The foundation of Pilates routines is the breath. Relieving tension, maximizing elimination of toxins from the lungs and body, and massaging the internal organs are all benefits attributed to Pilates breathing techniques.
Breathing occurs as diaphragm muscle contracts downward, pulling air into the lungs, then relaxes allowing the breath to expel from the lungs. Pilates devotees say this rhythmic action, alternately massages the heart and lungs and the organs of the lower abdomen. Breathing can also be used to strengthen the abdominal muscles and bring focus to the body core.
As part of an effective weight loss program, the easy slow movements of Pilates breathing exercises are a key component in developing new life-long habits, enhancing health and weight management.
The Belly Breath for Relaxation and Internal Massage
- Lie on the Pilates mat, on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Place the stability ball on your stomach.
- Breath in deeply, focusing on expanding the belly and feel how the ball rises.
- Exhale through the mouth slowly, making it flow smoothly as long as possible. Feel the ball now lowering as you completely empty your lungs.
- Repeat slowly, doing four or five more belly breaths.
Lateral Ribcage Breathing for Strengthening the Abdominals
- Lie on the mat, on back, knees bent, feet flat on floor with stability ball on your stomach.
- Inhale deeply directing the breath to the back and sides of the ribcage.
- The belly does not rise, the ball does not rise. This takes practice!
- Exhale, long and slow through the mouth while tightening the deep abdominal muscles.
- Repeat, continuing to contract the abdominals.
With practice, Pilates breathing improves health and can be a simple, effective part of your healthy lifestyle.