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breath work

Shortness of Breath in Pregnancy

 
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Women often have a heightened awareness of their breathing, have mild breathlessness or feel a slight shortness of breath in pregnancy. This is related to normal conditions of pregnancy, such as:

  • Hormonal changes

  • Added demands on the heart

  • Increased oxygen needs

  • Pressure of the growing uterus on the diaphragm

Shortness of breath after exertion is worse in women who smoke or are not physically fit due to a lack of exercise or sedentary lifestyle.  

To keep or get in shape and build your stamina, do an aerobic form of exercise - like brisk walking, dancing, cycling, and swimming - at least ½ hour 5 times per week. If you’re not accustomed to exercise, start lightly and build up slowly. But, listen to your body, modify as needed and avoid overexertion. And, of course, quit smoking right away.

Feeling stressed, so common in the modern world, contributes to shallow breathing and worsens the feeling of being winded and tense. Conscious breathwork is literally key to your salvation. It will transform your life, and can certainly make a huge difference in labor too! 

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If You Experience Shortness of Breath In Pregnancy

There are a number of methods shown to reduce shortness of breath in pregnancy. Try some of the ideas below and find what feels right to you.

FOCUSED BREATHING

Periodically check in on your breathing. If you’re breathing fast, slow it down. If it’s shallow (just from the chest or not a full breath), try to take deeper, fuller breaths down into your belly. Regularly make yourself yawn several times.

Practice one of the following breathing exercises for a few minutes a few times daily. Ideal moments are before going to bed at night, before rising in the morning, and throughout the day. Draw on this exercise whenever you experience:

  • Stress or internal tension

  • Anger or triggering

  • Depression or sadness

  • A break in activity (for example traveling, bathing or waiting in line - let these be opportunities to practice and perfect your skills)

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Three-tiered Breathing. Deep abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing is the optimal form of breathing and an effective natural tranquilizer, especially if you do it often. To train yourself in this way of breathing, get comfortable in a reclined position or sit up straight. Then, place your hands on your belly and concentrate on breathing into them. While doing this, bring your attention slowly into your body from head to toe, observing and releasing any muscle tension. Be mindful of what you are currently seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, tasting, and all the sensations of breathing. Just watch without judgment or attachment. This takes you into the present moment, and is wonderfully relaxing.

  1. Exhale slowly through your mouth with an audible sigh.

  2. Inhale deep into your belly for a count of 4 or 5.  Imagine a pump expanding your abdomen and lower back which causes you to inhale, then allows your ribs to expand with air, then your upper chest to rise towards your collarbone and shoulders.

  3. For a count of 4 to 5, slowly release your breath through your mouth in the same order as the inhale - from abdomen to ribs then upper chest. Let go and relax more each time you exhale.

  4. Repeat this cycle for a total of 8 times or at least a few minutes.

Extended Exhale Breathing. Inhale deeply into your belly as above, for a count of 3 or 4, then double the exhale to a count of 6 or 8. While breathing in this way, focus on internal sensations, surrendering and relaxing deeper with each exhalation. Repeat for several cycles for at least a few minutes.  

Just Breathe by Dan Brule is an excellent book about all types of breathwork to enhance your well-being. There are also helpful phone apps called Breathe and Calm. For more guidance and deeper transformation, schedule an online or in-person breathwork session with me.

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MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS

State-of-mind, high vibration thoughts and intentions (your deeply positive goals and truest, most lofty desires) and spiritual connection can all be significant factors in the quality of your breath, and the results you feel from conscious breathing.

We all need to be very careful about what we say to ourselves repeatedly, as thought is creative and can lead to manifesting our reality. What we say to ourselves - the good stuff and the not so good stuff - we can often make happen. Literally. Never underestimate the power of the spoken word and your inner self-talk.

If a thought supports, empowers and inspires - and leads to good or uplifting feelings - let it flow. If your internal dialogue leads you to feel more stressed, anxious, unhappy, upset, not good enough, victimized, limited, or increases suffering in any way, drop it like a hot potato.

