Breathe Our Way Into a New Year, New You and Pilates

Breathing – we all do it, but do we really think about it?  Did you know that bringing a focus to your breath can help your everyday movement in life and your Pilates practice?  We all have days where we just need to stop and breathe.  Let’s kick off January, breathing our way into a New Year, making new connections to our BREATH.

In January at ARC Pilates, our focus is on the BREATH.   I believe that it is so important to quiet the mind and bring awareness to our breath.  I can often get lost in my breath, feeling the expansion and contraction of each breath.  It also makes me feel so grateful that for each breath I take it means I am alive and living.  I also believe that we need to work on our breath- sometimes we take it for granted and do not really use our lungs to their capacity.  It is just like any other skill that must be practiced to do well.

There are so many cues that can be used to help facilitate breath. Think of blowing up a balloon or blowing all of your air out like a humpback whale (these are a few of my kid’s classes favourites).  Perhaps, picture your lungs as a hot air balloon rising to the sky and falling as it loses air. We can use numbers and counting, imagine bagpipes or an accordion.  Sometimes the best option is the physical cue of feeling the rising and falling of the chest while you have your hand resting on your ribs.

If you are in a session with me, do not be surprised if I ask you to focus on breath and perhaps bring out a piece of Pilates equipment called the breath-a-cizer (not breathalizer) to get you to make some noise with your breath.  The possibilities are endless with what we can do and how we can relate this skill to our Pilates practice.

Breath is such a big part of the Pilates exercises. Remember how I say the Hundred is just a breathing exercise with our abs getting toned as a side effect.  It is true!  The Hundred is the start of a Pilates session. It is known as the warm-up, and it is our first opportunity to connect with our breath.  We inhale for those five counts and exhale for five counts until we reach a Hundred.  For me, when I really slow down my breath and keep my awareness on the breath, I actually find my Hundred to be far more enjoyable.  I am not worrying about holding my legs or reaching with my arms instead I just am in the moment.

Have you ever thought about what the breath is doing to the body?  It is increasing oxygenation, circulation and flushing the system of unnecessary things. These are our Pilates principles, and I try to incorporate into every session.  It is like a clean up of every cell from every part of the body and purification from the inside out.  Some of the benefits of deep breathing include working as a natural painkiller, increasing energy levels, reducing stress and improving posture (try and slouch while taking a really deep breath, it is hard to do).

I believe that we all need more of all of these things in our life. There really is only one thing that is certain as long as we are breathing- we are living!  Not just in our Pilates practice but also in our everyday lives.  So, let’s get to work and expand those lungs, breathing in new life, new beginnings and a new year. Let us be the best version of ourselves that we can be and oh yeah, remember just to BREATHE!

Making my ARC!