It’s back to basics this April! Let’s talk about breath–one of the central principles of Pilates.
The primary type of breathing used in Pilates is costal breathing–the rib cage expands side to side and front to back allowing the abs to stay engaged. Think of lateral movement especially–side to side. And also think of puffing out the back of the ribs when sitting or standing. The benefits of this type of breathing are that you can increase your ribcage elasticity and stabilize the torso for motions that require mega-support from the abs. Exhalation could be passive or active, but remians controlled and smooth. However, breathing this way for too long can cause anxiety in some.
Research has shown that diaphragmatic breathing reduces stress and relaxes people. Diaphramatic breathing is allowing the diaphragm to drop and may give you the feeling of filling the belly with air, although the air does not travel down that far.
Your Pilates breath should be different than your all-day regular life breath. It’s not beneficial to walk around keeping the abs zipped up and breathing only into your ribcage. You train the muscles in Pilates to be there when you need them for stability…not so you are stuck like a statue the whole day. The torso should move freely.
It’s a good idea to take breaks in Pilates and allow 3 or 4 diaphragmatic breaths to calm the body and deepen your oxygen intake while in a pose that requires less balance and less stability for the spine–say, child’s pose or half-bend forward. This is also a great way to release/stretch the lower back.