Bend it like Bikram: My post-pregnancy journey back to health

“Both pleasure and pain are great teachers”. By Swami Vivekananda

I wanted to do a 3-month follow-up to my last post “Cherishing the birth of my baby girl” and follow up on my attempt to get my life and body back after baby and C-Section. During my pregnancy, I had gained about 30 pounds. Within two weeks after my C-Section, I had automatically lost all but about 10 pounds. So when I embarked on my journey back to health, weight loss was not my main goal. Instead, I was focused on gaining my physical and mental strength back.
I was looking for a workout plan that was holistic in nature and one that would help both my mind and body heal. So I decided to give Bikram Yoga a try and do it for 30 consecutive days. The studio near my home had a deal for newcomers, so I decided to sign up.

Bikram yoga to the rescue: 

More about Bikram: Bikram yoga is a series of fixed postures performed in a heated room designed to strengthen the entire body. Bikram is a system created by Bikram Choudhury and made popular in the US in the 70’s. It is also a controversial form of yoga. While practitioners swear by the efficacy of Bikram others believe the benefits of intense heat to be a bit questionable.

bikram-poses
I used to practice Bikram over ten years ago and had worked my way up to advanced level. In my own personal experience, I had found Bikram to be extremely rejuvenating and cleansing when combined with ujjayi breath. It is important to follow (as much as possible) the instructions provided by the yoga instructors. The amazing part of the class is that even though you practice the same sequence over and over again, no two days are the same. You can never master a pose as there is always deeper you can go into each pose. Bikram teaches that achieving the perfect posture is not important, stumbling out of a pose helps you overcome your ego.

“Falling out of a posture
Means you are human;
Getting back into the posture
Means you are a yogi”
-Bikram Choudhury

It wasn’t long after I resumed my Bikram yoga practice, that I realized a decade worth of non-practice followed by pregnancy, had added more than a few cobwebs to my once flexible body. My way back to yoga was a very humbling experience. Pregnancy changes your body in a major way. My hips, shoulders, and abdomen felt tight and lacked the strength to hold positions. I was determined to succeed though and open to the challenge. I even started to see some initial results within two weeks. I felt bendier, my skin was glowing and I was even beginning to enjoy the heated room. Unfortunately, by the third week, the initial euphoria gave way to extreme exhaustion. I found the heat way too intense. Rather than helping me move deeper into the poses (which it is supposed to) I found it unbearable. I would come back home from my class completely drained and unable to carry on through the day. I tried to hydrate myself with liquids and Gatorade but nothing was working. So I started skipping classes. Hard as I tried Bikram yoga left me with far lesser energy than when I even started. I finally decided to discontinue my practice thinking maybe I had embarked on it a bit too soon after delivery.

Tracy Anderson’s – Post Pregnancy workout
Since Bikram yoga did not work out for me, I decided to look elsewhere. I was stuck at home too long and considered doing a workout DVD while my baby slept. I, therefore, decided to give Tracy Anderson’s “Post Pregnancy workout” a whirl. Tracy herself is a young mom and something about her words really resonated with me. Being a new mom she understands how hard it is to find any time for oneself and how hard it is to get one’s strength back after pregnancy, which you need a lot of if you are to take care of an infant. In the past, I have tried some of Tracy’s workouts such as her Mat workout, Cardio Dance and Boot camp. So I am not new to Tracy’s style. Her workouts hit the abs, thighs, and hips in just the right fashion and she aims at tiring the large muscle groups first and then bringing the smaller muscle groups into action throughout her workouts.

traceyandersonpostpregnancy
Pros
Fun workout: The DVD is really fun to follow and Tracy has an amazing body which I must say is an absolute inspiration for me. The DVD is 45 minutes long and composed of ab work, legwork, side ab work and arm exercises. The exercises are really challenging for me which I like as I tend to get bored if I don’t have sufficient challenge.

Melts your post pregnancy tummy: By the 4-5th day this DVD did a little wonder for my ab muscles. My ab muscles started kicking in with her moves where previously they felt almost dead. A little bit of tone has also returned in my hips and glutes. This has given me all the motivation I needed to persist.

Low intensity, high impact: This workout has no cardio just some intense Pilates-type moves that are really effective. Some of the exercises require light weights (no more than 2 pounds) so you know you are not going to hurt yourself. The workout has a slow steady pace and raises your heart rate without tiring you completely.

Cons
Knee exercises: I don’t like the fact that Tracy always does the leg section on knees. I find that a bit taxing on my poor knees. But if you fold a towel under your knees it should cushion the stress.

Poor verbal instructions: Tracy offers insufficient verbal directions which I must say is pretty characteristic of her in all her workout dvds. At times while working on one leg she will move to the other leg without ever giving verbal queues so if you are not watching her constantly you can get out of synch. But I found that a small nuisance in comparison to everything she has to offer.

Repetition: A lot of the exercises such as the arm series are repeated in all of her DVD’s. With that said they are effective and will tighten your arms like nothing else.

After just two weeks of doing this DVD 4-5 times a week, I feel so much stronger and more positive about getting my old body back. I know I still have a long way to go but I am in no hurry. I know I have nothing to prove and just want to work my way back into health. Like Tracey, herself states in her video, “It took you 9 months to have the baby, so it will take some time to get back your old body.” I will do a follow up at my 6-month post-delivery mark and let you know my experience and results then.

Meanwhile, I would love to hear from you. Tell me about your post-pregnancy experience. What did you do to get back into your old jeans or maybe it was no problem for you (in which case I am so jealous of you). Give me the skinny on what worked and what did not?

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I am an IT (Information Technology) professional with diverse range of interests. Writing and poetry is my passion as is the pursuit for happiness and continuous self improvement...

6 thoughts on “Bend it like Bikram: My post-pregnancy journey back to health

  1. I don’t want you to be jealous at all, but it didn’t take me too long before sliding in my jeans again. Just the way I am, nothing to brag about. For my first and second child I didn’t do anything special. Only walking and just being a mom did the trick. After my third child I did a daily workout at home while she napped and her sisters were attending their morning preschool program. I borrowed tapes at the library, so it wouldn’t be the same workout, day after day. I was mostly focusing on abs. I was lucky enough to be able to walk to the grocery store and playground, so it helped a lot.
    Now I would do yoga, since I’m a big advocate for its health advantages. There are now some prenatal and postnatal classes that I would have loved to follow. Bikram is a little too intense for me.
    Whatever you will do, remember that you are beautiful whether or not you wear the same size and jeans.
    Enjoy your new family life!

      1. Honestly? I wish to gain 10 pounds but it won’t happen. The grass is always greener elsewhere…
        Seriously? What matters is to be healthy in your body and heart. Sizes don’t matter. And young moms should definitely been given a long pass on that. Imagine what your body went through. We need to be gentle and patient. From an older mom it’s easier. 💐

        1. Yes it is true. I never would have fully understood the amount of change a woman goes through physically and emotionally until I experienced it myself. While we should be patient with our bodies it is also important to do every bit possible to take care of our bodies during pregnancy and after to have a speedy recovery. A speedy recovery is good not just for mom but also baby.
          By the way I have seen your pictures and you look beautiful with or without the extra 10 pounds 🙂

          1. Aw you’re too kind with your last comment. I totally agree that a quick recovery is great for the mom and the baby. And the dad too. I just meant that we can be too demanding on our bodies and minds after our deliveries that it can feel too much. We get better results when we lower our expectations. But still agree that regaining our previous weight is healthier. Take good care of yourself. And you’re already very beautiful.

So cute of you to drop me a line

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