Pilates Basic Principle - Breathing

Breathing for Pilates Exercise

In pilates there is a focus on breath because it is the basis of movement. How many of you have been stressed and it was those couple of deep breathes that got you through the day? I know… too many of you!

Breathing supports the following ideas in pilates.

Oxygenation Releases Tense Muscles

When we breathe, effectively, oxygen flows into our blood which flows through our muscles. More oxygen in the muscles equals more relaxed muscles. The more, effectively, we breath in pilates the more we can release those tense muscles “trying to help out” in our exercises.

Heightens Concentration

In pilates there is a breath pattern with each individual exercise, and one of the major benefits of this is the concentration we gain.

Activation of Stabilizing Muscles

Exhaling deeply also encourages the activation of the deep abdominal muscles, which are essential in pilates. Breath and muscular stabilization should occur before movement for safety and efficiency… for all of you type A uber-anxious people out there!

Effective Pilates Breathing

You didn’t know this was Lamaze class 101!

In pilates, breathing in the upper part of the rib cage tends to overwork the superficial breathing muscles and we get tense. Point being… just don’t do it!

Often breathing low into the deep belly completely relaxes the abdominal wall leaving the back very vulnerable for injury… just don’t do it!

Three Dimensional Pilates Breathing

Here is the scoop: think of a three-dimensional type of breath. The ribs will expand laterally (left and right) AND into the back.

Give it a try. You may find this three-dimensional way of breathing difficult because we are not used to breathing into the lower lobes of the lungs where there is more efficient gas exchange.

Breathing Exercise

Try Breathing

1. Take an inhalation. Which way did your spine and ribs move?

2. Take an exhalation. Now which way did your spine and ribs move?

HINT: Answers for 1 and 2 should be opposite, and if not… well… Houston, I think we have a problem.

Anatomical Breathing Pattern in Pilates

  • inhale our spine slightly extends and our ribs open a little
  • exhale our spine flexes a little and our ribs close in and downward

So the method behind the madness is… when we have:

  • spinal flexion in pilates we exhale
  • spinal extension we inhale

Although, don’t get too married to this rule. Once you get advanced the “rules” change to challenge your core stability!

You Just Learned Pilates Breathing

  • Why there is focus on breathing in pilates
  • How to breathe in pilates
  • Anatomical movement of spine and ribs during breathing
  • Want to learn more pilates principles? Check out this full overview of the pilates basic principles.
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