I want you to try something for me, lay down somewhere comfortable and take a really BIG deep breath.
Where did you feel most of the breath go?
9 times out of 10 most of the women that I get to do this, will feel the breath only go into the chest, especially my mums.
Chest breathing or shallow breathing is a pretty ineffective way to breathe, yet we all do it.
It is normally a response to stress, pain, anxiety, repetitive movement and poor posture.
ALL the things we are experiencing as mums.
For something that is vital to our survival, we are not doing it very well.
Enter the king of kings in the breath world ;)
Piston Breathing (or I call it Zone Breathing as termed by Robin Kerr)
I coach breathing in three zones.
Zone One - Pubic bone to just under the belly button
Zone Two - Just under the belly button to diaphragm
Zone Three - Chest
Breathing into zone one and filling that up, then letting it overflow into zone two gently pushing the ribcage out laterally, allows the diaphragm to connect to the pelvic floor.
When you breathe/inhale into zone 1 and 2, the diaphragm descends and the organs or the 'guts' are pushed downwards loading and dropping the pelvic floor.
When you exhale the air is being released, the diaphragm relaxes and moves up acting like a piston to force the air out of the lungs. The 'guts' return to their normal positions and the pelvic floor naturally unloads and heads back up to where it started.
The diaphragm and the pelvic floor have to work as an integrated whole!
Julie Wiebe has an excellent video explaining piston breathing here.
Lets now look at our breathing strategies in everyday activities as a mum. Remember we want to be prepared for real mum life!
I can almost guarantee that majority of mums are unaware and ineffective with their breathing when picking up a load or weight (read - baby, washing basket, pram, shopping ect). We actually, dont breathe at all and tend to hold our breath when lifting a load.
So by holding the breath, the piston can not release the pressure that is being sent down to the pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor and abdominals are then potentially having to carry the load of that weight that you have just picked up, the pelvic floor will bulge with the extra load, and the pressure will try to escape out of the abdominal wall (if it is not healed from pregnancy).
Again watch this great video by Julie that explains the pressure in the core system here.
In a time when we are stretched, either have a weakness or a tightness in the pelvic floor, fatigued, not hydrated and stressed, you can see how this repetitive ineffective breathing strategy is not ideal for your core system.
It is also not not going to allow the abdominal wall to heal and possibly result in pelvic floor dysfunctions.
So try gently breathing into zone one and two this week, by inhaling slowly through the nose for a count of four and then exhaling through the mouth slowly for the same count of four and remember to try and let go of all the tension in the body as you do this, and keep the breathe out of the chest and see how you feel :)
I always find it easy when starting to do this in bed before going to sleep when you can focus.
Lets get that diaphram and pelvic floor connected girlfriend!
Look for part two for integrating the breath into movement!