Thursday, October 15, 2009

STOTT PILATES® Five Basic Principles: Principal 1 Breathing

Principal 1 Breathing
*BREATHING PROPERLY PROMOTES effective oxygenation of the blood, focuses the mind on each task and helps to avoid unnecessary tension (particularly in the neck, shoulders and mid-back) during exercise.

Exhaling deeply helps activate the deep support muscles. When inhaling or exhaling, activation of the transversus abdominis helps enable the lumbo-pelvic region to remain stable throughout an exercise.

A three-dimensional breath pattern is encouraged, expanding the rib cage in all directions without neglecting lateral and posterior portions. During exhalation the rib cage closes in and down while the spine flexes slightly. For this reason, an exhale is suggested to accompany and facilitate spinal flexion. During inhalation, the rib cage opens out and up while the spine extends slightly. Therefore, an inhale is suggested to accompany and facilitate spinal extension. An exhale may be suggested during spinal extension in order to maintain abdominal recruitment to help stabilize and support the lumbar spine.

**In all exercises, the breath and awareness of stabilization should precede the actual movement.

With body supine, breathe smoothly, noticing the natural breath pattern. Is one area affected more than others: the abdominal cavity, upper chest, sides or back of the rib cage?

The abdominal wall (transversus abdominis in particular), which is a support for the inner organs, also aids in forcing air out of the body as it compresses the abdominal cavity. Contraction of the deep pelvic floor muscles will aid in firing the transversus. Activation of these deep stabilizing muscles should be incorporated into the breath pattern. Feel the pelvic floor muscles gently contracting and lifting. Try seated or on all fours. To feel activation of the transversus, lie in a neutral position and place fingertips just medially to ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine). On an exhale, engage the transversus to draw the abdominal wall gently toward the spine, feeling it
become taut beneath the fingers, as the pelvic floor contracts. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth can help regulate the breath and encourage a fuller breath pattern. Exhaling through slightly pursed lips facilitates a deeper contraction of the abdominal muscles.
**BREATHING SUPINE (lying on back)
Inhale Breathe in through the nose, expanding rib cage three-dimensionally.
Exhale Exhale through pursed lips, focusing first on gentle pelvic floor and
transversus engagement. As you exhale more deeply, the obliques will be
engaged to help press the air out.
Inhale Breath in through the nose, maintaining engagement, feel lateral
expansion of rib cage.
Exhale As before.

The Introduction of the Five Basic Principles
Principal 2 Pelvic Placement
Principal 3 Rib Cage Placement
Principal 4 Scapular Stabilization
Principal 5 Head and Cervical Placement

Article by Moira Merrithew, STOTT PILATES® Executive Director, Education
(taken from


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