Pilates Principle: Breath

Breathing is the first act of life and the last, our very life depends on it.” ~Joseph Pilates

In this blog series we are unraveling the six principles of Pilates:







There are many different diaphragmatic breathing techniques: pursed lip breathing, belly breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, paced breathing etc. Diaphragmatic breathing is important because it decreases blood pressure, improves circulation to organs and muscles, and strengthens the lungs.

Each technique is worth exploring as they have specific purposes, however today we are specifically talking about the Pilates Breath. Joseph Pilates, the founder of Contrology, suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever, he utilized this type of breathing to help ease his ailments.

In Pilates, we use a specialized diaphragmatic breathing technique called lateral rib cage breathing. With this technique, the goal is to direct air into the sides and back of the lungs and rib cage. By using our diaphragm muscle to breathe, we are then able to better activate our abdominal muscles.

To practice at home, place your hands on your rib cage. Breathe in through your nose. Draw the air into your lungs and expand your rib cage laterally (think east to west). You should feel your ribs becoming more prominent under your hands. While exhaling through your mouth, use your hands to gently compress your rib cage. This compression will help you breathe the remaining air out of your lungs.

The duration of your inhale should equal the duration of your exhale. Practice with the diagram below.

“Above all, learn how to breathe correctly.” ~Joseph Pilates

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Jen Tyra

Dr. Jennifer Tyra helps women feel amazing so they can confidently conquer their day without pain, stiffness, or even pelvic problems (like leaking or painful sex).