The art of breathing

The art of breathing

It all begins with the breath.

Did you realise that, although breathing is a natural reflex that all living animals perform, newborn babies have to learn to breathe? At first, nestled in your arms, you may notice how the breath comes in fits and starts, how unrhythmic it is, like an avant garde jazz session. The riff isn’t predictable. One slow, two quick, two slow… Sometimes anxiety-inducing long silent gaps between the breaths.

baby lying on brown surface
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

The natural fluid motion of the breath has to be established, the metronome to breathing has to be learnt. You actually teach your baby how to breathe, by modelling that rhythm. By taking deep, conscious, long breaths in their presence. By being close, and breathing alongside them. Creating that harmony of the breath for them, with them.

You breathe 22,000 a day. Are you conscious of…any of those breaths? It is something so ordinary and yet so miraculous.

Take a deep breath now. Deep and low, into your lower belly. Deep down into your pelvis. Send the breath far into your torso. And as you breathe out, feel the tension soften in your jaw, cheeks, shoulders.

sleeping baby
Photo by Bryan Schneider on Pexels.com

A gently rising and falling breath pattern stimulates your rest and digest, parasympathetic nervous system. The counterbalance for your stress response. This can calm your body and mind. You begin to soften and relax. Your body is soothed by restful hormones. Your thoughts, feelings, emotions can also be tamed and calmed by this physiological response. Slow, deep, long, soft.

Treat yourself like the newest of newborns. Learn how to breathe.

Do you consciously breathe at any point during the day? What are your thoughts on breathing as a calming tool? I’d love to know.

I’m at the beginning of my training to teach Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy – and coming back to the breath is one of the fundamental skills that we have to learn, to reduce our stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression in the longer term. Have you felt a positive effect of conscious breathing? Comment or DM me! xxx

The Supermum Myth
Anya Hayes’s two books Pregnancy: The Naked Truth and The Supermum Myth
Advertisements
The Elastic Brain – benefits of meditation

The Elastic Brain – benefits of meditation

“Mummy I never change my mind. I always keep the same mind.” Maurice said this to me yesterday, when I suggested that he *might* change his mind about a sartorial decision.

It made me think about the elastic brain. Up until fairly recently we thought of our minds as “fixed”, set in place in our early years: our character traits, core beliefs, personality all shaped and moulded forever. Our bodies were seen as the only thing we could potentially “work on” and change the shape of.

It’s true that our core beliefs tend to feel fixed: developed in early childhood and through formative experiences, one-off comments that brand you deeply into your soul like livestock branded by a cattle prod, etched into your psyche, immovable like a chicken pox scar. An internal stone manifesto. “I’m not popular”, “I’m crap in social situations”, “I’m really bad with money”.

And this fixed belief can lead to lowness and depression when internal Criticism FM is turned up to full volume and ignores any other evidence around. You might start to dislike aspects of your personality and despair that you’ll “always be like this”. But recent research has shown that through cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness therapies you can “re-wire” your brain to improve everything from your mental wellbeing to your perception of your quality of life and how content you are.

It’s not just rethinking stuff – it’s re-experiencing things. Changing the way you see things: experiences help to require your brain and form new beliefs, over time. And, just like that 5am boot camp to get a toned bum and honed waist, it takes hard work – and is easy to shirk. It’s much easier to settle in on your stone manifesto and think “this is just the way I am”. It’s challenging not to believe every thought you think. But it’s worth it. Thoughts are not facts. The more you calm an anxious mind by disciplining the stream of automatic thoughts, the more positive you’ll feel overall.

Challenge your mental habits, and your behavioural habits. In the same way that Pilates encourages you to lengthen out of bad posture/ingrained habits which create tension and aches and pains – you can overturn mental aches and pains by gently overturning behaviours that aren’t serving you well.

A meditation practice is the first step in redrawing your mental patterns. By setting aside some time to focus on your breath, on organising your thoughts and letting them bubble up like when you open a sparkling water bottle – you are releasing your body out of fight or flight mode and into rest and repair. Even simply doing that has profound effects on the ability of your brain to access the more reasoned area, allowing for calmer responses to situations and events. Over time, the amygdala, the brain’s fight or flight pilot, actually appears to SHRINK over time with meditation practice. So you are much less likely to get yourself all tied up in knots as you’re already rewired to react slightly differently.

I’m loving the Calm app at the moment, it’s fab for enabling you to fit in bite-sized easy meditation pockets in a normally chaotic day. I’ve been trying it a lot during this half term – so if that’s not a litmus test I don’t know what is! But even taking a few moments to breathe deeply, soften your body and tune in, listen to your internal thoughts, is enough to kick start a soothing meditative habit.

My book The Supermum Myth, written with clinical psychologist Dr Rachel Andrew, offers lots of ways to begin to notice your internal dialogue, and plenty of activities to try and shift your perception, retread those paths in your brain creating new positive furrows. It takes practice and just because it sounds simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. As with any physical fitness programme, we need to stick with it – which human beings find quite tricky don’t we, we’re constantly on a quest to self-sabotage…. But committing to working on our inner peace – and knowing it’s alway a work in progress – is always going to reap benefits by making us happier and more balanced day to day, and crucially make us a nicer person to be around, so I reckon it’s worth a shot, right?

Do you currently have a meditation practice of any kind? Movement meditation, breathing, walking…? What is your go-to meditative habit? I’d love to know! xxx

What I’d Give a New Mum

What I’d Give a New Mum

This week has been maternal mental health awareness week. The fact that there even IS a week dedicated to maternal mental health awareness…or that “maternal mental health” is even a “thing” on our daily radar, is a huge positive change from when I had my first baby nearly 7 years ago (and really could have done with there being a comforting support network online  – and in person – like there is now).

IMG_2248

What would I give a new mum? A brilliant online campaign started by Amy Ransom, #whatidgiveanewmum, has triggered some wonderful online solidarity providing virtual hugs and biscuits for mums who might be struggling with night feeds, deranged thoughts due to sleep deprivation, and wondering whether they’ll ever have time to breathe again.

I think the main thing I would give a new mum – alongside sleep, and lots of tea, is FAITH.

Faith that you are “doing a good job”. Faith that you will sleep again. Faith that you will feel like “you” again. Faith that tomorrow will be better. Faith that it will be ok. Faith that people aren’t judging you the way you feel that they are. Faith to speak up. Faith in your instincts. Faith that This Too Shall Pass.

