Do you hold your breath at Pilates?

There is so much to think about when you do Pilates!  So don’t worry if you hold your breath when you first give it a go. I remember when I first started my APPI training, over 9 years ago now, thinking “How on earth am I going to explain to everyone how to do so many things at once?!” – Let’s face it, I still struggle with the counting, but hopefully I’ve more or less got the rest mastered by now…!

One of the most common things I get asked about is breathing. 

Do any of these questions sound familiar?

“How am I meant to remember to breathe as well as everything else?”
“When do I inhale & exhale again?”
“What should my breathing feel like as I try to time it with my movement?”
“I just realised I’m holding my breath – am I doing it wrong?”

Is it wrong to hold your breath?

Ideally, try not to! I totally understand there is so much to think about when you first start Pilates, but I promise it does get easier! My first tip is to try and think about exhaling on the effort. E and E exhale & effort. Try and have in your mind that whichever part of the movement is hardest for you, this is when you will breathe out. The reasoning behind this is that exhaling can help activate your core muscles. I commonly use breathwork in postpartum rehab, when pelvic floor and stomach muscles need an extra bit of help to activate. However, this method applies to all of us, not just new mums! If we can engage our core muscles on our exhale, they will contract much more effectively, and we will get so much more out of the workout!

My second tip is to think about how your body is moving. If you are moving in a way that opens your chest, it should (hopefully) feel natural that you want to inhale as you have that space to expand your ribcage into. Then, as you move into positions that curl your back, or close down your chest or abdominal space, it should feel natural that you exhale as that space through your body is reduced.

I thought I’d try to help you out with this part of Pilates by adding a video to my YouTube Channel, “Pilates Breathing: When & How Should I Inhale & Exhale?” to talk you through the breathing methods I use in my classes.

I hope it helps – let me know how you get on!

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