The Art of Breathing
“Breathing is the first act of life and the last(… ) Above all learn to breathe correctly”
Joseph Pilates ‘Return to Life Through Contrology’ (1960)
So how do you breathe and why is breathing so important while practising ?
Many of us are habitually shallows breathers – inhaling into the tops of our lungs, up into the chest. Stress also causes us to breath shallowly, and to overuse the muscles in our neck and shoulders instead of using our diaphragm (breathing muscle) and abdomen to breath deeply.
Pilates breathing is smooth controlled inhale and exhale encouraging what we called a three-dimensional patters breathing.
As you inhale, expand the rib cage in all directions without neglecting anterior, lateral or posterior portions. As you exhale the rib cage closes in and down.
Commonly called lateral breathing, I would like you to think as your ribs like an accordion expanding as you breathe in and closing together as you breathe out. Keeping this image in mind helps you to have more awareness especially when you begin practising.
Correct breathing is important throughout your workout as it promotes effective oxygenation of the blood, avoid unnecessary tension and also helps to engage your core. There is some exercises, where breathing is most important to focus on. On the Mat, the hundred, Spine Stretch Forward, and Mermaid are considered “Breathing” exercices. Likewise, the hundred, Coordination, Down Stretch, Snake and Twist on the Reformer are breathing exercises as well.
Most importantly, don’t overthink it, otherwise it might become overwhelming. This is something I have been noticed with my students as I teach them the way to apply that new breathing pattern, my advice will be at first to let them observe their natural way of breathing.
From there I let them connecting their breath through the movements and assists the Flow by bringing awareness step by step focusing on a complete exhalation as it can also help activate the deep muscles of the body. The inhale will take care of itself with patience and practice it will become second nature!