The studio has an interesting collection of all ages and genders, with the oldest into their 80’s. All are positive thinking individuals who come ready to learn, progress, and in many cases heal. They bring their challenges with optimism and continue to challenge my years of expertise.
Pilates exercise improves your breathing, which in turn, lessens stress levels and increases your energy. Many people are aware that Yoga training focuses on breathing, but they are surprised to learn that Pilates training also teaches you how to breath correctly and synchronize your breath with each movement. Proper breathing is often the most difficult aspect of mastering good Pilates execution. As Joseph Pilates taught, breath powers your core and your core is your powerhouse.
I have been working with a teen aged male who is very knowledgeable about human anatomy and has spent a great deal of time weight training. What I have found most interesting is his lack of understanding about the importance of breathing. For his age his stamina is poor. As a person tries to power through an exercise that they find difficult, the first thing that freezes is their breathing. This is the reverse of what should happen. Their body is screaming for oxygen – more power! I sat back and watched my young student complete a series on the Reformer, his face was red and his abs and arms had given out. He was disappointed at his lack of strength. We are now trying to re-program his thinking so he can understand that oxygen is a good thing – a needed thing – especially when a person needs more power.
Staying calm and centered at the bottom of an exhale, so tension is relieved and muscles don’t knot up and fatique, is an art form in itself. Joesph Pilates taught lengthening the exhale as a way of getting to the inhale. This is very opposite to gasping a short inhale then holding one’s breath while pushing through a difficult exercise.
The benefit of Pilates training is that it helps improve a person’s quality of life. For my young weight training student, he will benefit from improved breathing throughout his day. He confirmed when asked, that he often has headaches, which didn’t surprise me at all. Everytime stress is felt, breathing is usually the first thing that is affected. Headaches are often the result of restricted oxygen.
Stress management can start with something as simple as proper breathing. For adults with hectic schedules, having the time to release added stress is borderline impossible. Chronic stress can comprise the body’s immune system resulting in serious disease. Researchers are documenting that too much stress can trigger a biochemical chain of events that can be detramental to a person’s health. This is far more serious than simply running out of power to complete a fitness exercise.
The importance of teaching correct breathing while doing Pilates exercises is something that is dear to my heart. It is important to master this skill at any age and is something that will improve a person’s quality of life. If my students can only do 10 classes and can take away one new skill, it is correct breathing. Hopefully they can learn how to incorporate proper breathing into their daily life’s. Try taking a few minutes in bed to breath deeply into your core. Practice slowing down the exhale and pausing at the bottom before taking a long slow inhale and feel how relaxed you are. If your are doing a task and feel cramped and tired, take a couple of minutes to breath and recharge.
Julie Akin, head instructor at Synergy – Staying Fit Pilates in South Surrey.