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Old 01-26-2004, 12:42 PM   #1
Location: New Zealand
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 67
Abdominal Breathing and Pilates

Dear All

Does anyone have experience with Pilates and the type of breathing advocated in Pilates?

After some back trouble I have been trying some Pilates techniques. In the book I am follwoing the author instructs not to use "abdominal breathing". This goes against everything I have been taught in Aikido regards breathing. Has nyone tried blending the two?


David McNamara
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Old 01-27-2004, 04:32 PM   #2
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 498
I have no info on Pilates. However, I do not see the problem of learning an additional method of breathing that you can do when practicing Pilates. As for when you are training in Aikido, well, there is always the option of "just breathing" until your back is strong enough to get back to your aikido breathing. If you would, why not try posting a bit more about what you believe aikido breathing to be, and what the author of the book you are reading suggests as an alternative. Additionally, please share with us why she suggests that breathing method. You may find that what you are doing is inadvertently causing strain on your back. There have been occasions when I have seen some of the strangest things on the mat from beginners, visitors and long-time practitioners, alike. When I inquire what they are doing, I often hear, "Focusing my breathing." After a bit of time analyzing what they are actually doing, it becomes apparent that they are not doing anything of the sort, and are rather putting strain on particular muscle groups in the lower back, upper chest, and stomach areas.

If you have any strained muscle, please avoid long, or extremely hot or cold baths and showers.

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Old 01-27-2004, 09:15 PM   #3
Qatana's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido of Petaluma, Petaluma,CA
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 834
i think that like aikido, pilates is best learned from a qualified teacher and not solely from a book.

Breathe "normally" for aikido, but when working abs, can you even Do abdominal breathing? I do lots of sit-ups and i can only breathe in my chest While i am doing them.

Try being a performing dancer-we arent allowed to breathe Visibly-its all in the back.

So there's 3 kinds of breathing i do regularly. Hasn't hurt me yet...


"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 01-28-2004, 03:15 AM   #4
Dojo: Ren Shin Kan
Location: Birmingham
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 358
United Kingdom
Used to do Pilates but unfortunately lost the teacher (she married & moved away from my area)

Found it complimented Aikido really well and is also recommended by more & more Physiotherapists for back problems.

The breathing is different but you just need to put either your Aikido or Pilates head on
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Old 01-28-2004, 01:12 PM   #5
Location: New Zealand
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 67
When I do my abdominal breathing (which is almost all the time) I relax my abdominal muscles comlpetely and breath with the diaphragm only. My abdomen pops out with each breath.

This gives me a pot-belly appearance. Part of the reaon I breathe this way is because I have a "sway back" or lumbar lordosis, so my belly pops out a bit anyway. One could regard this as simply bad posture

For Pilates the abdominal muscles are drawn in and the spine restored to a natural curve. In my case that corrects the lumbar lordosis.

Breathing is supposed to be "lateral" that is with the diaphragm but without expanding the diaphragm so that the lower ribs expand laterally. The upper chest is held much as one would for standard "eastern" breathing, not breathing with the upper chest, shoulder blades depressed.

i find the Pilates breathing is very good for my posture. But I am wondering if there are objections to it.

David McNamara
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Old 01-28-2004, 03:02 PM   #6
Larry John
Dojo: Aikido of Northern Virginia
Location: Arlington VA
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 74

My sensei teaches us to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. When in motion, this means "chest breathe" when inhaling and breathe more abdonimally when exhaling, but I always keep my abdominal muscles engaged by pulling my gut in. This has served to greatly lessen the pressure on my lower back and makes it possible for me to get very tight tucks on rolls and falls.

I've also heard that there are some who believe that Pilates' stress on percussive breathing during muscular contraction can actually aggravate certain injuries. These folks suggested an exercise system called Gyrotronics as an alternative to classical pilates.

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Old 01-28-2004, 10:08 PM   #7
Jeanne Shepard
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Dojo: Puget Sound Aikikai
Location: Seattle
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 351
I love Pilates. It's helped my back, my Aikido and my skating.

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Old 01-29-2004, 11:41 AM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Location: Left Coast
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,340
I had the same question when shown Pilates and the answer was, logically enough, when doing Pilates, use the breathing pattern appropriate for Pilates. When doing aikido, use the breathing pattern appropriate for aikido.

Janet Rosen
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 02-27-2004, 02:09 PM   #9
Dojo: River Valley Aikido
Location: Bennington, VT
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 27
your movement and your breathing are functions of one another. pilates is designed to give you strength and stamina throughout your body and core. it places demand on your core muscles, limiting their movement in a way that aikido doesn't. each is correct for its purpose. the overarching theme is that the power of our movement is inextricably linked to the rhythm of our breath. awareness is the key. become aware of your breathing muscles and learn to synchronize them with your movement. you may be surprised how deeply your diaphragm can expand even with the tension in your core.
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