Can I do Yoga with Diastasis Recti?
In my private Facebook Diastasis Recti workout group (which you can join here) I often get asked about Yoga.
Don't know if you have Diastasis Recti? Here is how you can self-assess:
Yoga can be a popular exercise choice, as it promotes strength AND much-needed relaxation. But if you have Diastasis Recti (the separation of the abdominal muscles), there are a few things you need to consider before hitting the mat.
Check out THIS ARTICLE for the list of questions you should go through before starting ANY form of exercise with Diastasis Recti
First up, as with any exercise program make sure you have completed the beginners program (you can find that HERE), it will ensure you have the ability to engage your Transverse Abdominis muscles adequately and have regained some core strength.
Second, know which movements you should AVOID when you first return back to your Yoga practice.
Moves to avoid
Yoga poses to avoid are the ones which stretches or places stress on the rectus abdominis muscles. Or causes your ribs to thrust up and outwards.
Generally speaking, they are poses that require:
1) Back-bending which stretches the midline, e.g. bow, cobra, up dog, camel, wheel and bridge
2) The head and shoulders lifted off the ground in a back lying position which prevents engagement of the TVA and with increased intensity, causes the belly to protrude, e.g. boat pose
3) Frontal loading positions with the navel and knees lifted off the ground, which causes the organs to press down into weak abdominal muscles and slows down healing, e.g. downward dog, plank pose, and bear pose
4) Rotating and forward/laterally stretching the upper body and having the arms extended away from midline, which makes it impossible to engage the TVA, e.g. revolved side angle, triangle, low-lunge, half-moon.
5) Any moves that cause you to dome, bulge, bear down on your pelvic floor OR hold your breath
6) Avoid Belly Breathing which is usually found in Yin Yoga and Hatha (and not in yoga styles like Ashtanga or Vinyasa Flow). Belly breathing means pulling air in to expand your belly. This creates too much extra abdominal pressure. Instead work on your breathing for engaging your transverse abdominis as shown in the beginners program (week 1)
NOTE: as your core recovers more functionality and strength some of these moves can be bought back in.
Tips when doing Yoga
Here are some tips to help you assess and modify yoga poses as you start progressing:
Wear something where you can actually see what's going on with your DR as you move through your practice, as it is not always easy to feel it. If possible with a new move/flow (or when progressing) set up a video camera and film yourself so you can properly assess if you are ready for it
With bringing backbend or thoracic extensions back in I follow Diane Lee’s (who is at the forefront of research into Diastasis Recti) advise:
"Just monitor the linea alba for any bulge or loss of tension. As long as you can maintain tension and transfer the load across the recti you won't hurt yourself.”
This tension is created by pre-engaging your TVAs – which is why doing the beginners program FIRST is so important
When bringing a Chataranga back in modify it by putting both or one knee onto the ground. BUT before doing this I recommend going through my plank progression exercises first which can be found HERE
But MOST IMPORTANTLY Listen to your body and if you don't feel right, back off and modify and come back to it later.
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