Considering how incredibly vital proper breathing is to good health, we pay surprisingly little attention to the way we breathe. Ancient cultures, however, fully understood the importance of deep nasal breathing, and modern health and wellness techniques are starting to catch up. Deep breathing is an integral component of the Pilates method, and learning to breathe properly will erase your anxiety while taking your Pilates routines to the next level.
Why are deep breathing exercises good for your health?
Pilates deep breathing exercises oxygenate your blood and prepare your muscles for safe exercise. These exercises are also beneficial for anxiety and improve your overall health and well-being whether you’re about to perform Pilates exercises or not.
- Stress and anxiety reduction: Deep breathing exercises for anxiety have recently increased in popularity thanks to modern research that confirms the stress-reducing power of proper oxygenation. Breathing deeply pushes your body into the desirable state it naturally attains when you’re relaxed.
- Increased blood oxygenation: When your blood is properly oxygenated, you become more energetic and achieve a more positive state of mind.
- Reduced muscle tension: Breathing deeply reduces tension throughout your musculoskeletal system, decreasing the likelihood of exercise-related injuries.
- Improved lymphatic system efficiency: Deep breathing improves the activity of the lymphatic system, which is responsible for removing toxins from your body.
- Nasal inhalation warms and filters air: Inhaling deeply through your nose properly prepares air to enter your lungs. Plenty of ancient belief systems, including Taoism and Buddhism, contend that inhaling through your mouth is profoundly unhealthy.
What is Pilates lateral breathing?
Pilates lateral breathing is the primary breathing technique used in the Pilates method. Lateral breathing oxygenates your blood while reducing stress levels and preparing you for exercise. Additionally, this breathing technique can increase your overall lung capacity, making it possible to oxygenate your blood more fully with each breath.
How to do lateral breathing in Pilates
Practicing Pilates deep breathing is surprisingly easy, and you can use Pilates breathing to reduce stress and anxiety even if you aren’t properly seated in a Pilates studio. The basic idea behind Pilates breathing is to feel your ribs expand and contract as you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
1. Place your hands below your rib cage
Ideally while sitting comfortably on the floor, place your hands directly underneath each side of your rib cage. As you inhale, you’ll feel your rib cage expand. Allow yourself to get used to this sensation as you breathe.
2. Breathe in deeply through your nose
Inhale through your nose as deeply as possible. Never force your lungs to fill beyond their capacity, but carefully and gently explore the current air volume limits that your lungs can contain. Feel your rib cage expand as your lungs fill with air.
3. Exhale fully through your mouth
Exhale gently through your mouth until your lungs are completely empty. Some exercise methods call for forcefully expelling air out of your lungs. Don’t do that when practicing pilates breathing for anxiety. Simply allow all of the air to pass out of your lungs slowly while you feel your rib cage contract.
It may take a few breaths until you start to feel your rib cage expand upon inhalation. Keep inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth until it’s easy to feel your rib cage expand and contract with each breath.
Practice Pilates breathing safely
Normal breathing expands the diaphragm, a flat muscle that sits underneath your lungs. Lateral breathing, on the other hand, expands your rib cage, so it isn’t appropriate for everyday oxygenation needs even though it improves your lung capacity when practiced sparingly.
Whether you focus on deep diaphragmatic breathing or pilates lateral breathing, just remember to avoid taking shallow, rapid breaths that come from the upper part of your chest. Shallow chest breathing reduces your blood oxygen levels and increases your heart rate, which adds to any stress or anxiety you might be feeling. Deeply and deliberately inhale through your nose to counteract this anxiety-enhancing physiological response to stress.