19 Aug 2016 Without Breath There is No Movement
I wrote that simple sentence last week on a Pilates forum I belong to. Someone had asked a question as to “how important is it to teach breathing in a class?”. I do not normally comment in these forums, but was moved to last week as there seems to have been a proliferation of questions and concerns about breathing during Pilates.
You may be thinking this is a really strange question – is this what Pilates teachers spend their days worrying about? Of course breath is important – I wouldn’t be here without it. And you would be absolutely right.
But this appears to pray on the minds of many Pilates teachers around the world. I attended a workshop a few weeks ago and the issue was raised again. One teacher said she got stressed during the classes because she often forgot to breathe and couldn’t remember if she should be inhaling or exhaling. The workshop presenter said in response “it’s not that we do this on purpose. If we could breathe, we would do it”.
This caught my attention. If we could, we would! This brought me back to my small little sentence that tried to sum up a huge subject – WITHOUT BREATH THERE IS NO MOVEMENT. None, zero, nothing! Breath is our very essence, breath is always there even when we are sleeping. When we are asleep, do you forget when to inhale and exhale? Do you get stressed about breath then?
I think what’s going on is that we are trying to intellectualise something that you simply cannot. You cannot formulate and instruct something that is part of your very being. I think intellectually we are worrying too much about the breath. We need to return to the basics – to feel the breath, to get a connection with it that literally talks to your body. I often instruct my clients to let the breath move them. Notice the breath – what does the exhale give you? Does it give the sense of weightiness and release that allows them to move fluidity from one exercise to the next? It is seamless. It cannot be turned on and off as you move from single leg stretch with one breathing pattern to double leg kick with another, for example. For me, this becomes a disjointed and mechanical process where there is a right and wrong way to breathe. It is being led with your right side brain. For me, this is no longer an opportunity to feel, connect and relish in the enjoyment of movement. How can that be when I am more concerned with missing the inhale on time? Talk about stress! No wonder so many are confused!
When you can discover your breath as it is meant to be – natural in response to what you are doing rather than breathe first, exercise second – you will find the breath just happens. It cannot be breath taught and remembered and then exercise put on top. They are intimately interconnected and married to each other. With this marriage, our thinking brain switches off and you experience an almost effortless engagement with your mind and body. Isn’t that what we are seeking?