Breath - it can all get a bit confusing can't it?!
"Do I breathe in or out here?!" is a common question that I hear from clients new to Pilates.
When you first start its almost like learning to drive again - there's a lot to think about! You're thinking about your alignment, how your body is moving, drawing the abdominals in and where the movement is coming from. So much so that sometimes we forget to breathe!
At the beginning I just want you to breathe, concentrate on the movements first and just breathe naturally.
Once you're comfortable with the movements and they become more automatic we start to add a more distinctive breath pattern to help you get the most from the movements.
We inhale to prepare, exhale to draw the abdominals in and move, inhale to recover.
By moving on the exhale we're taking advantage of that natural abdominal engagement and supporting ourselves in the strongest way as we move.
We focus on lateral or diaphragmatic breathing that enables us to breathe wide into the ribs (inhaling through the nose and opening the mid back) and exhaling through the mouth (the ribs draw towards the centre of the body, the breastbone softens and the pelvic floor and abdominals naturally lift). We have a great video to explain this further here.
Once you feel comfortable with this we then sometimes switch the breath pattern around to intensify and challenge the movement, we may hold a position and breathe deeply to deepen the abdominal engagement and open the body (for example in a Cat stretch or Spine Twist; see picture above) or switch to a quicker breath pattern (for example in The Hundred) to increase oxygen flow into the body and improve circulation.
We hope you found this useful and its made the Breath pattern a little clearer!