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  • Shira

Breath in Motion

“Movement facilitates breath, breath facilitates movement” 

(J. Pilates)

Joseph Pilates talked about 3 guiding principles of movement: Whole body health, Whole body commitment and Breath. I could talk for days about each one (that later on developed into 8 other ones), but I want to focus on the Breath principles, since most people, sadly, tend to give it less thought during their practice and everyday life.


The Contrology method (so called by Joseph at first), was shaped by his personal coping with respiratory problems. So no coincidence Joseph placed the Breath Principe at the top. He realized the great importance and the inseparable connection between breathing and movement. Suffering from Asthma, Pilates managed to overcome his physical limitations by his own program. 

In my classes, I highlight the importance of breath to a more efficient smooth movement, and the other way around - the importance of moving with the breath. I also encourage my students to take my breathing patterns as an offer, not a strict rule. Sometimes trying to figure out in your head when to inhale or when to exhale, while you’re rolling up, or planking or trying to execute any other complicated task, could be too much. To me, the most  important thing is for my students to keep the breath fluent. My only rule is NEVER HOLD YOUR BREATH. This might be beneficial to other methods, like lifting heavy weights, but in Pilates, the breath is constant. Full consistent inhalation and exhalation helps circulatory system nourishes all the tissues with oxygen-rich blood while carrying away impurities and metabolic waste.

Pilates calls is: “internal shower” which

resulted in mental and physical rejuvenation. 

I like to think about the Pilates breath as an accordion - inhale to extend the rib cage sideways, exhale to “hug” the ribs in and make a sound of all the air coming out. 

Try this:

Lay down on a mat, bend both knees and keep your feet parallel and hip distance apart. Place each hand on the side of your rib cage. Take a deep inhale and try to bring all the air to the side of your ribs, pushing your hands sideways. Then with the exhale, try to empty your lungs completely, while vocalizing your breath and try to bring hands closer together as much as possible. 

Repeat that for 6-10 times before any movement. Or even during the day when feeling a bit stressed. Notice the difference in the quality of breath. A real magic!

Here's a little video to illustrate better the Pilates breathing:

Make the movement move,


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