You bodies main breathing muscle is the diaphragm, a dome shaped muscle under the rib cage. When you breathe in, the diaphragm flattens out and pushes on your abdominal contents (stomach, intestines, bladder, etc), sending them down toward your pelvis.
At the same time, the abdominal muscles tighten a little bit and the muscles of the pelvic floor, located between your pubic bone and tailbone, lengthen. This allows you to manage the increase in pressure in your abdomen that occurs when the diaphragm flattens out.
When you breathe out the diaphragm relaxes and goes back up toward the heart, the organs move up as well and the pelvic floor muscles contract.
Learning to fully contract and relax your pelvic floor is very important. As we get older and especially after having children your pelvic floor can become weaker. It is important to do pelvic floor exercises to keep your pelvic floor in good health. Try this simple breathing technique below and let me know how you get on.
Improve your connection between your pelvic floor and breathing
- Start lying on your back, knees bent, arms relaxed hands on your stomach, fingers point towards your pubic bone palms near your hips, relax into the floor
- Focus on your breathing
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of 7 and then exhale through your mouth for a count of 11
- Once you have this rhythm going start to focus on inhaling into the back and sides of your rib cage
- On the exhale draw your attention to the squeeze from your pelvic floor as you push the breath out
- Imagine your diaphragm as a jelly fish moving slowly down into the belly on the inhale and squeezing back up into the rib cage on the exhale
Pilates is a form of exercise which concentrates on strengthening the body with an emphasis on core strength. This helps to improve general fitness and overall well-being. My Pilates classes focus around the seven key principles of Pilates, Breathing, Alignment, Stamina, Relaxation, Centering, Concentration and Flow.
Pilates focuses on the mind-body connection which we find through using the breath. While doing the various exercises your mind needs to be constantly aware of your breathing and the way your body moves.