This may seem like an odd question but most women don’t know how to breathe correctly. Have you ever watched a little baby sleeping on their back? They look so peaceful; their little bellies just rising and falling. As you get older and are exposed to the stressors of life we start to take more shallow breaths, using our upper chest. You stop taking those deep relaxing belly breaths that we took as babies.
So what is deep breathing? Deep breathing is breathing lower into your rib cage using your diaphragm. The diaphragm is the breathing muscle. It is a large domed shape muscle that sits under the rib cage, wrapping all the way around to the back. When you breathe in, the diaphragm flattens into the abdomen. This causes the belly to rise and the rib cage to expand out to the sides. Your shoulders and neck should stay relaxed. Your upper chest will move some but the majority of the movement should be in your belly and lower rib cage area. As you breathe out, your belly should fall and rib cage should go in. Make sure you don’t push your belly out as your breathe in; think about your lower belly gently expanding as you take that breath in. As you breathe out, make sure you exhale all the air out. Your exhalation should be longer than your inhalation. Try counting to 5 breathing in but then count to 10 as you breath out.
Practice your deep breathing lying down, maybe before you go to bed. Think about your lower belly staying soft and relaxed. When you get really good at your deep breathing, you may begin to feel your sit bones opening up or spreading as you breathe in. As you breathe out, they should slightly come back together.
So why is breathing so important? Deep breathing oxygenates your muscles and improves the blood flow throughout your body. Taking deep breaths is also calming to your body and lowers your heart rate. If you suffer from pain, taking deep breaths is a great tool to help manage your pain. Deep breathing is crucial to relax the pelvic muscles if you suffer from pelvic pain. If you suffer from incontinence, breathing is essential to engage your pelvic floor muscles correctly. We may not need to take deep breaths all day every day but it is SO important to be good at it and practice occasionally throughout your day.