By Kyria Sabin
While there are many valid forms of conscious breathing that support different forms of movement and relaxation, Pilates teachers emphasize posterior-lateral breathing over other techniques. Cues like “breathe laterally” and “breathe into the back” are common. Uncommon are the WHY and HOW.
The Whys of Posterior-Lateral Breathing
The four basic “whys” are fairly straightforward:
- Increase breathing capacity and lung function
- Maintain abdominal support of the lumbar spine
- Improve thoracic spinal mobilization and function
- Restore optimal posture
How to Teach Posterior-Lateral Breathing
When teaching posterior-lateral breathing, tactile feedback often works best. The following are a few teaching tips:
- Begin with gentle spinal flexion, lateral flexion and rotation, allowing breath to initiate and facilitate the movement.
- Lie lengthwise on a foam roller with knees bent. Focus on feeling the ribs open laterally away from the spine/roller on inhalation, exhaling fully.
- Lie supine on a flat surface with knees bent. Inhale to feel the full rib cage spread or fan laterally from the back, maintaining a lengthened spine.
- Seated tall, wrap a wide band or folded towel around the lower 6 to 7 ribs, crossing the ends in front, gently pulling to emphasize closing of the ribs. Use the band to experience the opening and closing of the ribs from the spine with each breath.