Yes, its Monday...and apparently winter in our neck of the woods. But I digress...
I am taking this opportunity on a Monday to talk about the first principle of Pilates. Back when I did my Pilates certification training, one of the first things we learned about was the five basic principles of Pilates. Number one...Breathing.
One of the most common comments I hear after I teach a class is "I'm not sure I was inhaling when you said inhale or exhaling when you said exhale. I think I had it all wrong". Honestly, it's fine. I usually just cue breath to make sure you do it! Eventually, as you take more classes you'll get it. But here is a little more information about that action we all do each day.
Now breathing isn't necessarily the most important of the principles (they are all equally important, but more on that another time) but it is the most natural. We are all doing it right now, so it made sense to begin with breathing. When you use proper breathing during exercise, it can help relax muscles and avoid unnecessary tension. Because really, who needs more tension? When you exhale deeply, you can help recruit those deep abdominal muscles. It's worth saying that this can be used during many exercises, not just Pilates. How about that?
What else can we say about breathing? Actually, a lot! When I go over breathing I say to send the breath to your lower rib cage to expand the ribs laterally. Why? Well, when we send the breath to our upper body, we can create unnecessary tension in our necks and shoulders. Again, who needs more of that? And when we send the breath down low, this relaxes the abdominal muscles which can leave our our lower back unprotected. I don't think any of us need that either.
Do we always exhale for exertion? Well, usually. The rib cage closes in when the spine flexes so this is why we usually exhale during an abdominal crunch. However, during inhalation the rib cage opens out and so we usually inhale during spinal extension--think cobra or swan.
I know, it's a lot to think about during breathing. Whatever class you are taking, just keep that breath pattern in the back of your head. It will eventually come naturally.
Now please keep in mind that other types of breathing may be more practical when performing other activities. When you become more aware of your breath pattern, it will help you adapt to any training you may do.
*****Note, I am certified Pilates trainer and the purpose of this blog is just to provide some tips and fun information. Please consult a physician or professional for advice specific to your needs. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.******