Breathing Exercises in Pilates exercises

May 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Pilates

Breathing exercises in an essential element in Pilates exercises. Whether one is doing a Pilates method of exercise using a Pilates reformer, or a Pilates chair, or a Pilates mat, proper breathing is part and parcel of it. Lungs have to be filled with as much fresh air as possible by deep breathing, to purify the blood. In the same way, used air, which has been depleted of its oxygen content, has to be exhaled fully to clear the lungs and make it ready for a fresh supply of oxygen. This emphasis on full and deep inhaling and exhaling is one of the six basic principles of Pilates exercises.

Those who are new to the Pilates fitness program may, at first, find it a little difficult to master the inhalation technique. In breathing as part of Pilates exercises, abdominal muscles have to be pulled in completely while managing a deep intake of breath. Some people get confused because they connect the relaxation of abdominal muscles with the taking in of air. But this breathing technique of Pilates exercises, known as lateral breathing, can be easily mastered, and can be done in tandem with other exercises.

In the lateral breathing that Pilates exercises advocate, a breath goes all the way down the spine to the region of the pelvis. The power of this Pilates fitness breathing is in letting the air flow and fill the rib cage, enveloping everything within it. When this is done by including the abdominal muscles in it, the muscles protect the spine by forming a support cushion for the whole area of the trunk of the body from the ribcage downwards. Those who are new to Pilates workout can first practice lateral breathing separately and then incorporate it into exercises.

When one does lateral breathing, the abdominal muscles elongate the spinal area. You can experiment the efficacy of lateral breathing in Pilates exercises by doing the following exercise.

1. Keep your hands around the lower side of the ribcage. Alternatively, you can wrap the area with an exercise band, and hold it after securing it close to the chest area.

2. Inhale deeply. While you inhale, imagine the path that the breath is taking, going down the spine and around the sides and back. You will be able to feel the stretching of the exercise band as the air moves in.

Pilates exercises also advocate what is known as sequential breathing. This is for getting the shoulders relaxed and making the whole process of exercising easy. In the sequential breathing of Pilates exercises, spine is kept straight, while shoulders are allowed to drop a little, thereby leaving the body free to take its natural free posture in the area between the cervical vertebrae and the lumbar vertebrae. In such a sitting position, body will not feel any weight at all.

In Pilates exercises, during sequential breathing, air is made to pass from the chest area down to the rib cage, then diaphragm, then lower back, and then finally to the pelvic region. During exhalation, air returns through the same area that it has come, traversing these places in the reverse order. Pilates exercise has also popularized what is known as diaphragmatic breathing.

Breathing exercises are the heart and soul of Pilates exercises and the efficacy of other Pilates workouts also significantly increase when done in combination with these different types of breathing.