I'm in my third trimester now (actually, I'm considered full-term next week! So sorry for the lack of blogging- I've been nesting instead!) and I've started to notice how much harder it is to TAKE A DEEP ENOUGH BREATH! So, I've been focusing on opening up the thoracic region so that I can breathe into my ribs more.
Wait... what does that mean?
So, there are a few different ways we can breathe. We can breathe UP. Watch someone breathe this way or try it yourself- your collar bones move up and down when breathing. This way isn't good because it causes issues with the cervical spine and neck. The other way we can breathe is DOWN. Into the belly. Plunging everything downward with every breath. This isn't good either because it increases intra-abdominal pressure and pushes organs downward. I definitely think those of us who tend towards belly breathing are the ones who feel this "I can't get enough breath!" when breathing during pregnancy because baby is restricting the ability to do what we want to do- breathe DOWN. The third way we can breathe is OUT- into the ribs. Our ribs are designed to MOVE torsionally. That is, they kind of flare outwards during breathing (Don't worry- I'll post a video). This helps with bone density of the ribs. And it doesn't cause any other issues during breathing- there are no compensations that our body has to make to breathe into the rib cage.
BUT- what if the rib cage is restricted in some way? Likely it is from years of rib thrusting, pushing the shoulder blades together to hide our hunch backs, etc. We've lost the ability to mobilize the upper back! So, yes, it IS going to be harder to breathe properly if we have some restrictions. So- in addition to being more mindful about rib breathing, I'm trying to continue to open up my upper body region so that I can really take a deep breath like I want to and not compensate in my body in any way.
Here are a few stretches I like:
Place a Yoga Tune Up, Pinky ball, tennis ball or other on each side of your spine (or if you have one do one side at a time). You can either do this standing, seated or you could lay back on your back if that still feels comfortable. Press into the ball and slowly work it up and down- releasing some of that tension on either side of the spine. At the back of the rib cage. Silly 2 year old in your lap= optional.
Have a very wonderful day and please comment/like/share if this was helpful to you! Spread the love so that your friends can experience better breathing as well!! My mission is that we ALL feel as great as I feel this pregnancy!! This is of course helpful for non-preggos as well, but since I am OH SO VERY PREGNANT right now, it's definitely on my mind how much more mindful I have to be about my alignment, walking, and Restorative Exercise™ practice.... but guess what? I can say confidently that I have NO PAIN IN MY BODY WHATSOEVER this pregnancy. I truly feel stronger than I've ever felt!! I guess in a way pregnancy is good feedback because it kind of forces us to take care of ourselves better.
Mama Aligned is Lindsay McCoy.