Monday, March 30, 2009


I'm feeling quite anxious today. I have lots on my mind and quite a big 'to do' list. It is the start of a new week and with it comes a plethora of things I'd like to accomplish. It's hard on days like these, when I know I have a lot to do but just can't seem to feel enthused. Oh no, not good! So now, I remind myself to BREATH.

Yes, breath! Breathing helps oxygenate our blood, improves our circulation and rejuvenates our body. It is super cleansing and can give you a nice burst of energy. There are different techniques out there. Today I want to chat about costal breathing which is taught in Pilates. Although, from time to time, I like to change it up with some good diaphragm breathing which is quite therapeutic too..more on that later!

As one of the 6 Pilates principals, breath is the foundation of the Pilates method. Breathing is used in coordination with exercises to initiate and support your body while doing the exercise. Costal breathing, aka, lateral breathing is the act of drawing the air up into your ribcage expanding the air out into the sides and back of the ribcage. It also includes up and down the spine to your pelvic floor. Costal breathing helps us open tightness in your rib cage (emotional tension can get caught in and around our hearts which leads to the tension in our ribs that acts as a barrier). Most importantly doing costal breathing while performing Pilates exercises with your abdominals pulled in along your spine will better support you and your body through the exercise.
Below you will find a little description of a costal breathing technique. I made a video of it, but unfortunately I am having a heck of time trying to upload it onto my site. Not sure what has happened but will attempt to upload it on a later date. In the meantime, try out the description below. If you have any questions regarding this exercise please feel free to comment!

Here's how to begin:
1- Sit in a supportive chair or lie down on your back with your knees bent. Inhale through your nose and fill your lungs with air while expanding your rib cage. As you take this air in, think about the air expanding your ribs out to the side and around the back of your ribcage, but also up and down along the spine to your pelvic floor. Try not to let your shoulder raise to your ears as your take that breath in either, keep them relaxed. Exhale out through your mouth allowing your ribs to naturally decompress. Don't force your ribs down as this will just cause more tension in your body.
2- Inhale through your nose, expanding your rib cage (no shoulders to ears please). As you take that inhale, you want to continue until your expansion gets tighter and constricted try to sip in a little bit more air through your nose. This will further your oxygen intake as well as lung capacity (as you get seasoned you will find you can take in longer breaths). Exhale again out through your mouth allowing for your ribs to naturally decompress as you let all the stale air out.
3- Do this breathing technique 6-10 more times. Each time trying to further your intake of air as well as how much you expel. You will find that eventually the tightness you've felt in your ribcage will begin to open.
Enjoy, feel better and have a wonderful week!

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