Know you can avoid going down a slippery slope and that you have the power to turn off the spiraling record player of negativity. It takes great personal work to replace those lower vibration thoughts with higher ones that are actually more true and supportive, but regular practice will elevate your life immensely. You can turn those negative, often false thoughts, around to the opposite. Examples could be:

  • I am good enough at …. (instead of I am not good enough)

  • I have the strength to handle this (instead of I have no more strength to handle this)

  • I am a great mother (instead of I am a bad mother)

  • He/She should have done that or that should have happened (instead of they should not have done that or that should not have happened), because it did happen, they did do it, so it was actually meant to happen (without condoning harmful actions that were done by someone)

  • I am loved and cared about (instead of no one loves or cares about me)

  • That was just what I needed (instead of that ruined my day)

Another great practice is to state your desires as if they are already happening, by keeping them pure, direct, to the point, and in the present tense. Examples could be:

  • I am perfect as I am

  • My life is perfect as it is

  • I am blessed

  • I am Divine

  • I let go and let God

  • I am grateful

  • I am joy

  • I am love

  • I am calm

  • I’ve got this

Create your own mantra as your breathe, and really allow yourself to imagine all the details and sensations of how this new thought feels (what it looks, sounds, smells, tastes and really feels like). There are many wonderful books on this topic . A great start is Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements , Wayne Dyer’s Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, or Byron Katie’s Loving What Is.

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Take frequent short breaks throughout the day to reduce inner tension and increase feelings of centeredness and tranquility. Spend time outside in nature as much as you can. Practice meditation and progressive muscle relaxation, releasing all the muscles in your body from head to toe. This is especially helpful if you are nervous about your breathing. 

Also consider doing some Yin, gentle, prenatal and or restorative yoga, or locate your nearest Zen Center. Read Marc Lesser’s Book, Accomplishing More by Doing Less, or any book by Thich Nhat Hanh to learn the basics of meditation and Zen practice. One of my favorites is Peace Is Every Step: The Path Of MIndfulness In Everyday LIfe. 


POSTURE

The way you hold your body can make a significant difference in your ability to take a full breath. 

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Yoga and dance help with this tremendously. Periodically check your posture, especially during the second half of pregnancy. Make sure you are standing or sitting straight using your abdominal muscles, and that your shoulders are down, but not slumped forward.

Sleep with some extra pillows to keep your head or shoulders elevated, or lie down on your side. Wear loose, comfortable clothing so you aren’t restricting your movement or your body’s ability to expand with each inhale.

SELF-CARE

Be sure to take good care of yourself in general. Eat a diet that is healthy and well-balanced including a variety of whole foods and choosing organic whenever possible. Good options are:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Whole grains

  • Beans and seeds

  • Nuts and nut butters

  • Tempeh 

  • Wild Alaskan salmon

  • Whole eggs

  • Turkey or chicken, beef, lamb, and wild game

  • Whole fresh raw dairy - goat and sheep is best

  • Healthy fats like cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or free range grass-fed organic butter

Drink at least 64 ounces of filtered, spring or well water daily between meals, at least 20-30  minutes before or 2 hours after eating. Add berries, a few squeezes and slices of lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, or fresh mint leaves to taste.

OTHER TIPS

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Make sure you are getting enough sleep and rest periods for the added demands of pregnancy. Go to bed earlier, sleep later and/or take daily naps.

Cut back on unnecessary demands if you feel you are doing more than your body can handle.

Avoid self-medicating with alcohol, drugs or tobacco.

Consult an acupuncturist with expertise in shiatsu treatment.

Read my books, which cover additional breathing exercises for pregnancy and birth, and for healing and enhanced well-being. 

Contact your physician or midwife if your breathlessness:

  • Becomes severe

  • Occurs especially during rest 

  • Interferes with your ability to carry out routine household chores

  • Is associated with other unusual symptoms like chest pain or palpitations, severe fatigue or weakness, fainting, or blood tinged sputum 

  • Occurs with signs of an infection such as fever, coughing, or congestion.

  • Is in addition to history of asthma or other respiratory problems, heart disease, or smoking

For acute attacks, pause to rest, breath slowly and deeply, exhaling through pursed lips, and try standing with your hands stretched up towards the ceiling.

Battling with low back or pelvic discomfort? Having common pregnancy aches and pains and need some additional support? Try Bellefit’s prenatal support wear. I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.

 

Healing Emotional Pain, Inner Stress and Past Trauma Naturally

 

Healing With a Form of Breathing - Clarity Breathwork

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In dealing with my personal experiences of childhood and teenage abuse, severe stress, emotional pain, physical pain, tragedy, and birth trauma, unconsciously over the years it became habitual to repress and bury my experiences and feelings. It finally started to catch up with me. I felt something was very wrong. It felt horrible to be in my body. I tried various types of therapy and so many different holistic modalities to heal like herbs, supplements, osteopathy, homeopathy, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, reiki, and then conventional approaches. Although some of these things were helpful, none worked permanently or completely. 

