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Why Pilates? 1: Breathing

To Improve Breathing

We breathe to stay alive. We provide the body with oxygen in order to survive, go about our day, and to LIVE. In order to practice Pilates, breathing becomes a very important portion of the exercise.  In such a Pilates class it is, therefore, important to breathe effectively and efficiently to get the most from your workout.

Think: where are your breaths coming from? Where do you feel it when you breathe? When you are lying on a mat on the floor, can you feel your stomach inflate and deflate? Can you feel your shoulders raise up a little? Do you feel like you cannot relax? Do you know how to examine your breathing when you are lying down? Can you concentrate on breathing alone or does your mind wander a little? Is there any movement in the ribcage when you breathe? Do you feel your breaths go down into your lungs, or do you breathe from the top of your lungs, where your breath goes barely in and barely out?

So what should you do?

Pilates on a Grassy Hill

In class we practice breathing laterally, which means breathing wide into our ribcage. Imagine you are wearing a tight T-shirt. Take a full breath in through your nose: you are trying to inflate your ribcage to its full extent (so imagine that you’re going to burst the T-shirt!) Firstly, practice with a towel around the ribs, or just use your hands to place around your ribcage and feel them expand when you breathe. Avoid over-breathing, as this can make you feel dizzy. Inhale to prepare for each movement; exhale to centre yourself (focus on having a strong spine), and then follow through with the exercise.

When we extend the lower ribcage we increase the capacity for oxygen intake. Everyone wants – or should want – oxygen-enriched blood.  The more oxygen in your system, the better you perform and the better you feel. Controlled breathing not only keeps our bodies healthy, but it also helps keep our mind functioning at its best. Effective breathing is proven to lower blood pressure, improve athletic performance, improve brain chemistry and functioning, and – helpfully in this modern world – it decreases stress.

Pilates by the Sea

Stress has a way of building up in life, whether at work, with family, in college or at home. Whatever the reason, try to breathe your way calm. If you take long, slow breaths you can reduce the amount of noradrenaline produced by the body (it is used in our ‘flight or fight’ mechanism).

So why choose Pilates?  Breathing has a major role in Pilates, one that is reinforced and repeated over and over. Effective breathing has so many wonderfully-positive side effects. You breathe approximately 20,000 breaths a day. Think about it: the smallest improvement in how you breath will have enormous impact on your daily life. Try an hour of Pilates each day, week, or month … you can only benefit from the experience.

Remember, inhale … and exhale.

To Improve Breathing

We breathe to stay alive. We provide the body with oxygen in order to survive, go about our day, and to LIVE. In order to practice Pilates, breathing becomes a very important portion of the exercise.  In such a Pilates class it is, therefore, important to breathe effectively and efficiently to get the most from your workout.

Think: where are your breaths coming from? Where do you feel it when you breathe? When you are lying on a mat on the floor, can you feel your stomach inflate and deflate? Can you feel your shoulders raise up a little? Do you feel like you cannot relax? Do you know how to examine your breathing when you are lying down? Can you concentrate on breathing alone or does your mind wander a little? Is there any movement in the ribcage when you breathe? Do you feel your breaths go down into your lungs, or do you breathe from the top of your lungs, where your breath goes barely in and barely out?

So what should you do?

Pilates on a Grassy Hill

In class we practice breathing laterally, which means breathing wide into our ribcage. Imagine you are wearing a tight T-shirt. Take a full breath in through your nose: you are trying to inflate your ribcage to its full extent (so imagine that you’re going to burst the T-shirt!) Firstly, practice with a towel around the ribs, or just use your hands to place around your ribcage and feel them expand when you breathe. Avoid over-breathing, as this can make you feel dizzy. Inhale to prepare for each movement; exhale to centre yourself (focus on having a strong spine), and then follow through with the exercise.

When we extend the lower ribcage we increase the capacity for oxygen intake. Everyone wants – or should want – oxygen-enriched blood.  The more oxygen in your system, the better you perform and the better you feel. Controlled breathing not only keeps our bodies healthy, but it also helps keep our mind functioning at its best. Effective breathing is proven to lower blood pressure, improve athletic performance, improve brain chemistry and functioning, and – helpfully in this modern world – it decreases stress.

Pilates by the Sea

Stress has a way of building up in life, whether at work, with family, in college or at home. Whatever the reason, try to breathe your way calm. If you take long, slow breaths you can reduce the amount of noradrenaline produced by the body (it is used in our ‘flight or fight’ mechanism).

So why choose Pilates?  Breathing has a major role in Pilates, one that is reinforced and repeated over and over. Effective breathing has so many wonderfully-positive side effects. You breathe approximately 20,000 breaths a day. Think about it: the smallest improvement in how you breath will have enormous impact on your daily life. Try an hour of Pilates each day, week, or month … you can only benefit from the experience.

Remember, inhale … and exhale.

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1 Comment

  1. Pat on Jul 1, 2017 at 17:03

    Great information. It’s always hard to remember to think about your breathing!