In our society, many of us spend our stress ridden days breathing shallowly. This “chest” breathing can be hazardous to our health. Shallow breathing could be linked to anxiety, cardiovascular disorders, digestive issues, and strain to the immune system. A more active or “diaphragmatic” breath, as taught in Yoga and Pilates, has a multitude of benefits. It can increase energy levels, stabilization, and endurance during athletic activities while releasing tension. An active breath can also connect the mind to the body helping you stay in the moment and increase mental clarity.
The Pilates style breathing engages the deepest layer of the abdominal wall called the transverse abdominis. The transverse abdominus wraps around the torso like a corset and assists in stabilizing the spine. It is very important to stabilize the spine, particularly the lumbar spine (the low back), to prevent injury during exercise.
How do we actively breathe? Here is a step by step guide.
- Get into a comfortable position either sitting or lying down
- Place a hand below your navel and breath in through the nose
- Blow air out or exhale through pursed lips like you are blowing out a candle while pulling the abdominals in (think sucking in your gut).
- This breath should be long until all the air is out of the lungs
Use this breath every day to gain health and promote a sense of “relaxed” energy!!