It can be relentless, this motherhood gig. And if we don’t catch it we can easily start to turn against ourselves, with negative thought patterns. With forgetting to nourish and hydrate ourselves properly. With losing any sense that we are worth basic self care of movement, sleep, joy.

IMG_2251

If you feel yourself slipping down your to do list: try to have faith that you are worth considering in the pecking order. You are the organiser of the pecking order, so you need to be firing on all cylinders. Or at least on most of your cylinders. And to do that, you need to check in with you. Take a breath. Ask yourself if you’re ok. Tell yourself it’s ok if you’re NOT ok, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad mum. You’re just having a tough time right now.

Sending you love, hugs, the remote control within reach, and lots of warm drinks. It’s going to be ok you know. How are you today? xxx

073A9323
The Supermum Myth

 

Returning to “normal” post-baby

Returning to “normal” post-baby

img_3811

  • You have a baby. You take it relatively easy for the first 6 weeks, maybe doing the odd squeeze of your pelvic floor (clenching your buttocks hopefully and raising your eyebrows?) when you remember/can be bothered, but you’re itching to get back into it and “lose the baby weight”, “get your body back”. Pictures of Kardashians pinging back into their pre-baby shape make you feel like you’re lagging behind, being lazy, stuck somehow “doing nothing” under your baby when there are other more important things to do. You feel like 6 weeks is a LIFETIME before you can be “signed off as back to normal” and ready to get stuck into regular activity, sign me up for baby Zumba now please!
  • Even if you’ve been “signed off” at your 6-week check, this should be seen as the START line of the marathon of your body healing itself, not the finish line. Your 6-week check is often cursory and currently skips over some fundamentals of your healing.
  • The 6-week check usually marks the formal end of maternity care, and you may think woo hoo I’m good to go, hot baby spinning Zumba here we come! – but at six weeks your body is not yet healed. Too often the GP only has time to offer you a quick glance and doesn’t ask you in depth about pelvic floor healing or check your abdominals for separation (see below). So you shouldn’t take it as read that you’re now all clear to get into high impact exercise – particularly if you weren’t an avid exerciser before pregnancy.
  • Six weeks leaves just enough time for your organs to settle back to their original position once baby has evacuated that space, and the first stage of soft tissue healing. And potentially it takes much, much longer if you’ve had a caesarean. It can take several months for the abdominal and pelvic muscles to recover fully, and for the connective tissue to completely firm up. Your body is healing, there is so much going on under the skin that you can’t see, it needs nurturing and kindness.
  • Running and HIIT exercise appeals to mums because it requires no equipment, costs nothing, and can be crowbarred fairly easily into a suddenly-chaotic yet full-of-nothing-much day. You think getting back into it will make you feel great, lose all the weight, find your mojo. And it might. There’s no doubt about the importance of exercise for wellbeing. But going straight into high impact activities like running if “my 6-week check was fine” (did the doctor specifically say anything about exercise?) may not be the best plan for your long term healing.
  • Breathing is the most crucial starting point for your recovery, physically and mentally. Sooo boring, right? Well, your breathing enables you to release tension and anxiety, to allow your body space to recover from your birth experience, to move you from “fight or flight” into “rest and digest” mode. Breathing is intrinsically connected with the efficacy of your abdominals and pelvic floor, as the diaphragm has to learn how to communicate with your pelvic floor now that your baby is no longer hogging the space between them. Breeeeathe, wide and full into your belly, allow your diaphragm to fully descend and open and it will stimulate the conversation between the pelvic floor with its symmetrical rise and fall motion. It’s the most overlooked healing tool we have: it’s free, you’re doing it anyway might as well make it count, it doesn’t take any extra time ladies.
  • Diastasis whatsi? Diastasic recti – abdominal separation. Your rectus abdominis – your six-pack muscle, has separated during pregnancy due to stretching of the linea alba ‘fascia’, the connective tissue that holds the two bands of muscle together, sort of like unzipping at the front. Trying to flatten the mum tum with sit ups is not the solution as it will make the separation worse. We need to strengthen the deeper stabilising muscles: the pelvic floor, your corset muscle the transversus abdominis, and, fundamentally, get the diaphragm firing properly with proper breathing.
  • I’ll say it again because it’s so important: NO SIT-UPS. NO CRUNCHES. NO PLANKS. These are strictly contra-indicated in the early months of your postnatal recovery, due to weaknesses caused by abdominal separation – and if you’ve never been checked for ab separation, this rule applies for years after postnatally. If you’ve got diastasis it is going to cause problems however “new” or old a mum you are. ‘Ab exercises’ cause an increase in intra-abdominal pressure, which in turn increases the load placed on your weakened pelvic floor – sort of like building a loft extension on top of a house where you’ve knocked down a load-bearing wall. It’ll cause back pain, may exacerbate pelvic floor problems, it’ll make your foundation weaker not stronger.
  • If you do go to a buggy running-type group, or attend any fitness group in the year after your baby, your instructor MUST check your abdominals for separation and at the very least ask you in detail about your birth experience, how your pelvic floor is feeling, whether you experienced pelvic pain during your pregnancy. If the PT or instructor omits any of these essential postnatal duty-of-care issues, and particularly if they launch into AB EXERCISES, planking, sit-ups, leg lowers, flat tummy exercises etc., DO NOT DO THIS CLASS. Run, run away (slowly and with care).
  • Bum deal. Your pelvis has taken most of the burden of carrying your baby and probably also provided the exit route, so we need to give it some strong scaffolding. Hormones are still flooding your system, which keep your ligaments and joints unstable for up to nine months (and if you are breastfeeding, potentially longer), so it’s important to regain strength in your glute muscles, in order to stabilise your lower back and hips. If they aren’t firing on all cylinders you’re more likely to experience low back pain or have issues with your hips, knees and ankles. Strong bums are particularly important if you want to ultimately get back into high-impact movement such as HIIT and running…or just lifting and day to day craziness with your minis – I mean, that can be a HIIT workout in itself, right?
  • Posture matters. Everything hinges on your alignment in terms of your body systems working effectively post-birth. No amount of pelvic floor exercise will be truly effective if your alignment is poor and you’re not breathing fully. You do a lot of lifting and bending when you have small children and it’s important to soften and balance your body – especially if you are breastfeeding.
  •  I wet myself! LOL! IT’S NOT FUNNY. The main thing to remember about your pelvic floor after birth is that you should not suffer in silence, or laugh it off. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that pelvic floor issues get better if they are ignored. If you are struggling with pain, discomfort, lack of sensation, a feeling of heaviness or ‘bearing down’, or even if things simply don’t feel ‘normal’ – not asking for help and laughing it off only means that the problem will definitely get worse over time.
  • Think about your 70-year old self and how you want her to feel. There is a real risk of pelvic organ prolapse postnatally, and it is so important to strengthen your pelvic floor to increase your chance of avoiding this, particularly if you want to have more children. If you feel any sensation of your insides ‘falling out’, do not ignore this. A prolapse is when the uterus, bowel or bladder descends into the vagina. Go to your GP and ask to be referred to a women’s health physio.
  • I had a C-section, pelvic floor exercises don’t apply to me. Sadly you don’t get let off the hook. Your pelvic floor has provided a neat pillow, punch bag and trampoline for your baby for 9 months. It needs some attention even if it didn’t serve as the exit turnstile.
  • Whatever birth you had, start your pelvic floor exercises as soon as possible. The sooner the better. BUT IT’S NEVER TOO LATE. So start now. NOW. If you had a perineal tear, whatever grade, begin these exercises without delay, as they’ll promote healing, send blood circulation to the area, reduce swelling, increase sensation and help you to regain your strength and function.
  • To do your pelvic floor exercises correctly: lift your back passage – imagine you are trying to stop breaking wind – then travel the engagement forward as if you want to stop the flow of wee, squeeze and lift forward and up.
  • Try not to hold your breath: lift up with an exhale, and then allow the entire pelvic floor to fully open, soften and relax on the inhale. Do a few repetitions, slowly and intentionally, a few times every day with this breath pattern. Then progress to doing some quickly. Squeeze and repeat 10 times, breathing normally without holding your breath, and always fully releasing and resting with an inbreath at the end.
  • Remember that when you lift your pelvic floor there should be no clenching or tension anywhere else: bum, shoulders, jaw, inner thighs. It’s an internal engagement. A strong pelvic floor is the key to healing your mum tum.
  • Look at the Squeezy app for more guidance and information about pelvic floor exercise.
  • Pilates is a perfect postnatal activity to strengthen your core and bum, to release tension – but it has to be the right kind of Pilates. Check your instructor has experience and the right credentials for working with mums.
  • Yoga is brilliant to. But as above.
  • Swimming is low impact yet surprisingly challenging, and meditative – just keep swimming just keep swimming just keep swimming….
  • And walking. Especially in green spaces. Walking is very healing and strengthening.
  • Your postnatal mojo is so linked to how your body FEELS and how you’re functioning. If you’re weeing when you exercise, or even when you cough and sneeze, that’s going to make you feel like shit, and make you scared to speak up about it or to continue to exercise, which perpetuates a negative cycle for your wellbeing.
  • Depletion in body: make no mistake, pregnancy withdraws all you got. It takes you well into your overdraft of energies, nutrients, minerals, strength. And then you don’t often choose to make deposits back into your account once baby is out (the “bounce back”!).
  • Your gut health may well be affected by your birth experience – antibiotics, caesarean birth – which will compromise your absorption of nutrients from your food. And crucially, may compromise your production of serotonin – the hormone of JOY, which is largely produced in the gut and therefore arguably could be one of the missing links in some out of the blue experiences of postnatal depression.
  • You’re not sleeping well, and probably not drinking enough water so you’re dehydrated. And you may only be eating toast, biscuits and mainlining coffee anyway, so your poor gut doesn’t have that much to work with.
  • Postnatal depletion is not depression. But it can make you feel generally a bit meh and crap. Which lends itself to becoming depression if left unchecked over time. The most basic form of selfcare is to tell yourself that you matter, to feed and water yourself adequately. How do you FEEL? Are you strong? Are you strong enough to carry a toddler in your dungarees like a sling for a mile when they refuse to go in the buggy?
  • It’s normal not to feel amazing all the time. But if it’s affecting your every day and you just feel “not right”: this is the tipping point. Check your PHYSICAL needs today: drink enough water, breathe properly and fully – this will be affecting your mind and spirit too. Our body image is so intrinsic to our happiness and identity, and postnatally this can take a real kicking.
  • It takes time to heal and regain your strength, you are only human, you’re not a Kardashian. It’s not frivolous to prioritise you and getting your body back safely and effectively. If you return to sit-ups, planks, running, HIIT too soon you can do more harm than good.
  • So ladies please: drink enough water, remember to breathe, and if you’re at all worried, ask your GP to refer you to a women’s health physiotherapist. Look after YOU!

