Postnatal Yoga Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 4

Gentle Core

30 min - Practice


Alana leads a class to help safely rebuild core strength after pregnancy and childbirth. We stay low on the floor as we explore gentle dynamic movements like twists, leg lifts, modified planks, and supine core work challenging coordination as well as strength. You will feel stronger and more stable.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video


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Welcome. In this practice, we're going to learn how to safely rebuild and rediscover our core strength. In general, we want to avoid deep flexion and crunching to protect against diastasis recti, which is when the rectus abdominal muscles, the six-pack abs, can stretch or separate during pregnancy or birth. So we're going to find some safe awareness exercises to just begin to strengthen this area in a safe way. OK, so as you're ready, join me onto your back.

And ground the soles of the feet. You can let the arms open out to the sides. And we're just going to begin with some pelvic tilts, arching the back and curling the tailbone under. So keeping your pelvis on the floor, you might even open your arms up into the cactus shape. And let's coordinate with the breath.

So as you inhale, let your back arch lift the lumbar spine. And as you exhale, curl the tailbone under. And you might feel the slight essence of the pelvic floor awakening. Inhale, let the back arch. Exhale, curl the tailbone under.

Press through the heels. Gently engage the pelvic floor muscles. Relax the muscles as you arch. Curl the tailbone under and gently lift. You might stay here.

You might interlace the fingers behind the head and add just a gentle lift. So this isn't so much about engaging the core, but awakening the spine. So as you're ready, inhale, arch the back. Press the elbows down. Exhale, lift the head up with the hands.

Gently curl the tailbone under. This is like a baby curl. As you bring the elbows together, gently engage the pelvic floor. Lower down. Inhale, arch the back.

Lift the lumbar spine. Relax the pelvic floor. Exhale, gentle baby curl. Lower down. Let's do a few more.

Inhale, arch, just awakening the spine. Exhale, lift and curl. Tailbone draws under. Lower down. Inhale to arch.

Exhale, lift and curl. Good. And then lower the head down. Release the arms. From here, let's lift our knees about 90 degrees and bring your hands behind your legs.

Draw your front ribs down towards the floor. So really feeling your low back connected on the floor to protect against hyperextension of the low back. And right away, you might feel a lower belly turn on, the abdominal muscles, the hip flexors. You might stay right here. This might be perfect in this moment.

You might play with scissoring the legs a little bit. So extending out through the right leg, drawing in, extending out through the left leg, and drawing it in. If that feels good, you might continue playing with this action. Sometimes we call it bicycle legs, where we're extending, drawing it in, extending, drawing it in, and keeping your hands there for support. Keeping the lower back on the floor, let's do a few more scissoring of the legs.

You can always bring a blanket under your head for support. Keeping the neck and the shoulders relaxed here. Just gently waking up the core muscles and the legs. Drawing it in, and then we're going to play with pressing. So bring both hands onto your legs, your thighs.

I'm going to kind of straighten the arms a little bit. You're going to draw your knees towards your hands, your hands towards your knees, and press. Press, press, press. Keeping the lower back on the floor, softening the face and jaw, and then release. Rock a little bit from side to side.

We're going to play with that one more time. Press, hands to knees. Press, press, press. Keeping the lower back on the floor, engaging the muscles, softening the jaw, and then draw the knees back in. And rock from side to side here.

From here, let's transition to bridge. Spreading the toes nice and wide, heels in line with the sitting bones. Draw the tailbone under, press through the feet, lift the pelvis up. And this feels really nice after that work in the legs and the abdominals. Feeling your ability to lengthen here.

Pressing through the heels, engaging the glutes, the hamstrings. And then rolling the spine back down, upper back, mid back, low back. Let's do two more. Inhale, arch the back. Exhale, lift, curl, press, and lengthen.

Again, soft through the face, holding in bridge. Maybe a gentle essence of lifting the pelvic floor. And roll back down. Last one. Inhale to arch the back.

Exhale, curl, press, lift. This time you might stretch your arms overhead if that feels nice. Lengthening. Keep the arms overhead as you roll the spine back slowly to the earth, upper back, mid back. Nice traction through the lower back.

Release. Bring the feet wide on your mat or floor. And then windshield wiper the legs side to side. Nice and easy. Cruising onto the inner outer edges of the feet and relaxing some of the effort through the legs.

The opening, creating space through the side body. The diaphragm, psoas, hip flexors. Beautiful. Hug your knees into your chest. Little rock from side to side.

And then roll onto your right side. And we're going to play with really lengthening the side body here. So as you roll onto your right side, let your head rest on your bottom arm. And then open your top hip and ground the foot on the floor so the knee is facing straight up towards the ceiling. Reach the top arm overhead.

