What Is Lateral Breathing?
Lateral breathing is a pattern of breath that keeps your abdominal muscles engaged while inhaling. Rather than breathing into your belly, lateral breathing uses your thoracic and back muscles to breath into your ribcage. Think about breathing into the back and sides of your ribcage rather than into your belly or diaphragm as you inhale.
Why Do It?
Breathing deeply increases circulation and rejuvenates the body. A primary component of Pilates is to take advantage of every breath—inhaling as much fresh air as possible and exhaling every bit of stale air. Joseph Pilates believed circulating the blood awakens cells and flushes out waste.
When we use the diaphragm to breathe deeply, as most people do, the lower abdomen expands with air, forcing the deep core to disengage. With lateral breathing you will keep your core muscles engaged to protect your spine and pelvis, even during challenging, full-body exercises like push-ups.
Where Do I Start?
Lateral breathing takes practice. RedBird Pilates & Fitness offers the following steps to get started:
Place both hands on your ribs, so your two middle fingers come together on the sternum. Concentrate on your breathing, allowing your ribs to fill out in width rather than height, as you normally would do. Your fingers should part as you breath in and gently meet again as you breathe out. Try this first without conducting any exercises, and when you’re ready, incorporate lateral breathing into your workout.
If you have a Pilates practice, the kneeling cat stretch is a great way to experience your lateral breath. Start by getting on all fours, inhale, and as you exhale, deeply engage the rounding through your lower back. Then, rather than exhaling to a flat-back position, hold this engagement and inhale into your upper back and ribs. Exhale to deepen the contraction in the transverse abdominous (TVA), and then inhale to flat back. Do this two or three times a day, and in time you’ll instinctively breath into your back and ribs rather than your abdominal region.