Flexible Strength: your pelvic floor in pregnancy and beyond

Flexible Strength: your pelvic floor in pregnancy and beyond

IMG_2211

The pelvic floor: you’ve heard about it, you’re told to “exercise” it, you know it’s there…but it’s a little bit intangible and ethereal. What does it do? How should it feel? How do I know if I’m doing it right? Pelvic floor awareness is the most important thing to discover and fine-tune here. Yes we need to strengthen, but we also need to have the ability to release and be flexible. And, above all, you need to BREATHE, fully and deeply. Pelvic floor exercises without attention to the breath are basically null and void.

We need to be aware and be able to control the pelvic floor muscles, rather than simply make them “strong”. Imagine an accordion: if it was squeezed up tight permanently it wouldn’t be able to open, close, undulate and make use of all the air within it to make beautiful music. The tallest buildings on earth look fixed and stable, but have flexibility built in to their structure, so that they can bend and weave with the elements rather than breaking. This flexible strength is what we need to aim for with our pelvic floor.

Pelvic Floor Awareness

Sit upright on a chair. Your feet are hip-width apart, with your weight evenly released into your feet and sit bones.

  1. Breathe in as you lengthen your spine and soften your shoulders.
  2. Breathe out and softly lift your back passage, as if you’re trying to stop breaking wind. Continue this lifting energy and bring it to the front, towards your pubic bone as if you’re trying to stop the flow of pee. Draw these muscles up and in, lifting from the back forward and up. We want to try and locate the full breadth of the muscles from the back to the front, imagine like flower petals folding up and into a bud, evenly from all sides. You may feel your lower belly lifting up as well.
  3. Maintaining this engagement, breathe. Ensure that you can still breathe fully and wide into the sides of the ribcage, while continuing to lift into your centre. There should be no bracing.

