Breath facilitates movement!
A key principle of Pilates is learning how to breathe so you can safely activate the abdominals and maintain core support.
Breathing is a process that takes time to learn and embody. It is a tool and not a rule! The more you practice Pilates the more natural the breathing pattern becomes and the greater you can use the breath to both assist and challenge movement.
As Joseph Pilates once said: ‘Above everything learn to breathe.’
Posterior lateral breathing is our favoured breathing technique and this simply means breathing through the side and back of your rip cage. You can visualise this method of breathing by expanding your rib cage as if it was an accordion, flaring out sidewards and upwards. If you struggle with this, try placing your hands on the side and back of your rib cage, with the heel of your palm on the back aspect and your fingers wrapping around the side and front of the ribcage. Placing slight pressure on your ribs, as you breath in, feel the ribs open up sidewards and lift gently towards your shoulders. As you breathe out feel the ribs connect downwards and together as if they are knitting towards the sternum (breastbone).
There are other forms of breathing – accessory breathing which usually occurs at the top of the chest and into the neck, and diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing where the belly expands and contracts with the breathe. It is important that we can breathe in all these different ways however our Posterior Lateral breathing is our breath pattern in Pilates. This is how you can get the greatest lung capacity combined with the connection of the abdominals.
The more you can understand how you breathe the easier it is to use breathing to challenge and support you in the execution of movement.
If you know you have a little trouble with your breathing, why not ask your instructor for some more information about how you can improve your breath whilst moving.