Learn how to breathe properly for Pilates

During your Pilates session, you need to breathe while engaging your abs. Basically you never really relax your core muscles!

  • Start by placing one hand on your ribs and one hand on your stomach
  • Breathe in deeply through your nose, opening up your rib cage, but without letting your stomach expand (feel your ribs below your hand)
  • Hold your belly button in and try to bring it as close as possible to your spine. Engage your glutes and your pelvic floor muscles, as if you were trying to stop yourself from going to the toilet.
  • Exhale through your mouth. Your throat should be open as if you were trying to fog up a mirror.
  • Inhale and exhale a few times.
  • If it helps you focus, close your eyes.
The warm up phase
  • Get on your knees and hands. Your knees should be under your hips, and your hands under your shoulders.
  • Try to make yourself taller by extending your back towards the ceiling.
  • Inhale and tilt your hips towards the back to arch your back. Look up towards the ceiling.
  • Exhale and tilt your hips towards the front to round up your back again.
  • Repeat this movement a few times and slowly decrease the amplitude of your back rounding and arching until you get to a neutral position.
  • Sit down on your knees with your chest and stomach on your thighs, your arms stretched out in front of you. This is the child pose.
  • Feel the stretch in your back.
  • Sit back up and keep your glutes down on your feet.
Exercise 1: Marching

Marching strengthens your hip flexors and your abs.

Starting position

  • Lie on your back, legs bent and feet off the ground. Arms should be along your body, with the palms facing down.
  • Your lower back should be relatively flat. Do not arch your back during the exercise as this may cause pain.

The move

  • Exhale, contract your core muscles and bring your belly button in
  • Inhale, exhale and lift your right leg at a 90 degree angle
  • Inhale, exhale and lift your left leg at a 90 degree angle
  • Inhale, drop the right toe to the ground; exhale and bring it back up
  • Inhale, drop the left toe to the ground; exhale and bring it back up

Make sure each movement is controlled and you don’t jerk or drop your legs.

Repetitions

5 to 10 times.

Exercise 2: The Hundred

The hundred helps you strengthen your core and upper body muscles. Its name comes from the breathing cycle that you execute during the exercise: you breathe in on the 5th count and breathe out on the following 5th count, repeated 10 times (10*10 = 100).

Starting position

  • Lie on your back, arms relaxed along your body

The move

  • Inhale, try to make your body longer
  • While you exhale, work on your pelvic floor muscles, tuck in your belly and try to extend your upper body (head, neck, shoulder blades and bust)
  • In the same position they’re in, start moving your arms as if you were tapping on water and trying to splash it
  • Every 5th tap, inhale; Exhale on the 10th tap

Repetitions 

10 breathing cycles (of 10 taps)

Exercise 3: The Glute Bridge

The glute bridge strengthens your glutes, hamstrings and back muscles (as well as relieve any back tension).

Starting position

  • Lie on your back, knees bent, feet hip width apart
  • Lower your shoulders and shoulder blades
  • Engage your pelvic floor muscles
  • Your arms are along your body, with your hands facing towards the ceiling

The move

  • Inhale before starting the exercise
  • While you exhale, lift your hips towards the ceiling, while pressing your heels into the mat. As you lift your hips, slowly lift your lower back to follow the movement. 
  • Try to align your knees, hips and shoulders into a straight line.
  • Inhale, slowly come back down
  • Exhale, and repeat

Repetitions

10 to 15 breaths