Watchpoints

  • Check your shoulders are relaxed, and scan your body for any tension as you breathe: jaw, neck, buttocks – soft and relaxed.
  • If you lose your connection, that’s totally normal so don’t feel frustrated, simply take a breath and start again. With practice, it will become easier and more natural.
  • The key is a soft engagement rather than a stiff fixed one. Make sure that you can still breathe, and your torso isn’t rigid.
  • Please don’t practise this while sitting on the loo and stop midflow while actually having a pee. You might introduce the chance of a UTI that way.

Help! I can’t feel it!

If you really can’t find your pelvic floor at all: try sucking your thumb. Or, place both hands palms down on a table while you’re sitting down. Press down on the table, you should feel a natural lift of the pelvic floor muscles. Persevere with these pelvic floor awareness exercises, and you should begin to find the mental connection which will allow you to feel them – it’s a subtle sensation, not “obvious” like tensing your bicep muscles, so it may simply be that you need to find that mindful connection to your body, and relax into it a bit. Also try getting stuck in with your hands to actually find where the muscle attaches: feel your sit bones with your fingers, trace your fingers around your pelvis and imagine the pelvic floor as a hammock spanning the whole pelvic cavity. Having a tactile approach while you experiment with finding your centre may help you to connect to the engagement.

If you still struggle after giving it a real go (it will take a bit of regular practice) – and particularly if this is not your first baby and you’ve found pelvic floor sensation tricky since your previous birth – it’s worth going to a women’s health physio to see if a hands-on practitioner can give you some pointers.

Pelvic elevator

Sitting on a chair, feet hip-width apart, flat on the floor. Release your weight evenly on both sitting bones.

Depending on what stage of pregnancy you are at ­– you can perform this exercise throughout – you could also do this while lying down on the floor, but it is sometimes easier to locate the pelvic floor initially if you are upright, as you feel the sensations more strongly when working on lifting directly upwards, against gravity.

Imagine that your pelvic floor is a lift in a building. We have ground floor (your pelvic floor at rest), level 1, 2 and 3. There is also a basement floor below ground floor.

  1. Breathe in, wide into your sides and lower ribs.
  2. Breathe out, and connect to your centre, back to front – visualize closing the lift doors. It may help to imagine the sit bones drawing towards each other (without clenching your buttocks).
  3. Breathe in, relax but maintain that soft engagement.
  4. Breathe out as you imagine the lift travelling to the first floor, lifting your engagement higher.
  5. Breathe in to pause at the first floor (keeping the lift doors closed).
  6. Breathe out, and take the lift to the second floor.
  7. Breathe in, pause, staying at the second floor.
  8. Breathe out and take the lift up to the top floor, full lift up through your centre as far as you can take it without bracing or tensing.
  9. Breathe in and soften your shoulders and jaw as you hold the connection.
  10. Breathe out as you lower down through to the next floor slowly, pausing to breathe in, then lower to the next floor.
  11. When you reach the ground floor, breathe in and soften your muscles as you lower to the basement floor. Imagine opening the doors of the lift and release your pelvic floor muscles completely (possibly best go to the loo before you try this one, just in case!).
  12. Slide the doors closed once more as you breathe out, and repeat the whole exercise up to 3 times.

The beauty of this exercise is that you can do it anywhere, any time. It is also very calming, so if you’re feeling stressed at work it’s a good way of tuning into your breath and “taking a moment” without anyone realizing that that’s what you’re doing.

Pelvic floor, 1, 2, 3 squeeze

This exercises gives you something to squeeze, which offers a bit of feedback for the pelvic floor engagement. A great way of enhancing your pelvic floor engagement if you’re struggling to locate the muscles. You can use either a pillow, or a Pilates small ball. It is a great way of finding the isolation of the pelvic floor muscles as opposed to gripping the inner thighs or buttocks.

First trimester/early pregnancy (until 16 weeks): begin lying down in the Relaxation Position, a ball or pillow between your thighs/knees. Feet are hip-width apart.

Later pregnancy (after 16 weeks): sit upright, feet flat on the floor, either on a chair or on a Swiss ball, and place a ball or pillow between your knees.

 

  1. Breathe in, to lengthen the spine and prepare.
  2. Breathe out and connect to your centre (see Pelvic Floor Control).
  3. Breathe in, maintain that connection.
  4. Breathe out and count to 3, gently squeeze the ball/pillow, while holding the pelvic floor engagement.
  5. Breathe in and let go of the pelvic floor engagement, but keep squeezing the ball/pillow.
  6. Breathe out, count to 3 and release the squeeze on the pillow.
  7. Breathe in, scan your body for tension, relax the features of your face and your jaw.
  8. Breathe out, connect to your centre, and breathe in to maintain.
  9. As you breathe out, count to 3, squeeze your pillow to activate the inner thighs. This time also squeeze your buttock muscles, and feel like your whole pelvic area is “switched on”.
  10. Breathe in, try to release the buttock and inner thigh engagement, but maintain your pelvic floor lift. Notice the difference in the internal and the “external” engagement here.
  11. Breathe out and fully release all your muscles.
  12. Repeat the whole process up to 4 times.

Watchpoints

  • Notice whether you’re frowning or clenching your jaw while performing this exercise. Try to soften and release. If it helps, exhale as if you’re slowly blowing a candle out, and that should allow you to relax your jaw fully.
  • You can change the breathing pattern if you like (swapping the in breath timings with the out breath): but make sure you always breathe.

Emergency stop

The pelvic floor has to be strong for endurance, the long metaphorical marathon. But it also has to have the power for sprinting. This exercise develops the “fast twitch” muscle fibres, which are responsible for those shorter bursts of movement and energy. For example, chicken wings contain lots of fast-twitch fibres, enabling the chicken to take flight in an emergency – fast twitch fibres are quick to respond, but also fatigue after a short burst of energy.

We need to train the pelvic floor both for stamina and speed: it needs the fast-twitch capability for rapid response when you cough, laugh, sneeze or jump around, as well as when your baby is making its descent out into the world. During late pregnancy and in the postnatal period, stress incontinence is a common issue. If your rapid response team doesn’t get mobilised soon enough, simple acts such as sneezing or coughing can cause a bit of a nightmarep. So consider this your rapid response team training: this exercise is a good one to have in your back pocket to train your pelvic floor to be robust for those “emergencies” which require pelvic floor power without a moment to lose!

You can perform this in any position, so practise in whatever position you feel comfortable, and ideally try it out in a number of different positions. Practising in lots of different positions will help you to find the muscle memory for it to be effective in your daily life.

