As human beings, we’d probably never expect to hear that, at times, perhaps our breathing isn’t as great as it could be. Perhaps, in many instances, understanding the way you breathe may not even matter (as long as you’re breathing, right?!). But you can’t ignore your Pilates’ instructor insistence on guiding you to inhale and exhale at specific times during exercises like the Hundred – so why do I feel as though my breath just does not want to match up with her recommendations? Since breath is very integral in training the body but difficult to coordinate properly, I have decided to tackle the problem for once and for all!
So, how can deep breathing in Pilates actually make a difference? Deep breathing in particular is used to jumpstart the muscles, as well as to maintain the condition and functions of these muscles and your organs, as well. Two types of deep breathing, diaphragmatic breathing and lateral breathing, will be applicable to the exercises your instructor is guiding you.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a form of basic deep breathing that you may encounter quite a bit in Pilates, as well as in daily stress relieving exercises. This type of breathing relies on inhaling oxygen through the nasal passages to fill your diaphragm, going through the torso from top to bottom. Exhaling involves a release of air from the bottom to top. This may not be appropriate for certain Pilates exercises, where lateral breathing would be the ideal choice for breathing.
Lateral breathing is tricky as, compared to diaphragmatic breathing, it is challenging to maintain a supported center and rib cage while moving breath through the body. Instead of thinking of breathing down through the body and expanding with air, stay focused on knitting the ribcage and abs, and focus the breath towards the lats and across the ribcage horizontally.
So, breathing isn’t as simple as you may have thought. But after a few practices, it can really help your mobility and allow you the ultimate benefits of your training!