New Year! New goals – alignment with the same beautiful you!

I am not a fan of New Year resolutions but I do love the reset that a new year brings. A moment to refocus on what is really important. At this time of year I love to clarify my values for the year, set goals that create the life I want for me and my family and start some great new habits.

Bringing in the new year with clear intentions is so FUN. This is not about setting heavy expectations on yourself that you feel you must live up to! It is about uncovering the things that inspire the hell out of you and bringing them front and centre. It’s about finding alignment between your values and how you prioritise everyday. This kind of alignment is just a important as physical alignment of your body.

This might feel hard after the year that 2020 has been. With the scary forecasts it might feel terrifying to start to really go for what you want. But the truth is now is the best time to be clear, to choose your way forward and stay true to yourself.

Here are some ideas about how to bring in the New Year with light intentions that fill you with inspiration:

Journal a day in your new year

Journalling is a great tool to help uncover your values. Journal writing is like looking in a mirror that reflects the things we cannot see any other way. A regular practice of this can be enlightening. It can help to uncover the things you really want in your life that might be hiding behind your fear.

A fun place to start is just writing down what you imagine as your ideal day 12months from now. What time do you wake up? What time do you do first thing? What does family time look like? What does your ideal work look like?

Be on the lookout for your critical voice. You know the one that says ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘that will never work’. Just acknowledge the voice and keep playing the game of imagining your ideal day.

This practice gives us clues about what our goals could be for the year. Once you have gone through your complete imaginary day from waking to going to bed in as much detail as you can, put it down and leave it for a day or two.

Look for the clues in your ideal day

When you go back to your writing about your ideal day look for clues that can build your ideal routine. Notice where you have imagined time for yourself, or what sort of exercise is in your ideal day. Notice your waking time and how you balance you time, work time and family time in your ideal day. Look at what your work looks like. How different is it from what you are doing now?

Now this is the really fun bit! We can use the answers to the questions above to start to understand our own goals. If your ideal day started with you sleeping until 11 and playing in a jazz bar until 2am that tells you a lot about where you need to be focused!

For me, my ideal day starts early with some quiet time before the general day begins. This means earlier nights and teaching my six year old what quiet time means in the morning.

I imagine business collaborations with other people and businesses who support women to love themselves and care for themselves. I see more clients who come to my home studio for movement that is truly tailored to their goals. I see flexibility around my family and a lifestyle that connects us to nature everyday.

Decode to discover your new goals

Sifting through the details of this future imaginary day it’s time to summarise these details into yearly goals. For example my yearly goals look something like this:

  • Create a morning routine that works for me and my family
  • Grow my studio clients
  • Maintain a schedule that balances work with family time
  • Create 2 collaborations with aligned local businesses that share my ideal clients

Then you break it down…

So if you have some goals that feel right then it’s time to get out the calendar. Think about when in the year you want to have achieved these goals. Yes there is work / change involved in getting there so check in with your stress levels here. You want to keep it light, when you write it down you don’t want to feel an impending sense of doom. Butterflies in your belly on the other hand are totally acceptable. You have just written it down and you are committing!! Excitement and fear is A okay. A sense of doom might mean you need more time.

I want to be trying out my morning routine in January so I have to get busy with that now. But I am giving myself until March to tweak it and try things out. So Jan and Feb there will be a strong focus on my morning routine, what works and what doesn’t.

I want my studio schedule to be full by June so there are a bunch of marketing steps to do for that plus at least one of the collaborations need to happen early in the year.

And so you work through to break down your monthly goals.

And then you schedule it

And now for the most important bit. At the beginning of each week you look at your monthly goals and you schedule time in your schedule to work on them. It sounds easy doesn’t it? And it might be but it also might not be because maybe that monthly goal might scare the pants off you!

Staring down a goal that you really want but your fear is in your face, this is where the magic, I mean the work is.

Above all make it your own

I hope this has given you some ideas about how to think about your own goals. Take any part of this that you like and change it in anyway you feel to make it work for you.

Setting intentions in this way is a remarkable way to grow, give to yourself and give to others. In my view the more of us who know what we want for ourselves and how we get there, the more we all have to share with the world.

Wishing you all the best for 2021 and I can’t wait to see you move towards your dreams and goals.

