Joseph Pilates was asthmatic and therefore was understandably focused on proper breathing. He advocated inhalations that filed the lungs entirely and exhalations that emptied the lungs to the very bottom, cleaning the bloodstream and purifying the body of toxins. The Pilates method as performed today follows a simple breathing technique known as lateral breathing.
Your lungs lie nestled without our rib cage. As a general rule, women are upper chest breathers, elevating your shoulders and your upper body with each breath. Men tend to be more diaphragmatic breathers, filling their belly with each breath.
In Pilates, you should practise lateral breathing. This technique allows you to hold the abdominals gently and simultaneously keep your upper body relaxed. Before you embark up a Pilates programme, take a few minutes to practising your lateral breathing
- Actively exhale, collapsing the ribs as far as possible and feeling the sides of your rib care coming together.
- Breathe in, allowing your ribs to push outwards, laterally, into your hands without expanding your belly.
Try this breathing exercise:
- Align yourself in standing or seated with your feet hip-distance,
- your pelvis in neutral,
- your shoulders down,
- place your hands on your ribcage with your hands spread across your ribs.
Take a deep breath in through the nose and allow the air to slowly expand and fill up your lungs in the ribcage (not the abdomen).
Imagine you’re creating a little space in between each rib as the air comes into the thoracic (ribcage) cavity.
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Try and get your fingers to separate or move apart from one another on this wide in breath. Now, breathe out through the mouth slowly, as though you’re blowing out through a straw, letting your fingers touch once again.
Repeat this 4 or 5 times.
DON’T let the chest rise, the rib cage lift (it’s widening laterally, not lifting) or your shoulders to come up towards your ears.
When you are breathing well – notice how are you feeling
A little more refreshed?Perhaps more open through the back?
Do you feel a little more refreshed?
Perhaps more open through the back?
Did you manage to keep your shoulders relaxed?
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