How To Do A Kegel (the core breath)

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Kim Vopni, Pelvic Health Coach, Personal Trainer, goes over how to do a kegel exercise. (Vancouver, BC)

Kim Vopni, Pelvic Health Coach, Personal Trainer, goes over how to do a kegel exercise. (Vancouver, BC)

Video transcript

How To Do A Kegel (the core breath) Author: Kim Vopni, Pelvic Health Coach, Personal Trainer

Duration: 8:58

Finally, you'll get some clarity on the elusive kegel. So the Kegel was designed by a doctor Dr. Kgel, who used something called a pyranometer, a biofeedback device to help women learn how to contract and relax their pelvic floor after childbirth. What's happened to the kegel over time is that it's been prescribed but no one's ever really been taught how to do it or even if they should be doing it, because not everybody should be doing kegels. To give you a visual as to what's happening in a kegel, I'm going to use the vulva puppet just for landmarks. This is your labia majora. This is your labia menora This is the introitus or entrance to your vagina. When you do a Kegel exercise, it should be in concert or in synergy with your breath. When you inhale, your perineum, your vulva, your vagina really should think about blossoming and opening. And then as you exhale, you want to imagine that your vulva is picking something up. Imagine you have a little blueberry at the entrance to your vagina. You're going to grab that blueberry and then lift it up into the body. Most people think of kegels as simply squeezing as hard as they can, and they miss the lift. And then more importantly, they miss the letting go. You need to have a balance between the ability to contract and the ability to relax.

The best way to learn how to do a kegel is to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Studies have shown that over 50% of women are doing kegels incorrectly and using their inner thighs or their glutes when they should be using their pelvic floor muscles. So, a pelvic floor physio will use gloved fingers. They will insert their fingers into your vagina and they will be able to feel if you can contract, if you can lift and then if you can let that go. They'll also feel if that happens in a balanced way, or maybe just one side more than another. So pelvic floor physio is the absolute must to learn how to do a kegel properly and if kegels are right for you, if you're holding on to too much tension in your pelvic floor, doing more contracting and lifting may actually make your situation worse. So you would want to be focusing on the down training and the letting go. The release work in the Kegel Mojo program is specifically designed for that. Everything else where you're using the core breath or where I talked about the inhale to expand and exhale to engage. That's focusing more on the up training or the ability to contract and lift.

So we're going to review the core breath now. I usually teach people sitting on a stability ball or something round like a bolster or a rolled up towel that gives feedback to the perineum so you can feel as you inhale as your breath comes in that your perineum and your pelvic floor expand. So sitting on your stability ball with a neutral pelvis, making sure that your symptoms are right underneath you that you can feel your perineum on the surface of the ball. You can place one hand on your side ribs and one hand on your belly. And I want you to take a few breaths in and see where the breath goes in your body. What you should feel is that your ribs expand sideways, that your belly expands outwards in front of you and also if you bring attention to your paranium, and you should feel some fullness on the surface of the ball.

Then when you exhale, you would feel that fullness leave. You would feel your belly naturally move inwards and you'd feel your ribcage soften. So let's try that again together. One hand on your side ribs one hand on your belly, you're going to inhale and expand. Then as you exhale, feel that fullness leave in the belly draw in words. Most women have the hardest time letting go of their abdomen because they're used to holding it or sucking it in all day long. Learn to let that go. So every inhale should be an expansion in the ribcage and expansion in the belly and an expansion in the perineum or the pelvic floor. And every exhale should be a drying up and lifting of the pelvic floor inward move of the belly and the ribs softening to heighten that now we're going to add in what most people think of as the kegel, we're going to add in the voluntary pelvic floor contractions with some cues. Imagine you have a blueberry at the entrance to your vagina and your anus. When you inhale, you're going to expand the ribs expand the belly and imagine your bowl bubble blossoming, are blooming open, reaching for those blueberries and then as you exhale, you're going to grab those blueberries and lift them up into your body. So let's give that a try. Inhale and expand. Exhale, grab those blueberries and purse the lips on your face and blow. Then when you inhale, you're going to put the blueberries back down. Inhale, expand. Exhale to engage. Picking up your blueberries, inhaling and letting them go. In the exercise and workout portion, you will hear me say inhale to expand, exhale to engage. That's where you will be taking the core breath and applying it to movement.

Another cue you can try is sipping a milkshake through a straw with your vagina. So you would inhale and expand. Exhale, use your vagina to sip a milkshake through a straw. You can also try the image of a jellyfish. Imagine your perineum or your pelvic floor is a soft floating jellyfish, that's your inhale your expansion. Then as you exhale, the edges of your jellyfish or the edges of your perineum and pelvic floor come together and draw up towards the surface of the ocean or up towards your head.

You can also think about a tampon falling out. You want to use your pelvic floor muscles to draw that tampon back in. You can even try this on yourself, inserting your fingers into your vagina and contracting your muscles yourself so you get the feedback or use your partner for feedback. So again, it's inhale to expand. Exhale to engage using whatever cue it is that works best for you. And then on the inhale, make sure you let that go. We're going to try it on the bolster now. I like to straddle the bolster again it gives me it puts my parent am in contact with the bolster the roundness so it gives me that good feedback with my breath. Making sure that you're in the neutral pelvis position that you're not tucked under. And also make sure that your ribs are down. You can put your hands on your belly and your ribs or you can keep your hands on your legs. Inhale to expand. Exhale, press your lips picking up your blueberries. Then inhaling to expand and putting your blueberries back down. Exhale to engage if your milkshake inhale to expand, let it go. Exhale to exhale to engage in your jellyfish propels up to the surface of the ocean. Inhale to expand and let it go. The other thing you can do from here is add a bit of movement because ultimately we want to bring the core breath into our movement. You can inhale and expand. Exhale to engage and pick up your blueberries. Then lift yourself off of your bolster. Inhale to expand as you come back down to neutral. Exhale to engage and press up. Inhale to expand and return to neutral. Finally, we're going to move down to a wide leg Child's Pose. Some people find that being upright when they're doing their pelvic floor work, their core breath, or their kegels, that the influence of gravity actually hinders the situation for some it helps. You may feel better, taking gravity of the situation. So we're going to move into a wide leg Child's Pose position. This places stretch onto the perineum which we use to get biofeedback. It’s that feedback that we use to get from the ball or the bolster. I won't be talking to you. Once I'm down in the child's pose. We're going to end from there. But as we move down I want you to pay attention to nice stretch in between your sit bones. Bring your toes together behind you, your knees to the outside edges of your mat, and slowly reach down. From there, fo your inhale to expand an exhale to engage a few times, and then choose where you feel your core breath better and practice it there.

Presenter: Kim Vopni, Personal Trainer, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Personal Trainer

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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