Hypopressives. Oh Hypopressives. An unusual word for an unusual technique. But wait, is it really all that weird? Nope, I don’t think so.
Hypopressives is an exercise technique that conditions your entire body from the inside out. Every movement you make starts with your deep core muscles getting together as a team to support you in that movement. Hypopressives teaches you how to align your body, breath and core function so that your deep core can meet the demands of every move you make. It’s that simple.
If you look at what experts like Katy Bowman and Julie Wiebe teach us about core function and alignment, you will learn that your deep core is a system of muscles that work together as a team. Every movement you make starts here. Core function is everything. If one part of this system is out of balance, you can experience the terrible symptoms of core dysfunction: prolapse, incontinence, hernias, Diastasis Recti, mummy tummy, hip pain, back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain.
Hypopressives consists of an abdominal vacuum, a rhythmic breathing pattern and specific postures that together create the perfect setting in your body to get your deep core muscles working as a balanced team along with better alignment.
This is super important, because in the most basic sense: your deep core IS your breathing system. If you optimize your breathing pattern you optimize your core function. Many of us rely on breath holding as a strategy or create intense internal pressure while breathing or moving because that’s how exercise is ‘supposed to feel’ . Hypopressives teaches you how to be aware of the kind of unwanted internal pressure you create when you move incorrectly and also what it feels like when your deep core perfectly meets the demand of an activity or action. The difference is really amazing and I love seeing clients find this balance in themselves. Sometimes for the very first time in their lives.
Again, if you follow the experts you will learn that so many concerns are due to compromised alignment. Booty tucked under, shoulders hanging forward or hinged too far back, head hanging forward, knees falling into your midline, rotation – the list is long. But the point is you can’t really address your core function if you don’t address your alignment because your body is an entire system that works together from the inside out. For example, your booty might need to co-contract with your pelvic floor for a certain movement, but when it is tucked under it can’t fire the way it needs too for that activity. But guess what? If your booty does not show up for its shift then someone needs to do the job because you are not going to stop moving. So your body has to tap into other muscles and joints to help you perform the action. You end up over-working those muscle because that’s not really their job. Am I making sense? I hope so. Alignment is fundamental to everything we do. The Hypopressives postures work both your anterior and posterior chain (front and back muscles) guiding these teams of muscles to better alignment so you are free to move using the correct muscles which means less pain and fewer restrictions.
“Seriously, How can it do this?” you wonder. I believe watching someone do Hypos, or even looking at an image of someone doing Hypos doesn’t really capture what it feels like or what it does inside your body. It looks tense and rigid which is ironic because it is dynamic and freeing. It is the opposite of many of our daily activities that compress, and shorten muscles. Hypos decompress and open up your body. It creates space and openness by lengthening and opening your fascia lines.
It only appears that way because you are creating a vacuum. But think about it: you just exhaled so your ribcage has effectively closed in. Because you are creating a vacuum, it appears as if your ribs are flaring out and your muscles are tense, but they are actually kind of “vacuum-packed”. It may look unusual and yes, there are many muscles working, but only the exact ones you need for those specific movements.
I find that Hypos centers me. Which is no surprise as it originates from Hatha Yoga’s Udiyana Bhanda which means ‘an automatic contraction of your deep core muscles’ and yoga is all about connecting with your body on a deeper level. One of the key elements in getting your core to work better is to find your center and get into your body. Most exercise forms takes us out of our bodies. It is an escape and it soon becomes mostly about how it makes us look. Ironically none of the fancy new exercises are much more than mechanical movements unless they originate from your core, or center. Hypos is all about working from your deep core outwards.
It translates beautifully. By this I mean – when your body understands what optimal core function feels like, it supports you in every move you make. Ultimately this should lead to less or no leaks, recovering prolapse, shrinking diastasis and no more mummy tummy, better core function and prevent hernia’s. When you understand what good alignment feels like in your body it becomes much easier to be aware of your alignment, breath and core function during any movement or activity. Strangely it becomes something that works without you even thinking about it, yet you have much better body awareness and you will feel when something is too strenuous, when your alignment is compromised or when you are holding your breath. Hypos is a great tool for teaching you about your own body and how it works best.
PS: I am a big fan of Julie Wiebe and Katy Bowman’s work. Neither endorse or promote Hypopressives. What I learn from their work is what I use to layer and hopefully help me make better choices for my workouts with my clients and I am very grateful for everything they share. I at times find myself jumping with joy when I read or hear them share certain wowzers on movement and core function.
I was introduced to Hypopressives via my friend Trista Zinn in 2013 when she used it as a tool to recover her stage 2 prolapse and loved it so much that she decided to bring it to Canada. You can find out more about Hypopressives and Trista here. There are a few different schools teaching Hypos. Trista and I follow the studies on Hypopressives by two kind, highly educated and generous souls Piti and Tamara, the founders of Hypopressives Low Pressure Fitness, in Spain who also makes me jump for joy when they share their knowledge. You can read about them here.