I just spent 2 intensive days expanding my knowledge about the body and how I can better guide my clients to optimal, functional health.

I invited the amazing Trista Zinn, founder of Coreset Fitness in Toronto, to facilitate a 2 day certification course at my studio in Cumberland. Trista specializes in pelvic health and core re-programming and is Canada’s highest qualified and most experienced Master Trainer in HYPOPRESSIVE® – Low Pressure Fitness.

I got to enjoy the entire weekend surrounded by 8 other participants who came from far and wide to learn all about a not so mainstream technique. Four of us came from the National Capital Region and the others came from Montana, Vermont, Gander, Kingston and Toronto. All of the women were as passionate about pelvic health as I am. Some of them were pelvic floor physiotherapists, some of them were movement educators. To quote how one of my daughters would put it: ‘’I found my minions!’’ I found and hung out with a bunch of great women who are as passionate about empowering women on the topic of the power of breathing on the health of the pelvic floor as I am.

At first glance the topic of the workshop seemed so simple: Learn how to breathe properly and then learn how to use a vacuum style breath technique that creates a re-distribution of pressure in the abdominal/pelvic cavity to improve the function and tone of the muscles as well as encourage the core muscles to work in a synergistic way like they are supposed to. Then you put those two things together with a selection of simple looking movement patterns to create a wiser and ‘’safer for your core and pelvic floor’’ exercise routine. Simple!

WOW, not so simple. We could have spent both days just focusing on breathing properly!

The concept of breath work is not a new thing for me and has certainly been around for a long time. I have to admit, though, that many years ago I associated the concept of breathing dysfunction to things like asthma or any other state that has a medical term or labelled diagnosis. In my mind, if you had an ‘’obvious’’ breathing disorder, you struggled with being around allergens or exercise and to fix that you used an inhaler. Simple! My knowledge of healthy breathing was that it is an automatic thing so if you are alive you are obviously breathing therefore all must be good in that department. I also associated ‘’quality of breathing’’ to the fact that you improve your breathing capacity or decrease your breathlessness when you train more often in a cardiovascular way. I knew that breath holding during effort is not a good thing and that you can calm your body and mind by slowing your breath during meditation, a yoga practice or being in a relaxing setting like walking in a park or reading a book. Once again, in my mind: Simple! Oh dear, there is so much more to the quality of each and every one of our breaths and the ripple effect on the proper functioning of our body and thus our core and pelvic floor

Every single one of us  needed to re-learn how to breathe properly. The process to help each participant to experience and feel what proper breathing is was a work of art on the part of Trista. Each of us had a different, not as functional as could be, breathing pattern and she coached us with the techniques that are emphasized in the Hypopressive® methods or school of thought so that we could come to understand how our breath could feel and where our breathing technique could actually improve.

We moved on to the breath retention, vacuum redistribution of pressure technique. Simple concept, not so simple execution! It is amazing how out of touch most of us are with how our body, especially our lungs, breathing and core muscles can and should actually move. Some of the sensations in the body, as I practised this technique, were new and intriguing. Each repetition allowed me to discover some ‘’blind spots’’ or areas where I did not realize I held tension. I was able to feel the benefits of the technique and definitely made me want to practice this method on a regular basis to reap the greater benefits; one of which is to reverse grades 1 to 3 prolapses. Other benefits are improved posture, improved core function, reduction of diastisis recti as well as improving the function of the pelvic floor and thus helping in the battle against incontinence. Correct one of the above and a domino effect can happen in the body that can lead to great vitality and living pain free.

The final phase of the weekend certification was to put proper breathing and the vacuum breath/hypopressive technique together in a variety of positions that heighten the experience and benefits. The sequence of movements with the breath technique left me breathless and gasping for air at times. It seemed so simple, but it was not! I hate to call it a workout or exercise routine because most people would think of what they have experienced or seen in a group fitness workout. If you were looking at us doing the work you would think that we were not doing anything and how could someone get a form of workout out of ‘’THAT’’

Those who have been my clients for a while would get ‘’that’’. I often teach and coach people with techniques and movement patterning that are barely detectable from an outside perspective but as the participant THEY KNOW what is going on in a big way in their body. They feel the impact immediately and they reap the long term benefits.

I always look forward to working with my clients who have come to love my not so mainstream approach to improving mobility, decreasing pain and getting them to achieve their fitness and wellness goals. The hypopressive methods will certainly become part of their journey with me.