  1. Breathing deeply and normally, on an outbreath quickly lift your pelvic floor up and in tightly, to full engagement.
  2. Hold for about 5 seconds, taking deep long breaths.
  3. Release on an in breath.

Repeat around 6 times.

Pelvic floor, deep belly breathing

Suitable for: all stages of pregnancy

In our society we’re conditioned to hold our bellies in – you know you do it, when you’re having a photo taken, or when you’re reminded of your posture we just suck our tummies in tight. Often all this does is lead to a lot of tension around the abdominals and pelvic floor and temporarily push your internal organs up and in, rather than creating any useful strength or muscle balance. Being pregnant can be a tricky emotional time letting go of your semblance of control of your tummy and its (sometimes alarmingly overnight) growth in size. This exercise allows you to connect to your belly through your breath, and fully relax all of the muscles around your abdomen and your pelvic floor. It’s a wonderful way of calming body and mind, so it’s perfect for all stages of pregnancy (for late pregnancy, sitting up bolstered by pillows may be a better position).

It’s a great way of preparing for your labour, you can tap into this calm meditative state, and use the breathing technique during your contractions.

 

Early pregnancy and postnatal: start lying on your back, head on a small cushion, knees bent, arms relaxed with hands on the belly.

Later pregnancy (or early, if prefer): sit against a wall, surrounded by cushions. Soles of the feet together, knees apart. NB if you’re suffering from PGP  you may be more comfortable with your legs in parallel and outstretched, with a cushion underneath your knees.

 

  1. Lying with your eyes closed, release the weight of your body into the floor underneath you. Feel the weight of your head, ribcage, pelvis.
  2. Bring your awareness to your breath. Initially, just notice it, without changing it. Notice the in breath, the out breath, the space in between. Notice whether there is a rhythm, a consistent length of in breath versus out breath.
  3. Begin to bring a pattern to your breath. Breathe in through the nose for a count of 7, and out through the mouth for a count of 11. Let the breath sigh out through the lips as if you’re fogging a window in front of you.
  4. Bring your awareness to your belly, and your hands resting there, picture your baby in your belly. If your bump is bigger, notice if your baby is awake, moving, what sensations you can feel internally and externally through the hands.
  5. Breathe in and notice how your hands rise and the belly inflates with the breath.
  6. As you breathe out, notice the fall in your abdomen as the breath recedes.
  7. See whether you can channel your breath deep down towards the belly and pelvis, imagine it like a soft wave travelling down the body and washing away any tension.
  8. On the outbreath, feel the belly soften and imagine the pelvis wide and open, and completely relaxed.
  9. Practise releasing the jaw by changing the sounds of your outbreath. Experiment with a “ssshhhhhhh” sound, or a long audible sigh. If you feel a bit silly doing this, try to just relax into it a bit and remember you’re on your own, no one is watching or judging.

 

How to create space and unclutter the mind

How to create space and unclutter the mind

One of the things we most crave as mums – as modern humans – is space.

When I chatted with the lovely Zoe from @motherkind_zoe for her podcast I said if I could give mums any gift in the world it would be the gift of ✨ space ✨.
.
❇️ Physical space – solo trip to the toilet, when you’re feeling too much of the touchy feelies?
❇️Headspace – distance from the bubbling over capacity cup of work to do lists, parents evening reminders, immunisation appointments, sleep deprivation.
❇️ Breathing space – a regular gentle reminder just to breathe: slowly deeply fully consciously ❤️ .
❇️ Space to find the clarity to love our children truly madly deeply ❤️.

IMG_8488
This picture is of me on the final day of @ibizaretreats yoga retreat that I went on for my 40th birthday. Freddie was 15 months old and I hadn’t slept longer than 2 hours for 15 months 😬😱. I had 3 nights of B L I S S F U L sleep, yoga, stillness, time with my best friend. Oh my. For me, this 👆🏼 is the epitome of how I feel when I have space. Rested. Calm. Capable. Joyful. Resilient.

We’re always available on our phones. Constantly bombarded with bad news, opinions and rants on Twitter. Occasionally questioning whether our living room will ever be stylish or tidy enough judging by Instagram.

When you can rarely even go to the loo alone, suddenly there seems like there’s no avenue of your life that isn’t road blocked by your child’s need, want, whim.
When you start to feel like these blockages are making you bubble up with resentment and frustration – coming out in heightened anxiety, anger, worry, frustration, sadness, it’s time to press pause. Build SPACE into your regular habits, and you should begin to see that you don’t meet those road blocks quite so often.

How do I create space within the PJ Masks and the Lego Ninjago and requests for snacks? Three ways:

1. BREATHE. Fundamental to creating space is literally allowing there to be space within your body. Often we collapse our lungs and slump in defeat without really noticing. Begin to notice and honour your physical state by properly, fully, truly, consciously and mindfully breathing every day. Any breathing technique will do – simply pause and take 5 deep breaths. One of my favourites, which can be whipped out as a tool in emergencies such as at soft play: Breathe in through your nose for a count of 7. Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 9. Repeat 4 times. Space.

2. A little bit more time to spare? MEDITATE. Meditation seems complex. We might try it and think, er…is that it?? Nothing happened!? Or, too much happens and your mind goes into overdrive – But my mind is chattering, clearly I can’t mediate I won’t try again. But the chattering is the process. It’s like shaking a dusty rug out. No shaking, no dust ever releases. The dust is the process, you have to let it go and give it space to release, and with it you’ll find clarity and be able to organise your thoughts and find patterns and resolutions more easily. Meditation can be simply 1 minute in the morning of focusing on your breath. If you have more time, great. But 1 minute is a good start. We all have 1 minute, don’t we…? Meditation allows you clarity, serenity, when developed into a longer term habit it’s even proven to have a positive effect on your immune system, your resilience, lessens anxiety and helps with decision making. It’s a gift for the modern world. Try it. And then try it again. Keep trying it!

Breathe. Once you are settled into your breath, mindfully scan your body for tension. Soften. On your in-breath, silently say the word SO. On your out breath, say the word HUM. Repeat. So….Hum…..So….Hum…..if your attention drifts, this is only human – you are not “bad at meditating”. Simply return to the mantra, So….Hum…So….Hum.

You should emerge from your meditation after a few minutes feeling still and calm, able to take this space into your daily activities.

IMG_0778

3. DISTANCE – lastly and when you can properly carve out time for mama self-care: give yourself some space by creating distance between yourself and your home, your commitments, your children. Escape to a yoga class on a Sunday morning. Go swimming on a Wednesday evening. Walk in the park early morning before work. Whatever it takes, whenever you can, commit to it weekly and you will begin to see an easing in the bottlenecks of tension and stress that can build up when there is no space.

