Mat Foundations 1

If you want to workout on your own, print out this handy list and make your own notes.

In this video you learn how to use your breath as part of exercise. Intercostal breathing, also known as lateral breathing, requires you to breathe deeply enough to feel your rib cage expand along your sides and your back. You can practice this type of breathing in rest pose (also known as “child’s pose”).

We practice intercostal breathing in Pilates so that we can keep our abdominal and oblique muscles engaged from one exercise to the next.  When you focus on intercostal breathing, this allows your rib cage to expand, and your lower abdominal muscles remain engaged (unlike when breathing only into your belly). Learning to breathe this way allows for deep core connection while also sending oxygen to your muscles and improving brain function. This helps us get even more out of our workouts!

Joseph Pilates recognized that people generally breathe shallowly, only bringing air into the top portion of the lungs. This constricts the flow of air, can increase stress, and lead to fatigue. We need to take full, deep breaths to oxygenate the blood fully. In lateral breathing we breathe deeply, all the way down the spine and into the pelvic floor but emphasize expanding the breath into the back and sides of the ribcage. When the abs are pulled in properly, they protect the spine and act like a supportive corset for the whole trunk. This contrasts with the type of breathing that emphasizes the lowering of the diaphragm during inhalation (often called diaphragmatic breathing), with the abdominal muscles relaxed so they are allowed to push outward.

I recommend that you first get comfortable with the movement patterns and exercises before getting caught up in trying to master the proper breath pattern. Click the link below and get started on your first lesson. Practice the video a few times until you master it and your are ready to move on and learn new exercises.