MindfulMovementMonday with Andy, our new Physical Therapist!

Andy is going to be teaching our Mindful Movement Monday class today. With that said, we’ve got two-pound weights, and you just need a place to sit.

Today’s class is mainly on breathing. Breathing is a big thing in Pilates. It’s also used in pretty much every exercise, and also very relevant to know how to breathe normally when we are using force to push and pull, to use our body so that we can feel everything’s safe.

So today, I’d like to share with you guys about how to breathe normally and how to incorporate that in exercises.

To get into the breathing: first of all, we need to find our neutral pelvis. When you’re sitting on your chair, you feel like there are four points under your pelvis. So if you arch and tilt your pelvis forward, you can feel like the weight is all the way on your pelvic bone.

Then when you tilt and tuck your pelvis, you can feel like all the weights are on your sits. So we do a little bit more arch and tuck. Do that a couple times, then you’ll feel your full range of front and back. Try to find the middle and then stay there.

So once we are finding our middle point, front and back, we start to shift from the left and to the right. You will feel the sit bone on each side when you shift away to the left and to your right. Once you figure out the range, same thing – you find the middle point between the two sits bone.

That’s the standard point. After you figure out the diamond shape under your pelvis, you’ll find that middle point of the four points under your pelvis. That’s a very easy way for you guys to find your neutral pelvis, especially in sitting.

We maintain that neutral pelvis position. Then three things: we need to engage the powerhouse. The first component of the powerhouse is the diaphragm, which is the dome shaped muscle at the bottom of the rib cage.

So when you are inhale, you feel like the dome is dropping, and then when you are exhale, you feel like the dome is coming up. The easier way for you to feel that in the facilitator is to put one hand at the bottom of the rib cage, and then the other hand at the chest.

Now feel the breathing. Are you feeling that your chest is coming more than your belly? Can you come down the chest even more? Focus more on the movement coming from the bottom of your actual diaphragm.

So when you inhale, you feel that the bottom hand is being pushed out. Then when you exhale, you feel like the bottom hand is pushing inside. You do a couple more and feel how you can engage your diaphragm by doing this.

Once we get our control of our diaphragm,  the second component is the pelvic floor muscle, which is the bottom part of the power house.

So when you inhale, you not only drop the diaphragm, you also feel like the diamond shape under your pelvis –  the four points – is getting wider and bigger. Then when you’re exhale, the diaphragm is going higher, and you actually squeeze the diamond, to shrink and go smaller

You inhale bigger, and bigger diamond; you exhale, the diamond getting smaller. Inhale bigger and then this time exhale – think about lifting the diamond not only getting smaller, but also floating up. Inhale, open. Then exhale, you lift float.

That’s how you engage the pelvic floor. Once we get these two down, there’s a third component which  is the transverse abdominus that wraps around our lumbar spine area, which is the natural corset.

So when you inhale, you feel like everything is loose, and when you exhale, you feel it’s kind of like a zipper zipping the entire corset up. Inhale, you open your transverse abdominus, and exhale, you zip them up.

We got all the components of the power house, how they can we engage the diaphragm, the pelvic floor and the transverse abdominal.

It’s a good thing to know how to engage the powerhouse, but it’s more important that we need to know when we are relaxing, we can let go of the tension. Then when we use our force, we engaged everything to come in.

That is a good preparation before we dive into any exercises we’re doing, to focus on how to engage the powerhouse and we are breathing. And then. So these can be incorporated to many movements.

For example, when we are starting to move and do something else, we need to stand up. We inhale to prepare, everything is prepared to stand up.

Exhale, diaphragm, pelvic floor, transverse and then you stand up. Inhale and  just control and then sit back down and do a couple more times to get used to this to engage the powerhouse, which is a safer way to exercise and keep you on the move.

So not only faily activities like this – when you are doing some sort of exercises using the arm weights, this can really easy incorporated as well.

For example, you can put your arms straight in front of you guys, sitting or standing. Inhale, then exhale. We are doing some bicep curls, but make sure you engage everything and you curl all the way in.

Inhale, relax, let all the tension go. Exhale, engage the muscles. Inhale, you let go; exhale, bend all the way in. Some exercises that are very familiar to Pilates folks, you can do this to p repare for some arm shaving.

Inhale to prepare; exhale, extend your elbows then push the arms up. Inhale to bend, exhale to straighten your arms up.

Not only can you do that with your arm movement, you can also do that when you are doing some work with lower extremities. So this time, I need everybody to stand up.

You guys are working on some footwork, or standing, this can also be incorporated. What you can do is you can just show me your arms, heels together, in a Pilates stance. You inhale to prepare, then you exhale and lift your heels up.

Inhale to lower, and exhale to lift. You guys feel that if you really incorporate this, it’s easier for you to keep your balance and then you can feel more axle elongation from your spine by keeping that engagement.

Then to the fence the year, the actual Pilates choreography with waist to hand, incorporating everything. The chest expansion, including everything we’ve mentioned, inhale to prepare and then you exhale, lift your heels up.

Look to your left, look to your right, then center yourself and then lower. Inhale to prepare, exhale, lift your heels up. Look to the left, look to the right, center, then lower.

These are just some ways you can incorporate the concept of breathing into many different exercises ,different daily activities, and also some ways to cue the breathing to your client or while you’re working out your stuff.

We heard a lot of how to breathe into our diaphragm, how to engage our core, now I break down how to engage the different components of the power house today. I wanted to show everybody to understand the concept a little bit easier.

This is what I got for you guys today. Thank you for watching. We’ll see you all next week.


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Stephen Dunn

Co-Owner / Physical Therapist at CORE Therapy and Pilates
Stephen graduated with a Masters in Physical Therapy in 1998 from LSUMC in New Orleans. Immediately interested in hands on therapy, he began to study with known manual therapist Brian Mulligan and became certified in the Maitland Australian Approach in 2003. Stephen completed a comprehensive Pilates training in Santa Monica at retroFit Pilates in 2002 and is Certified through The Pilates Method Alliance. The combined treatment of manual therapy with mind body awareness exercises using Pilates concepts was the start of his whole body treatment approach.
Stephen Dunn

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