Try it – give yourself permission to find space. Let me know how it goes – did you feel a difference? Did you notice any inner peace making itself quietly felt? I’d love to hear in the comments below how you find space within the chaos xxx

Route 66 – setting intentions and the S word

Route 66 – setting intentions and the S word

It takes 66 repeated acts for the human brain to register a new habit. So, I’m on a 66-day mission to create positive body habits and beliefs. Join me on Route 66!

img_0971

Day 4: Today: setting intentions. I woke up this morning shivering, despite it being 27 degrees C in our bedroom due to this heatwave we’re having in London Town. A raging sore throat and swollen glands. A recipe for feeling low and crappy? Well, weirdly, I don’t feel as bad in spirit as I do in body. And I think that that is the emerging resilience that has been developed over this past year of understanding and working with my internal dialogue a bit more positively. Through therapies I learnt while writing The Supermum Myth, through mindfulness and generally caring for myself a bit more through yoga and self-compassion.

For me, the mind is definitely on board. Sometimes it’s still hard for me to put that into action so that my body will catch up. But that’s what Route 66 is all about.

So today I woke up perky of mind if not of body. A lot of the perkiness is due in part to Freddie having learnt finally to sleep at age 2 and a half…I’m always wary of bandying the S word around with mums, as if you’re suffering from sleep deprivation reading this it can make you want to bash the screen in with frustration and envy. it’s such an emotive time when you’re having your sleep sabotaged either by small people or by anxiety-induced insomnia. Freddie has been sleeping relatively reliably overnight now for about 3 months, and the difference it has made to my resilience is profound and palpable. So, if you are feeling sleep deprived and exhausted – give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself. It is HARD to have any resolve or resilience when you have lost the cloak of armour which is a good/reliable night’s sleep.

IMG_9309

With that in mind: for me, setting an intention for the day, which I became aware of as a yoga practice of sankalpa (setting an intention and dedicating your yoga practice to someone or something else) is a powerful way of creating a positive trajectory for your mind and behaviours for the day. I’ve gradually started to see benefits of visualising an intention at the beginning of the day.

This morning, feeling groggy of body, I decided that my intention was to feel as positive as I could today. I took lots of deep breaths, then coughed a lot at that effort, and lifted my spine which immediately creates positivity. Often our posture reflects our emotional and physical wellbeing in a way that we don’t even notice. Collapsed shoulders and sunken chest depict low mood and squish your heart and lungs. So, open, breathe, nourish your heart centre. Even if you’re exhausted and sleep deprived, this will help you to feel more open and positive.

IMG_1946

Setting this intention has meant that every decision I’ve made in terms of the choices about nourishment etc for my body have been influenced by this. My throat is full of razors so I’ve made myself a banana smoothie with coconut water, to nourish and soothe. I’ve tried to drink a bucket of water – not least because it’s bloomin’ hot.

IMG_4904

Setting intentions encourages you to be more aware of the details of your daily life. To notice the silver linings and foster a grateful attitude, which can build your resilience for the days when everything seems to be derailing and you wish you’d never got out of bed. It means you’re more likely to be able to see what’s in the half empty cup.

What intention will you set today, tomorrow? It’s an empowering tool to add to your vitality toolkit.

IMG_1943

I’d love to know how you’re doing on your 66 days to vitality and wellbeing!

img_0905-1

Heart and Sole

Heart and Sole

Last night I went to the Yellow Kite Books inaugural summer event, The Exciting Future of Wellness. It was a panel discussion involving 4 major influencers in the “wellness” scene: Jody Shield, Hazel Wallace (aka The Food Medic), Shona Vertue – founder of the body and mind-honing Vertue Method and, I was happy to discover last night, a strong feminist and coffee devotee, and lastly Rhiannon Lambert, a Harley Street nutritionist specialising in eating disorders and mental health–nutritional links (who, incidentally, used to be a classical singer). All highly inspirational (INSPOGRAM) influential women with fascinating and varied stories to tell about how they came to be in the wellness industry. All passionate about educating the masses and offering them tools to take their health and wellness into their own hands.

IMG_1946

I’ve been a huge fan of Jody Shield for a while, and have been using her Life Tonic tools for a while to help lift my spirits and connect to my soul. I’ve always been a bit of a hippy, unashamedly so. And something she said last night reminded me of a blog post I wrote 4 years ago after Maurice and I had returned home after having spent 2 months in Canada, mainly running around barefoot. Coming back to London concrete as opposed to Canadian soil made me think about connecting to the earth with bare feet.

Last night Jody was talking about one of her favourite wellness tenets being kicking off her shoes, walking around on the earth and hugging trees. Shona Vertue talked passionately about how we all need to MOVE MORE and humans simply weren’t built for sitting at desks all day. Functional, playful, life-affirming movement. The kindred spirits on the panel made me smile and reminded me of my blog post: So I’m sharing it again here:

We’ve had a busy time since being back in Blighty. Maurice got the bends quite badly on landing back in the city from PEI, he seemed discombobulated at not having a football-field sized-expanse of green to run around and the freedom of the windswept red cliffs right on his doorstep. I’ve been feeling quite mournful that in London we haven’t got a garden and so haven’t been able to offer him the same delicious joy of running around unfettered, with nearly no boundaries and plenty of cats to disturb. So we have filled our days with plenty of trips to the swings, soft play areas, and generally anywhere that Maurice can feel joy in being active and unfettered. Unfettered, within limits…

It’s made me think a lot about the way that we connect with the earth in the city… or don’t. A few years ago I went on a yoga retreat in the south of France, near Perpignan. It was run by the lovely Vicky Oliver at Whyoga (whyoga.com), who I used to have the pleasure of practising yoga with every week when I lived locally to her classes (Wandsworth). My sister and I booked ourselves on this French yoga retreat as a frivolous indulgence. But when the time came around, I had had a bit of a shocker of a year, within 6 months my best friend died and I split with my boyfriend of 8 years, and the retreat hove into view on the horizon as a real form of relief and healing.

Every morning, Vicky took us through a walking mediation in the dewy sunny gardens of the beautiful chateau we were staying in. We had to walk barefoot, silently, for half an hour. Connecting to the ground through the soles of our feet, and to others only through eye contact and no words.

