Thu 05th September 2019

Inhale…exhale…How our breathing can be different and helpful

It’s the start of term everyone, so let’s take a deep breath…

“Before any real benefit can be derived from physical exercises, One must first learn how to breath properly. Our very life depends on it.”   Joseph Pilates

Well, he’s not wrong, our Mr Pilates on this one. We must remember that breathing is one of the 8 Principles of the Joseph Pilates method. It is a vital process, affected by physical exertion and our state of mind. And it’s amazing as it’s one of those things we can control consciously, but also just carries on subconsciously. Marvellous. Squillions of hours of research has been done and is being done on it, we all do it, but it is also one of the aspects of Pilates that people often get frustrated about. And that, ironically, doesn’t help their breathing.

Breathing is hard to change and suddenly breathing so consciously and deeply can feel, well, a bit odd and unnatural. Breathing uses nearly all the muscles involved in postural function, that’s Pilates-speak for standing up and moving, and so if you have stiffness in your back, it can stop you breathing in and out fully. And ergo, if you don’t breathe properly, ie just fill the tops of the lungs every time, it can lead to stiffness in your back and shoulders. Being conscious of how you breathe and those muscles used in breathing can facilitate better alignment and stability. This ultimately improves the quality of your movement, not just during your Pilates session, but in everyday life.

So, simply, the more you can control and use the muscles used to breathe from within, the better you can move. Think how much more of a rotation you can get in a waist twist, arm opening or threading the needle if you breathe out every last bit of air? And how good is that inhale afterwards? That’s what we call threshold breathing: using a little extra inhale if needed and another good exhale to release the last bit of air, relax the ribcage basket a little more, and hey presto! You’ve moved a little further.

There is also diaphragmatic breathing which we use to relax and make space for the body to move, Breastbone breathing, 3D breathing and one-sided breathing (cue some nostril blocking here!), all designed to help you use the breath to move through our different Pilates exercises with ease and control and confidence, getting the most out of your joints. We will be working through them this term in all our classes and beyond.

Because, basically, the more we move with ease, the more our body says: oh yes! I can do this, I like this and I want to do it again!