Breath Walk for Pregnancy
Pregnant women all over the world walk throughout their pregnancies. Most of the time it’s to get from one place to another, but occasionally, a woman slows her pace and slows her mind. She walks with her breath, which she shares with her baby.
A breath walk is a walking meditation, much like those that monks practice. It can be done anywhere, but a quiet place with minimal distraction is best. Do not carry anything in your hands—they need to swing freely. Wear a backpack over both shoulders if you need to carry water or a sweater.
To begin, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Let your weight spread evenly across the heels and balls of your feet. Relax your jaw and shoulders. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, in a four-part rhythm:
Inhale slowly for a count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of four.
Slowly release your breath for a count of eight.
Pause again for a count of four.
Repeat this four times. Then, on your fifth inhalation, open your eyes while stepping forward. Pause, then take your next step as you exhale. Then, pause again. Now repeat this four times.
You might find it difficult to exhale to the count of eight, particularly late in pregnancy, when lung capacity is inhibited. If so, start by exhaling to a count of four, and slowly work your way up. You’ll be surprised at how much your deep breathing will improve with some practice.
If you enjoy the slow pace, keep walking that way. Otherwise, increase your speed by breathing normally and walking in rhythm to your breath. Try both of these paces:
Take one step for each inhale, and one step for each exhale.
Take four steps (two per foot) with each inhale, then four steps with each exhale.
Play with the length of your step. Let your arms hang and swing in response to your body’s movements. Moving meditations require a different way of being in your body. By practicing how to keep your upper body and jaw relaxed while maintaining awareness of your breath and walking in rhythm, you are practicing for labor and beyond.
Most women can talk and move comfortably through their early contractions. When in labor, do a breath walk with your partner around the block. You could also use your breath to move to music (either your own inner choir, or a piece you’ve practiced moving to already).
By learning how to stay present to your breath while doing something else, you are learning to mindfully multitask, a skill that will serve you well as you care for a newborn. Enjoy the walk.
About the Author:
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #26.
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