Pilates often gets thrown around as a buzzword for exercising your core, but have you ever thought about why Pilates is so essential to your exercise routine? Let's dive a little deeper into why mind body exercise is so important.
Breathing is essential to every day life. We need oxygen to survive. But breathing does a lot more than just a function of keeping us alive. When we focus on our breath we begin to calm the body and the mind. We are able to focus on our body in it's present state. Long, slow deep breaths can slow your heart rate and reduce tension in the muscles.
Breathing correctly helps us to use our bodies in a more efficient and effective way. Proper breath can help to reduce tension in the neck and shoulders, and instead create stronger core muscles by allowing us to access the transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of our abdominals).
So let’s do a quick exercise. Take a few shallow breaths into the upper part of the ribs. Can you immediately feel the tension in the neck and shoulders beginning to form? If we instead think about breathing deeper and more 3 dimensionally into the lower lobes of the lungs, we can not only bring more air into the lungs for greater oxygen flow, but also leave the tension out of our neck and shoulders. Close your eyes and take a few of those deep breaths into the lower lobes of the lungs and into your back, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Imagine a balloon inflating and then deflating deep in your belly. Notice how your abdominals start to kick on wrapping in and around your waist with each exhale. Also notice the tension leaving your neck and shoulders.
This is why breathing is the #1 basic principal in the STOTT Pilates method. Focusing on proper breathing creates a deeper mind body experience that is unique to the Pilates method. We are able to focus more internally on how the body feels, creating proper technique, and maximizing our core strength.