XBrigid

Stress relief for you this Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be a very happy time of the year but it can also be the most stressful. As everyone tries to get everything done before the holiday shut down the stress levels rise. Stress relief is important for everyone over Christmas. Our usual. supports sometimes aren’t available during the holidays, our routines get interrupted and this year our usual get togethers may have to look quite different

So let’s talk about tricks and tips to manage your stress everyday during this so that we avoid accumulated stress.

Tip 1 Limit multi-tasking

I know, I know it feels amazing to get all the things done. A few months ago I was cooking dinner with one hand, playing with my six year old, texting a client (with the other hand). When my partner came in and grumbled about the washing not being hung out I LOST MY SH*T. When we multi-task we raise our expectations of ourselves, we become more tense in our bodies and our fight or flight system kicks in. We can run like this all day, trouble is it depletes our energy and our ability to cope.

Do one thing at a time, if you can’t get it all done, look at your expectations and re-prioritise. Approaching your day in a calm, mindful present way is essential for managing stress. This can take a lot practice. Every evening I write a list of things for the next day, if it goes on the list I make sure I do it, so I am very mindful about what goes on my list. Is it really important? Does it fill me up or deplete me? Does it have to done on that day? The less items on my list the better and the more the items on my list are connected to my values and long term goals the better.

Tip 2 Get a movement routine for the holidays

The evidence is all there, exercise and movement is a fantastic antidote to stress. This can be tricky during the holidays as your routines are interrupted, but there are opportunities. If you are home with younger kids make some time for physical play, tip in the back yard or lounge room dance parties . A morning or afternoon walk is a great routine you can create for the holidays, either on your own or with older kids.

Choose a time of day to do a pre-recorded Pilates class with me! 2020 has inspired me to teach online and this year I have created a number of pre-recorded holiday classes. Sign up below to get them FOR FREE in your email this holidays!

Tip 3 Practice mindfulness

So, mindfulness is all the rage right now. What does it mean? Being fully mindful with the moment and experience you are having right now. There are lots of different ways to do this, such as:

  • Focus on your breath coming into your body and going out
  • Take a moment to note 3 things you hear, 3 things you see, 3 things you feel
  • Think of one thing that you are grateful for right now and focus on the sensation of being grateful
  • Give your full attention to the task in front of you (Yes this links to Tip 1 and it is a wonderful practice)

Mindfulness helps us to breathe more fully and reduce the stress hormones that trigger the fight or flight system in the body. As a daily practice mindfulness can increase the calm you feel.

Tip 4 Expect less

This is a hard one as our expectations of ourselves tend to get a little out of control at this time of year. It’s worth checking what pressure we are putting on ourselves and why. If something is feeling stressful see if you can lower your expectations of yourself a little, instead of cooking the whole Christmas meal ask guests to bring something to complement the main dish. Lower the bar, as much as you need to.

Tip 5 Practice self compassion

I have spoken of the compassionate hands meditation before because it is one of my favourite. The idea is you take a quiet moment and feel all the love you have for others in your life and notice the way you show that love with your hands. Then put your hands on yourself (usually your belly or heart and imagine the love you pour out to others coming back to you. Hold yourself with the loving compassion that you can hold others with. This might take some practice but it is a wonderful way to learn to be more compassionate towards ourselves.

I am Brigid Pearse a certified Pilates instructor, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online. To receive regular body wisdom sign up below.

Post-natal movement & Pilates

The ultimate PILATES Christmas GIFT GUIDE

The ultimate guide to gifts that support a healthy you and a healthy planet!

Pilates for Xmas

Honey Hunt Style

These gorgeous leggings are locally made and designed by Jules Hunt. She has a new shop in the Byron Arts and Industry Estate (where the baby shop used to be). Shop local and treat (yourself or) someone to this fantastic active wear.

Pilates gift guide

Pilates Nerd Down Under

Pilates Nerd Down Under is the go to online shop for the coolest Pilates gear in the world. These guys know and love Pilates and their themed tops are so fun. When you want to impress the teacher…

Pilates for Xmas

Makarlu

If you come to my studio you know how much I love the Makarlu. Invented by my dear friend and mentor Carla Mullins, the Makarlu is the best home exercise / muscle release prop you will find. Made from sustainable materials it is a beautiful object that is designed to add layers of depth, release and challenge to your Pilates practice. Use the code MAKMTN to get 10% off.

Pilates for Xmas

Move to Nurture Pilates

Gift Certificates! Gift someone you love a Private Studio Pilates Session with Brigid. Give the gift of nurturing movement and connection to self! Click the link to purchase and receive a beautiful gift certificate.

