There is no denying it. The way you breathe directly correlates to the efficiency of your movements. From my experience, breathing is usually what pilates beginners struggle with to get or overthink it. As such breathing for movement can help you get the maximum benefit out of your workout, sport, or meditation exercise. Below we will shed some light on three major breathing techniques. They are:
- Ribcage breathing
- Belly breathing
- Mixed breathing
It is important to know which type of breathing works best for the activity that you are engaging in. This way you are likely to experience optimal results. So let’s get into it.
Rib Cage Breathing Explained
As the name suggests, this type of breathing causes your rib cage to expand laterally, in other words to the sides or in a 3-D way. Here are some step-by-step instructions to help you get it right:
- Place your hand on either side of your rib cage.
- Inhale slowly and apply slight pressure to the side of your ribcage with your hands.
- Completely fill your lungs with air and feel the expansion.
- Then exhale slowly allowing the ribs to close
- Pull your abdominal muscles in as you exhale the last of your breath.
Rib cage breathing is perfect for pilates because this type of workout is based on the principle of working all the muscle groups together, delivering oxygen to them without creating much tension in the chest or upper body. So this breathing for movement engages your entire core including your abdominal muscles.
Belly Breathing Explained
This type of breathing is also called diaphragmatic breathing or abdominal breathing. So how do you do it? You can do it either sitting or lying down. Here’s how you can get started.
- Relax your back and shoulders
- Place one on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. This way you will be able to feel if you are doing it right.
- Inhale through your nose until you reach your air capacity
- As the air enters your body let it expand your stomach and waist.
- Feel your diaphragm exert pressure on the air
- Slowly exhale through pursed lips.
- Feel your stomach contract slowly.
Belly breathing is ideal for yoga, running, and overall relaxation. Belly breathing has amazing benefits for both your body and your mind.
You can expect:
- Lower heart rate
- Lower cortisol levels and anxiety (check out these 9 breathing exercises to relieve anxiety)
- Helps you cope better with stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Better sleep
- Noticeable reduction in anxiety and depression
- Uses less energy (great benefit for athletes and runners in particular)
Belly breathing for movement can improve your overall quality of life.
Mixed Breathing Technique
Mixed breathing combines breathing techniques. In our case, we have focused on belly breathing and rib cage breathing. Using these 2 techniques together helps connect the upper (chest area) and lower (abdominal) areas.
We recommend doing alternative sets i.e. practice ribcage breathing for a full set and then follow with belly breathing.
Mixed breathing for movement aids meditation which is a practice that has both physical and mental advantages. Mixed breathing helps you feel more aware of your body and anchors you in the moment. It also connects lower body with upper body and has a great impact on our nervous system. Those who practice both types of breathing have made considerable strides in mindfulness.
Breathing for movement can improve both your physical and mental well-being. We invite you to explore the different breathing techniques for an overall healthier lifestyle. It also helps to engage your core muscles while you are moving your body and prevents holding your breath which is not recommended during the movement as it may make you feeling dizzy.
If you want to explore more of breathing techniques in pilates exercise program, contact us for private pilates classes or check out our Group Pilates Program to strengthen your core and experience more mindful type of training while still having a great workout! We have clients coming for our pilates training from Milton, Georgetown, Mississauga, and Halton Hills.