BREATHING: “The first and final act of life.“
Breathing is the most natural thing that we do unconsciously during our whole life. Normal breathing, used instinctively since birth, is the diaphragmatic breathing, which is not regularly done correctly due to the fact that it’s not a thing that demands a lot of concentration, sometimes without exhaling completely which can help to eliminate the bad air from lungs. Also, vicious posture can affect the breathing.
Lateral or intercostal breathing has a fundamental role in Pilates method, by being the fuel which runs the “power house”, facilitating the maintenance of the abdominal contraction during the execution of the exercises.
By taking a deep breath and exhaling with power, by eliminating the residual air from lungs, we obtain a better oxygenation of our organism (“waking up” the cells) and so get a better function of the organs and muscles, breathing being the primal source of oxygen. The powerful breathing helps to increase the aerobic capacity. Joseph Pilates said that “in order to breath correctly you must inhale and exhale entirely, always trying to squeeze every atom of impure air, as if you are squeezing the last drop of water from a wet cloth”.
Despite the fact that, to some, this is a difficult aspect of the Pilates exercises, this type of breathing must not produce tension and confusion. Even though it may seem a little forced compared to the diaphragmatic breathing, it attracts more muscles into action, including the abdominal and intercostals. By its nature, diaphragmatic breathing requires some relaxation of abdominal muscles during the inhalation, while the lateral version of breathing allows the abdominal wall to remain constantly pulled inward.
Throughout the Pilates exercises, the inspiration correlates with certain movements and exhalation with others, helping to increase the harmony between the rhythm of the breathing and the body movements.
Learning this type of breathing may require time and training, but its benefits can be successfully used day by day. Once you learned this technique, you must not limit yourself at using it once or twice per week when you go at Pilates sessions, but to try to concentrate and breathe correctly during your daily activities. In addition, the correction of the posture can help to improve the quality of breathing just as much as a correct breathing can help to improve the posture.