Breathing – why bother?

Apart from the obvious scientifically proven benefits of keeping us alive, breathing in Pilates sessions takes a starring role. There are tons of benefits of getting it right, here’s just 5 reasons to show breathing some love along with my favourite breathing techniques:

1. Breathing enables our minds and bodies to perform at their peak – oxygen is energy for every cell in our bodies enabling both the brain and the muscles to work at their best – we all kind of know that but perhaps we forget that each breath we take is impacting how well our minds and bodies can perform.
2. Breathing helps us control our emotions – knowing how to breathe correctly helps us to control our mind and our emotions – breathing deeply and slowly instantly

Breathing in the woods
Breathing and stretching Burnham Beeches, Bucks

calms us down mentally as well as physically.
3. Breathing helps prevent injuries – in Pilates we learn to breathe from the ribs rather than stomach because this type of breathing allows the abdominal muscles to brace during exercise helping to support the spine and prevent injury.
4. Connect body and mind – breathing exercises help us to link mind and body, the focus on our breathe brings us into the present – it’s hard to concentrate on anything else when given your breathing your full attention so it’s great for clearing and calming the mind.
5. Breathing is good for your heart – deep abdominal breathing (which we do at the start and end of our classes) encourages full oxygen exchange – the trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. This slows the heartbeat and lowers or stabilises blood pressure.

In Pilates most movements have an accompanying breathing pattern to help us ensure we’re working in harmony with our body. We build up to this in class but to begin with it’s far more important to move safely and correctly, still it’s useful to know why we’re bothering to breathe!

Here’s a link to a few great breathing exercises – find one that suits you and try and practice it occasionally then, when you need a quick injection of calm, you have your breathing hack ready to go: 5 breathing techniques

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