One of the core principles of Pilates is breath. We focus on the breath in each and every movement, using it as a tool to deepen our practice. We use what is called "lateral breathing" to deepen the connection to the abdominal muscles by breathing into the ribcage rather then the stomach. We move on the breath, making it a part of our flow. All day long I am cueing; "inhale, exhale". When I was first taught Pilates, my teacher used a "percussive breath", meaning I make a loud "Shhhhhhhh" sound when I exhale. At first it felt forced and awkward- but now I find that it focuses my mind, brings me deeper into the exercise. When the class is getting hard I often remind my clients to go back to their breath- the deep breathing regulates their heart rate, and also stops them from holding their breath- a natural human reaction when things get hard, or scary. Just when we should be breathing more deeply we start to breathe more shallowly, or even hold our breath. When we continue to breathe through the movements and not fight against them by limiting our oxygen, then we can fully experience the moment, and not just get through it.
There is a lot of "let's just get through it" in life. Every day I hear, "If I can just get through this day, this week, this month....". There is a lot of nervous shallow breathing, a lot of frustration in our day to day- dealing with traffic, angry people, bills, emails, the news.... but then there is this hour during the day where we get to slow down, put our phones away, and connect to our breath and our bodies, and even as we get our heart rate up or heat up and sweat, the deep breathing oxygenates our blood and calms our minds, and we leave the studio calmer and happier for it.
So just breathe..... and don't be afraid to make it loud! And when something is hurting you, whether its physical or mental don't just get through it- breathe through it. And you will be stronger for it.