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Breathing for Pilates

Breath/Breathing is a core principle of Pilates and is incorporated into every movement and exercise you do.

We cover this and other core principles in our blog – What is Pilates?

There are some key reasons why it is so important which we will cover here along with how to do it correctly.

Now the key purpose of getting your breathing right during Pilates is to activate your core correctly, providing support and stability for your spine and strength through the movements you do. Your core is made up of some important muscles including your diaphragm and pelvic floor.

Now, this is how it works:

Lateral Breathing:

Lateral breathing is where we breathe into the side of the ribs, laterally expanding them. Here we are avoiding breathing into the stomach and also breathing into the rib cage so the ribs ‘flare’ up and out. The ribs should stay down and pressure building out towards your armpits.


Normal breath in, lateral breathing. This is called a preparation breath as we prepare to exhale and engage the core muscles. Our inhale is always done as we return back to our starting position.


Forceful exhale as if you were blowing out a candle. We always exhale on the ‘effort’ of the exercise or movement. Forceful exhalation creates greater activation of the core muscles and provides more strength and support for the spine. When we breathe out imagine inward compression around your stomach and ribs, almost like a corset. Keep in mind your ribs and spine shouldn’t move during this exhale.

Now yes this technique is used in Pilates but is also extremely useful for many different types of exercise, especially weight training which we encourage people to use. Give it a try for yourself, the great thing about this is you can practice even sitting at your desk or standing up at work.

If you would like help to develop and practice this breathing technique with us then we would love to help.

Nathan Spring