Using Breathwork to Support Your Pregnancy
Breathwork is gaining popularity, as more people tune into the immense benefits of conscious breath
Carolyn Cowan, author of Breathing for Pregnancy, shares a breathing exercise to support you in pregnancy
We have therapists and counsellors who specialise in supporting women through pregnancy – find them here
As a breathwork and yoga teacher my learning has been deeply rooted in how the mind and body can be profoundly altered by conscious breathing and specific stretching movements.
In pregnancy, with the combination of physical changes taking place in the body and the amount of new information and experiences to consider for the mind, it is likely that we will be unconsciously holding tension in the mind and body.
Conscious breathing is a highly accessible practice and has so many benefits in pregnancy:
- The act of breathing deeply and slowly sends more oxygen to the growing foetus and improves your whole system, changing hormonal flow and thus the baby calms, too
- Conscious breathing brings a sense of awareness and, in this, particularly in the afterglow, when I ask that you take two minutes to be still, calm and gentle, it is an opportunity to deeply connect to the child within you
- You will find you have more energy for your day and your mood will be good
- The breathwork facilitates better sleep. Finding calm also helps to manage blood pressure
- It is a personal practice, if you will, and my hope is that you find this for yourself by making space in your day, taking downtime away from screens and other stressors
- Breathwork in pregnancy allows you to be calm and centred, making a very real difference to the child inside, your sense of yourself and how much you can enjoy being pregnant
A breath to clear the negative mind
Suitable at any point on this journey.
The title of this breath makes a direct invitation to choose to take over the negative mind. This is an act of self-love, to stand down and literally blow away negative thoughts.
You do not need to actively think about your negative thoughts as you breathe, just the decision to change how you feel. Notice the cool breath as you aim it into your open hands. Imagine this coolness that you are literally holding, is a deliberate sensation of relief.
If you are consumed with fears then yes, take each one and blow it away, knowing that in this choice, and specified time, sitting, you are letting go, resetting yourself.
Sit comfortably, on a mat or a chair, spine straight, chest open, eyes closed.
This breath has a mudra: Make a cup of the two hands with both palms facing up and the outer edge of the hands, along the line following down from the outside of the little fingers, touching. Almost as though you are holding an open book, your hands are in a position to receive.
Put this open cup at the level of the heart centre. Elbows are relaxed at the sides, forearms are at a 45-degree angle and the hands are about 6–8 inches from the centre of your chest.
Close your eyes and visualise looking into the cup of your hands, so that your closed eyes are focussed at a 45-degree angle down.
Inhale deeply in 5–10-second steady breaths through the nose and pause for a moment at the top of the inhale.
Exhale thought tight lips, with a focused stream aimed into your hands.
You will feel the breath go over the hands. Let any thoughts or desires that are negative or persistently distracting be released out into your hands as you breathe.
Continue for three to five minutes. When finished, you can open your hands out, as if you are pouring all the negativity away, then sit calm and still for two minutes.
When finished, roll your shoulders and stretch up and out.
Carolyn Cowan is a breathwork and yoga teacher, and the author of Breathing for Pregnancy: How to find calm through the four trimesters
Author Lucy Jones on why she wrote her book Mattrescence
Clio Woods and therapist Miriam Christie on new mum's mental health