Why do we have to breathe when we do our pilates exercises?
Do you EVER in your daily life pay attention to your breath specifically? People who practice yoga or meditation certainly do. Divers, singers, and people with respiratory issues do too. The rest of us hardly pay any attention to it. You try pilates and then you have to. Have to? Hmm... Yes. And no.
Hang on. Did he just say yes AND no?
Yes. He did.
Of course there are reasons behind cuing the breath when doing pilates. One, you can correctly prepare and engage your muscles for the action you'll be performing. For example, on an exhale breath you can activate your transversus abdominis and by extension, the pelvic floor, before you push your legs out on the reformer. Two, certain kinds of breathing promote the action intended for the exercise. An inhalation helps us extend (arch) the spine and an exhalation flexes (curls) it forward. Three, specified breathing helps us to be mindful of what we are doing and helps us find our stability (and safety) in a movement.
The list can go on and on. Our job as instructors is to cue BREATH when it is necessary and useful, but that's not what a pilates class is about, is it? We aim to help you become stronger, more flexible, more physically stable, and all the while helping you to stay pain and injury free as well. We would like for you to take what you do here at Elevate and apply it to your life. Maybe not so much when choosing furniture or ordering lunch, but to the aspects of your life that need it.
Still with me?
Let's go shopping. Groceries to be exact. On the top shelf there's that new fabric conditioner your friends have been raving about. I know, finding the right scent can be a real challenge. Hang on, they have a 2 litre bottle at 25% off? Score.
So you... (choose ONE)
A: Inhale to prepare, exhale to stabilise through you abdominals and obliques, and scoop the shoulder down slightly to lift the right arm up with the deltoid. Grasp the heavy bottle gently with the right hand as you inhale and then exhale and stabilise in the arm and shoulder as you lift the bottle, making sure that you're still connected to your core when you gently place the bottle into your cart.
B: Pick the bottle up with good form and go your merry way. (25% off! Woohoo!)
The point is, learn how your body can be more efficient and correctly placed. Listen to the verbal cues of your instructor. Be mindful of what you are doing. If you are instructed to exhale (or inhale) to execute a movement in an exercise, do so. Please don't hesitate to ask what the breath pattern is (we should know it) and use it because it is designed to help you. There's no need to get hung up if you might make a mistake, but at the most basic level BREATHE... And please don't stop.
This post does not intend to discredit colleagues who are very much about breathing techniques and their various applications not only in pilates but in other methods of wellness living. The benefits of mindful breathing are numerous and well documented.