Did you know we take over 20,000 breaths a day. Have you ever thought about how you breathe? Did you know our breath is connected to our core and pelvic floor? Or that our posture can have an impact on our breath and also our neck and back pain? Our breath can affect much more than our respiratory system, think blood pressure, circulation, nervous system, digestion, energy, stress, concentration and more. It’s definitely in our interest to harness our breath and in turn help improve our health.
During our pilates practice, we work with the connection between the breath, core and pelvic floor. Starting with the inhale, in breath, we look to expand our lungs and rib cage in all directions ie 360 breath, we are using the diaphragm more and our neck and shoulder muscles les . A lot of people have trouble with this as they have gotten into the habit of shallow breathing, into the clavicle and upper chest area, which in turn puts more pressure on the accessory (helper) muscles in the neck and upper back rather than using the main muscles of respiration, resulting in tight necks and shoulders. Shallow breathing is often connected to poor posture, so if we are sitting hunched at our desk or in the car all day we are restricting our breathing, compressing our diaphragm and thus breathing inefficiently. Taking some time to practice our breath, will really be of benefit us throughout our day.
If you’re finding it hard to feel that 360 degree expansion of the rib cage, grab a scarf or theraband, wrap it around your back at the bottom of your rib cage, sit down and breathe. As you inhale through your nose, aim your breath into your scarf or band and get it to expand to the sides and back, and as you exhale through your mouth, notice how the scarf or band returns to the starting position. Take your time and repeat your breath work for a few repetitions, when you feel comfortable with this, try it without the prop.
Now let’s get some more from our breath and connect with our pelvic floors and abdominals…. As you breathe in, see if you can let go of your pelvic floor and allow it to relax and lengthen downwards onto the chair, while allowing your tummy to gently expand too, a filling and opening sensation. Practice this for a few breaths and try to visualise the relax and lengthen, engage and lift of the pelvic floor. You can try the same breathwork in different positions, lying down, 4 point kneeling, standing etc.
Let’s go a step further and gift ourselves a mindful minute (or more if you have time). Here’s a quick pathway to relaxation and calm. Ideally find somewhere in nature (for some nature bathing) or where you won’t be disturbed, but honestly this can be done anywhere. Start with a minute and build up as you like.
Get comfy and…..
Breathe in for a count of 4……
Hold for a count of 4…..
Breathe out for a count of 4…..
And if all comes to all, JUST BREATHE!
Our classes are progressive and challenging and will perfectly complement your current fitness routine. Progressive courses are available from absolute beginner and rehab patient to elite athletes and experienced movers. Designed and led by an experienced Physical Therapist, you can be assured you are in safe hands. We have a mixture of longer courses and shorter classes for people on the go. Our workout calendar is proving very popular, if you’re undecided on a workout we suggest one for you, or you can choose from over 60 workouts available in our library. There really is something for everybody.
So go ahead and join us, doing so just may change your life for the better.
See you on the mat!