Why is Breathing so Important in Pilates?

Breathing in Pilates

Inhale, Exhale

Why is Breathing so Important in Pilates?

As some of you may know as well as teaching Pilates, I also work as a Respiratory Physiotherapist, so I have a particular interest in breathing. I find it fascinating how something we do all day long and often pay no attention to can have such a profound impact on our bodies, our movement and our wellbeing. So why do we pay so much attention to the breath in Pilates?

1. Breathing is one of the founding principles of Pilates

Joseph Pilates developed the Pilates method back in the 1920’s, and Breath was one of his main guiding principles. He described efficient breathing as a way of nourishing and cleansing the body and understood that breathing was an intergral part of overall body function.

2. Breath facilitates movement

When we breathe we move the rib cage, which is directly attached to the spine and in turn the rest of the body. We can use the breath to encourage movements in certain directions, such as using an exhale when bending the spine forward, increasing the efficiency of the movement. If we hold our breath, however, our movement is restricted.

3. Breath impacts on our ‘core stability’

A lot of people think of the ‘core’ as being the abdominal muscles. It is in fact the relationship between the abdominals, the pelvic floor, the diaphragm and the muscles surrounding the spine which all work together. As our breath is mainly controlled by the diaphragm, it therefore plays a vital role in providing the appropriate amount of support.

4. Breath affects our nervous system

When we’re in the ‘fight or flight’ response we breath quickly and shallowly and can feel stressed or anxious. Learning how to breath slower and deeper can bring us into the ‘rest and digest’ part of our nervous system leading to feeling calm and content.

Remember any breathing pattern in a Pilates class is a suggestion not a strict rule. Above all allow the breath to travel freely in and out in a way that works best for you.

Looking forward to seeing you in class soon

Join Louse for a class every week at Chapel Allerton Pilates;


9:15am Virtual Springwall

8pm Virtual Mat Pilates


9am Virtual Reformer on the Mat



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