How do I engage my core and pelvic floor..how do I breathe when I'm doing it?
You exhale, GENTLY drawing your belly button back at the same time as gently drawing your pelvic floor upwards. Your abs are drawing gently inwards, but you are not pulling in hard. Both transverse abdominis and pelvic floor are part of your core and they work together.
Making a ‘Ssssss’ sound as you exhale may help you find the right deep abdominal muscles. For the pelvic floor part… imagine you’re sucking a smoothie with your vagina as the straw… or picking up a grape with your vagina… yes weird. But it works. Inhale as you relax the muscles, engage again on the next exhale. So you’re working the muscles on the exhale, relaxing on the inhale.
Remember, ‘Exhale and Engage. Inhale and Relax.’ The relax part is vital – you have to learn to let your stomach muscles GO if they’re going to be strong. A permanently clenched / engaged / contracted muscle, whether an ab muscle or a pelvic floor muscle, is hypertonic (too tight). It’s every bit as weak and ineffective as a muscle that is slack and never contracted. Tension is not strength. And… I wrote an exhaustive article on ‘Finding Your Transverse Muscle and Enaging Your Core’ here, so please go read that.
Want even more on breathing... check out the Breathing 101 video in your Connect Chat archive