If you have participated in a Pilates class, either mat or reformer Pilates, then chances are you have heard the instructor speak about breath!!
Breath is important in all exercise modalities, but in the practice of Pilates breath plays a major role in
recruiting the core for control and stabilization of the trunk.
Every move in Pilates requires use of your core! Breath is one of the most important ways to access the deep core stabilizers like the transversus abdominis or “TA”, the multifidus, the diaphragm and the pelvic floor. The ability to properly access the deep core stabilizing muscles will provide protection and security for the spine
keeping you free from injury!
So how do I access the deep core with my breath? Good question! Let’s talk about that…
When you breath in Pilates you may hear the term “lateral breathing”; in other words, you want to breath into your Intercostal muscles that run between the ribs so that the ribcage actually expands in a side to side direction (or laterally). When you breath this way you have the ability to send breath into all parts of your core
that wraps your trunk 360 degrees. You send breath into you back stimulating use of the multifidus, the diaphragm drops with every inhale creating a length within the body allowing you to recruit the pelvic floor for lift on your exhale. Amazing, right!?! Without thinking so many of us “belly breath” where the stomach puffs out
with every inhale and flattens with every exhale. When you belly breath you do not have the ability to stabilize and protect the spine from every direction especially during the control needed to perform Pilates exercises. If we are not able to stabilize the trunk and spine properly you will find yourself putting unnecessary strain or pressure on certain areas of the body, like the lumbar spine (or low back) causing pain or worse, causing injury!
When a client comes to my class and is new to Pilates my first instruction is to
always breath! The worst thing you can do is to hold your breath. Once you are breathing normally through the movements and you understand the form of the exercise you are performing we can then start to focus on perfecting with the breath! That is when you will really see the changes start to occur in the body!
Pilates never gets easier! It is actually the opposite…the longer you practice the harder it gets with the ability to fully access and control the core! Access your core, the powerhouse from your center, and you’ll be amazed at the strength you’ll find in your own body!