Relaxation is one of the single most important activities you can partake in to optimize pelvic floor health. Relaxation allows you to tap into interoception-that ability to sense and feel what is happening in your body.
So, what is happening in your body when you breath? The anatomy and function of your pelvic diaphragm is directly linked to the anatomy and function of your respiratory diaphragm. When you inhale, as your lungs fill with air, your respiratory diaphragm descends and presses down onto your abdominal cavity which, in turn, presses onto your pelvic diaphragm. When you exhale, the two diaphragms return to their neutral upward position.
Diaphragmatic breathing not only activates the parasympathetic nervous system and the relaxation response, but it creates this movement naturally.
Diaphragmatic Breathing=A Healthy Pelvic Floor
Let’s Try It!
• Lying in on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor, place one hand on your belly (just below your ribcage) and one hand on your chest. Begin to take long, slow, breaths which cause your belly to rise. However, your chest should remain still.
• You can start with equal breaths-for example, a count of 4 on the inhale and a count of 4 on the exhale. When you are comfortable, you can begin to lengthen the inhales and exhales.
• As you exhale, gently tighten your abdominal muscles and let them fall inward. The hand on your belly should move down to its original position. You’ll notice the subtle sensation as the pelvic floor contracts (not as intense as contracting to holding in urine).
Keep your pelvic floor healthy! Try to incorporate a little Diaphragmatic Breathing into your daily yoga practice.
"May your jeans, pelvic floor, thoughts, and days off be relaxed."-Pelvic Guru
According to Donna Farhi, “Countertransference refers to the way a student, client or patient may evoke repressed feelings on the part of the teacher, therapist or doctor”. By being aware of the countertransference, it enables the yoga therapist to create and maintain better boundaries as well as develop tools to contain feelings so not to destabilize the client-therapist relationship. Trust me-this is easier said than done. I am always working on this aspect of the client/therapist relationship.
I openly admit, I struggle with perfectionism making the most prominent feeling a client can evoke in me--accountability. In my professional and personal life, I am always prepared and hold myself to a high standard especially if I commit to do something for another person. I equate this trait to respect for and towards others. So, when a client lacks what I would call accountability or respect, it makes me soooo angry. I’m also greatly disappointed in and saddened by someone I thought was reliable and trustworthy as if I really know that client on a personal level.
I have to remind myself-I’m the yoga therapist and I don’t know anything more about the client than what he/she/they tell me. The client/therapist relationship is not personal. So, I endeavor to remain professional at all times and try diligently not put my moral/value/ethical system on others or cling to expectations of others that I have no control over. Like I said…easier said than done!! You don’t have to be a yoga therapist to know how hard this is—we experience this same clinging to expectations in everyday life.
Do you hold on a little too tightly to certain aspects of yourself, your life or others? Is it possible to let go of expectations?
How Do I Work on Letting Go Expectations?
I go back to the Yoga Sutras and, in particular, the last Yama …Aparigraha (non-attachment). This enables me to let go of my expectations of others since it only creates suffering for me. Here’s are some ways to cultivate Aparigraha:
What tools can you put in place to steady yourself when attachment and clinging raise their ugly head?
Farhi, D. (2006). Teaching Yoga: Exploring the Teacher-Student Relationship. Rodmell Press.
Everyone in yoga talks about the importance of breathing. How we don't breathe properly. How we don't use the full capacity of our lungs. How the breath can either calm us or excite us. Yada Yada Yada
But do you know how many parts of the body are actually involved in breathing and why? Probably not! Most of us don't since we just take breathing for grated.
Here's the breakdown:
1. Thoracic Cavity: It houses the heart, diaphragm, lungs and pleura. The Thoracic Cage is the rib cage (consisting of 80 joints), 12 vertebrae, and sternum.
2. Trachea: The semi-rigid passageway extends from the larynx to the primary bronchi. It is adaptable to allow movement, eating and breathing.
3. Lungs: They are where blood and air meet. Carbon oxide rich blood passes into the right of the heart and into the lungs where it interacts with the alveoli to become enriched with oxygenated blood.
4. Ribs: They are flat, deformable and elastic, most connect to sternum, 11 and 12 are floating ribs not connecting to the coastal cartilage in the front.
5. Intercostal Muscles: They are muscles of inspiration and expiration. They occupy the spaces between adjacent ribs and are arranged in two crisscrossing layers. They move the ribs closer and further apart and allow them to glide over each other.
6. Heart: It pumps the carbon dioxide rich blood to the lungs and receives the oxygenated blood from the lungs to distribute through the body. It also rests on the central tendon the diaphragm. The heart’s pericardium adheres to the diaphragm.
7. Diaphragm: It is the primary muscle of inspiration acting like a pump at the base of the lungs. It separates and connects the thorax and the abdomen.
8. Alveoli: The bronchioles subdivide into alveoli that manufacture mucus. It is where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs. They crisscross the capillaries to create this exchange.
9. Bronchioles: The two bronchi divide and continue to subdivide until they are smaller bronchioles. They do not have cartilage. They contain mucus and cilia to help maintain the lungs of obstructions, which could result in Bronchitis.
Which Lead Us to the Importance of the Diaphragm Muscle
The diaphragm is the principal muscle for breathing. According to Leslie Kaminoff, “The diaphragm is the principle muscle that causes three-dimensional shape change in the thoracic and abdominal cavities." Not only is it the prime mover of the thoracic and abdominal cavities, the diaphragm anchors multiple structures including the pleura, the pericardium, and peritoneum. Thus, effecting the movement of the organs as well.
When the diaphragm moves, all the organs above and below are massaged. The organs are bathed in new blood and oxygen. On the inhale, the diaphragm lowers and on the exhale, the diaphragm relaxes. The atmospheric pressure is greater than the pressure in the lungs when an individual takes an inhale. Air will then flow into the lungs to balance the pressure. In order for the air to move in and out of the lungs freely, the diaphragm must be able to expand without restrictions.
Try this Yoga Practice to Bring Some Awareness to that Diaphragm!!
Did you notice any changes in how you breath?
Calais-Germain, B. (2006). Anatomy of Breathing. Eastland Press, Inc.: Seattle, WA.
Farhi, D. (1996). The Breathing Book: Good Health and Vitality Through Essential Breath Work. St. Martin’s Griffin: New York, NY
Kaminoff, L. and A. Matthews. (2012). Yoga Anatomy. Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL.
Have you ever tried the yogic breathing technique (Pranayama) called Alternate Nostril Breathing or Nadi Shodhana? This form of Pranayama helps to balance both hemispheres of the brain bringing both effectiveness and calmness. Breathing through the left nostril is calming while breathing through the right nostril is energizing.·
Nadi Shodhana is excellent at helping you relax before an important event and can be practiced daily to reduce anxiety. It calms, purifies, and strengthens the nervous system and deepens self-awareness making it an excellent preparation for meditation.
Here's how you do it!!
Try incorporating Nadi Shodhana into your daily yoga practice. It will become one of the most relaxing and centering techniques in your practice. Your nervous system will be calmed, and your mind will become steadied for concentration and meditation.
"Breathe deeply, until sweet air extinguishes the burn of fear in your lungs and every breath is a beautiful refusal to become anything less than infinite" D. Antoinette Foy
I AM Boundless Bliss Yoga. Just me. I'm a one-lady band. I'm a yoga therapist. I didn't start out to be a yoga therapist, I just wanted to learn more and SHAAAZZAMM...here I am.