Yoga for Depression and Anxiety: A Holistic Approach to Mental Well-Being

New moms, take a deep breath and hear us out. Congratulations! You've brought new life into this world. Now that your little one is here, you're taking care of them around the clock. But are you taking care of yourself too?

yoga training

Postnatal yoga can be an amazing way to do just that!

It can help with:

  • - Regaining strength
  • - Improving flexibility
  • - Reducing stress
  • - Releasing tension
  • - Promoting relaxation

Yoga post-pregnancy, often referred to as postnatal yoga, is a specialized form of yoga designed to support mothers in their postpartum journey. This practice integrates gentle yoga poses, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to aid in the physical and mental recovery of new mothers after childbirth. The postnatal phase is a crucial time for both physical and mental healing, and embracing yoga during this period can significantly contribute to the overall well-being of the new mother. This guide aims to illuminate the benefits and techniques of postnatal yoga, providing a pathway for new mothers like you to recover efficiently and regain their physical and mental balance.

Physical Benefits

  • Alleviation of Back Pain: Pregnancy often brings discomfort to the lower back. Yoga provides relief through gentle stretching and strengthening of the back muscles.
  • Improved Posture: As the body changes during pregnancy, maintaining good posture becomes vital. Yoga helps in developing and maintaining a proper posture, reducing strain on the spine.
  • Reduced Bloating or Swelling: Swelling and bloating, common during pregnancy, can be alleviated by certain yoga poses that facilitate improved circulation and lymphatic drainage.

Emotional and Mental Benefits

  • Better Sleep Quality: Sleep disturbances are frequent during pregnancy. Yoga's relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises contribute to better sleep quality.
  • Higher Energy Levels: Pregnancy can be physically taxing. Yoga helps boost energy levels, keeping expectant mothers more active and rejuvenated.
  • Stress Reduction: The practice of mindfulness and controlled breathing in yoga lowers stress levels and enhances emotional well-being.
  • Preparation for Mental Postpartum Challenges: Yoga prepares mothers mentally for the emotional changes that often accompany the postpartum phase.
  • Mood Stabilization: Yoga encourages the release of endorphins, providing emotional stability and a sense of well-being.

Preparing for Labor

  • Training Muscles for Childbirth: Yoga involves exercises that strengthen the muscles required during labor. Enhanced muscle tone can make the birthing process more manageable.
  • Hastening Recovery Post Childbirth: The strength and flexibility gained through prenatal yoga can expedite postpartum recovery, enabling mothers to regain their physical well-being more swiftly.

Yoga Poses During Pregnancy


1. Garland Pose (Malasana)

Malasana, or Garland Pose, is a deep squat with your feet close together and your hands in a prayer position at your chest.

    Benefits: This pose helps open the hips, stretches the lower back, and strengthens the pelvic floor muscles. It can also relieve back pain and aid in labor preparation.

    How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Bend your knees and lower your hips down towards the ground.
  • Bring your palms together at your chest in a prayer position.
  • Press your elbows against your inner thighs to gently open your hips.
  • Hold the pose, breathe deeply, and release.
  • Precautions: If you have knee issues or find it challenging to balance, use a cushion or yoga block under your heels for support.

Baddha Konasana

2. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Baddha Konasana, or Bound Angle Pose, involves sitting with the soles of your feet together and your knees dropping to the sides.

Benefits: This pose stretches the inner thighs, groin, and hip muscles. It helps relieve discomfort associated with tight hips and can prepare the pelvis for childbirth.

How to do it:

  • Sit with your spine straight and the soles of your feet touching each other.
  • Hold your feet with your hands and gently press your knees towards the ground.
  • Breathe deeply, lengthening your spine and keeping your chest open.
  • Hold the pose, then release.

Precautions: If you experience any discomfort or strain in your knees or hips, use cushions or props under your knees for support.


3. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Trikonasana, or Triangle Pose, involves standing with your feet wide apart and reaching one hand down to the floor while extending the other arm upward

Benefits: This pose stretches the sides of the body, improves balance, and strengthens the legs. It can alleviate backaches and promote better posture.

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet wide apart.
  • Turn your right foot out to the side and extend your arms parallel to the ground.
  • Reach your right hand down to your shin, ankle, or the floor while extending your left arm upward.
  • Keep your spine long and gaze at your left hand.
  • Hold the pose, then switch sides.
  • Precautions: Be cautious with your balance, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. You can use a yoga block under your hand for support if needed.

Breathing Practices During Pregnancy

Dirgha Pranayama

1. Three-Part Breath (Dirgha Pranayama)

Dirgha Pranayama, or Three-Part Breath, involves deep breathing into the three parts of your abdomen: lower, middle, and upper.

