Part 2 - Breathing
Breathing comes naturally (at least it should!) and we do it without thinking. Within Pilates we focus on the breath to improve the movement, to help create a meditative focus on each move, to connect the internal muscles and fuel the movement. But how much do we actually think or use our breath to help us day to day?
This actually came up recently with a private client of mine and we were discussing shortness of breath and restrictions in her ability to inhale properly. I had also experienced this a few years ago and it had felt like I was almost not inhaling properly on purpose, yet I knew it wasn't quite the whole story as I was constantly yawning, but never fully taking a lungful of air in. I eventually went to the doctor who diagnosed panic attacks. I was not feeling stressed as such, but there was a lot of stressful things going on which had affected me internally it seems. So I was given a breathing technique which helped remove the issue completely. I tweaked it slightly as I found it more effective this way.
Inhale as much as you can and think about expanding the lungs.
Hold the breathe in for 5 full seconds, try to exhale ALL the air out of your lungs and hold for 2 seconds before taking in another inhale. This stabilises the Carbon Dioxide/Oxygen ratio in the lungs. Keep repeating until breathing becomes more normal.
In our Pilates practice our breathing becomes one with the moves and we use it to direct our attention, breath is also used effectively in other exercises too. We can use our breathing to affect us in our day to day lives, to regain the moment, to focus on a task we are completing. We can use breath to meditate and to fire us up. It really does play an important part in our lives, not just for the obvious life giving properties, but for other more deeper purposes.
Our Pilates breathing can vary from long exaggerated inhales and exhales, opening our lungs and ribs, to very short and powerful staccato breaths. This helps us change tempo of our moves, or changes our attention as appropriate.
Ultimately breath is vital. It is essential in our reality and it's essential in our Pilates practice. How we use it can vary. Next time you breathe take a moment to reflect on how beautiful and effortless it is. The body is amazing, you are amazing!
Peace & Love,