I knew I was carrying around this awful emotional stuff inside; but I didn’t have access to it and I wanted it out. Talk therapy never helped me; it made me feel worse. I found Clarity Breathwork by 'accident' - I overheard someone talking about the profound healing experience she had with it during a yoga retreat. I made an appointment that changed my life. My sessions of breathwork led to the complete relief and healing I'd been searching for. I found gold and I had to share it. I took extensive training to become a practitioner myself, so that I could help guide others through it. 

If you’ve experienced intense stress, emotional pain or any type of trauma that impacts your life today this modality represents true hope and is a must. Clarity Breathwork is for you if you have physical or emotional symptoms that modern medicine and other modalities cannot diagnose or heal; if you feel stuck in your life, or have emotional blocks, habitual thoughts or behaviors that are limiting you; if you want increased energy and vitality (to feel like yourself again- or even better!), healthy, holistic and natural ways to reduce stress in a way that lasts; if you desire more ease, flow and joy in your life and relationships.

This form of Breathwork is such an effective healing tool to compliment my practice as a certified nurse midwife. Over many years, the women in my practice, their partners, extended families and friends have shared with me and sought my guidance for their deepest darkest sufferings. I guide women to birth their babies into the world and themselves as moms. I also guide people to heal their wounds, rebirth themselves as healthy and whole human beings capable of immense joy and inner peace that is our birthright. I have held space for the huge powerful transformation of birth and rebirth — that both involve challenging situations of extreme intensity, vulnerability, pain of all degrees, facing enormous fears head on, surrendering to a process far greater than all of us - and lead to the creation of enormous relief, empowerment, elation, love, and miracles. 

What is Clarity Breathwork

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Clarity Breathwork is a powerful potent healing modality, yet gentle and nurturing, that uses a certain type of breath to release trapped energy of inner stress, trauma, emotional pain and harmful repeated thought patterns from the body – resulting in lasting effective recovery. It is the most potent modality I have ever experienced myself and used to help numerous others alleviate their suffering, and it is completely natural. The risk is feeling better and getting your joyful self back. 

The International Breathwork Foundation describes it: “breathwork is a dynamic body-mind practice using conscious connected breathing techniques for inner peace, enhanced well-being and personal transformation. Breathing, beyond the basic need for survival, acts as a bridge between spirit, mind, and body; between the conscious and the subconscious.”

According to the foundation, “Conscious breathing is one of the quickest ways to open the heart and energize the body. When used in specific ways, breathing allows us to release and resolve emotions, belief systems, stresses and memories which are often inaccessible through the more conventional talking therapies.”

Clarity Breathwork, a form of what was previously called Rebirthing, is a safe, easily accessible and all natural, but powerfully effective process of healing, growth and transformation that is not usually achieved with traditional therapy and modalities which only involve the logical mind. It enables you to tap into your body’s tremendous capacity to rebalance and heal. It increases oxygen and energy flow in the body, helps gently release toxins, negative thoughts, inner tension and stress, suppressed wounds, painful emotions and trapped trauma within you. It leads to greater clarity, a deeper sense of knowing and profound insights into your core life’s issues. This work, and its life coaching aspects, can also bring awareness to habitual dysfunctional subconscious beliefs, repetitive patterns and conditioning, as well as remove blocks and a sense of feeling stuck, that limit you from living the life you want. It allows for spontaneous completion and resolution, invites you to develop the courage to cultivate acceptance, understanding, reconciliation and even gratitude for past hurts. It enhances love, compassion, and forgiveness of yourself and others, and inspires you to take responsibility for your life, embrace what is, and let go of trying to control what cannot be controlled.

What is amazing is how it can bring consciousness to your subconscious — which dictates much of your bodily functions, emotional responses, and behavior. Clarity Breathwork can even connect you to the spiritual realm within and around you, to reveal the true magnificence of who you are and heal a mistaken sense of separation from these essential components of life. Thee process creates an incredible feeling of relief, aliveness, enhanced well-being, and joy. Wonderful inner change creates outer changes in your well-being, your life, your direction and sense of purpose, and your relationships.

How Does Clarity Breathwork Work?

