Thank goodness your body has been well designed enough that you don’t have to actively remember to breathe because literally every system in your body relies on the oxygen you are breathing in. So why do you hear so much about how you breathe in your Pilates classes if you do it automatically? Because you could probably be doing it better and when you do you will get much better results. Not only in your Pilates class, that’s a given, but also you will notice it will spill over into other areas of your life.
When you learn to really harness the power of your breath, what you really have learned is how to strengthen and connect your pelvic floor, your transverse abdominals and your diaphragm together. You end up with a stronger powerhouse, oftentimes more defined waistline and no need to cross your legs when you sneeze. Bonus, there is also a component of relaxation that reduces stress and anxiety when you practice this style of breathing so you will feel more zen throughout your day too.
Joseph Pilates, the creator of the Pilates Method, is quoted as once saying: “Breathing is the first act of life, and the last… above all, learn how to breathe correctly.” His student and now Pilates Elder, Lolita San Miguel, who Pilates Cure owner Andrea Nichols had the chance to study under for two years, tells many stories of Mr. Pilates saying you must “outs the air so you can ints the air” as a way of trying to get people to breathe deeper. Mrs. San Miguel certainly impressed upon her students the importance and health benefits of breathing and encouraged practice both in the studio as well as outside of the studio.
At Pilates Cure, we carry on this practice of breathwork along with the rest of Mr. Pilates’ teachings passed down through the generations by promoting whole-body health and wellness with individually tailored workouts for all body-types (men and women) in an in-person private or group setting, access to an on-demand video library, live on-line classes, and even occasional free community classes to name a few. It is our hope that Pilates becomes more than a workout for you, but a lifestyle that will impact you both in the studio and also outside of the studio.
Remembering the importance of the breath, we usually start your Pilates session with some breathwork for you to start the mind-body connection. Here is a lateral breathing exercise you can try at home.
How to Do Lateral Breathing Exercise
- Sit comfortable and place your hands on the sides of your body around the rib cage.
- Take a deep breath through your nose into the sides and back of the body.
- Exhale through your mouth. Your ribs will contract and the hands will draw back towards each other like you are pulling together a corset.
- Repeat this breathing pattern several times until you feel the ribs expanding and contracting.
To take this exercise to the next level, take the pads of a Pilates circle in your hands and hold the circle in front of your chest, imagining you have a beach ball between your chest and the Pilates circle. As you exhale, gently apply pressure to the outer pads of the circle making the circle into an oval shape. At Pilates Cure, we love this Balanced Body Pilates Circle!