoga
A Bikram class will fire up your body with hot temperatures and high humidity. As you sweat, your body will be eliminating electrolytes along with water.
As you do this for an hour and a half, you are putting your body through an extreme amount of stress. You need to learn how to get hydrated and stay that way for class with the help of electrolytes. Note that we recommend purchasing a sweat-absorbent yoga mat for hot yoga.
What Are Electrolytes?
These are minerals that move through your body to carry electrical charges so that you hold onto water. Some have positive charges, and some have negative charges.
Their electrical charge is what attracts water and lets them help regulate the way water moves throughout your body. Some of these minerals are magnesium, sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphorous.
As you sweat, water escapes your body through the skin. As it does this, it takes the electrolytes with it. This is what causes dehydration.
You can hydrate with water but after exercising you also need to replenish your electrolytes. If you do more than 60 minutes of exercise, you have to consume these minerals. You might try drinking a sports drink or water which is balanced with electrolytes.
Many foods will provide you with plenty of nutrients so that you can offset any that you lose as you do yoga. If you have been exercising in the heat, you need to drink something with electrolytes. Not only do you perform hot yoga in a heated room but you do it at Bikram for over an hour. You must choose a good electrolyte source.
How to Restore Your Electrolytes
Sports drinks are the easiest way to get electrolytes back in your system. Many available in the stores have lots of potassium and sodium. They also usually contain forms of sugar.
The majority of your lost electrolytes will be restored when you drink a mixture of sodium and potassium infused beverages. There are also some drinks that are made with chloride which is another mineral essential to a healthy body.
When to Drink Electrolytes
Drink about 16 or 24 ounces of an electrolyte beverage before you start class. Ideally, let your body rest about 20 minutes before jumping into your glass.
The electrolytes need time to absorb from your stomach into your bloodstream. You will feel a difference when you start hot yoga with proper hydration.
The recommendations for hydrating as you exercise includes one cup of liquids every 15 or 20 minutes. Although, as usual, you should do what feels right for you. Understand that you want to keep from losing more than 2 percent of your weight from water loss.
It can be hard to know when to take a drink as you do hot yoga since the poses flow into each other. Some classes do not offer you water breaks but do what you can and always drink about 24 ounces before you start class.
Some classes are not keen on sports beverages. You could also drink electrolyte waters or buy special tablets to put in your water. It will make a nice bubbly drink to enjoy as you work out. The water version is probably best if you wish to avoid consuming sugar.
Follow the above recommendations for fluid intake. If you do not drink enough fluids during class you will feel it. It will come in the form of muscle cramps or fatigue.
Muscles can sometimes cramp when you have low sodium levels. This is according to a study done by National Institute for Youth Sports & Health at Sanford. The good news is that sports drinks have the right balance of electrolytes, so they are highly effective at preventing these side effects.
You can do hot yoga shortly after you have your baby. Just start out slow and listen to your body.