Breathing The Pilates Way
A simple deep, slow breath unwinds the body, releasing and relaxing
muscles and joints. It helps us physically and mentally balance the body
and mind leading to good health and well-being.
Breathing to Relieve Pain and Tension
I would see at first-hand how focused breathing could help instantly
release tension when I practiced as a massage therapist. Clients would
often come in with pain in their shoulders and neck due to weak upper
neck and back muscles and overworked accessory breathing muscles at
the front of their neck and chest. This was due to many reasons such as
shallow breathing which was often stress related, old injuries around the
rib area that had left scar tissue and which meant the respiratory muscles
were not moving fully, or maybe due to poor posture for example sitting
hunched over a desk for many hours a day.
I would ask the client to help me release these muscles in the treatment
by focusing their breath into that area. This worked very well and within
minutes muscles would soften and become more flexible, often releasing
other areas of the body too. Working into the upper area of the body with
breathwork would also help with discomfort and pain in the lower back or
hip, usually on the opposite side to the tension found higher up. The client
would leave the treatment breathing more freely and easily with relaxed
muscles and joints released using their own conscious, focused breath.
The power of the breath!
With Pilates breathing throughout the classes you can release muscles
and joints yourself by learning to fully activate muscles used in breathing.
Often the diaphragm, one of the core muscles talked about in Pilates (the
primary muscle used in inhalation) and the external intercostal muscles
(particularly those in the lower part of the rib cage) donʼt move through
their full range of movement. During inhalation (in-breath) the diaphragm
and external intercostal muscles contract pulling the rib cage upward