I had a question and answer session with yoga students to answer some of their questions. You can find the video Here, or read on below.
I’ve always felt my digestion is a bit slow, can you suggest any exercises that will help with this?
The digestion is tricky. And also so interesting! There are so many factors at play. Even more tricky in pregnancy. Very generally I would say, drink more water. And be very mindful about how you eat, position, time of day, the atmosphere etc can have a big effect. And yes, movement helps. Generally, any movement. But not immediately after eating. Allow a little bit of time after eating for digestion if you can.
Being pregnant I am interested to know more about how I can prepare my pelvic floor for labour. How many times a day and number of repeats would you suggest for practising these exercises during pregnancy?
Certainly, I would say when you remember, or little and often. In pregnancy, it’s more about establishing a connection and awareness about the pelvic floor as well so that in labour we are also able to soften and release these muscles. A regular yoga practice will definitely help with this connection to the pelvic floor, as well as the whole body and your baby in general. Regular yoga practice during pregnancy benefits not only you, but baby as well.
I’ve practiced yoga and pilates on and off throughout my adult life and something that your session Love Your Core threw into question for me was the approach to breathing. I have attended sessions where the emphasis has been breathing into your abdominals so that your abdominals raise up and down as you breathe, rather than focussing on using your lungs. I felt so much more relaxed adopting the breathing technique that you showed us in last week’s session so makes me think I’ve misinterpreted this in the past or maybe I’m getting confused with the different techniques between yoga/pilates. If you could shed any light on the different breathing techniques and when to apply them, that would be really helpful please!
I also questioned this when I came across this technique. Probably not a case of misinterpreted, just different ways to work with our breath. Ultimately, I think there is a place for both, and there are several ways to work with our breath, with different purposes and outcomes. The belly breathing as you’ve been taught before is more for relaxation I would say. And the problem that could occur here is intrabdominal pressure, ultimately putting pressure on the pelvic floor every time we breathe this way. But, directing the breath to the belly can have an immediate response within the mind and nervous system. Essentially taking us out of our minds and into our bodies, letting the body know we are ok.
The technique we used in Love Your Core helps emphasize your exhalation as a way to exhale from the belly and as a result influences the muscles of the pelvic floor and helps to strengthen and enliven them, just by how we use the breath.
I found your writing on why you practice mindfulness really honest and helpful. I myself feel like you did. I find myself feeling anxious or not in the present moment much of the time. I would really, really like to improve this through mindfulness but don’t really know how to do this. How did you learn it?
You’ve got the first step down though, that you are aware you feel anxious and not present. Now, the next step will be awareness of where you go when you are not present? Is it future, or past thinking?
It has been a long process of mindfulness for me. I am a slow learner. And I am still learning, there is a lot to study about mindfulness, and we just sort of touch the surface I think in classes. My first yoga teacher integrated mindfulness into our yoga classes and I still use a lot of what she taught me really. I didn’t even realise yoga and mindfulness were separate until about a year into my yoga teacher training. So after my yoga teacher training I started to study mindfulness more. Mostly for myself, but I do integrate it into my classes like my teacher did.
Jon Kabbat-Zin is the guy for all things mindfulness related, he has several books. And some online resources too. Ruby Wax is good too. HeadSpace App. Mindful.org website.
I guess mostly it is about getting your head around some of the concepts, and then finding the practices that are most useful for you where you are in life. Access them in the way that you want. I practiced a lot while breastfeeding. And my favourite practices are recorded on the whatsapp group, the breath awareness, the kindness meditation and the senses meditation (actually that’s a yoga practice).
What can I do to help my knees?
Knees are quite tricky really, because a lot can be going on. It could be something that is actually happening below the knee, or above the knee. Maybe start by enquiring, where is it hurting? What causes it pain? Is it from tension, or compression? And then having a look at what might help, stretching it, or strengthening around the knee?