Feel busy? Overwhelmed? Like you need more hours in the day? This post, a Yogic Breath Practice for Women’s Health, is for you!
Women, let’s face it, we need more than 24 hours in a day to accomplish all that is expected of us. We manage the majority of households in the US, perform the overwhelming majority of all house related tasks and work, and oh yes, hold down full time jobs in and/or outside the home.
Since WWII, when women left the home for the workforce, we have had to shoulder more than a single fair share of 1 full time job. And if you are a mother, then add another 1, 2, 3, or more jobs, depending on how many children you have.
Gender equality is still a far off notion, and so is the gender pay gap. Although if you are a childless woman, you can expect to be paid more than a woman who has children. Men are increasingly taking on roles as involved fathers and partners who share in household management, chores, and childrearing, however equality in household management is still far from equitable. Thankfully though, the portrait of a father differs massively from the snapshot of 1960’s father, for example.
The 21st century father is more hands-on than ever, with some opting to be stay-at-home dads while moms go to work. And, with the advent of telecommuting, more men and women are finding new (and long overdue) flexibility in the workplace.
Today’s post can help you maintain sanity in your busy life and come closer to attaining that enigma of work/life balance – through learning to breathe better. These breath practices are particularly helpful for women because they target areas that tend to be troublesome later in life or after injury or illness, especially after having children.
This breathing practice is available for free and is a small excerpt of what is available through www.medicaltherapeuticyoga.com. Sign up for FREE INSTANT ACCESS to Medical Therapeutic Yoga Videos to practice yoga on your terms and timetable, in just 5-10′ segments per day.
Guidelines for Practice
Each of these breath practices serve a specific purpose. For that reason, they cannot be practiced at the same time. Instead, choose which ones best suit you and follow these 3 guidelines:
- Always begin with the abdominal breath and/or Three-Part Breath and progress to mastering the NAP Meditation. When in doubt, return to these type breath types and then progress to Four-Part Breath and TATD Breath last.
- The NAP Meditation can help you normalize vocal, abdominal/back, and pelvic floor function.
- Practice the TATD breath to create strength, endurance, equanimity, and better pelvic floor function and trunk strength for performing active tasks like lifting, cleaning, carrying heavy items (like children!), general exercise including yoga posture practice, playing sports, or other similar tasks. TATD breath creates a powerhouse of trunk and back strength and gives you back control of your body and stress response – whether you are a runner, kayaker, have a desk job, or are a mom who lifts and chases toddlers all day long or just simply wants to manage her pain.
- Always *try* to finish with at least 5 minutes of relaxation (corpse) pose or a pose that induces relaxation for you. This can be done lying down or reclining – generally relaxing – anywhere. (except while driving in your car). Take the 5 minutes to decompress and clear you mind.
Abdominal Breath – 13′ Breath Practice
The gold standard breath in medicine for relaxed, diaphragmatic breathing. This breath is a daily staple for thriving, pain management, cellular nutrition, and for overall health and well-being. It is the first step toward breath mastery. If this breath is difficult, try Three-Part Breath below to help master this breath. Practice this 13′ Guided Meditation for deep abdominal breathing below.
Three (or Four) Part Breath – 4′ Four-Part Breath Practice*
This breath can be practiced once you have mastered abdominal breath and NAP Meditation OR if you have difficulty performing abdominal breath (I recommend starting with 3-Part breath if this is the case). Begin by learning Three-Part Breath first, available for FREE at this link (sign-in required- provides FREE INSTANT ACCESS to more than 2 hours of Therapeutic Yoga Practice Videos instructed by myself, as well as an INSTANT DOWNLOADABLE Excerpt from Medical Therapeutic Yoga).
This breath type increases alveolar ventilation (breathing) and O2 exchange and can sometimes be more helpful than regular abdominal breathing alone. Take care should you become dizzy (hyperventilate) while practicing this breath and don’t stand or walk while practicing. Also allow for 5′ of rest after practicing. *Get FREE INSTANT ACCESS to Three-Part Breath here.
The NAP Meditation – 14′ Breath Practice
The NAP Meditation is an acronym that stands for Neutral, Apposition, and Pitch of the THREE DIAPHRAGMS. In this instructional video, Dr. G describes how to achieve optimal functioning of the three diaphragms of the body – which make up your VOICE, your BREATH, and your SEXUAL health. Because when it comes down to it, there’s nothing more important than your ability to communicate and connect. The breath is the crux of the health of all three of these diaphragms, and what’s more, learning the NAP Meditation can help decrease pain, manage injury, and prevent chronic disease. The neural mechanisms that support this evidence-based breath are more complex, but Ginger makes the NAP Meditation a simple, accessible practice. Anyone can benefit from it. When you are stressed, need to improve your speaking (or singing) voice, or need a brain reset, remember to NAP!
TATD Breath – 22′ Breath Practice
It is helpful to watch the NAP Meditation before practicing this video. TATD Breath supports all types of exercise and workouts, as well as regular spine, vocal, and pelvic health in everyday life. It is a “Power Breath” that builds strength and endurance for yoga posture practice, but also for better public speaking and vocal performance and everyday stress management. TATD Breath uses all three of your vital diaphragms and is a true Power Breath. TATD Breath is an evidence-based breath type used and described in my textbook, Medical Therapeutic Yoga, found everywhere where books are sold.
Performance Tip: Take care not to use faulty breathing patterns, which you can learn about in this collaborative post I wrote with colleagues,
Ginger is a doctor of physical therapy, veteran therapist, author, mother of three, and trauma survivor. She takes no prisoners when it comes to defending and advocating for women’s health and access to therapy services, particularly for mothers.
Learn more about Dr. G