The most challenging thing about Pilates is getting the breathing technique down. I know that it took me about 2 years of regular Pilates classes before I had my AHA! moment when it suddenly clicked. I felt muscles in my abdomen and groin working like never before, and the soreness that followed was so deep! I can tell you that it is worth all the frustration you feel while trying to learn to breath Pilates style when you wake up one day to find that flat lower belly you have been killing yourself for all your life. So try the following exercise, it’s just breathing! Something we all do all day anyway, why not get a tight flat stomach as a result?!
As you are sitting reading this blog, take a big inhale breath through your nose for 5 seconds. Exhale through your mouth for 10 seconds, feeling your ribs sink down and your lower belly cinch in as though your hip bones are pulling towards your belly button. I find that it’s helpful to place my fingertips on each hip bone so I can feel my lower belly draw in, almost like a seatbelt made of muscle is pulling my hip bones together. Now, when you inhale, don’t let your belly fill with air. Instead, keep those abdominal muscles tight and try to breath into your back. It should feel like those ab muscles are working overtime to stay connected against the inhale breath. Exhale for 15 seconds, trying to draw the ribs down further, pull the lower belly in even deeper, and now add your kegel muscles connecting. For those of you not familiar with your kegel muscles, they are the muscles deep in your pelvis that when tightened stop you from going to the bathroom. So squeeze those kegel muscles like your life depends on it, because one day you may be stuck wearing adult depends if you don’t! Take another inhale for 10 seconds keeping your abs and kegel muscles tight, then exhale for 20 seconds, until every last bit of breath is gone, tightening those muscles even more. With each inhale the goal is to maintain the muscle contraction in the abs, and every exhale is to deepen the muscle contraction so that with each breath you feel your abs working more intensely. Practice this as often as possible until the breath connection feels more natural. When your stuck in traffic, sitting on the couch watching tv, or in a boring work meeting, use the time to train your core and I promise you will see the difference!
Much love, Stacy