Learning to Breathe Again
by Cathleen Rodgers
Spring is finally here. The air has the aroma of freshly cut grass, new mulch, blooming flowers, and warmer air. We can indulge in the extended daylight and truly enjoy the outdoors once more. In a way, I feel like I can breathe a little easier when springtime rolls around. If only we could all tap into our inherent sense of the breath so well during all times of the year.
Joseph Pilates emphasized the importance of utilizing the breath—both in the Pilates studio and out in everyday life. He believed that no one breathes as fully and completely as they should, in large part due to lifestyle. Full, purposeful breathing brings many benefits to our bodies. Our lungs become cleaner, our circulation is enhanced, our organs are stimulated, our brains and muscles function at a higher level, and we have a better control over our mind and body. Think about it: when you’re highly stressed or anticipating something, how is your breath? Most likely shallow and rapid. Try taking a few deep, long breaths the next time this happens. You may find that your body calms, your mind and your heart stop racing, and you regain control over the thoughts in your mind.
Breathing is thus an important part of your Pilates practice. There are certain exercises in which the entire exercise is centered around the breath (the Hundred, anyone?) that you will likely learn from the beginning. As your practice progresses, you can fine tune your breathing patterns for each exercise for a deeper work in the body. The muscles will perform better, you will experience more length and flexibility in the body, and you will become more in tune with yourself. Eventually, those deep, full breaths will become second nature to your Pilates practice, and you will no doubt see a change in the way your body responds to the movement.
The next challenge for us all is to take that deep breathing practice outside the Pilates studio and into daily life. It takes time to re-train our bodies how to do something so fundamental if we have neglected the breath or merely taken it for granted as another bodily function. Learn first to focus on the breath, inhaling and exhaling deeply, each time you come to your Pilates session. Start translating these moments of focus on the breath to your life outside the studio—a moment you feel overwhelmed, a moment of peace, and anywhere in between. If Spring brings on seasonal allergies for you, wellness items such as doTERRA Breathe essential oils can help enhance your breathing practice by promoting good respiratory health and easing your symptoms. Find what works for you, and you will find that your body and your breathing begins to change for the better.
Life can certainly be full of stress, distractions, and excitement…but it is essential we really learn to breathe again in order to ultimately live a healthier, happier life.
“Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very lives depend on it.” — Joseph Pilates