At a time when we are being hit with a virus that effects the respiratory system I have found myself focussing on one of the fundamentals of Pilates – Breathing. How I breathe and how I teach people to breathe whilst moving. Breathing is an automatic process that most of us dont think about however learning to breathe properly will not only improve your ability to do exercise but it will also improve the health of your lungs.
To breathe correctly you must completely exhale and inhale, always trying very hard to squeeze every atom of impure air from your lungs in much the same manner that you would wring every drop of water from a wet cloth.
Joseph H Pilates
If you come to my classes you will have heard me saying dont forget to breathe! Normally I say this when someone is holding their breath and going red in the face! Many of us hold our breath while doing exercise which impacts our ability to do the exercise. We may find that we breathe shallowly or much faster than we should. If we breathe shallowly we are using only a fraction of our lungs thus reducing the supply of oxygen and thus also reducing our energy levels.
Learning how to breathe correctly is one of the fundamentals of Pilates. Breathing exercises are also used in meditation and to break up a period of anxiety. Currently there are many people feeling anxious of what is to come so I thought that I would share a couple of exercises with you that you can do at home.
Scarf Breathing – you will need a chair and a scarf or stretch band.
Sit or stand tall and wrap the scarf or stretch band around your ribs – make sure that it is not too low and is spread over the backs of your ribs, crossing it over at the front. Hold the opposite end and gently pull it tight (not too tight)
Inhale through your nose – As you breathe in focus on the backs and sides of your ribs, where your lungs are located. Your lungs will gradually fill and expand your ribcage. Do not force this movement as it will create tension. Keep your shoulders relaxed
Exhale through your mouth – As you breathe out you will feel the air gently being pushed out fully, right to the bottom of your lungs. You should feel your ribcage beginning to close as your lungs empty.
Do not puff your cheeks or purse your lips during the exercise as this will create tension in your jaw, face and neck wasting energy. Also make sure that you do not over-breathe, it should be natural, easy pace.
Relieving anxiety – you can stand, sit or lie down doing this exercise, most importantly you should be comfortable. You may want to close your eyes (please make sure you are not standing if you do!!)
Inhale through your nose for the count of 4
Hold for the count of 4
Exhale through your mouth for the count of 6
Repeat as many times as you like
If you find it hard to inhale for the count of 4 you can change this to 3 and then exhale for 5. You will find the more you do this the longer you can inhale for.
My classes are carrying on over the internet through this time of lock down so if you are interested in joining any of them please contact me for more information.
Stay safe and well.
Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body
So maybe you are thinking… ‘What, I cant exercise in this heat??’ Why don’t you come along to my summer pilates classes in my cool home studio, fans provided if needed!! Also you can enjoy a refreshing juice after class to cool you down.
Next week it looks like we are in for a cool 27C, that will be baltic compared to this week, time to get the thermals out!!
This winter stay healthy using the Pilates method as a natural preventative measure to keep yourself warm inside and out, and keep your immune system boosted.
Pilates has sound science-based effects on the internal systems as much as it does the musculoskeletal system. Yes, it will make us look good – tighten abs, lengthen the spine, improve posture. But the unseen, deep and health providing effects of doing Pilates are immeasurable.
Pilates exercises, while including the major muscle groups of the whole body, focus the work of the intrinsic muscles of the body which sit deep within joints and internal structures. Being able to work into these deep regions means that we will create much deeper circulatory responses and movement of fluids like lymph that clean out our bodies of toxins. It also offers us a direct stimulatory effect on internal organs, and thereby stimulation of the functions and chemical responses of systems such as the respiratory, digestive and endocrine systems, which have a direct effect on our immunity and wellbeing.
Practicing Pilates can also help you to stay injury free so that you can enjoy a long winter season whether it be on the slopes of off.
Next week kicks us off to a start with two fantastic juices to look forward to after your pilates class – The Morning coffee and The Joseph – packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that make for a great liver cleanse and a citrus based juice that will give your metabolism a jump-start.
The four workshops this week will focus on a few fundamentals of Pilates – Breathing, Concentration, Centring and Alignment.
Whilst breathing is the essence of life itself it is also a movement process and has great bearing on the efficiency of each movement performed. Learning how to breath more effectively within movement helps both mind and body to relax, recharge and focus. Don’t get me wrong though this class is not all about lying on the mat breathing we will be challenging this movement with some hard exercises!
In the lower limbs and upper body classes we will be focusing on mobilising and strengthening your hips, knees and ankles and opening, stretching and mobilising your upper body. In order to do this efficiently we have to look at alignment and precision of movement. Correct alignment at the start of and throughout the movement is absolutely essential. By correctly aligning the body and bringing the joints and soft tissue into their natural neutral zones, sound recruitment patterns are encouraged and the joints remain healthy.
In the spinal mobilisation class we will focus on centring by maintaining support and control of the body as movement takes place. It does so by encouraging the recruitment of deep core muscles that help to control and stabilise movement. All pilates movement stems from a strong centre and from this centre we can challenge the range of movement of the joints including your spine.
Come and join us outside for the Summer Pilates Workshops being held in Chatillon.
The classes are all based on different aspects of Pilates from breathing and relaxation to strengthening your core muscles and re-balancing your body. Each of the workshops will be between 45-60 minutes and they will be repeated at least twice during the summer so if you cant make one date hopefully you will be around for a different one.
A glass of juice will be provided at the end of each class.
Click here for workshop information, class times and booking.