Reader’s Question: How Am I Supposed to Breathe & Keep My Abs Engaged?

I was emailed an important question the other day that I think a lot of people find confusing. The question is: If I’m supposed to keep my abdominal muscles engaged during Pilates or exercise, how do I do that and take a deep, full breath? Arguably, how do I breathe at all with my abs engaged?

The answer is you don’t. Not well anyway. When you breathe your abdominal muscles should move. They should not stay contracted, especially on a deep belly breath. Even on a lateral Pilates breathe it is not realistic to hold your abs in when you inhale.

Not sure you know what the lateral Pilates breath is?  Check out this video before you continue reading:

So here are some tips to hopefully help you breathe, but remain connected with the abdominals (or take better advantage of how they should interact with your lungs and diaphragm):

  1. On every inhale allow the abdominals to relax as you take in air. Use the exhale as a reminder and opportunity to reconnect with them. Very often, especially when you are new to Pilates you should hear an instructor cue you: “Inhale. Engage the abs, exhale and move.” That’s the order it should come. Our […]