Pilates Tip: Control, Flow, and the Breath
By Marguerite Ogle, About.com GuideAugust 12, 2013
"Control" is one of the by-words of the Pilates method, but so is "Flow". I think these two are a wonderful counter-balance for each other. Too much control and you get locked down and too tight to move gracefully and easily. Too much flow and you lose the control and concentration you need for the precision required in Pilates. We're looking for that sweet spot flow and control where we have just the right amount of each.
I find that it is the breath that connects the control and flow elements in an easy and effective way. Joseph Pilates, was very much concerned with full breathing and how that propels and fulfills movement. One of his famous quotes is: "Above all else learn to breathe correctly", and by that he meant big flowing breaths where the air truly fills the lungs and is expelled completely, inviting the next big breath.
In Pilates, many exercises have breathing patterns that go with them. Nevertheless, we tend to forget to breathe fully. It's a huge part of Pilates that often gets skipped in classes. Sure, we learn about diaphragmatic breathing, and sometimes we need lateral breathing, but most of us are timid about really breathing. We are not are getting to the big breaths that Joseph Pilates had in mind and because of that we lose out on the integration, rhythm, and power full breathing adds to movement.
As you start doing more advanced exercises, you find out you absolutely have to breathe bigger and use the breath to aid the exercise, but that's a little late to come to the habit. I'd like to encourage you to take on breathing big now, wherever you are in your practice. It truly changes every exercise you do if you do it with full breath. Not only does it bring the control and flow elements together, it really helps integrate all of the Pilates principles because at a fundamental level, the breath helps us connect our body and mind.
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