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Pilates: Breathing The Right Way

Pilates: Breathing The Right Way

It’s more than just breathing, it’s a strengthening exercise

We often get asked, “is there really a right way of breathing?”

And we understand… Breathing is such a natural phenomenon that you seldom think of it even when you’re working out.

That’s why every time you hear people talk about Pilates breathing, you can’t help but wonder if it’s just another fad.

Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s not.

Joseph Pilates wrote a book in 1960 where he emphasized the importance of correct breathing.

He wrote…

“Lazy breathing converts the lungs, figuratively speaking, into a cemetery for the deposition of diseased, dying, and dead germs as well as supplying an ideal haven for the multiplication of other harmful germs. Therefore, above all, learn how to breathe correctly

Pilates breathing exercises are more than just inhaling and exhaling, it’s teaching your lungs how to function optimally by using your center energy or core muscles.

Because optimal lungs = better Pilates workout!

How Breathing Should Make You Feel…

So how can you tell if you’re breathing correctly while working out on your Elina Pilates reformer?

Well, for starters, a correct breathing technique should make you feel relaxed even after an intense workout.

If done effectively, Pilates breathing will help your body to gradually adapt to the sudden change of pace, calm your muscles, and free your mind from the physical tiredness it feels.

And your breathing should be smooth, steady, and controlled.

Now, look back at the time when you finished one set of intense workouts on your Pilates equipment. Were you breathing smoothly, steadily, and controlled?

Or did you breathe as if you were gasping for air; quickly breathing in and out of your mouth?

If your answer is the latter, no worries! We’re here to help you correct that.

Pilates Breathing… The What And Why!

Pilates breathing is not the typical breathing technique that coaches teach you when you’re doing aerobics or weightlifting.

It’s a breathing technique that helps you breathe in an effective and optimal way while strengthing your diaphragm and core muscles.

Benefits Of Pilates Breathing

a. Energize Your Body

You might not know this, but breathing is more than just a proof of life.

Respiration is responsible for providing a continuous supply of energy to your cells, including your muscle cells.

Now, stay with us…

We don’t want to bombard you with medical terminologies so we will make it as simple as possible.

Because fully understanding the mechanism of breathing will help you appreciate your journey of learning Pilates breathing exercises.

  • The primary source of energy for your muscle cells is called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
  • Your ATP is the reason why you can contract your muscles. So without it, you won’t be able to contract and move your muscles
  • Lastly, ATP is formed when glucose reacts with oxygen.

So yeah, Pilates breathing is not just a fad.

Learning how to breathe correctly will take your Merrithew V2 Max Plus Reformer workout to the next level!

b. Cleanses Your Body

Breathing is an organic cleansing process for your body. It provides energy and life yet it also produces CO2, which is a byproduct - because nothing is perfect, right?

And naturally, your body would want to rid itself of this toxic chemical compound.

So when you deeply exhale, or as Joseph Pilates wrote, “squeeze every atom from your lungs” you rid your body of CO2, cleansing it!

Which then prepares your lungs to take in an ample amount of oxygen that will revitalize, energize, and rejuvenate your body.

BUT… When we say exhaling, this is not just expiring air through your mouth. In Pilates, we have a proper technique called lateral breathing.

Keep reading and we’ll teach you how to properly perform it.

c. Calms Your Mind And Reduces Stress

Consciously paying attention to your breathing while working out on your Pilates reformer machine is a form of meditation.

It has been scientifically proven that if you religiously practice Pilates for stress relief, you will experience calmer emotions and clarity of mind.

Now that you know what Pilates breathing is and its benefits, it’s time to learn…

How To Breathe… The Right Way!

We know that you’re already familiar with deep breathing exercises, which is good! Because you already have a basic understanding of how to consciously breathe with your belly or chest.

We’ll begin our Pilates breathing exercises with a basic breathing technique.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is also known as deep-belly breathing or deep breathing. And as you’ve deduced from its name, it’s a technique where you fully engage your diaphragm when inhaling.

How it’s done…

  1. You can sit or lie on your back, whichever makes you feel comfortable
  2. Relax your body, let your shoulder down and release all the tension you feel. Slowly close your eyes
  3. Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly
  4. Now, breathe in deeply and allow your body to take in as much air as it can
  5. As you breathe in, feel the air as it enters your nostrils and pay attention to your abdomen as it rises and expands. Your chest should remain still
  6. Slowly exhale through your lips while tightening your stomach. Your belly should return to its original position
  7. Repeat 10 times or do it for 3-5 minutes

How did it make you feel? Better, right?

Ohh… We almost forgot to mention, deep breathing is also good if you’re suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or if you’re experiencing diarrhea and constipation.

Lateral Breathing

Remember what we said earlier about strengthening your core muscles with Pilates breathing?

That’s lateral breathing! And it’s also known as lateral thoracic breathing or intercoastal breathing.

But why is it called lateral breathing?

Do a deep breathing exercise right now. Did you feel your diaphragm move up and down?

That is the natural movement of your chest when you’re breathing (unconsciously). But with lateral breathing, you will learn to expand your rib cage laterally or sideways - intentionally.

Doing this will keep your core muscles engaged which will stabilize your trunk and provide extra support to your spine while you’re working out.

Once you’ve mastered lateral breathing, you will start to experience better performance and results after every Pilates workout.

How it’s done…

  1. While standing, place your hands around your ribcage, and your fingertips touching
  2. Relax your shoulder
  3. Before you inhale, imagine that your ribs are an accordion and you’re playing it. Now, inhale through your nose and let your ribcage expand like an accordion. Take as much air as you can
  4. Purse your lips and exhale through your mouth. Feel your ribs drawing inward and contracting, and your fingertips touching again
  5. Repeat 10 times or do it for 3-5 minutes

There’s always a right way… It’s the Pilates way!

Breathing is more than just, well… Breathing.

The health benefits it provides (when done properly) are overwhelming. Especially when you’re doing your Pilates workout, it can keep you energize and going.

Just a short note before you start perfecting your Pilates breathing: Lateral breathing is a little harder compared to diaphragmatic breathing because it’s not intuitive…

So don’t be hard on yourself if you feel that you can’t get it right on the first try.

Do you think you’re ready to take your Pilates breathing to the next level? Check out our Pilates reformer catalogue.

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Need Help Choosing The Right Pilates Machine?

Contact us now and talk to one of our Pilates experts to help you find the right equipment for your needs