Carolyne Anthony is the founder of The Center for Women’s Fitness. She works from a holistic point of view, seeing the body as an amazing instrument that needs the correct attention in order to work properly. This is her blog.
Using the breath as a warm up before exercising has many benefits. Breath work can create focus, calmness and relaxation which can facilitate a deeper muscular connection. We can use the breath for the following:-
• Creating focus. By focusing on the breath we allow the mind to grow quiet.
• Creating relaxation. As we grow still, our bodies will begin to relax.
• Activating the pelvic floor and abdominals. Both the pelvic floor diaphragm and the respiratory diaphragm work with breath.
• Establishing individual body alignment. Without tension we allow our muscles and bones to “drop” into better alignment.
Learning to breathe deeply will reset the body reactors. It will change the over worked sympathetic “flight or fight” system to the parasympathetic “rest and relax” system. Breathing also acts as a “pump” for the lymph system which, on its own, does not have the ability to move waste out of the body relying on movement and breathing to help.
Deep abdominal breathing is such a great stress reducer as well as focusing the mind and calming the nerves. It is wonderful to see the energy change in a class when everyone begins to breathe deeply. It creates such a calm, serene atmosphere and is truly beneficial for those who have run into class after a hectic day.
The muscles and bones involved with breathing include the lungs, the diaphragm, the transversus abdominus, the anterior and posterior serratus and the intercostals (the muscles between the ribs). These muscles have attachments to the ribcage which protects the heart and lungs.
During inhalation the diaphragm contracts and pulls downward. This is mirrored by the pelvic floor diaphragm and the palate diaphragm in the roof of the mouth. It is this mirroring that allows us to stretch and release the pelvic floor muscles on an inhale.
The (breathing) diaphragm relaxes back to its original position on an exhalation. There is a moment between an inhale and exhale where no movement of the diaphragm takes place. This is a rest space. This is the space where relaxation occurs.
The pelvic diaphragm (floor) will also return to normal. If we are to strengthen the pelvic floor, the connection should be made at the end of the exhale when all muscles are back to their resting position. This will create a gentler pull on the PF muscles rather than an aggressive, sometimes violent contraction which does little to work the muscles according to their function.
The ribcage will expand sideways, backwards and forward on the inhale and return to normal on the exhalation unless there is a forced exhalation, in which case, the circle of the lower ribs will be pulled together, engaging the transversus abdominus.
Diastasis Recti (DR) is fast becoming an epidemic, not just during pregnancy and postpartum but with all populations. If you suffer from this condition, you know that there are many programs out there that promise results by using a set of exercises for a limited amount of time to rectify the problem.
Diastasis recti isn’t JUST about the separation of the rectus abdominus- the muscles we call the six pack. In my opinion, it is the end result of a dysfunction in both the fascial, muscular and respiratory systems and a program that heals this condition needs to address this. A good program will also take into account a person who is not a mover.
When you are dealing with this condition, it isn’t necessarily about finding the correct exercises to do to close the gap. It’s really about finding out WHY you have it in the first place and then learning new skills to help heal the condition and forever change the way you use your body.
I have been working with this condition for over 25 years and continually developing the program as new information and research becomes available. One of the key components of my program is it’s simplicity. If you don’t understand what you are supposed to be doing, then nothing will get better. Another component of this program is working with a qualified teacher. I don’t believe you can be given a set of exercises to do via an online course and expect to make a change. Every body is individual and my teachers are trained to look at you holistically and apply the program to YOUR body. This is how we get results.
The combination of fascial release, breathing techniques and simple restorative exercise forms the foundation of my program. Results are almost immediate and with consistency on your part- mostly permanent. This is because we re educate you on how to move correctly, what to change about your lifestyle to include nutrition and stress.
Photo courtesy of Aurelie Abel Pilates, Melbourne
Contact us to see if we have a teacher in your neck of the woods. email@example.com
Are you getting tired of following the blogs and posts about the best exercises for your pelvic floor? Or have you been warned off your favorite exercise routine because it might damage/tighten/loosen your pelvic floor? Have you been sold on the poop stool?
Over the weekend, I filmed a number of videos for my new website. I have resisted doing this for years, one because I absolutely hate being in front of a camera and secondly because I prefer teaching to a live audience. But I caved in to the pressure and began the process.