This weeks exercise is simple. Just breathe. Breathing can and should be a regular exercise. It is, after all, the way we feed our body and mind with oxygen so that we can function to our fullest potential.
Plus the sun is finally shining in Connecticut and the weatherman predicts that each day this week is going to get warmer and warmer. Head outside to do this exercise and soak up the sun while you breath in the fresh air. You’ll feel great afterward.
What you’ll need: A belt, a pillow (optional)
Sit with a nice tall spine. Put your legs in a comfortable position–legs crossed or extended out in front. If both positions feel tight, prop yourself up on a pillow. You want to be comfortable, but engaged. Don’t sit in a position that forces you to shrink through your spine.
Wrap the belt gently around your waist at the bottom of your rib cage. You don’t want the belt too tight. The purpose of the belt is to give you feedback to make sure you’re breathing into the right part of the ribcage. Cross the belt in front of you body and hold an end in each hand.
Inhale through the nose, filling the sides and lower lobs of the lungs. Think of the lungs as an accordion. You want them to open to the sides. Try to make sure the breath doesn’t go into your stomach or your shoulders. Looking at the point where the belt crosses should help indicated if you’re breathing properly. When your ribcage expands, so should the belt.
Exhale out the mouth like you’re blowing out a candle. If you can, pull the belly button to your spine and engage the kegel muscle.
Repeat. Start by inhaling and exhaling for three seconds, then increase to four, then five. You’ll feel wonderful, more awake, and refreshed in no time.
I’ve learned not to do Pilates breathing right before bed. It tends to wake me up rather than put me to sleep. You might find that your body is different, but I figured I’d share my experience.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the breath, drop the belt and just enjoy breathing. How often do you really take time during the day to take a full, deep breath? Probably not very often, and, yet, breathing is one of the most important exercises we can do.