You can’t talk about Pilates without talking about breathing. Breathing correctly helps you get the most out of your Pilates practice by allowing you to release tension, fully oxygenate your blood, and connect with your movements. Have you ever wondered how breathing for Pilates differs from what you’re doing right now as you’re reading this?
Typically, most Pilates practitioners use lateral breathing. This is different from how most people breathe throughout the day in a number of ways. This simple exercise can help you identify the differences:
- Sit or lay down in a neutral and comfortable position.
- Rest your hands on your stomach near or just below your navel.
- Inhale naturally for a few breaths and then take a few deeper breaths.
When you breathe in you’ll notice that your stomach expands, which in turn lifts your hands. You’ll also notice that your chest moves very little, if at all. You can place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest to feel the difference in movement as you breath. This is how most people breathe throughout the day, and while this is a natural way to breathe, it’s not optimal for the practice of Pilates.
Lateral breathing, however, is more effective for Pilates practice because it effectively engages your muscles, supplies ample oxygen, and connects more with your movements. To understand what lateral breathing is, repeat the exercise above with one hand on your chest and one on your stomach. This time, as you breathe try to draw breathe in and expand your ribs instead of your stomach.
Lateral breathing is largely confined to your torso and it more naturally facilitates muscle movements during Pilates. And while it can seem overwhelming at first to think so much about your breathing, with a little practice, lateral breathing will become second nature!