Pilates and Tango: Start with Breath (#1)

One of the central aspects of Pilates training is breath control- not just as a means of activating the "powerhouse" of the torso, but also as a means of altering your inner state by creating sustained, full exchanges of air in your lungs. Exhalation is used before beginning a movement in order to integrate the core and set a natural rhythm. This coordination can be tricky initially as you attempt to balance the complexity of some of the exercises with a sustained breathing pattern.

In a similar fashion, many dancers fail to integrate their breathing into their movement, inhaling before each attempt at a sequence and only surfacing for air once they have finished. This introduces unnecessary and unhelpful tension into your movement, far from the relaxation so many of us seek in dancing!

The Exercises:

The first exercise is to introduce the basic concept of controlling breath.
1. Inhale deeply through the nostrils.
2. Exhale fully from your mouth, being sure to relax your jaw open as if you were trying to fog a pane of glass (rather than pursing your lips like you were blowing out a candle).
3. Continue to breathe in this fashion and bring your focus to abdominal muscles and ribcage, feeling the natural expansion and contraction of both.

When beginning a dance, pay attention to your breathing as you make your initial weight changes with your partner. This is an excellent opportunity to find another means of connecting to a partner (though you may want to breathe through your nostrils exclusively for courtesy's sake)!