“Above all, learn how to breathe correctly” - Joseph Pilates

One of the main principles of Pilates is Breath. Joseph Pilates was sickly as a child. He suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever.  He overcame his odds through mindful exercise with a focus on breath.

Personally, I have found the connection of breath to Pilates and everyday life to be so important that I put the word BREATHE up in our studio just as a reminder.

There are many great reasons to focus on breathing.

  • It is one of the simplest and most fundamental ways to relax
  • When you breathe fully, you cleanse your lungs and bloodstream through oxygenation
  • Breathing fully helps to energize and revitalize your body
  • Choosing particular breath patterns through the Pilates exercises helps you to work with efficiency and control.
  • When you focus on breathing, you immediately connect your mind to your body

Today I’d like to share with you one of my favorite breath exercises.

You can do this anywhere and there are many great times to try this:

  • When you’re stuck in traffic
  • When you can’t get to sleep
  • When you’re really anxious about something
  • When you simply need to relax
  • Before and after a workout
  • When you want to clear your mind

In fact, I love this exercise so much that I recorded a downloadable mp3 of the exercise so you can take it with you. The link is at the bottom of this page.

 Your mission: Inhale fully, exhale fully and increase your breath capacity.

A majority of the time, we don’t breathe to our full capacity. We don’t always need to in order to function. But it’s a great thing to do for your health.

A full exhale will clear the lungs of any “stale” air and it allows for fresh air to rush in.

The Setup

This exercise can be done seated in a neutral position or lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.

While performing this exercise and as a general rule in Pilates, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.

Keep a steady pace as you count in your head.

On the inhale, allow air to enter your body slowly, evenly, and fully. Work for expansion 3-dimensionally through your ribcage, your belly and your back.

Notice areas of your torso that might not want to expand and focus on finding that expansion in those not-so-easy-to-fill areas.

On the exhale, allow all the air to leave your body at a steady pace.

 The Exercise

  • Inhale for 8 counts and exhale for 8 counts
  • Inhale for 9 counts and exhale for 9 counts
  • Inhale for 10 counts and exhale for 10 counts
  • Inhale for 11 counts and exhale for 11 counts
  • Inhale for 12 counts and exhale for 12 counts

Continue increasing the count by one each time, until you feel like you can no longer increase. If you’re feeling like 8 is a challenge, simply repeat inhaling and exhaling for the count of 8. Try to make it to 9 the next day. You can work your way up to 20, even 30.

Practice this daily and see if you can increase your capacity for breath.

Click the "download" link above to save the mp3 recording to your computer or phone!

Try this breath exercise now and let me know how you feel. What number are you on today? Leave a comment in the box below to let me know.

If you found this to be helpful, please share it with your friends.

Here’s to your health!