Pilates for Xmas

Foam roller

Superb for muscle release and adding balance challenge to your at home work out. These foam rollers are soft and firm for comfort and support. Order here by 11th Dec from Move to Nurture Pilates to ensure pick up or delivery before Xmas.

Stay connected through the holidays and sign up to our newsletter to receive free holiday work outs for all levels.

Post-natal movement & Pilates

Can I heal my prolapse without surgery?

Are suffering pelvic organ prolapse (POP)? This is a relatively common experience for postpartum women and women as they get older. According to the Continence Foundation of Australia over half of all women who have had a child have some level of POP. In the USA 58% of women who opt to have surgery for POP will experience a recurrence after surgery! (Whiteside and Weber, 2004).

There are many different types and causes of prolapse and this question will always need to be answered on a case by case basis but I am here to say that it is possible to improve a prolapse with breathing techniques and gentle exercise.

What is pelvic organ prolapse?

The pelvic organs, the bladder, uterus, large intestine and rectum are held in place by fascia muscles and ligaments. Without proper support due to weak, tight, torn or damaged fascia, ligaments or muscles, pelvic organs can bulge down into the vagina or rectum. That is a prolapse. For more information on symptoms, risk factors and diagnosis check out this Queensland Health webpage.

Causes of pelvic organ prolapse

There are 2 main causes of pelvic organ prolapse.

  1. Too much pressure in the abdominal cavity (this is why surgery often fails)
  2. Tearing and stretching from delivery

In both instances women can achieve a high resolution of symptoms from specific movement and breathing.

Too much pressure – what does that mean?

I talk a lot in my classes about managing pressure in your torso. Why? Because our breath acts like a pump that creates pressure in our torso. This pressure helps to keep our bones safe from impact. If the muscles in our torso are not strong enough or moving in coordination then either there is not enough pressure in the torso or there is too much pressure being pushed down onto the pelvic floor.

There is a risk that any abdominal workout will increase the pressure down on the pelvic floor too much. This is why a focus on breathing correctly to recruit the abdominal muscles properly and in the right order is so important, to strengthen rather than weaken or damage the pelvic floor muscles.

This picture shows some of the issues of too much pressure down:

Prolapse and Pilates

What to do

  1. See a pelvic floor Physical Therapist or OBGYN who can give you a clear diagnosis and assess the condition of your pelvic floor muscles.
  2. If you have done a lot of kegel exercises your pelvic floor maybe very tight. Check whether you can relax your pelvic floor (this helps the diaphragm and lungs descend)
  3. Pay attention to your posture and alignment
  4. Pay attention to your breath
  5. Work with a Pelvic floor corrective exercise specialist (like me!)

I am Brigid Pearse a certified Pilates instructor, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online. To receive regular body wisdom sign up below.

Post-natal movement & Pilates

Tight neck and shoulders? Some quick and slow fixes for you….

Neck pain can really destroy your day. It can start with waking up with a little tightness on one side and through the day can progress to being completely rigid. Or you may feel fine in the morning and after sitting at your computer for a few hours you can feel the tightness creep up. Neck and shoulder tightness can cause headaches, fatigue and shallow breathing leading to anxiety. A vicious cycle can occur where the neck and shoulder tightness lock down the diaphragm and lungs which limits breath capacity, shallow breathing stimulates the ‘fight or flight’ response in the brain and anxiety increases. So what can you do to break this cycle?

Causes of neck pain

Common causes of neck pain include sleeping in as strange position and general posture through the day.

If you wake up with a sore neck it is likely that you pillow is not right for you neck. So ditch your pillow and go and find one that is designed to provide optimal support for you neck, head and shoulders. This can be a game changer so don’t delay.

If you get a sore neck through the day or ‘always have a sore neck’ it is likely this is to do with you general posture, particularly your upper back strength. Below is a great picture of the relationship between the upper back and the head.

Neck pain and Pilates
Neck pain and posture

This image shows the additional weight that is carried by the neck when the head is held forward of the body. And to translate 12 pounds is nearly 6 kilos. So if you have neck pain or shoulder tightness regularly it is likely that your posture is either like the figure in the middle or the one on the right of the picture. So what to do?

