How to Breathe During Your Pilates Classes
When getting started with Pilates classes, there can be a lot to remember – what the different springs mean, keeping your core engaged, how to operate the reformer bed – so it’s easy to forget one of the most important elements of your practice, breathing!
In fact, it’s often suggested that the most important breathing technique for Pilates is remembering to breathe in the first place. While that’s definitely true, there are a few other techniques for your breathing that will help you to get the most out of your Pilates workouts.
Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
Why is breathing important for Pilates?
The most important group of muscles during your Pilates classes is the core – a group that includes your abdominals, obliques, some back muscles and your pelvic floor which work to stabilise and balance your body.
A crucial component of your core muscles is your diaphragm, which is responsible for all of your breathing patterns.
As you breathe in, your diaphragm pushes down into your abdominal muscles which kicks the rest of your core into action.
So, if you’re not breathing properly, you’re not actually making use of your core’s full capacity and not getting the most out of your Pilates workouts.
Is there a wrong way to breathe?
While there are a few right ways to breathe during Pilates, there are some wrong ways, too.
If you can’t hold a conversation or can hear yourself audibly breathing in and out – you’re forcing your breathing too hard!
When you try to force air in and out of your body, also known as purse-lipped breathing, you’re actually preventing those deep core muscles from engaging which can lead to core imbalances down the track.
This is usually a byproduct of constricting or holding your breath (likely just forgetting to breathe!) so try to allow yourself to breathe normally during your Pilates classes.
Visualise your rib cage expanding out to the side with each breath in – we call this bucket-handle breathing. This allows you to breathe effectively without preventing your abdominals from engaging properly during your exercise.
How should I be breathing, then?
The easiest way to incorporate regular breathing during your practice is to align your breaths with each movement.
When you start a movement, start it with a breath – it doesn’t matter if this is breathing in or out – and then on the return movement, do the opposite.
For example, if you breathe out as you push your legs out and extend, then you would want to breathe in as you return to your original position.
This can be easier said than done, so our instructors are on hand each class to help you work out an optimal breathing pattern for your movement.
In our experience, it takes most beginners between 6 and 8 weeks to truly master their breathing during their Pilates workouts – so if it’s not coming to you straight away, don’t be discouraged! Always try to come back to breathing with every movement and feel free to take a few moments whenever you need to get your breath back.
The more regularly you practice your Pilates, the more natural this will begin to feel and soon you won’t even notice your controlled breathing during your Pilates classes!
Put your new breathing strategies into practice and book your next class now.