Active Pilates' tip of the week - breathing

How did Pilates come to the world? Joseph Pilates used to suffer from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever, and in his early childhood he decided to build his strength through exercises. He studied body anatomy, body building, yoga and kung fu and gymnastic. Pilates believed that bad posture inefficient breathing and life-style can contribute to poor health.

Pilates managed to overcome his physical limitations by developing his own program of exercise and bodybuilding – Pilates (1920). Rehabilitation specialists later adapted this method and modified it to reflect the latest news and updates within the health and well-being industry.  Originally, there were three guiding Pilates principles – whole body health, whole body commitment and breath. The current Pilates principles of movement are:

  1. Breathing
  2. Axial elongation/core control
  3. Spine articulation
  4. Organisation of head, neck and shoulders
  5. Weight-bearing and alignment of the extremities (legs and arms)
  6. Movement integration

Today, we’ll give you a few tips on how you can practice different breathing patterns. The breath is a crucial part of overall body functioning. It’s very important that you learning to fully inhale (through the nose) and exhale (through the mouth; jaw relaxed) to allow the circulatory system to nourish all the tissues with blood.

Remember: movement facilitates breath and breath facilitates movement.

You can start practicing different breathing patterns during the day to train your body and mind to direct your breath and so move effectively:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing – place one hand on your upper chest over the sternum and the other hand over the abdominals; inhale allowing the upper chest to rise (expanding the lower ribs and back) and pushing your belly out slightly; exhale allowing the abdominal cavity to move towards the spine. Repeat 8 times.
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  • Bucket handle breathing – place your hands on both sides of your ribs; inhale laterally into both hands; exhale allowing the ribs to drop back to the starting position. Make sure your tummy isn’t moving. Add breathing to one hand only allowing one side of the ribs to rise. Swap and do the other side. Repeat 8 times – 4 time each side.

Make sure you practice different types of breathing twice a day every day, and you’ll be amazed how much more movement you’ll gain with directional breathing in our next class. Next week, we’ll introduce another Pilates principle of movement – axial elongation/core control.

Send us an email if you have any further questions or if you want to share your success story with us.