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Pilates Breathing - The First Step

Updated on February 21, 2013

Where are those abdominals?

Before you can perform the movements correctly, it helps to identify those 'abs' that some of you may think are non-existent and gone for good. The 'rectus abdominus' is the long abdominal that runs vertically from your sternum to your pubic bone. The 'transverse' muscles run side to side, holding your guts in, and the waistline muscles are called the 'obliques.'

Lying on your back on the floor or a mat, pulling the rectus abdominus into your spine, from the top at the sternum to the very end at the pelvis, creating a giant 'C' curve with your spine, pressing each vertebra to the floor. Now pull the transverse muscles in, pulling in the ribs, and think of making a nice, tight package. Your torso becomes a strong trunk to support the rest of your body.

Now the tricky part - breathing and moving while holding this trunk, or 'Pilates powerhouse,' nice and strong. Place your hands on your ribs and think of 'zipping' them up, or closing them until they are flat (it will take some time). As you inhale, think of breathing into your upper back and expanding the ribs laterally. Relax the shoulders, the neck and the chest. Try only to use the abs as you pull one knee towards your chest, then the other. Place hands on shins and hug to your chest as you keep your spine pressing firmly to the floor.

Practice creating this powerhouse throughout the day. If you are standing in line, stand tall. Create that 'C' curve with your abs and spine without dropping your head and chest forward. The more you can pull the lower part of the rectus into your lower back it helps take the pressure off your spine and takes it into the powerhouse muscles. While sitting in the car, see if you can pull your rectus in tight enough to pull the spine to the back of the seat as you rest your head against the headrest. Now breathe.

Stay tuned and we'll learn the moves...



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