I think it goes without saying that everybody knows how to breathe. And that is why everybody who is learning Pilates and Gyrotonic can meet the challenge of breathing while at the same time moving in new ways. It’s common for clients to have thoughts like, “I am breathing wrong” or “I don’t want to do all that breathing stuff, I’m here to exercise”. We see clients get flustered and frustrated with the breathing cues just like a person struggling with a tongue twister.
As with anything, it’s best to start simple. Since we are all breathing all the time out of necessity, we could allow our movement to follow our breath, rather than the other way around. The ‘other way around’ is to learn and impose a breath pattern ‘over’ an exercise.
Movement joining breath (in that order) is more natural-feeling and has one key benefit: it necessitates tuning in to how you are already breathing: shallow or deep; do you hold and let go quickly? do you allow for the pause after an exhale or are you always chasing the next inhale? Movement-joining-breath is like watching the back and forth rhythm of a jump rope before actually jumping in and taking your turn.
Once you are able to tune into that rhythm, you can ‘shape’ your breathing in more challenging ways. Some movements in Pilates and Gyrotonic require a more sustained, expansive type of breathing, like a full body yawn or a deep sigh from the inside out. Other exercises demand a powerful, percussive breath rhythm to stimulate the cardiovascular system and to concentrate effort.
We encourage you to master the breathing component of the Pilates and Gyrotonic repertoire by understanding the function of the breath for each exercise and synchronizing your movement with your breath. Fully integrated, this breath work will carry over into other parts of your life, enhancing your technique in the sport or activity that you are passionate about, coping with stress, and/or taking on difficult physical challenges. Ask Harmony client Karen Kern, how breathwork helped her to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, to an altitude of 19,341 feet!
Posted by Dilla R. Mastrangelo, August 30, 2009