Pilates Helps Exercisers Learn to Breathe

If you've taken Pilates classes, you've probably noticed the intense focus on breathing. But why? What's in a breath?

Pilates Instructors focus on breathing for a whole host of reasons. Here's the skinny:
  1. Breathing brings much needed oxygen to the muscles and cells in the body. By focusing exercisers on the way that they breathe, Pilates instructors strive to help them hone their technique, thereby breathing more efficiently.
  2. When participants work on their technique they become focused, centered, and relaxed. This makes for a more effective workout and, overall, a more successful practice.
  3. Breathing properly facilitates good execution of exercises. When we exhale, the spine naturally flexes, and when we inhale, it extends. Many Pilates exercises are designed to take advantage of how the spine responds to breathing. Some are designed to resists that natural movement, creating challenge for the exerciser.
  4. Training the breathing muscles is just as important as training any other muscles. The diaphragm and the intercostals are our breathing muscles. If they are neglected they become weak and ineffective, leaving us with a compromised breathing system. If we train them they become supple, strong, and highly effective, allowing us to take fewer breaths while bringing more oxygen to the body.
So there is a method to the madness. Focusing on breathing enhances one's practice. It also strengthens the muscles that bring oxygen to the body. Slow down, concentrate on your breath. Be insistent, as you are with your other muscles, that you challenge and work the diaphragm and intercostals. There is nothing more beautiful than a strong respiratory system.

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