Breathing

I just wanted to explain a bit of the method to my madness of how and why in every class, I am adamant about always cueing breath. 


Pilates increases flexibility and strengthens muscles by teaching eccentric muscle contraction. The connection between body and mind is very important in Pilates. So anything one can do to stimulate and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the pathways between the two would certainly improve wellbeing. 

A great example of this would be our breathing mechanics. Breathing is a process which depends on both the Somatic System (control of skeletal muscle activity and conscious sensations) and Autonomic System (unconscious internal functions which we have no interest in managing consciously such as digestion and elimination). 


It is naturally assumed that breathing is controlled solely by the autonomic system. We don't have to think about breathing, we just do it. But the act of breathing depends on skeletal muscles contracting and relaxing. We CAN willfully and consciously participate in AND change the act of breathing. No other process in the body has the same capacity for crossover of the Somatic and Autonomic Systems. 


By simply controlling breath, we can actually create a great abdominal workout. The diaphragm (in conjunction with a number of other muscles) allows us to inhale, transverses abdominis, internal and external obliques and the rectus abdominis are used to exhale. These inner unit muscles all work together, and even if we can learn to only activate one, it will engage the others. 


So, don’t forget to “squeeze the water from the sponge”, and just keep breathing !