Slow fix – big picture

As a movement therapist and Pilates teacher, I look at the whole body from the feet up to help clients change their posture. I program specific exercises to strengthen some things and lengthen others. See the image below:

neck pain and Pilates
Long term plan to improve posture and reduce neck pain

Quick fix – what can I do today?

Well there is no substitute for a long term strategy that looks at the causes but there are some key exercises that can really help to get you on the right track.

Videos coming soon

The head hover

Pilates for neck pain
Head hover

The pec stretch

The upper back release

The scalene stretch

Pilates for neck pain
Scalene stretch

There are many more exercises that you can learn and enjoy in Pilates class with me online or in Byron, Lennox Head or Ballina.

1 Pilates tip for less pain and better posture

Less pain and better posture are great reasons to do Pilates. A regular Pilates practice can work wonders for these issues, depending on the causes of your regular pain. Improving your posture will bring you great benefits like improving the efficiency of your breath, reducing lower back, neck and shoulder pain and even improving the way you feel about yourself and life!

So what is the one thing that is going to make a difference to your pain and improve your posture? Taking movements that you learn in your Pilates class and use them everyday. Find the moments in your day when you can practice the concepts you are learn in your class. That’s how you change the way way you stand and move. Bring the postures and movements into your everyday life.

Here are some examples of regular movements we can use to improve your posture and reduce pain:

  1. Bending to pick something up: whenever you bend down to pick something up get your feet to hip width apart, hips over your ankles. Bring your ribs over your hips and your spine long (including your head and neck). Then fold at your hips, reach your tail bone back and keep your spine long (no bending in your spine).
Two images of a woman bending to pick something up

2. Standing waiting for the kettle to boil: notice your posture. Are your knees locked tight and your hips pushed forward? Are your ribs sinking down and your pelvic tucked? Take the moment to find your neutral spine, shift your hips over your ankles, ribs over your hips, open your shoulders wide and imagine your a string out the top of your head so you lengthen the back of your neck. Use your breath and abdominals to stabilise your spine.

Two images of a woman waiting for a kettle to boil

3. Sitting down in a chair: Feet hip width apart, hips over ankles. Bring your ribs over your hips and your spine long (including your head and neck). Fold at your hips, reach your tail bone back and down to the chair and keep your spine long. Use your exhale to go down as your stabilise your spine with your abdominals.

Two images of woman sitting down to a chair

4. Reaching up to get something: Align your hips over ankles, ribs over hips. As you reach up draw the front of your ribs down (with your exhale) so you are not flaring your ribs and loading into your lower back.

Two images of a woman reaching up

The way we work with the breath in a Move to Nurture mat class will teach you these movements in detail. You can then use and remember the feeling of the moves in your daily life. Practicing these postures in your everyday movements will improve your posture and reduce pain and recurring injuries. It will also help with pelvic floor function and healing diastisis recti.

I am Brigid Pearse a certified Pilates instructor, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online. To receive regular body wisdom sign up below.

Post-natal movement & Pilates

Four ways doing Pilates can reduce your anxiety

Anxiety getting you down? Is your breath high in your ribs because you can’t really drop your breath down into your belly? You may feel extremely tight in your shoulders and neck or you may feel weak in your body and stuck in your thoughts. Have you had a panic attack where you suffer shortness of breath and foreboding thoughts? Experiencing anxiety regularly can be debilitating and have a negative impact on your life. A gentle Pilates practice can help with anxiety management. Here are 4 ways it can be deeply beneficial if you suffer regular anxiety.

The power of breath for anxiety

Pilates is a movement system that is based on your breath. During a Move to Nurture Pilates class your breath will deepen and slow down. As a result this will stimulate the Vagus nerve to switch our bodies to ‘rest and digest’ mode.

The focus on the breath involves deep diaphragmatic breathing. Sometimes people have a very tight diaphragm (muscle under the ribs responsible for breath) which leads to a shallow breathing pattern. Specific Pilates exercise can help release your diaphragm to help your breath get deeper into your lungs. This in turn helps to slow the breath and the heart rate down, supporting your body to access its parasympathetic nervous system (resting state).

Mind-body connection

The act of doing Pilates develops mind-body connection. Using the breath and coordinated movement of the limbs Pilates requires concentration. This engagement of the mind ensures you are using the right muscles but also brings you into the present moment with your body and your breath.

