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The Pilates Breath

"Even if you follow no other instructions, learn to breath correctly" Joseph Pilates

I notice some of us at times are not breathing deeply enough, but rather only breathing into the upper chest and not getting enough oxygen into the lungs (by using the diaphragm) which will hinder our performance.
Remember Pilates emphasizes posterior - lateral thoracic breathing over any other techniques. This technique also used in the Alexander Techique
Exhaling deeply through the mouth (to the sound of ocean, described by one of my students) is what activates the deep core muscles, which is essential for muscular stabilisation. This breathing technique must occur before movement for safety and efficiency.
Try practicing this away from class. Breathe in through your nose take the oxygen down your back into the sides of you ribs to the count of 4. Now breathe out through your mouth (ocean breath) and think about zipping up a tight pair of jeans pulling in your stomach to the count of 4. Maintaining a slight core contraction, never take your breath into your stomach as you will lose stabilisation. This is a great technique especially if you are feeling a little stressed.

Priciples of Breathing

  • do not hold your breath
  • inhale through the nose to cleanse the air
  • exhale through the mouth
  • relax your jaw, tongue, neck and shoulders
  • do not let the shoulders rise on inhalation
  • on exhalation, hollow abdominals, pull navel to the spine