• Vivienne Williamson

Breathing is essential for life

Breathing is essential for life. BASI Pilates makes use of the natural, physiological actions that take place during inhalation and exhalation to enhance muscle activation, assist movements.


The basic breath pattern used is to exhale with spinal flexion and inhale with spinal extension. This is because the abdominals are accessory muscles in exhalation as well as being the primary trunk flexors. The exhalation during spinal flexion maximises the activation of the transverse abdominal muscles, providing optimal trunk stability. During inhalation, the physiological action that occurs in the trunk is biased towards spinal extension, with the front of the ribcage and sternum expanding forwards and upwards and the latissimus dorsi muscles being an accessory muscle in extension. So inhalation with spinal extension maximises the activation of the spinal extensors

In exercises where the spine is static, we use the breath to power the movements with a preparatory inhalation and the exhalation to first engage the core and then provide stability in movement.

To further enhance the stability of the trunk during exercise, Pilates focuses on the lateral and posterior expansion of the rib cage during inhalation, keeping a consistent drawing-in of the abdominals to provide support.

Obviously, it takes practice and time to perform the focused breathing patterns as described. The first priority is to execute the movements safely and correctly, then more attention can be given to enhancing your practice by utilising the breath patterns to maximise the benefit and achieve excellence. The benefits of merely becoming aware of your breathing, taking deep inhale and full exhales will calm the body and mind and assist with concentration.


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