Benefits: This practice promotes relaxation, relieves stress, and increases oxygen intake for both you and your baby.

How to do it:

  • Sit or lie down comfortably.
  • Inhale deeply into your lower abdomen, then expand the middle and upper abdomen with each breath.
  • Exhale fully, releasing air from the upper, middle, and lower abdomens.
  • Continue this three-part breath for a few minutes, focusing on relaxation.

Precautions: Be cautious with your balance, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. You can use a yoga block under your hand for support if needed.

Bhramari Pranayama

2. Bee Breath (Bhramari Pranayama)

Bhramari Pranayama, or Bee Breath, involves inhaling deeply and exhaling while making a humming sound like a bee.

Benefits: This practice helps reduce anxiety, calm the mind, and relieve stress. It can also improve focus and concentration. You can learn more about the benefits here

How to do it:

  • Sit comfortably with your eyes closed.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose.
  • Exhale slowly while making a humming sound like a bee.
  • Repeat this process for several breaths, focusing on the soothing vibrations.
Sheetali Pranayama

3. The Cooling Breath (Sheetali Pranayama)

Sheetali Pranayama, or The Cooling Breath, is a breath practice that involves inhaling through a rolled tongue (or pursed lips) to create a cooling sensation.

Benefits: This practice helps reduce body heat, calm the mind, and alleviate stress or hot flashes commonly experienced during pregnancy.

How to do it:

  • Sit comfortably with your spine straight.
  • Roll your tongue into a tube shape or purse your lips slightly.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your rolled tongue or pursed lips.
  • Exhale through your nose.
  • Continue for several breath cycles, focusing on the cooling sensation.

Postnatal Yoga Poses

Uttana Shishosana

1. Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)

Uttana Shishosana, also known as the Extended Puppy Pose, is a gentle forward bend that stretches the spine and shoulders. It resembles a puppy stretching forward.

Benefits: This pose helps relieve tension in the upper body, improves flexibility, and calms the mind. It's particularly useful for easing postpartum shoulder and neck tension.

How-to Guide:

  • Start on your hands and knees, aligning your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  • Walk your hands forward while lowering your chest toward the ground, keeping your hips above your knees.
  • Extend your arms and relax your forehead on the mat.
  • Hold for several breaths, feeling the stretch along your spine.

Precautions: Avoid this pose if you have any discomfort or pain in the wrists or shoulders. Make sure you maintain a gentle stretch without straining.

Viparita Karani

2. Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

Viparita Karani, or Legs Up the Wall pose, involves lying on your back with your legs resting vertically against a wall.

Benefits: This restorative pose helps reduce swelling in the legs, relaxes the lower back, and promotes relaxation. It can alleviate fatigue and stress.

How-to Guide:

  • Sit close to the wall with your side against it.
  • Swing your legs up the wall while lying on your back.
  • Keep your arms relaxed by your sides or on your belly.
  • Breathe deeply and stay in this pose for several minutes.

Precautions: If you have any complications or pain in your lower back or legs, consult your healthcare provider before attempting this pose.


3. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Bhujangasana, or Cobra Pose, is a gentle backbend that involves lifting the chest while keeping the lower body grounded.

Benefits: This pose strengthens the back and abdomen muscles, improves posture, and alleviates back pain. It also helps with digestion.

How-to Guide:

  • Lie on your stomach with your palms under your shoulders.
  • Inhale and gently lift your chest off the ground, keeping your pelvis and legs grounded.
  • Lengthen your neck and look forward, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
  • Exhale and lower yourself back down.

Precautions: If you've had a cesarean section or experienced discomfort while performing this pose, avoid it or consult your healthcare provider.

Breathing Practices for Postnatal Recovery

Anulom Vilom

1. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anulom Vilom)

Anulom Vilom is a yogic breathing technique where you alternate between breathing through your nostrils, one at a time.

Benefits: This practice calms the mind, reduces stress, and enhances lung capacity, aiding in relaxation and postpartum recovery.

How-to Guide:

  • Sit comfortably with your spine straight.
  • Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale slowly through the left nostril.
  • Close the left nostril with your ring finger, release the right nostril, and exhale through it.
  • Inhale through the right nostril, close it and exhale through the left.
  • Continue this pattern for several minutes.

You can read more about it here

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

2. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama)

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, another form of alternate nostril breathing, helps balance the body's energy channels.

Benefits: It promotes mental clarity, reduces anxiety, and enhances lung function. It's particularly useful for emotional well-being post-pregnancy.

How-to Guide:

  • Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  • Use your right thumb to close your right nostril and inhale through the left.
  • Close the left nostril with your ring finger, release the right, and exhale through it.
  • Inhale through the right nostril, close it and exhale through the left.
  • Continue for several cycles.

