Pilates may seem like it’s all about the physical, but you may be surprised to find that in order to really do Pilates properly and get the most out of it, you need to incorporate the breath.
The founder of traditional Pilates himself, Joseph Pilates, found that breathing is one of the most important aspects of this exercise and any kind of Pilates class.
When it comes to your Pilates Platinum class, breathing is far more than just taking air into your lungs and exhaling it out. Rather, it’s a tool to connect your mind and your body, improve your awareness, and boost your physical performance.
Here, we explore why breathing is important to Pilates and the right way to do it during your class.
Why is Breathing Important in Pilates?
There is no denying that Pilates is a great exercise for your body that builds strength, flexibility, and balance. All moves in Pilates are slow and controlled and require that you do them precisely and with focused concentration. This makes Pilates the ideal exercise to strengthen the mind-body connection.
Breathing is an essential part of the mind-body connection because it’s what physically connects the two and serves as the foundation of your Pilates practice. When you get your breathing on the right track, you benefit by boosting your workout, improving your focus, and reducing your stress.
Breathing properly in Pilates is also important because it works to improve the oxygenation of your body.
What does this mean, and why does it matter?
Well, in your Pilates class, you are engaging your muscles (oftentimes in ways you don’t otherwise do in everyday life), and this can create tension in your body. By breathing properly, you help your body release that tension and increase the flow of oxygen to your muscles. This helps them to function better and recover faster from your workout.
On top of that, breathing also helps you to keep better form during your Pilates class. When you breathe correctly, you are able to engage your core muscles and keep your spine stable, both of which are key to preventing injuries and helping you get the maximum benefits out of your time in class.
How to Breathe Correctly in Pilates Class
The type of breathing that you want to tap into during your Pilates class is called diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing. This type of breathing focuses more on the diaphragm to take slow and deep breaths.
Here’s how to do belly breathing the right way. You can practice this at home and then bring the same concept into your next Pilates class.
- Start by closing your eyes and bringing your attention to the breath.
- Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly.
- Inhale through your nose and let your belly expand.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth, and let your belly contract.
- Repeat steps 1-4 while giving particular focus and attention to deepening your breath and letting your diaphragm expand and contract.
Then, head to your Pilates class and practice the same breathing and focus while doing each movement.
So, when do you breathe in, and when do you breathe out?
It’s best to inhale before a movement and exhale during the movement. The inhale prepares your body for moving, and the exhale triggers your ab muscles to engage and keep your spine safe.
Tips for Breathing in Pilates Class
Start simple. If you’re new to Pilates, focus first on the moves and then the breath when you can. As you become more advanced in class, you can advance your breathing.
Slow and steady. The key to Pilates moves and Pilates breathing is to be slow and controlled. Do not rush either of these things during your class.
Practice. It may feel difficult at first as you try to figure out how to coordinate your movement and your breathing but keep practicing.
Focus on the core. If you’re breathing correctly in Pilates, you’ll engage your core muscles. So focus your attention there.
Relax. Allow your body and breath to release tension during your Pilates class.
When done correctly and incorporated into Pilates, breathing can really take your class and your experience to the next level. Breathing properly can help strengthen your mind-body connection, improve your performance in class, and reduce stress.