IMG_4904

I personally have always found meditation quite tricky as an activity whenever I’ve tried it. I’m the kind of person who has to really work hard to stop the buzz and hum of thoughts, worries and to do lists from whirring around my brain. In a yoga class setting, stationary meditation has always left me feeling slightly like the dunce in the class, not able to quite lock onto the same groove as everyone else and constantly flittering and fluttering between thought paths and trying to rein my brain back to the point. [Which – as Jody Shield affirms, doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong and should give up: no no, you just have to give your mind time to release the stresses it’s built up inside]

This walking meditation actually took me by surprise. Walking bare foot with care and attention on the soft wet grass every morning, making full contact with the earth, felt like a very soothing and calm way to begin each day. There is something inherently grounding about connecting your body to the world via bare feet. It makes you feel better. You are, quite literally, providing an earth for yourself, bringing your electrons back into order.

PEI allowed us to return to this every day, wandering around Country House and its grassy setting, or on the beach in bare feet, it seemed like an unnecessary chore ever to put socks on again. And I realised that it’s just so wonderful for Maurice’s developing feet to have had that pure unblocked contact with the ground, allowing his muscles to react to the undulating landscape under his feet.

IMG_4348

This has amazing health potential, doing this every day…without being too hyperbolic about it, the Earth can offer amazing healing powers and is possibly the best antioxidant you can access. Apparently connecting through to the ground reduces the level of the stress hormone cortisol in your bloodstream, reduces inflammation, brings a levelling effect to your heart rate, encourages good sleep patterns (this didn’t appear to be the case for Mo…). And yet, in our daily life in the city, you’re so much less likely to connect to the earth without the barrier of concrete or shoe sole.

I can’t offer Maurice a daily walking meditation on grass while we live in this flat in Peckham, sadly. And I suspect it would have to be a running meditation with him anyway. But, I am trying to make sure that all of his walking around at home is done in bare feet while his little feet develop and beyond. At least so he maintains a connection to the ground underneath him, directly feeling the ground beneath his feet which physically and metaphorically will hopefully encourage him to feel grounded not floating…and which will encourage good development of the muscles of his feet.

Whenever I practise and teach Pilates, this is done barefoot. Working barefoot offers greater challenge for your muscles, working all the muscles around the ankle joint and leg, and challenging your balance and coordination. It means that you need to work everything a little bit harder than if you were wearing chunky trainers. But it also means you have to connect with your feet in a way that you might never think to in your daily life. My Pilates teacher used to spend about 20 minutes at the beginning of each session on foot exercises. Isolating the mobility of your toes, working the arch of your foot. We have the same number of bones in our foot as in our hand, so technically can achieve the same dexterity within the muscular structure. But how often do you do play the piano with your toes?

Try a mexican wave with your toes now. Even if you’re wearing shoes (although it’s better without), try to create a mexican wave from big toe to little toe. You may be surprised by how difficult this is. My Pilates teacher always used to say that any lack of mobility in the feet over time travels up the body and creates a shuffling old person with a humped back. Alarmist, maybe. But possibly also there is truth in it.

IMG_0725

So, every day, try and have some consciously barefoot time. Connect through to the ground, even if that’s through to wood/tiling/laminate. Connect and lengthen all ten toes down. Then lift them all up and wave them down individually. Draw up through the arch of the foot as if you’re trying to suck something up from the ground, that lifting feeling connects directly to your central pelvic floor engagement. It runs with the idea that Pilates delights in, that there is no superfluous element of your body’s muscular system, everything is equally important and contributes to good movement patterns and a healthy supple body and mind.

Mindfulness – how can it help me?

Mindfulness – how can it help me?


Today is a rainy windy hideous day. The kind of day that makes you scrunch up your shoulders, clench your face and resist resist resist. Words like “horrible” “yucky” “awful” scroll around the brain like a ticker tape loop – remember the film Se7en? it’s no coincidence that it was set in relentless relentless rainy darkness to mirror the general darkness of the film’s narrative. It takes a toll on your psyche. Particularly after the horrific terror events that we’ve had recently in the UK.

I’ve just finished a proofreading job for Bloomsbury Publishing, a book called Mindful Running, written by Mackenzie Havie, who I would love to meet as she sounds ace and has a gorgeous dog.


I’ve been totally inspired about how mindfulness can be a tool for making life feel, well… less hard, less… crappy. Life is always going to have crappy moments, this is beyond doubt. It’s how we ride through these moments that manifests our general outlook on life and overall perception of our “happiness”.


How can mindfulness help?

Mindfulness helps us to tune into the present moment, to notice the internal dialogue and switch off the charge of the immediate emotional response. it allows you to observe what might be a useful response, and what is sticking you deeper in the mud.

I’ll give you an example of it at play. In June 2009 I did the Blenheim Triathlon, which was scary enough as an idea, but on the night before there was a howling gale which basically kept me up all night, nerves rising thinking “no no the weather can’t be crap the weather can’t be crap please don’t be like this tomorrow”. The howling gale continued unabated the following morning, and my triathlon buddies and I were waiting, shivering and sodden and wholly unprepared for this turn of events, for our slots. Our nerves were ratcheting up a notch every time someone said THIS IS A NIGHTMARE, WHAT ARE WE DOING?!!! at every biting whiplash of wind.


I remember getting my wetsuit on and thinking, why exactly am I doing this? This is horrendous. I was levitating above myself as I lowered myself into the Blenheim Lake alongside the melee of other swimmers. Still slightly unbelieving of how ridiculous the situation was and how “unlucky” we were to have such crappy weather.


We set off. Swish swosh, feet in faces, elbows in noses, rain lashing down, general chaotic melee. My internal dialogue was stuck on “this is shit. This is shitsville. This is the most shit thing ever”. And then someone hoofed me in the face and I swallowed a whole load of water, and was pulled to the side by a steward who made me stop and hold onto her boat until I could breathe again.

That enforced moment of calm made me reset my mindset. I thought, well, I’m here now. I need to get to the other end of the lake. There’s no escaping that. So I slowed down, I focused on breathing rather than fretting. I even somehow managed to take the moment to notice that due to the crazy weather there were multiple swifts swooping down onto the lake skimming off insects around us, which remains a strangely calm memory within what was clearly watery mayhem to the casual observer.


