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Once you're home with your new little bundle, you may be a bit incredulous that you could have any time for yoga. You don't even have time to sleep! The first few weeks of transition are stressful, but also joyful. You may feel alternately ecstatic and despairing, frustrated and overflowing with love.

Practicing yoga now is important because you need the energy. Filling your body with prana through breathing exercises and 10 minutes daily in shavasana will recharge you and make the little sleep you do get more productive. Your body also needs all its resources to heal itself after childbirth.

You probably need some mental maintenance, too. Your hormones may be making you extra emotional or a little depressed right after childbirth. Add to that the fact that your entire life has changed and will never be the same. Pile on top of that the fact that your jeans look hopelessly small, and even though you aren't pregnant anymore, all you may be able to wear are your old maternity clothes. Remember that it takes time to adjust to any major life change. It will also take your body time to readjust to a nonpregnant state. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. It took you nine months to get to childbirth, so give yourself nine months to get back. You have just accomplished something magnificent, and it has changed you. Accept the change lovingly and with joy.

Give yourself time to practice yoga each day, either when your baby is sleeping or when your partner, a family member, or a friend can play with the baby. Consider it pampering time and a well-deserved reward.

With your doctor's approval, you can usually start gentle yoga postures two weeks after delivery, a few weeks longer if you had a cesarean section. Hold off on inverted poses for at least six weeks.

All women have postnatal bleeding for a few weeks after pregnancy. Watch this flow for signs that you're going too fast. If the bleeding gets heavier or brighter red, you need to slow down and give your doctor a call. Start with just a few poses, and gradually work back to your regular routine as your body lets you know it's ready.

The most beneficial pose for you right now is shavasana (Chapter 19), which you can even do on the day you give birth. Shavasana can help ease labor pains. It can help you recoup your energy before all that pushing! It can also help you to relax after the whole process is finished and you have a sleeping baby on your chest.

Any chance you get, take some deep breaths and practice these revitalizing poses. You'll handle all your new challenges with greater inner strength and energy. The following poses are also wonderful for a gentle postpregnancy routine:

Wise Yogi Tells Us

A high-sugar diet will make you feel tired any time, but especially in the early weeks after childbirth. Sure, you deserve a treat now and then, but a diet based on whole-grain foods like whole-wheat bread and brown rice, sufficient iron (best sources are dark, leafy greens, wheat germ, and meat), and lots of vegetables is the best diet to combat fatigue.

Tadasana, the mountain pose (Chapter 13). Take some time to stand in the mountain pose, and notice how your center of gravity has shifted yet again. Let tadasana help you reacquaint yourself with your newly autonomous body.

The butterfly pose (Chapter 17). Place pillows under your knees. Notice how this pose feels different than it did when you were pregnant.

Child's pose (Chapter 18). Let yourself be the child for a few minutes each day.

More important than any postures at this point is your attitude. Being a new mother isn't easy. If you're feeling frustrated or unhappy and think you must be a bad mother, give yourself a break! All new mothers feel like that sometimes. Remember ahimsa: Treat yourself nonviolently. Your feelings

Wise Yogi Tells Us

The postpartum (the period after childbirth) time is a good time to read the Yoga Sutra or other yoga texts. Keep them on a bedside table or end table to read while nursing your baby or while baby is sleeping.

are completely normal. Don't be afraid to talk to your partner, your close friends, or a counselor about your feelings. Just remember that you're entering an exciting new leg of your life journey.

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