Brain chemistry to reduce anxiety

By slowing down the breath (1) and developing your mind body connection and presence (3) Pilates helps to shift your brain chemistry. The result of this is reducing cortisol levels and boosting dopamine levels. This chemical shift is important for allowing the body and the brain to relax.

Community

Linking you to a wellness community. It doesn’t matter if you go to a group mat class or a private equipment session, or even an online mat class. Doing Pilates will link you to others who are taking steps to live well, manage their stress and connect with their own bodies. Connecting with others who are engaged in a self-care practice creates a community for you. Your community can then support you to turn up and do the work so your anxiety will reduce and become more manageable.

If you suffer from anxiety make sure you seek support. Beyond Blue has a great self assessment tool here and lots of other resources too. Headspace is a great meditation website and app to check out and there are many others. Incorporating movement into your meditation with a practice like Pilates will give you all the benefits of exercise as well.

I am Brigid Pearse a certified Pilates instructor and ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online. To receive regular body wisdom sign up below.

Post-natal movement & Pilates

What is Pilates? And what you need to know

If you are wondering “What is Pilates?” then I am excited cos I get to tell you! You may think it’s an infomercial workout or something Meagan Markel and other rich and famous people get to do. Well, Pilates is a movement system for everybody. Young, old, fat, thin, tall, short. No matter what your fitness level there is something you can do and something to challenge you just enough. Pilates was invented in the 1920’s by a guy called Joseph Pilates.

Origins

Joseph Pilates studied many other movement modalities such as yoga and martial arts before he came up with the movement system we now call Pilates. He called it Contrology – the process of mastering control of ones own body. Joseph Pilates was an asthmatic and saw many doctors to improve his breathing. At the heart of Pilates is the mechanics of the breath. Pilates as a movement system uses the mechanics of the breath to organise and strengthen the whole body.

What kind of moves are in Pilates?

Joseph Pilates originally designed the mat series. These are 36 exercises done on a mat on the floor. This series is challenging for beginners and so Joseph Pilates invented exercise equipment using springs to strengthen people to do the mat series. Teachers that studied with Joseph Pilates also came up with pre-Pilates exercises that are done on a mat to help people get stronger for the Pilates mat series.

A lot of pre-Pilates and Pilates is done lying down in a supine position (lying on your back). Having the spine on the floor provides good feedback to monitor the position of the spine and pelvis as you lift your arms and legs in specific patterns.

Pilates should be based on your own breath, so the pace of your movements should match the pace of your own breath. Your awareness and connection to your breath while doing Pilates is very important to get the most out of the practice.

There are a few specific spine shapes or positions for the spine that reoccur in many Pilates exercises. If you have spinal injuries it is best to work with a Diploma Qualified Pilates teacher to determine any modifications you may need.

What’s special about Pilates?

Pilates works the whole body, however there are some muscle groups that really get to shine in Pilates. These are:

  • Your seat – where your thighs meet your bottom
  • Your upper back – Anterior Serratis and triceps

These areas of our bodies are often forgotten by other workouts. Gym, cycling, running and even swimming can favour the hip flexors and quadriceps, the pecs and biceps. Pilates, when practiced properly aims to engage the back of the body as much as the front.

Pilates is an all body movement practice. If you learn the exercises and practice them in different sequences Pilates will deliver you the benefits listed below.

What is not Pilates?

There are a lot of things out there that are called Pilates that are not in fact Pilates. Doing lots of really hard abdominal work is not Pilates. Doing a boot camp work out with a couple of Pilates exercises thrown in is not Pilates. These things are fine to do but they will not give you the benefits that a Pilates practice will.

Benefits of Pilates

  • less tightness in the hips and shoulders
  • more support for lower back stability
  • strength and tone for deep abdominal muscles
  • mobility of the ribs and improved breathing

These benefits lead to real life, everyday wins like:

  • improving posture
  • reducing lower back pain
  • reducing neck and shoulder pain
  • improving balance
  • reducing the risk of slips, trips and falls
  • improved pelvic floor health and bladder control
  • improved core strength

I could go on and on but you get the picture. Pilates is a full body work out that aims to balance the front of the body with the back. The genius of it is Pilates, when taught properly, targets the areas of our body that suffer from our lifestyle of too much sitting and too much computer time. Building on the foundation of our own breath, Pilates holds wisdom for our bodies every time we practice.

I am Brigid Pearse a certified Pilates instructor and ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online. To receive regular body wisdom sign up below.

