If you’re new to Pilates, or Yoga, or any similar kind of exercise, you might be surprised at how much emphasis there is on breathing. It does almost seem strange at first to make such a constant, conscious effort to breathe in or out at the proper time, or to use your nose or your mouth for certain breaths, or even to focus on contracting your abs, expanding your chest, etc. You might not really know how many different ways there are to take a deep breath, in fact, until you take instruction in one of these exercises!
This isn’t done just to keep things orderly or regimented, however. Strategic breathing, when implemented, usually serves a direct purpose and is part of the exercise. It’s designed to maximize the benefits of the workout, and keep you simultaneously as energized and calm as you need to be to complete a routine. More specifically, these are some of the reasons breathing matters so much to an effective routine.
Results Come Faster (& Easier)
Where most Pilates routines are concerned, there are three main “types” of breathing: apical breathing (expanding the upper chest upon inhalation), diaphragmatic breathing (expanding the belly upon inhalation), and lateral breathing (perhaps the most traditional “Pilates breathing”). As this post on the importance of these three techniques pointed out in no uncertain terms, it’s necessary to know which one applies to which exercise, because when the correct one is applied it allows you to work smarter – not harder. You may just get to your results easier and faster.
Breathing Relaxes You For Exercise
We know in a general sense that breathing deeply can be relaxing. But many of us don’t really think it through, or aren’t aware of the season. As you can read here in a recent article, however, it’s believed that deep breathing actually sends a chemical signal to the brain instructing the mind and body to “chill out.” This was stated as a benefit for people who get stressed out playing games and need to find a way to relax, but it’s also a reminder that deep breathing can help you to calm your senses and put yourself in the optimal state to have a productive workout.
You May Just Work Your Abs
Particularly in exercises that involve diaphragmatic breathing, you can actually get a little bit of extra work in for your abdominal muscles. This site goes as far as to argue that abdominal breathing is an exercise that can assist in shedding pounds in your stomach and waist. Some might dispute that, but what’s true is that the kind of deep breathing we’re talking about does involve a great deal of expanding and contracting of musculature in the abdominal region. This won’t do all the work you need on your abs if you’d like them toned and defined, but it is an added benefit of strategic, proper breathing.