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The Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing for Pilates

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

Did you know that the diaphragm plays an important role in our breathing? The diaphragm is a large, dome-shaped muscle that lies at the base of the lungs. It separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. During inhalation, the diaphragm contracts and pulls down, increasing the volume of the chest cavity and creating a vacuum. This pulls air from the environment into the lungs. On exhalation, the diaphragm relaxes, and the chest cavity volume decreases, forcing air out of the lungs. Without the diaphragm, we wouldn't be able to breathe!

The diaphragm is unique because it attaches to the lower six ribs on the inner surface of the rib cage, the bottom of the sternum, and to the lumbar spine. It also shares fascial attachments to the pelvic floor (often referred to as the pelvic diaphragm). The two diaphragms work together to maintain intra-abdominal pressure during breathing, As the respiratory diaphragm descends and ascends, so too does the pelvic floor.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a type of breathing exercise that helps to strengthen the diaphragm, a muscle that helps us to breathe. The diaphragm is the body's chief breathing muscle. If its range of notion becomes restricted, we are forced to use our secondary muscles of respiration, which can lead to neck, chest, and shoulder pain. The muscles will be fatigued due to chronic overuse and can signal the body into a "fight or flight" response and will cause unconscious tension throughout the nervous system. When you practice diaphragmatic breathing, you release the abdomen and allow the diaphragm to function normally, you trigger a parasympathetic response that regulates the sympathetic nervous system and reduces stress.

Try this simple exercise to practice diaphragmatic breathing:

1. Lie down on your back, preferably on a flat surface. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.

2. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, allowing your stomach to expand as you do so. You should feel your stomach rise and your hand move up and down with your breath.

3. Exhale slowly and deeply through your mouth, allowing your stomach to deflate as you do so. You should feel your stomach lower and your hand move up and down with your breath.

4. Repeat this process for 5-10 minutes, or until you feel relaxed.

It is important to keep your breathing slow and steady throughout the exercise, and to focus on breathing from your diaphragm rather than your chest. Over time, this exercise can help to improve your breathing and strengthen your diaphragm.

Diaphragmatic breathing and Pilates are both techniques used to promote overall health and wellness. Diaphragmatic breathing is a type of deep breathing exercise that encourages the diaphragm to move more deeply, allowing more oxygen to enter the body. Pilates is a form of exercise that focuses on core strength and stability, and can help improve posture and balance. Both techniques can be used in combination to help support overall health and wellness. Diaphragmatic breathing can help relax the muscles before beginning a Pilates routine, while Pilates can help strengthen the core muscles and improve posture.I


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