We're going to take our bottom hand and reach for the wrist. And just offer a little bit of length here. Lengthening the side body. And then you might roll the upper body forward a little bit, finding a nice twist and stretch through the intercostal muscles, getting into the fascia, the connective tissue a bit. You can always bring a blanket under your head above your arm.

Breathing here. Nice. And then releasing that top arm. From here, we're going to come up. And you might rest on your hand, or you might release onto your forearm, whatever feels best for your body.

And then bring your left hand under your right ribs. And we're going to just dip the ribs down and then lift them up. And you can bend the knees and stack them. And we're going to drop the ribs and then lift. And let's do that a few times.

Dropping, lifting, dropping, lifting. Let's do one more. Left. Reach your top left arm up. And we're just going to find some circles.

So just some free form movement here. Notice how it feels through your upper body and shoulders with all of the breastfeeding, bottle feeding, holding baby in the front of the body. It can take a lot on the upper body and shoulders. Might feel strain or achy. Good.

And then reach the top arm up. And then round and twist down. Again, you can stay up on the hand or the forearm up. And then twist. Let's do three more.

Reach up. This feels so nice. And then twist up. Extend open. And reach.

One more. Up. And reach. Next time you reach the top arm up, bring the hand behind the head. And we're going to draw the elbow towards the right elbow.

And then lift elbow to elbow. Four more. Round and open. Round, open. Curl round, stretching the back.

Open. Let's do one more together. Round and open. Nice. Release the top arm.

Let's lower down. And we're going to support the head with the bottom hand. And bring your top arm forward to stabilize. Come here. You might stretch the legs out.

Remember that feeling of just drawing the abdominal muscles in gently as the tailbone lengthens? We're going to play with some leg swings here. And this is fun to do with the baby in front of you or crawling around. We're going to lift the top leg. We're going to flex the foot, swing the top leg forward, and then point as you come back.

Flex and point. And be mindful of your upper body. So my upper body's swinging a lot. So what would it feel like to try and stabilize the upper body? So we're just moving the lower half and point.

And let's coordinate with the breath a little bit. So inhale forward, point back on the exhale. This is a good balancing practice here. A little free form movement. Again, see if you can stabilize through the hips, the torso, the core muscles, flexing on the inhale, pointing on the exhale.

Good. Let's do a few more. Good. And then we're going to go heel, toe, tap, heel, toe, heel, toe, heel, toe. This is intense for me.

So we're really working the outer hip, hip flexors, glute muscles, legs, heel, toe, heel, toe. A few more. Heel, toe. Nice. And then we're going to find the internal rotation.

So rotate, and we're going to lift the leg back and up. Back and up. Back and up. Breathing here. Back and up.

A few more. Back and up. Back and up. OK, last one. I love this one.

So we're going to bring the knee forward. We're going to open the hip and stretch the leg up. And lower it. Forward, open, moving at a pace that feels right for you. If there's any popping or pinching in the hip joint, move a little bit slower, forward, open, up.

A few more. Forward, open, up. Let's do one more. And release. And then bend the top knee and just let it rest.

And bring your top hand and just let it kind of jiggle the top hip. And just let everything jiggle. This postpartum body loves to jiggle. And then you can give your top hip a little massage, a little booty massage. Feels nice.

Nice, and then we're going to transition to the other side. So as you're ready, you can gently press yourself up, swing the legs over, or roll to your other side. And we'll start with the side body stretch here. So extend your bottom arm, stack your legs, and let's inhale, reach the top arm up. And then take the bottom hand, clasp it, bend the top knee, and then let the hip open.

Ground the foot and let the knee point up towards the ceiling. And just feel how you can begin to gently lengthen the side body. Keep the weight of the head heavy and resting on the arm or maybe a pillow or blanket. If it feels good, you might explore rolling forward a little bit with the upper body and feeling that nice stretch through the intercostal muscles, the ribs, breathing, and lengthening. And then awakening the primary muscles of breathing, the intercostals, the abdominals, the diaphragm.

Nice, and then as you're ready, you can release the top arm, release the leg, and let's gently press ourself up. Again, you can rest on your hand or your forearm for this. And we're going to bring the top right hand under the bottom left ribs, and we're going to dip the ribs and lift them. Dip and lift, dip, lift. Let's do a few more.

And just stack the knees wherever it feels good for you. Good. And then we'll explore some shoulder opening. So you can reach the arm forward and open. And just find what feels good.

You might soften the eyes a little bit. Oh, breathing. We make some sighing, some sounds. Now we're going to reach the top arm up and then thread it through. Reach it up and thread it through.

