Inhale is the first act in our life, and the last exhale. We can say that breathing accompanies each of our steps like a shadow that you do not notice. Observe the people around you and you will see how the breathing behaves differently! How does a child breathe 2-3 years? Excited bride? Marathon runner in the race? Watchmaker? The conclusion is amazing: breathing reflects our emotional state, well-being, lifestyle! Conversely, by affecting the breath, we can affect our condition! This is a great miracle, which is used by many wellness techniques, including Pilates.
Is breathing a rule or an instrument?
There are techniques specifically aimed at working with breathing (Strelnikova, Buteyko etc.), where there are exact rules for how to breathe. And there are techniques that use breathing as a tool. That is precisely what Pilates refers to. Our task is to know and understand well the anatomy, biomechanics and physiology of breathing, and use this knowledge to get the maximum result from the Pilates technique.
Brief anatomy of breathing.
The primary inspiratory muscle is the diaphragm. It has the shape of a dome in a relaxed state. On inspiration, the diaphragm contracts and the dome goes down, the organs under the diaphragm also move down, as a result, the stomach protrudes, on exhalation the diaphragm relaxes and everything returns.
Auxiliary muscles of the inspiration: the external intercostal and posterior dentate muscles – on inspiration, they increase the space between the ribs and thereby expand the volume of the chest.
Auxiliary muscles of inspiration: scalene and sternocleidomastoid – on inhalation, they pull the first two ribs upwards and help to raise the chest.
In a relaxed state, exhalation is passive. That is, it occurs naturally when the diaphragm relaxes. That is why natural relaxation occurs as you exhale.
Auxiliary expiratory muscles: internal intercostal and all abdominal muscles. With active exhalation, all these muscles contract, contribute to lowering the chest and reducing the space between the ribs.
The most important thing is to breathe!
Allow breathing to occur naturally, and only then make adjustments depending on the situation. The biggest mistake is holding your breath. If this happens all the time, maybe you have chosen a too difficult level of training, return to the basics.
Types of breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing women are panicky afraid! It is with him that the stomach protrudes on inhalation, and is tightened on the exhale. And completely in vain, it is this breath that allows you to fully relax and rest. This is how we breathe during sleep and rest, and it is associated with the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system. If your stomach does not move at all, and special exercises did not help, most likely your diaphragm is pinched, and Pilates exercises will be ineffective. In this case, I send to an osteopath.
Active breathing is the breath of everyday life.
Solving the tasks of everyday life, we begin to use such auxiliary respiratory muscles as the abdominal muscles and internal intercostal muscles. They help us to expand our chest more actively for a more powerful breath and make a more active exhalation. This provides the body with sufficient oxygen and effectively removes gas exchange products. Joseph Pilates called this breath – an inner shower! Sometimes this breath is called sports, and for good reason! Indeed, this method is the most effective when playing sports. In Pilates, we often use this type of breathing.
Emergency breathing – stressful situations.
Each of us experiences stressful situations in life: a sharp fright, excitement, fear, the need to make a quick and powerful movement (for example, catching up with a bus). In this situation, the body starts the emergency breathing mechanism using such auxiliary muscles as the scalene and sternocleidomastoid. They quickly raise the chest up and allow you to take a sharp breath, which provides us with a quick flow of oxygen for muscle activity. This breathing is associated with the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Of course, this is an important type of breathing that allows us to overcome short-term stresses and to overcome a high-intensity load. But, very often people get stuck in this breath, fixing it as their breath of everyday life and activity. As a result, from overload, these small muscles degenerate into more rigid ones – fibrous. By creating pain in the cervical region, fibrous muscles disrupt the functioning of nerve tissue and blood vessels passing nearby, having a powerful effect on our posture, well-being and emotional state. This is the kind of breath that we consciously avoid in Pilates! Initially, the trainer does a great job of retraining proper breathing.
Attention! Pilates exercises using emergency breathing only aggravate the pathology of the cervical and thoracic spine, so it is very important to go through the Pre-Pilates * stage and prepare the respiratory system for stress.