Breathing, we all do it. Simple as that, or is it?
How often have you thought about your breath?
Maybe you’ve got stressed about something and the next thing you notice is you can’t breathe. Or perhaps you have paid attention to your breath, and realised how calming it can be, which in turn slows the breath further and makes you feel even more relaxed and calm.
During pregnancy, breathing may take on a whole new experience.
Your body may feel more fatigued due to the extra weight and hormonal fluctuations. As your body changes your blood volume increases by up to 50%, which in turn makes your heart work harder. Not only that but as your bump grows and requires more room, this will leave you with less space for the lungs to expand. No wonder pregnancy can sometimes feel like hard work.
How will yoga help me with these changes?
Yoga will help you to focus on the breath enabling you to notice how the body is feeling on that day or moment in time. Moving through poses will help the breath to carry oxygen around the body more easily and will help to loosen up the muscles supporting the lungs in the upper body. As space becomes a premium the muscles may feel shorter and tighter and gentle movements will help to feel like the muscles are lengthening and creating the sensation of more space for breathing.
Are there different ways to breathe?
Yes, there are many types of breath such as the traditional yogic Ujjayi breath, breathing in and out of the nose making an audible noise that sounds like a calm ocean. In my pregnancy classes the favourite breath work is; the Golden thread breath, or Mother’s breath. It is a discreet breath; in that you don’t make any audible noises and you can practice this anywhere at any time.
To start with find a comfortable seat and allow the body to relax and keep the eyes soft or closed. Inhale though through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Keep the lips soft with a small gap, imagine you are holding a thin piece of paper between the lips, just enough space for the air to pass through. You may find the exhale is naturally longer than the inhale, which is fine and you may find with each round of breath the exhale gets longer each time. It’s important to note that in pregnancy you mustn’t hold your breath at any point, keep the breath flowing. With each exhale imagine that the breath is being carried away on a golden thread, and with it any pain, discomfort or tension.
Sometimes it can take a while to find a new way of breathing comfortable, so stick with the practice where and when you can, eventually it will become second nature. You may find that during times of stress your favourite breath may kick in to help keep the body calm.
Breathing alone may not help us sail through pregnancy and birth, but it may help create a sense of space and calm, and if we feel in control of it, then it is a definite win.
5 benefits of breath work during pregnancy
Creates a sense of calm
Helps you to feel in control
Helps to reduce blood pressure
Helps you to feel connected with your body and baby
Do you have a favourite breath that you come back to in times of stress?
*First published February 2018