What is the proper inhale vs. exhale breathing method for Pilates?
Halle Clarke (New York, NY) on Sep 21, 2011
Excellent question! Although each exercise when first learned does come with a very specific breathing pattern, it is also important to mix it up. I think it's even important to sometime forget entirely about the breath, and just make sure you are breathing smoothly and that the movement is clear and precise. The main purpose of the breath in Pilates to to provide a focus and keep awareness on what we are doing. Breathing also improves the flow of oxygen to our tissues and improves lung capacity. I wouldn't worry so much about it. It's possible that your teacher is hoping to help you find some release within the exertion, so that the act of exercising is a flowing outward experience and not a tension-making one. As long as you enjoy the class, follow the teacher's words without resistance and focus on the quality of your movement.
Maytal Rozensher (Sant Monica, CA) on Dec 3, 2011
"Breathe as if you are walking down the street..." - Joseph Pilates (via Romana Kryzanowska and Jay Grimes). While there are a few specific "breathing exercises" (such as when doing the 100, exercises where you're arching or twisting, etc.) breathing is not the main focus of most of the exercises. Over the years many forms of Pilates have popped up and they've started incorporating unnecessary changes, including those of an emphasis on breathing where it isn't needed. Always do your research: find out the type of Pilates your teacher is certified in. While the other forms of pilates are good, if you have a direct Romana's Pilates certified teacher, you're in the best hands...
Lynda Lippin (New York, NY) on Nov 15, 2011
In traditional classical Pilates we were taught to inhale when lengthening the spine into extension or rotation and exhale when rounding into flexion. This somehow translated into an inhale on the leg/hip extension in reformer footwork, with an exhale on the return. More contemporary Pilates teachers adopt the opposite breathing as in weight training, where we typically exhale on exertion. But in Pilates footwork, since the spine stays neutral and you are not working against 100s of pounds of resistance, as long as you are breathing it is all good. Consider it a stylistic difference for the most part. I generally just want people to breathe while they move, so I don't worry about it as much unless there is a problem. You could also ask your new teacher, as she may have a different reason. I never have a problem with clients asking questions.