To get the most out of your Pilates routine, you must first learn the various breathing techniques to guide your relaxation. When you think of breathing techniques, I’m sure your mind reverts to the old “inhale…now exhale,” we’ve all heard a time or two. While this is the core of all breathing techniques, Pilates focuses on three main techniques for breath: Lateral Breathing, Exhale Spinal Flexion, and Inhale Spinal Extension.
Deep engagement of the abdominal muscles is needed throughout your Pilates exercise. While your muscles are contracted, take a deep breath in then exhale and feel the air go to your sides through your ribcage. This breathing method is called lateral breathing. Expanding your breath sideways further engages your abdominal muscles as you squeeze out all the air. Moving away from shallow breathing, you’ll experience a better oxygen exchange reducing overall stress.
Exhale Spinal Flexion
Possibly one of the easiest techniques to remember, exhale when the spine flexes or rounds forward. This simple practice engages your abdominal muscles as your arms and legs move away from your core. The double leg stretch exercise is the perfect example as you reach long, inhale, pull into center, and finally exhale. Exhaling deeply aids in strengthening core muscles.
Inhale Spinal Extension
One of the primary rules in Pilates exercise is to inhale during spinal extension. When your spine is extended or your back is arched, inhalation expands your chest so it’s more open. As you inhale, air is taken in through you nose then out through your mouth. Strengthening your muscles will make it easier to apply breathing techniques to your Pilates practice.
Just remember, keep breathing. Holding your breath during exercise is not beneficial to your body. Enhancing your relaxation provides a variety of health benefits including improved physical performance, lowered blood pressure, improved focus, muscle activation, and better circulation and respiration. Utilize these three breathing techniques in your Pilates routine and experience a better way of living!