Pilates: The Basics
Pilates Breathing (Lateral Thoracic Breathing)
Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates Method was very much concerned with the breath. He encouraged his students to use the breath as fully as possible, expanding the breath into the back and expelling the air completely to support flowing movement. In Pilates, working with the breath links the physical exertion with attention of the mind — creating grace and flow in the movement, and providing a vehicle for centering the presence of the practitioner.
There is a special breathing technique we use in Pilates that allows us to maintain a contraction of the abdominals throughout an exercise. It is called, lateral thoracic breathing.
In lateral breathing we breathe deeply, emphasizing expanding the breath into the back and sides of the ribcage.
When the abdominals are pulled in properly, they protect the spine and act like a supportive corset for the whole trunk. Knowing how to breathe well while keeping the abdominals contracted gives us extra support throughout an exercise. As you practice lateral breathing, you will find that you are able to perform Pilates exercises with greater ease. It helps make the scoop of abs easier and enhances the sense of lengthening the spine with the breath.
While lateral breathing is the technique to use when you want to keep your abdominals in during an inhale, we are talking about training the abdominals here. We don’t want to have our abdominals contracted all the time. Diaphragmatic breathing, with a natural extension of the belly on an inhale, is still the healthiest way to breathe regularly. Adding lateral breath to your diaphragmatic breathing will increase your overall breathing capacity.
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