Let's do a few more. Inhale, exhale, round, inhale, reach, exhale, round. Let's do two more. Round, inhale, reach, exhale, curl, and round. Reach the arm up.

Bring the hand behind the head. Inhale, exhale, elbow to elbow, and open. Elbow to elbow, and open. Few more. Opening, curling.

Maybe two more. Round, and open, and round, and open. Nice work. Let's release all the way down. Support your head with your hands.

Stretch the legs out. Stabilize with your hand. And then remember that feeling of drawing the ribs in, stacking the hips. And we'll start with the leg swings. Swinging the top leg forward and back.

Flexing the foot as you reach forward, pointing as you go back. Maybe coordinating with the breath. Inhale, exhale, back. Inhale, exhale, back. And see if you can isolate the movement in the leg rather than the upper body.

So keeping your upper body stable as you swing the leg forward and back. You might notice one side feels a little easier, more difficult than the other. Few more leg swings. And I do this one at home on the carpet with Cedar crawling all around. Doesn't mind it.

Good. And then let's do the heel-toe. So heel-toe, heel-toe, working the hip flexors. Heel-toe, heel-toe, heel-toe. Few more.

Ooh. Keeping it nice and stable through the core. And we'll internally rotate, lift back and up, back and up, back and up. And you might feel this deep in your booty, in your glute, in your hamstrings, in the IT band. Few more.

Back and up, back and up, back and up, nice. And then knee forward, open, and up. Slowly lower. Knee forward, open the hips, stretch it up, and lower. Notice how it feels through this hip.

Again, any popping or pinching, move slower, back it off. Forward, open, up, lower, forward, open, up. Few more. Ooh. Feeling that warming through the legs, through the hips.

Last one, forward, open, and up, releasing. Bend the top knee, let it rest, and then just jiggle. Jiggle the top hip, relax the effort, and then a little pounding of the booty, beautiful. As you're ready, we'll slowly transition up and into a downward dog eventually. So take your time to get there, making your way into a tabletop position, spreading the toes, spreading the fingers, and then lifting up.

Bend the knees, reach the sitting bones up towards the ceiling, wiggle a little bit side to side. Feel the effort of engaging the pelvic floor slightly, engaging the legs, and let's bend one knee at a time and just pedal the feet, stretching the back of the legs, hamstrings, calves, heels, releasing the weight of the head, breathing, nice, and then lowering the knees, nice. From here, we're going to play in the direction of plank pose, spreading the fingers nice and wide. Let's take a moment here, just drop into the shoulders, protracting, and then press the floor away and lift. And let's do that a few times, dropping into the shoulders, press the floor away, and lift.

One more time, dropping, pressing, lifting. Keep this essence, this feeling of lifting, broadening through the collarbones. You might walk your knees back a little bit, coming into your plank position with the knees on the floor. And really lift and draw the lower belly, the abdominal muscles up and in as you breathe here. And this is a lot of work in the upper body.

And then just draw the hips back, rest in child's pose for a moment, softening the chin, softening the forehead towards the earth. Beautiful. You're welcome to stay here, find another round of plank. Shoulders over the wrists, really drawing the lower belly in, you might tuck the toes under, keeping the knees on the floor. Let's hold for five, four, three, two, and one, softening the hips back towards the heels.

A little wobble from side to side might feel good. Stay here, join me for another round of plank. Shoulders over the wrists, you might keep your knees on the floor. You might play with lifting one knee up, lowering it down, lifting the other knee up, lowering it down. Keep the knees on the floor or begin to play with lifting the knees up, maybe for a second.

And lowering them down, maybe lifting for a second and lowering. Soften the hips back, child's pose, a little wobble from side to side, taking a breath. Stay here, wear another round of plank, shoulders over the wrists, tucking the toes you might stay with the knees on the floor. Leave lifting and drawing the navel towards the spine, gently awakening the pelvic floor muscles. You might play with bending the elbows, finding little dips here through the upper body, really strong through the arms, broadening through the collarbones.

If you want an extra challenge, maybe lifting the knees up in plank, drawing the tailbone under, lifting the lower belly. Beautiful, lowering the knees, ah, and rest, child's pose. Maybe even sweeping the arms down alongside the body, resting, easing into puppy pose from here, walking the hands forward, softening the heart towards the floor, and stacking the hips over the knees-ish. When you're ready, walk the hands back underneath you, round your way up. And let's transition onto our back again.

Nice and easy, drawing the knees in towards the chest. And then last time, we'll stack the knees over the hips, so that 90-degree angle, softening the ribs down and in, and then we'll come back down to the knees. 90-degree angle, softening the ribs down and in, lower back finds the floor. Let's play with one more round of scissoring. So again, you might stay here.

