“The Pause at the end of the exhalation and the pause at the end of the inhalation is a special place.
Where nothing happens or nothing seems to happen. Yet the old air is travelling away from us and the new breath is ready to move in.
In that space in between, there is silence. More than anything else silence…. and Space.“
HEALING BREATH PRACTICE TO ACTIVATE PELVIC FLOOR AND ABDOMINAL MUSCLES
In this video I guide you through a simple and relaxing breath practice I was taught by Uma Dinsmore Tuli.I have found this to be one of the most helpful breath exercises for post natal recovery, to help resettle pelvic organs, by gently toning and energising both the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.
This practice is really valuable for women post birth, to support healing and re-energising the pelvic floor, strengthening the abdomen and the lower back and can be practiced anytime after birth. This is an excellent practice for all women, whether its to support you in the immediate post birth period, for women suffering from pelvic organ prolapse, or for women wishing to really address postural awareness, stability and strength.
I like to think of the pelvic floor as the gateway connecting your root system (your feet) to your trunk and your branches (your torso and upper body). Like the roots of a tree, you need to be nourished to thrive and restore vitality. This is where your breath comes in, like the current that runs through you and activates and balances all these systems. The more you apply focus and awareness to the breath, and its quality, the more impact it has, the more nourished your whole ecosystem becomes.
So if you want to really connect to your pure energy, vitality and strength, start with the breath. which leads me nicely onto….
BREATH IS BOSS
The breath is crucial in pregnancy, in birth and no more so in post natal recovery. Breath awareness is our key to postural integrity, to strength and mobility, to pelvic organ support and pelvic floor health. I will chat more about this in my post specifically about the pelvic floor, but for now, just know the deep power, inner awareness and healing that comes from really spending time working with your breath.
As you do this practice, on a physical level, drawing up on the exhale, is helping to create a seal, or lock, you can visualise this as a way to, one strengthen and activate the muscles, and two, to help contain vital energy. In yoga this process is known as a bandha practice, literally bandha meaning to ‘hold’, ‘tighten’ or ‘lock’. The intention being to lock 'prana’ breath, life force in certain areas and redirect their flow to help activate a deeper awareness and spiritual awakening. Here with the healing breath we are activating mula bandha by physically contracting the perineum. In this instance, helping to maintain continence of openings of the pelvic floor, while maintaining function and position of internal organs in the pelvic bowl.
I have been practicing this breath since day one of my 2nd sons birth and have found my post natal recovery to be radically different to my recovery after my first son. There are of course many factors which come into play for healing and recovery, but I do feel a deep rooted strength, body awareness and energy that has been quite profound. I had terrible lower back pain after my first son and felt a lack of strength in my core. After my seance child I had a wider distasis recti than the first time but my recovery was much faster. I do believe my daily practice of this breath has greatly attributed to this.
HOW TO DO THE HEALING BREATH
You can follow the guided breath practice by clicking on the video or using the guided instructions below.
In this video I am seated, but to begin it is easiest to try this breath in a semi supine position. So lie down on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. If you have baby with you, they can lie beside you, across your belly or down the centre of your chest, or sit on your pubic bone, resting back against your thighs (let your knees draw together in this instance). As you become more familiar with the practice you can explore the breath seated, you may want to try it when feeding your baby, this is, I find an excellent way to integrate the practice into your day to day life.
For this breath practice remember the activation of the pelvic floor always happens with the exhalation.
**PRACTICE NOTE: This breath is not recommended when pregnant or during menstruation and Spot my blunder in the video, I say Inhale when in fact its an exhale (doh) - but you will catch this as you will all be so tuned into your own breath cycle :)
THE STEP BY STEP PELVIC FLOOR BREATH PRACTICE
Start by placing a hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Begin to observe your breath, the inhale as it comes into the belly and feel the rise of your hand, then observe the drawing down and in of your belly as your exhale and feel as your hand moves with it. Take a few breaths to connect with this feeling and the release and feeling of your lower back and pelvis connecting with the floor with each exhale.
Begin to feel the breath like a wave moving up and down the body, here you will practice full yogic breathing. Each inhale the breath moves up the body from the pelvis, your pubic bone all the way up to your upper chest and the base of your neck and throat. Each exhale feel and visualise the breath moving down the body from the base of your throat to the pubic bone. Feel as you breath in and the breath travels up the body your belly swells and your ribcage expands sideways and upward, the lift as your spine presses forward and your shoulder blades move down your back. Feel the full expansion of your lungs on the inhale, as the breath travels up the body. Let your awareness flow down the body as you exhale, from throat to base of the spine and pelvis. Notice the chest lowering, the ribs coming down and in and how the belly becomes soft and Hollow at the end of the exhale. Settle into a rhythm, and feel how the low back spreads onto the floor and the belly button moves back toward the spine.
** This is also a wonderful breath practice on its own. Observing your natural breath cycle in and out and then beginning to sensitise to all the parts of the breath in and out, where the breath goes. This practice will help to create a feeling of spaciousness and awanress of the cyclical flow of energy in your body which intensifies in power when we can sensitise to it.
Now begin to focus on the exhalation, feel the lower back more fully released to the floor, feel the core drawing back toward the spine and the connection and uplift of the pelvic floor muscles.
Inhale softly, and with the exhale sense the drawing in and up of the vaginal muscles toward the cervix, if this is not spontaneous, then actively draw the muscles of the vaginal wall in and up as you exhale.
Hold that sensation as you inhale, and begin to lift the pelvic floor muscles higher, squeeze in as if you are holding a golden marble full of energy and you don’t want to let it go, feel high up inside.
Hold all of this as you take your next inhale and then see if you can lift the muscles even higher on your next exhale, or just hold what you have as you exhale.
Take one more full inhale, then as you exhale, release the muscles completely and feel everything really soften. Take a few rounds of your normal breath cycle.
Repeat the healing breath, activating the pelvic floor and core for two or three more rounds, before taking a few rounds of your normal breath cycle to finish.