Pilates Breathing

The most common reaction I have when I’m teaching new clients the Pilates breathing technique is that it feels back to front.

They want to inhale when I ask them to exhale and vice versa.
Understanding how your core works, helps to provide more clarity on how the Pilates breath works.

We use the lateral breathing technique in Pilates to improve the activation of the deep tummy muscles and the pelvic floor.

As you inhale your diaphragm contracts and flattens, which pushes your internal organs further down into the abdominal cavity forcing the pelvic floor muscle and abdominal muscles to control a slight release in order to accommodate extra space for the organs.

As we exhale the diaphragm moves back up into the chest cavity and we have a natural reflex of our pelvic floor and transverse abdominus muscle contracting.

Therefore, we want to train our core in the same way by exhaling when we want our core to be most active during movement.

Take a deep breath into the base of your lungs, feel the ribs expand out to the sides.

Now as you exhale imagine you are blowing 100 candles out on a cake.

Did you feel as you continued to exhale your tummy muscles contract?
In Pilates we aim to match the breath with each movement.

There are two ways in which I can explain this further.

Spinal Movement
When you breathe in the chest naturally lifts and the ribs expand. This in turn causes the spine to extend or straighten.
As you breath out, the ribs contract and your spine naturally folds forward.

It then makes sense to work with that movement rather than against it.
When we fold forward in an exercise, for example curling up in an abdominal curl, we exhale and then inhale as we extend our spine returning to the start of the exercise.

Imagine a power lifter preparing for a very heavy lift. They will extend on the effort, such as lifting a barbell overhead. This is to prevent a build up of pressure in the body.

There are many exercises in Pilates where the exhale is on the effort or the hardest part of the move. Therefore, we are replicating this.

Hope to see you tonight for our fortnightly Pilates quiz night