What’s the correct way to breathe in Pilates?
This is a question I often get asked by my clients, particularly by new clients who have just started Pilates. The breathing pattern and when to pull their stomachs in seem to be the thing that they find the hardest when they first start. Quite often they say that they end up either breathing at the wrong time, holding their breath or forgetting to breathe.
Correct Pilates breathing takes a bit of practice. The good news is that you can practice it anywhere, at anytime and soon it should start to feel natural.
The simple answer to this is that in Pilates we breathe into the sides and back of the ribs and as we breathe out we pull our stomachs in.
You can practice this in standing, sitting or lying on your back (knees bent, feet hip width and arms by your sides).
Start with the ribs – Place your hands on either side of your ribs and breathe in. As you breathe in you should feel the sides and back of your ribs widen as they fill with air. As you breathe out you should feel the ribs soften and come back together. Practice this a few times
Next try the abdominals – Place your hands this time on your stomach (below your navel is probably the best position). Breathe in and feel your stomach fill with air and as you breathe out pull your stomach in and feel it deflate. Practice this a few times.
Now try putting them both together – You can put your hands either on your ribs, your stomach or just resting by your side. Breathe in wide into the sides and back of your ribs and then breathe out pulling your stomach in. Practice this as often as you can or until you feel you have perfected it.
This is your basic Pilates breathing pattern. A good way to remember this is that as you breathe out you always pull your stomach in.
Please note – When you are in a class situation you are often working on four breaths. This is a breath in to prepare, a breath out to move, a breath in to hold and a breath out to go back into your start position. A good way to breath correctly when you are doing exercises using this four breath pattern is that as you breath in you hold still and as you breath out you move and pull your stomach in.
I hope this has been helpful for you. Let me know how you get on and of course keep practicing!