Post-natal movement & Pilates

Get help to sleep with these 5 moves

Get help to sleep. One of the most nurturing things you can do for yourself is sleep. Sometimes that is easier said than done. Particularly if you are working from home, you might be caring for kids and making up hours at night? You may have kids waking in the night? Checking the news on your phone right before your sleep?

If you are in the Byron Bay, Ballina and Lennox Head areas day light savings will kick in soon. This means that you will lose an hour in the evening. So right now is a great time to give yourself earlier nights, get help to sleep and get your body clock prepared for this time change.

1 Stay away from screens at least 30 mins before bed

It’s proven that the blue light from screens confuses our circadian rhythms and can make it difficult for our brains to sleep. Be sure to unplug at least 30 mins before bed to give your body and mind a break from this stimulation.

2 Drink a chamomile tea 30 mins before bed

A simple ritual like a herbal tea can send messages to our brain that is time to start switching off for the day. You could pair this with listening to a calming piece of music for a delightful pre-bedtime ritual.

3 Practice a few minutes of diaphragmatic breathing

Allowing and encouraging your breath deeper into you lungs can slow down your heart rate and re-oxygenate your body. sit with hand around the side of your rib cage and as you breath in imagine your breath is filling up the front, sides and back of your torso. If you do this for a few minutes you will notice your muscles relax to enable this deep diaphragmatic breathing

4 Lie on your back with your legs up the wall

Lying on you back with your legs up the wall is a great way to clam the body. It helps the return of blood to the heart where it get re-oxygenated. You can do this in bed, it is important to get comfortable. Get your bottom close to the wall and swing your legs up. Focus on a heavy tail bone lying on the bed or the floor and relax.

5 Reflect on your gratitude for the day

Often when I turn the light off I think of how grateful I am for the day I have had. Even if it hasn’t been the best day I can usually find little things to be grateful for. Then when I feel the gratitude rise I focus my mind on where I feel it in my body. I keep my attention on it for as long as possible. If my mind wanders I just notice this and go back to the things I am grateful for. This is a lovely way to fall asleep.

Feel free to choose one or more of these and use them in combination. Doing this will certainly make your bedtimes more intentional and hopefully will make falling asleep easier. Sleep is the foundation of healing and recovery for the body mind and spirit.

Sweet dreams x

Pilates and breath – your secret super power

When you think of Pilates you may not think of the breath. Most people know that Yoga involves some deep involvement in the breath. Certainly in the Byron Bay, Lennox Head and Ballina area there is a plethora of Yoga options and what many people don’t know is that Pilates is also a breath based movement system. If you do a Pilates mat class in a gym you may not get to learn the subtleties of the breath. I don’t want anyone to miss out on the power of this in their Pilates practice. The breath is where your deepest, strongest, lightest power resides.

Joseph Pilates was an asthmatic as a child. He went to all sorts of doctors and healers and as a young man studied yoga, tai chi. When he invented his movement system breath was at the centre of it. The mechanics of breath underpin the basic spine shapes in Pilates exercises. And the purpose of many of the exercises is to free up the function of the lungs, to enable better circulation and increased oxygen intake for the body.

2 Spine shapes in Pilates and breath

  1. The C-Curve or rounded spine (flexion) is associated with the exhale. The diaphragm and the pelvic diaphragm lift to help to empty the lungs. The roundness of the lumbar spine and the back of the ribs help to facilitate this movement in the diaphragms. Fully emptying the lungs is essential for deep, oxygenating inhales. The C-curve spinal position supports a full and thorough exhale.
  2. The arched spine (extension) is associated with the inhale. The opening of the chest and subtle lift of the sternum allow the diaphragm to drop and the lungs to fill. If the pelvic diaphragm is responsive enough it will also drop allowing the lower abdomen as the organs between the diaphragms drop.

This is not the only way to breath in Pilates. There are benefits to reversing this pattern during some exercises. There are also other breathing techniques that become necessary as you move to the more advanced repertoire. As a beginner to intermediate student of Pilates mastery of the breath as the centre of your practice will bring great rewards such as:

  • Helping you to move past gripping of muscles towards deep engagement of muscles
  • Relaxing the compensatory muscles to deepen the work where you want it
  • Releasing tension around the neck and shoulders
  • Healthy engagement of pelvic floor

I am Brigid Pearse a certified Pilates instructor and ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online. To receive regular body wisdom sign up below.

Post-natal movement & Pilates