by Lodovica Trevisan
Watch a baby sleep. With each breath that tiny belly rises and falls. Diaphragmatic breathing tones abdominal muscles, relaxes breathing muscles, improves blood flow to your abdominal region and calms your nervous system. What a great set of rewards for purposeful breathing.
1. Get ready. Put on your favorite calming music and loose-fitting work-out clothes. Choose a safe place to sit.
2. Get comfy on your exercise ball, favorite chair, or a floor mat. We suggest the exercise ball. Your sitting and balancing on it strengthens your core -- an added benefit!
2. Line up. Sit with your knees level with hips and directly above your ankles. Keep your chin level, raise your head and relax your shoulders. Allow your hands to rest on your upper leg.
3. Inhale and allow the abdomen to expand. Do you feel your tummy moving? Great!
4. Exhale and contract your abdomen to force the air out. Imagine that you're pulling your belly button back towards your spine.
5. That's one. Try to do 20, rest and do 20 more. If you can only do 10, that's okay too - the point of the exercise is quality, not quantity.
Big Tip: Is your neck stiff or tight? Stretch and relax those muscles while practicing your "belly breathing." Relax your jaw, tongue and neck, take a couple breaths. On your next exhale, bring your chin toward your chest. As you inhale, bring your head back up. Exhale again, bring your right ear to your right shoulder. Inhale and bring head back up. Exhale and bring your left ear to your left shoulder. Inhale and lift your head. Repeat again or until your neck feels more relaxed. Breathe deeply and slowly.
Before starting a fitness program, talk with your midwife or OB/GYN about your current health, physical activity and pregnancy. We don't know what kind of shape you're in or what your medical needs/concerns are. Please get the green light from your provider first!
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