3. Kapalabhati Pranayama

Kapalabhati Pranayama involves forceful exhalations through the nose, followed by passive inhalations.

Benefits: This practice boosts energy, clears the mind, and strengthens abdominal muscles. It aids in postpartum recovery by increasing oxygen intake.

How-to Guide:

  • Sit with your spine straight and your hands on your knees.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale forcefully through your nose by contracting your abdominal muscles.
  • Inhale passively as your abdomen relaxes.
  • Start slowly and gradually increase the speed.

Safety Tips and Precautions for Postnatal Yoga

General Safety Tips

  • Listen to Your Body: The most crucial safety tip for postnatal yoga is to listen to your body. Your body has undergone significant changes during pregnancy and childbirth, so it's essential to take it slow and practice self-awareness. If a pose or movement doesn't feel right or causes discomfort, skip it.
  • Take It Slow: Postnatal yoga is about gradual recovery and not pushing your body too hard too soon. Start with gentle poses and progress at your own pace. Avoid any competitive mindset and focus on nurturing your well-being.
  • Avoid Overstretching: During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called relaxin, which makes your ligaments more pliable. Be cautious not to overstretch, as this can lead to injury. Use props like blocks and straps to support your practice.
  • Stay Hydrated: Breastfeeding and postnatal yoga can be dehydrating, so ensure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after your practice.
  • Breath Awareness: Pay attention to your breath. Slow, deep breaths can help you relax and provide oxygen to your muscles.
  • Pelvic Floor Engagement: Focus on strengthening your pelvic floor muscles gently. Kegel exercises can be incorporated into your practice but should be performed mindfully.

Precautions for Specific Conditions

  • Cesarean Section: If you've had a cesarean section, it's essential to wait for your healthcare provider's clearance before starting any physical activity, including yoga. Once cleared, begin with gentle poses and avoid any strain on the abdominal area. Focus on rebuilding core strength gradually.
  • Complications: Mothers who experience complications during pregnancy or childbirth should consult their healthcare provider before resuming yoga. Depending on the circumstances, modifications may be necessary to ensure safe practice.

Practicing Yoga with Your Baby

  • Mom and Baby Yoga Classes: Mom and Baby yoga classes are a wonderful way to bond with your infant while reaping the benefits of yoga. These classes are designed to cater to both your needs and your baby's comfort.
  • Benefits: Practicing yoga with your baby promotes bonding, reduces stress, and aids in your baby's development. It also provides a supportive community for new mothers.

Why Rishikesh for Yoga and Teacher Training?

Spiritual Environment

Rishikesh, often referred to as the "Yoga Capital of the World," offers a unique spiritual environment conducive to deepening your yoga practice. The serene surroundings on the banks of the Ganges River and the presence of numerous ashrams and temples make it an ideal place for spiritual contemplation. Rishikesh is renowned for its high-quality yoga teacher training programs. Instructors in Rishikesh are often highly experienced and steeped in the traditional teachings of yoga. Many programs are approved by well-known yoga organizations.

How to Select a Rishikesh Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training Program


Ensure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized yoga authority. This guarantees that you'll receive comprehensive and standardized training.

Course Duration

Consider the course duration that best fits your schedule and commitment level. Programs can range from a few weeks to several months, so choose one that aligns with your goals.

Reviews and Testimonials

Research the program thoroughly by reading reviews and testimonials from past participants. This provides valuable insights into the quality of training and the experience you can expect.

Budget and Accommodation

Consider your budget when selecting a program. Some programs may include meals and accommodations, while others may not. Choose an option that suits your financial resources and comfort preferences.

Course Duration

Consider the course duration that best fits your schedule and commitment level. Programs can range from a few weeks to several months, so choose one that aligns with your goals.


The benefits of postnatal yoga are multifaceted. Physically, it aids in strengthening the body, alleviating discomfort, and restoring flexibility. Mentally, it provides a sanctuary for stress reduction, improved sleep, and emotional balance. Moreover, it prepares new mothers for the mental challenges that often accompany postpartum life, creating a sense of well-being and resilience.

However, it cannot be emphasized enough that safety is paramount. New mothers should always consult with their healthcare provider before commencing any yoga practice, ensuring that it aligns with their unique needs and circumstances.

Sajan Negi
Sajan Negi

Posted: 29 September, 2023

Renowned for his expertise in yoga and its philosophy, Sajan Negi brings over 15 years of experience in guiding individuals on their transformative journey towards holistic well-being. With a Master’s degree in Yoga and a life dedicated to personal growth, Sajan Negi combines ancient wisdom with modern insights to inspire physical strength, mental clarity, and spiritual peace in his students.