I focused on one stroke at a time. Breathe in, breathe out. Kick legs. Breathe in, breathe out. Every stroke is one stroke nearer to the other end of the lake. This stroke, here, now. No longer resisting the situation, everything calmed, became easier. Although not for the poor spectators, including my then-11-month old nephew…


Mantras or key words

I did the London Triathlon when Freddie was 6 months old (I know, right? Clearly only a  deeply hormonal person would ever do that). The swim was again a complete disaster. As soon as I got in, my goggles began to leak water, and adjusting your goggles while you’re actually in the throng of a triathlon swim is slightly tricky, let me tell you.

So rather than panicking and thinking “oh JAYsus why am I doing this to myself, my breastfeeding boobs are already exploding and I’m not even a third of the way through this nightmare, this is awful make it stop this is crap…”, I just thought, gotta get through this. I literally channelled Daniel Bedingfield, I gotta get thru this. In times like this I always focus on a word that hovers into my psyche. Sometimes it’s one word, like “push, push, push” (quite suitable for getting through labour perhaps), this time it was Dory from Finding Nemo Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming… breathe, kick, breathe, kick. And before I knew it, I was dragging my postnatal weary ass out of the water and trotting off to the next stage. And at the end of it all I was able to grab hold of my baby immediately and remedy the exploding boobs…



Mindfulness lifts you out of the emotional reaction to your circumstance

And allows you to view it as a single moment which will pass. Wasting less energy on resisting challenging circumstances, and instead allowing the sensations space in that moment to be, then dissipate. The emotional charge of holding onto something by empowering it and labelling it AWFUL, SHIT, TERRIBLE is then released and softened.

This is applicable to basically every activity we could ever be in as people/mums. Labour. Breastfeeding. Sleepless nights. Soft play. Rhyme Time.

Take the time to tune into your present moment. You will feel better.


How does mindfulness work for you? I’d love to hear. Comment below or DM me! x

Wake up Mama! – Energy Boosters

Wake up Mama! – Energy Boosters

Happy Bank Holiday! Remember May bank holidays before children? Usually involved lots of sunny Sunday drinking in beer gardens, languidly cutting loose in an act of sheer abandon as there was no alarm clock to wake you up the next day. Yep. No more. This morning I had a 5am starter – although, framing it positively, he has only just started sleeping through aged 2 so I’ll take 5am over all-night boob any day.

img_9094

I’m feeling slightly less than my best this morning. A bit crumpled in face and body. So I’ve got a few tips for instant vitality that I’m going to do myself…once I’ve finished my coffee…

  1. Dry body brushing – brush all areas, always brushing in towards the heart. Be gentle around your belly and chest, but with gusto everywhere else. Makes your skin sparkle, boost circulation, turns you from ploddy elephant to sprightly gazelle. Be gone, befuddledness.
  2. A burst of cold in the shower – sounds hideous but this one really absolutely truly works. In the shower, take a deep breath and turn the water on to cold, freezing is best but try as cold as you can. Enough to make you go WAAHH! Stay under the water for 30 seconds at least. Then back to warm. It stimulates lymphatic drainage which can become sluggish through lack of movement,  and wakes you up in an instant which weirdly makes you feel really positive. Try it.
  3. Tapping the crown of your head, and massaging the earlobes. Tap tap tap, either drumming your fingers or tapping all together. Then massage all around your ears. Wonderful wake up and energy boost – and this one you can do anywhere, in the office, on the street, at soft play…

IMG_4348

The best antidote for lack of energy is breathing and movement. The idea of “doing exercise” when you’re feeling low on energy reserves is always an unappealing one. 

Small snacks of Pilates never fails to revitalise me. Literally 1 minute or even 30 seconds. It seems counterintuitive, but, if you’re feeling tired, moving your body to massage the internal organs, get the blood flowing and stretch the limbs will always give you a boost. Obv if you are actually feeling under the weather, listen to your body and give yourself some rest and TLC, but if it’s simply tiredness and weariness (hello 5am wake up call), the body and mind will respond better to movement than sloth – plus you get to congratulate yourself for getting up and doing something, which is a great feeling in itself.

img_5085

Humans were built for movement, not to be atrophied and tensed by hunching over desks or sitting in cars. But as an adult the idea of “exercise” becomes infused with ideas of work, chore, slog, prefaced with shouty goals such as “LOSE WEIGHT” and “DESTRESS”  – something that you “should” do rather than seamlessly do without thinking, as part of your daily routine.

I found a great titbit in a book called The Source that I worked on as an editor.  Research showed that if you put a running wheel in a mouse’s cage, mousey would run 4 to 5 km a night, and eventually become a better problem solver than its neighbour with no wheel. I love this image for many reasons, not least wondering what mouse problems there might be that needed to be solved.

Movement creates vitality, giving you a physical boost, and also a mental one.

img_0213

Leafing again through Joe Pilates’s book Return To Life, he notes “All in all, we do not give our bodies the care that our wellbeing deserves”. Given that this was written in 1945, it shows that us humans haven’t really got any better at this, generations on. He points out this notion by saying that if you just do 5 minutes of movement if you’re feeling tired, you may well feel that at the end of the 5 minutes you crave carrying on, and thereby retraining yourself on a molecular level to become a vital being again. You begin, Mr Pilates says, to reawaken muscles by encouraging more oxygen and blood flow, and therefore also reawaken brain cells, and your whole being is benefitted.

To quote him directly (I love his style, but there aren’t many commas, so take a deep breath…): “Make up your mind that you will perform your [Pilates] exercise for ten minutes every day without fail. Amazingly enough, once you travel on your Pilates ‘Road to Health’ you will subconsciously lengthen your trips on it from ten to twenty or more minutes without even realising it. Why? The answer is simple: the exercises have stirred your sluggish circulation into action and to performing its duty more effectively in the matter of discharging through the bloodstream the accumulation of fatigue-products created by muscles and mental activities. Your brain clears and your will power functions”. So, in a nutshell, movement begets more movement, and a positive glow.

IMG_6533

So, if you’re sitting down now, stand up and walk around for a bit, allow your thigh muscles to lengthen, stretch the arms back behind you to open the chest. No self-respecting cat or dog would get up without a good old stretch. 

Roll down through the spine to bring your head below your heart and allow your blood to rejuvenate and give you a healthy rosy flush. Jump and jiggle about. Release the shoulders into your back and realign the neck with the spine, eye focus forward.

Breathe, deeply and fully, and sigh the breath out through the mouth. Really breathe and return to life.

I’d love to hear your energy-boosting tips for those sluggish days. Comment below or DM me! x

My book, The Supermum Myth, is available for preorder now.

Pregnancy: the Naked Truth, is out now!