Physically

Breath is what gives us life, needed fuel, energy and oxygen; exhaling is the most effective natural detoxification. Clarity Breathwork invites you to breathe at 100% of your lungs’ capacity, accessing 100% of your respiratory system. In modern day life, we usually breathe far less than that, with 20-30% of our lung capacity. Oxygen is the main fuel/energy for every cell and organ in your body. During the time you are breathing completely and fully in this way, you are enabling your cells to get get fully oxygenated and energized, you are supplying yourself with maximum amount of that fuel.

You are also releasing toxins, so that your entire body can work better and operate more efficiently. Your lungs are the main organ of detoxification as well, releasing many toxins, not just carbon dioxide, so you are getting a huge cleansing and natural detoxification with breathwork. This enables your cells and organs to function most optimally and healthfully.

In the state of breathing in this way, you are bathing in healthy hormones. You are creating a more alkaline state, instead of acidic state associated with many diseases.

By doing this, everything in your body works better and more efficiently, so you are putting yourself in the most ideal state of health that is possible for you.

Emotionally

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Breath is also intricately involved in our emotional responses. When we are relaxed, we breathe more slowly and deeply. When we encounter a stressor, our bodies are hard-wired to go into the fight or flight stress response. Sometimes this can be lifesaving. But if there is no imminent danger, we still experience all the symptoms and effects of the stress hormones which become harmful over time, and often we are without the ability to fully process it all — especially if the stress is chronic or severe. We momentarily hold our breath, then breathe more rapidly and shal- low, and the unprocessed emotions felt at the time get subconsciously repressed, and stored as trapped energy within the body, without our knowing.

Breath is the vehicle by which we process emotion. Clarity Breathwork puts you in a semiconscious state, gets your conscious mind out of the way so your central nervous system can reset. It is like turning off and on the computer, so we can return to ideal original state/intended original factory settings, so your body can rebalance anything out of balance. It enables the trapped emotional energy in your body and cellular memory, that was not processed to come up to be felt, expressed, processed and cleared/released on its own without you having to think, know, mentally understand, analyze, or talk about it, without having to try to make it happen or access your subconscious via thought.

In the process of Clarity Breathwork, you are opening and accessing your subconscious. You get awareness and clarity of your core limiting beliefs, dysfunctional patterning, old programming and conditioning, which frees you from them, and enables you to transform them. Breathwork literally empowers the body to reset, recalibrate, rebalance, heal itself.

Many people in the modern world operate almost continuously in the fight or flight mode even though there is no actual danger from which to flee, wreaking havoc with their health. Animals, especially mammals, shake off trauma energy, after they escape a predator threat, and return to their normal relaxed state of being — they move on without being impacted by the trauma experience; the energy of the trauma is not suppressed, it does not build up and cause dis-ease as it does in humans. Humans tend to carry baggage of past wounds, hurts, pains, and traumas. Clarity Breathwork enables the breather to be in an altered state, so the body naturally releases this baggage of past trauma energy, and when it is released we feel better emotionally as well as physically. It is incredible to feel and to witness the immense relief that follows.

Spiritually

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It even works on a deeper spiritual level, regardless of whether you believe it or not, and is inclusive of all belief systems. Spirituality means a lot of different things to different people. Whatever you believe it does not matter — God, Spirit, mother earth, goddess, the universe. The route of breath, inspire, is in spirit, which can simply be all that which transcends the body. Around the world in many cultures and religions, breath is associated with spirit, God, the infinite and eternal — from all biblical religions where God is described as breathing life into the first humans Adam and Eve, to the yogic traditions describing prana (breath) as spiritual life force energy.

Clarity Breathwork has no association with any religion or spiritual dogma, but it sure has spiritual benefits; it enables us to explore, feel deeper into, and connect to the essence of who we are, that which is sublime and so very there, but not directly discernible through our five senses. It connects you with the less tangible transcendent aspects of you.

Clarity Breathwork can lead to transcendental and divine mystical experiences. People report they connect with a higher power, energy/presence of others who have died or are not near, but still present for reconciliation, support or guidance, have healing visions, access great clarity and get incredible insights.

Breathwork takes you beyond your limiting judgmental mind, beyond your body, beyond the illusion of separation from divine energy within and around us, and each other.

If you are literally taking in all this breath, inhaling the spiritual life-force fully into your being, especially with the intention to heal, the healing that takes place is all the more profound; this not only makes this modality even more compelling, but also it provides such an incredible tool, that you can access at your own will. Miracles happen. I have experienced them myself or witnessed them in countless others.

Want to try it? There are group and private local and online sessions available throughout the year. Go to my Clarity Breathwork website page for more details and the full schedule. 

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