Joseph Pilates was known to say that breathing is the first and last act of life. Can’t argue with that. But breathing is not something we think about ordinarily; it is mostly an unconscious biological function. When we do pay attention, breathing can transform your Pilates workout and your life.
PILATES LATERAL BREATHING
In Pilates, the breath is used to assist motion and to better activate the deep core muscle. By following the natural exhale you find that your belly muscles compress. Sneezing and couching are an extreme example of how much abdominals contract when breath is strongly pushed out of the body. Go ahead, try it.
We want to keep the belly actively pulled in. So how the heck can you breathe deeply while holding in your belly? Lateral breathing. It means using the full capacity of our lungs. Try this simple exercise using a flexible flat band. You can do this standing, sitting, or lying down. It’s a great way to start your workout and relax at the end of your day.
- wrap the band around your body just underneath or breastbone, at the highest point of your six pack
- cross the band so that when you pull it tightens like belt
- inhale to prepare
- exhale our of your mouth and slowly pull the band tighter as you complete your exhale (notice how it deepens your belly)
- inhale to release the band tension
Do this several times. Repeat with the band around your waist and a third position, around your hips covering the hip bones.
For more on how to do this, check out this excerpt from Pilates Master Rael Isacowitz
Take care to breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth like you’re fogging up a mirror. Do that consistently throughout your practice. You will notice a difference. As a Pilates instructor I know people can feel self-conscious about breathing audibly. At very least, you should hear your own breath.
Joe Pilates was asthmatic at time when there was no medication – he breathed his way back to life. Someday we will all take our last breath – so breathe deeply and completely to get the most out of your life now.