Does your fitness instructor remind you how to breathe properly? Isn’t it the most awkward feeling to be told how to breathe, when normally, you just breathe without thinking about it? “In through your nose, out through your mouth, pull your belly in on your exhale, release on your inhale, exhale with the work, inhale when relaxing….” Like there isn’t enough to focus on, right?
Well, your instructor is right. Breathing correctly is extremely important and beneficial for both mother and baby during prenatal exercise. When first starting a program, Yoga is a nice way to learn because the pace is slower and therefore easier to focus on your breathing techniques.
What benefits can you gain from this slow and focused breathing? Well, first of all, breathing is essential for living and healing, so effective breathing provides adequate oxygen for optimal health in both mothers and babies. Properly breathing also allows a deeper relaxation to follow when taking it slow and easy- another benefit.
Practicing slow breathing techniques allows you to utilize and build more complete lung capacity rather than superficially breathing which we all generally do. The oxygen provided from deep breathing is healing and reaches every part of the body at a cellular level.
Release and let go! What are the benefits of the exhale? Releasing stale air and noxious gases like carbon dioxide is another essential part of healing and becoming more fit. Expelling stale air fully, again at a deeper and more focused level, allows your next inhale of fresh air to also be more complete.
Practicing daily allows you to let go of poor breathing patterns and utilize greater lung capacity rather than the one sixth of your lung capacity generally used.
How do I begin? Follow the steps below to get started and slowly introduce this new breathing technique into your daily routine as well as any exercise routine you may follow.
1. Get into a comfortable position, one where you feel safe and can relax more easily.
2. Gently close your eyes, not forcing them shut, but allowing your eyelids to gently meet.
3. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. As you breathe slowly and deeply, feel the connection as your chest and belly lift and drop with each breath.
4. As you inhale deeply into your nose, visualize a sweet smell you want to fully breathe in, allow your belly to expand away from your body as if there is a balloon in your abdomen filled by the air you breathe in.
5. As you exhale slowly and deeply out of your mouth/nose, visualize a small pinhole in your balloon and very slowly let your breath go while pulling your belly button as far back towards your spine (hugging your baby) as possible.
This abdominal breathing also allows you to gain control and strength in the transverse abdominal muscles (deepest abdominal muscles and most difficult to strengthen through other forms of exercise) as well as the pelvic floor muscles. All of the muscles involved receive adequate oxygen and gain strength, which assists in the labor, birth and recovery process.
Try this breathing technique today and use it in your Oh Baby! Fitness classes when your instructor says, “remember to breathe!”