In Pilates we stress proper breathing; this is the first of the Pilates principles.
Breathing is the foundation of our life and although breathing is natural for us, we often times develop bad breathing habits. What do I mean by this? When you are in the gym, for example, do you hold your breath when pounding out those reps? What about while stretching? Once we are aware of these bad habits, we can change them. Proper breathing exercises can be used to decrease stress, lower or raise our blood pressure, improve our endurance and calm our minds. The diaphragm is the main muscle we use for inhaling. When we inhale it contracts and flattens down toward the bottom of the rib cage , creating a vacuum that draws in air. When you exhale the diaphragm relaxes and air is pushes out of the lungs. Here are some of the breathing techniques used in Pilates are:
Diaphragmatic or belly breathing: The belly rises and falls with each breath you take.
A way to practice this is to place your hands on your abdomen and feel it rise as you inhale. On the exhale, draw your abdomen to your spine pressing out the air.
Lateral Breathing: The goal here to breathe into the sides and back of your ribs without breathing into the belly.
Practice by wrapping a band below your shoulders blades, close your eyes and inhale feeling your ribs expand into band. You can watch a short video Here.
Sniffing breath: This type of breathing is initiated by taking in 2-3 small breaths through the nose and exhaling through a pursed lip.
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