Breath, Butt, and Bridges for Relaxation
Is your personality is cool as a cucumber? Or are you are a type A push-through-and-get-it-done kinda person? Either way, emotional stress and physical changes can affect us all, particularly if you're adding a growing belly to the mix. You may notice stress as headaches, or pain at your back, hips, or pelvis. Maybe you have also noticed changes to your mood - irritability, sadness, or nervousness. Try the triple B's of breath, butt, and bridges to help ease some of your tension - these are great whether you are pregnant or not!
Breathing to engage the whole core and respiratory system is so important. Understanding and learning to influence your breath is a great way to effect change in the rest of your muscles. For pregnant women, it’s also a great tool for labour and delivery.
As shown in the video below, when we breathe in, the diaphragm contracts and drops down, abdominal organs get pushed a little lower, and the pelvic floor expands. When breathe out, the pelvic floor lifts up and in and the diaphragm expands and relaxes. Try sitting on an exercise ball and breathing while intentionally noticing this breathing pattern. It might take some practice to notice how your muscles work together, especially when it comes to your pelvic floor, so be patient with yourself.
Relax your butt! It might sound weird, but we hold a lot of tension in our butts. As bellies get bigger, if we experience chronic pain, or if we sit for long periods, we may adjust our posture to improve our balance. That might include butt gripping, which can increase tension and lead to pelvic and back pain. Try this breathing exercise:
Inhale and sit tall. Picture your ribcage expanding as your pelvic floor softens and opens up (like a jellyfish opening). Intentionally relax your glutes (your butt cheeks)
Exhale and picture your pelvic floor contracting up and in (like a jellyfish closing) and your ribcage settling. Maintain length along your spine, but keep your glutes soft.
To be honest, I just chose to highlight bridges because it worked with the whole “B” theme - I am a fan of all yoga. :)
Yoga is a great way to lean into tension to find relief, even when you're pregnant, feel pain, or have difficulty moving. There are many yoga poses that are safe to do during pregnancy to open up your chest, hips, and back. And there are often ways to modify poses so that they are accessible no matter your level of ability. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Supported child’s pose - back and shoulder stretch
Seated pigeon - hip and thigh stretch
Reclined hero - chest opening
Supine twist - spinal stretch
Low supported bridge - chest opening
Please remember that everyone is different and every day is different. Be kind to yourself and your belly, and step back if it feels like it is too much for you.