Breathing

After a mat class the other day a student asked me about breathing: “I got a little dizzy with the breathing, is that normal?”  An excellent question, and I’ll get to the answer a little later, but the question of breath really got me thinking about how I approach teaching the Pilates method.  When teaching a mat class or a private session, I cue each inhale and exhale very specifically with the movement.  I also take time at the beginning of the class dedicated just to breathing. I have noticed over the years that this is rare – many movement teachers barely mention the breath in their classes.  Why is that?

Why do I take breathing so seriously when other seem to skip over it and move straight to movement?  After pondering that thought for a couple of days I think I have found the reason – because it’s hard! It takes time away from getting straight to the movement and feeling the burn.  And we are impatient.  We want our workout, we want to sweat and we want it instantly.

Contrary to this mindset, I really don’t find it hard at all.  I find it very natural.  If you are committing to a full body workout, as Pilates is, why wouldn’t you include the breath?  Breathing is the MOST IMPORTANT THING we do to stay alive!  Why wouldn’t you want to think about how you breathe and how the breath can assist your movements?  In my 12 years of experience of Pilates in either my self practice or teaching countless others, I have found that the breath changes EVERYTHING.  It brings your workout to a much deeper level.  It helps you focus on your practice.  Your workout then becomes meditative.  All things good!  So it feels very appropriate to include breathing in our movements.

Students practicing breathing at the beginning of class

To answer the original question:  No, there is no need to experience dizziness when using deep breath in the movement.  And here is how to remedy dizziness if it occurs:  Think of the breath as fluid, air consistently and rhythmically flowing in and back out of the body.  Imagine the breath is as smooth as a wave: inhaling is the wave flowing into the body, and the exhale is the wave flowing out. You may be contracting or engaging certain muscles on either the inhale or the exhale; however if you maintain fluid breathing throughout you won’t have to experience dizziness.

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