The Power of the Pilates Breath Blog
Written by Louise Helmer
We take approximately 20,000 breaths in a single day, subconsciously, but what if we were more conscious of our breathing, how would that affect how our bodies move, our emotions, our mindset? Breathing not only keeps us alive, its benefits range from relaxation and decreased stress to lowered blood pressure, increased focus and activation of specific muscles to facilitate better circulation and respiration. Proper breathing can help us find balance in our everyday lives by enhancing the health of our body, mind and spirit. Full, deep breaths are needed to oxygenate the body fully, whereas breathing shallowly and only getting air into the top portion of our lungs can increase stress, constrict air flow and lead to fatigue. Attention to your breath is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress, it’s entry level meditation and can be done anywhere at any time and research shows it provides an abundance of health benefits.
Joseph Pilates said, “Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very life depends on it. Since we cannot live without breathing it is tragically deplorable to contemplate the millions and millions who have never mastered the art of correct breathing.” Pilates and breath go hand in hand, with a focus on lateral breathing, which helps to maintain a contraction of the abdominals, thereby providing support throughout an exercise. When we breathe laterally, we breathe deeply, all the way down the spine into our pelvic floor, emphasizing breathing into our back and sides of our ribcage. Lateral breathing promotes mobility of the ribcage and when our ribcage moves better we optimize our breathing performance, move better through our spine and allow our shoulder blades to function correctly.
Proper breathing mechanics can enhance our performance during our daily activities, but finding personal balance in our daily lives can start with a single breath. Becoming more aware of our breathing can help to keep us in the present moment and become familiar with the sensations and messages that our bodies are communicating to us. Take a moment to pause, breathe, and connect with your families, nature and your community. Begin to reap the benefits of using your breath to move your body optimally and calm your mind.
Here’s a quick tip: Put a post it note on the dashboard of your car. Every time you are sitting at a red light. Read your post it note and take some deep breaths. See if you can let your belly and back and sides expand as you inhale. As you exhale, try to let it all soften.
“Above all, learn to breathe correctly.” Joseph Pilates