Pilates Breathing v Yoga Breathing – whats the difference?

As a Pilates teacher I often find myself explaining the differences between Pilates & Yoga. Many people believe they are pretty much the same discipline and it is fair to say that they do look similar, with low impact exercises, done on a mat, without shoes and several of the movements do appear to be the same, yet there is one particular aspect that fundamentally separates the two disciplines and that is the breathing techniques.
There are other important differences as well, yet in this article we will focus on a brief overview on the differences with the breath only.

The Pilates breath is known as Lateral, intercostal or thoracic breathing, so called because the inhaled air visibly increases the lateral expansion of the rib cage.
The breath is inhaled through the nose and pushed into the back & sides of the lungs and then forcibly expelled through an open mouth with slightly pursed lips. This type of breathing helps to facilitate and maintain the deep intra-abdominal flexion needed in Pilates to stabilise the core, which ensures successful performance of the exercises and also protects the lower back and spine.

The yogic breath is known as diaphragmatic breathing, flowing in and out of the nose in a more rhythmical way in its performance. The breath is first pushed down into the belly, filling and expanding, then into the torso and finally the chest, expanding the chest before being exhaled with a long, slow breath out in reverse order, expelling the breath from the same three sections through the nose again. Experienced practitioners can perform an alternate nostril breathing technique by inhaling through one nostril and exhaling through the other.

There are benefits to both types of breathing, yet should be used according to the practice being performed. Both disciplines are in-depth forms of exercise and professional teachers for each one should be consulted to properly learn and understand the breathing techniques in more detail.

*Always support your local instructors.

– This article has been published in the June edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk