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Just breathe....

Why is everyone telling me to “Just Breathe”?

An understanding on the importance of breathing and what it means for you.

Ladies, I’m sure you can agree: Everyone has that stage in their life where they are willing to try new things. Depending on how adventurous you are, it could honestly range from changing your warm ombre bob to something more…pink. How about jumping off the Soweto Towers or learning to surf in Ballito? (I am sure you are missing this and plenty more activities/ opportunities from B.C-Before Corona). And while I would love to try certain things, I am also personally not trying to send my African mother a death-wish by doing anything of the sort.

Bearing Covid-19 in mind, the last time I saw the inside of a gym was around late February. Being a person who loves group exercise classes (HIIT, Aerobics, Boxing and the likes), I decided that Pilates would be something I could try…As a women’s health therapist, there are tons of benefits associated with exercise for your pelvic health and Pilates is no different. Watching a Pilates guru on YouTube and working out to the sweet sounds of pop music in the background…What could possibly go wrong?

An overly excited and toned woman dawning a crop top and leggings stood before me in all her glory and told me that that this is going to be a “Magical and beautiful experience”. Okay, so far so good. “Let’s get into a lying position with your knees bent and feet pushing into the floor”. Simple and doable thus far…” While in this position: Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth…” We are on track.” Keeping your breathing intact, I would now like you to do 10000 cartwheels and burpees- All while singing the National Anthem”. Honestly speaking, she gave out simple exercises associated with the breathing technique that are doable if you have the motivation, but I could barely get through a full set of her exercises…And so I mustered up the courage to get up from the floor and watch the remainder of her video. Do you know what my problem is? The one thing this instructor (Who has questionably not shed one ounce of sweat during this video) placed emphasis on is to “Just Breathe”. It turns out that I was not breathing properly whilst doing my exercises. Maybe me huffing like I was about to give birth and telling myself that I have one more rep to go was not the solution to finishing the exercise quicker.

Breathing properly, matters.

I’m pretty sure when you are clicking on exercise video content, you are watching more for a potentially great makeover post Covid-19 more than anything (Herbalife and the likes have got nothing on you!). But what a lot of these types of exercises place emphasis on is breathing. Take a moment to think about a time you had to focus on your breathing…Were you shouting at your partner or kids about not doing the dishes? Was it when you may have been taking a test or expected to meet an important deadline? Was it possibly when you were feeling anxious, stressed or worried about something? Was it perhaps when you were in pain?

How were you breathing in all of this: Was it paced or fast…Maybe slow and steady? Did you feel like you were not getting enough breath in? I remember having pelvic health pain of my own. My body obviously needed me to empathise a bit more with my potential clients (as this was only discovered whilst a specialist performed their first internal examination on me) ...The kind of pain that feels paralysing and debilitating all at the same time. It honestly felt like I had broken shards of glass where the sun doesn’t shine (My vaginal canal for all intents and purposes)…It was so painful that I struggled to put my pants on, fell to the floor and cried before I further exacerbated my pain just to get to work. I was walking, driving and sitting around with a hidden pain: The kind that feels extremely difficult to explain and difficult to not experience or just plainly feel. I could barely breathe with this pain and honestly, I did not know how to anymore…I then decided that maybe seeing a women’s health therapist was the best thing I could do for myself.

Sitting down with her, she allowed me to just talk…to talk about why I think the pain is existing, what the pain means to me and what I am able to achieve versus what I feel I cannot achieve. She donned her gloves and explained how she was going to assess and walk me through my pain but continued to place importance on correct breathing. All in all, my experience can be noted for another day, but she corrected my breathing pattern while she continued to examine me and gave me the space to take in my pain bit by bit until a point where everything didn’t feel broken…Where I didn’t have to think if I needed someone to pick me up and take me home. Where I didn’t feel the need to call up my partner to comfort me for the night ahead. She allowed me to take a moment and breathe through my pain.

Do you know that breathing properly has benefits of its own especially within the realm of pelvic pain and bladder function?

The benefits purely lie in how one can breathe. You see, when most people breathe, it is mostly thought that your lungs are the only organs/ system responsible for filling and removing air out of your system. It actually stems from the diaphragm as well as all the muscles surrounding your chest, abdomen as well as pelvic floor…Breathing works within the context of synergy between all those muscles in order to ensure that there is adequate pressures, systemic changes and functions taking place. More importantly within the context of pelvic pain, breathing while using your diaphragm and engaging your pelvic floor can allow for relaxation. Should your pelvic floor not be relaxed, it can tend to affect the mobility and function of blood vessels, nerves and other structures in and around the pelvis which can lead to pain and discomfort while doing every day activities such as sexual intercourse and going to the bathroom. More importantly, it can affect your quality of life and your interactions with those closest to you. How you breathe and engage your pelvic floor matters and while it may not seem to be an openly discussed topic, one must know that it operates just like any other muscle group in your body. Suffering and addressing a pain in your neck is just as important as seeking help for a disengaged or overly engaged pelvic floor.

If breathing taught me anything, it was that sometimes all you need to do, is to let go…There is importance in understanding how to relax your pelvic floor and even more so, in addressing all the problems that can link to why you do have pelvic pain or discomfort. Seek the help that you know you may need in order to change the matters that you may feel embarrassed or disheartened by…Even the matters you may feel you don’t quite understand because no one may have ever told you that there is help for it.

Seek the aid of a Women’s Health Therapist through Christiaan Moolman Physiotherapy Inc. to assist you with your pelvic health in order to let go today.

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