You might extend through the right leg and the left leg, right and left a few times, right extends, left extends. The hands might be on the back, the legs for support. Press hands into knees, knees into hands, and release. One more time, pressing, and release. Let's hug the knees into the chest and rock.

We'll add one more here. So extend both arms up towards the ceiling, palms facing each other, knees stacking over the hips. We'll extend the right arm overhead towards the floor, and then touch the left toes down. And then draw everything back up to center. Right arm, left leg, extend the left arm, touch the right toes, back up to center.

Right arm, left toes, touch, back up. Left arm, right toes, back up. And a few more at your own pace, this cross-body movement. Again, stabilizing the core muscles, keeping the lower back on the floor, moving at your own pace. Let's do one more on each side.

Back to center, hug the knees into the chest, rock from side to side. Let's do windshield wipers here again. So bring the feet nice and wide on the floor, let the knees go side to side. A nice breath in, exhale, releasing through the hip flexors, softening the jaw, lengthening the side body. Good.

And then draw the knees back up. And if you have a blanket, it can be nice to bring your blanket down between your ankles and your knees. You can also use a pillow, which is great. And we'll find a spinal twist. Roll onto your right side, stacking the arms, stacking the knees and ankles, and then circle your top left arm a few times, big sweeping circles, feeling that space.

And stretch through the upper body. And then you might release that top left arm and settle for a few breaths in your twist, allowing for an inhale, exhale, at least softening and relaxing the belly, the abdominal muscles, the hips. Just find a place where your neck feels good. Breathing into where you feel the stretch. You're always welcome to stay longer.

When you feel ready, slowly transition back up, and then rolling everything over to your left side, stacking the hips, the arms, circling your top right arm a few times, sweeping it forward, up, open, down, breathing. Eventually, you might release that right arm and settle into your twist. Breathing in, exhale to soften, and finding that ease in the neck, relaxing the belly. And you're welcome to stay longer in the twist. When you feel ready, slowly let the knees come back up.

And then stretching the legs out for a final relaxation. You might bring the bolster, the pillow, or blanket under the back of the knees or under the head, allowing the legs, the arms to release. Allow for an inhale, and then exhale everything, allowing yourself to take up space, and feeling the weight of the bones dropping heavy, allowing yourself to rest here, noticing any pulsations, or sensations, or flow through the body. As always, you're welcome to stay as long as you'd like, resting. When you feel ready to transition, drawing the knees in, you might circle the knees in one direction and the other, and massaging the lower back and the sacrum, eventually rolling to your side and pause.

When you're ready, using your arms to slowly press yourself up, and we'll take just a few moments to sit together. You might sit up on something if that feels good. Thank you so much for making the time for yourself to practice. Allow for an inhale, nice, smooth exhale, softening the face, the jaw, the heart, the belly, joining the hands together. You might thank yourself for showing up for you, increasing your capacity to be there for others in a good way.



Jenny S
2 people like this.
Great class for working the core in a way that feels more organic and nurturing for my body as I age.  How I wish I had these practices when my babies were babies!  I imagine how great this would have felt during those first months as I slowly got acclimated to a different physical version of myself 🦋 much love for all you offer Alana!
Alana Mitnick
Jenny S I love your words - "organic and nurturing" and "a different physical version of myself." Yes! This is exactly it! So grateful for your presence, sincerity, and wisdom, Jenny. Love, Alana 
Jenny S
1 person likes this.
Laura M
1 person likes this.
You're the best!! As usual your videos are amazing. Thank you Queen!!
Anne B
1 person likes this.
My 7-month post-partum body (with diastasis) feels great after this class, thank you Alana!
I did find the pace quite quick, with two kids I often feel like I have no time for anything, and when I then do have the time to do a class my preference would be to take slower breaths and moves that correspond to that. 

Alana Mitnick
Laura M Thank YOU Laura! So delighted that you are enjoying these practices. I've never been called a Queen before, LOL! XO Love, Alana 
Alana Mitnick
Anne B I'm so happy that you are here, and that your body feels great after the class! Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I LOVE the feeling of taking slower breaths and moving at a slower pace. I hope you found a pace that was just right for you. Two kids! That's amazing! So glad you are making this time for yourself. Love, Alana 
Laura M
1 person likes this.
Alana Mitnick  you are !! 👑❤️✨
Alana Mitnick
Haha! Thanks Laura M ! XoA
Sandra Židan
Beautiful practice! Thanks, Alana! Namaste! ❤️💖🥰
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