Lateral Breathing - The Inhale

By June Scharff

We have already talked about the

exhale in which we use the “haaaaa”

breath. In the Pilates method, the

inhale is equally as important as the


It is obvious that it is important to breathe deeply and to oxygenate the body as much as possible while executing exercises. In Pilates, we have learned how important it is to utilize the core muscles for stability no matter what task we are doing. In taking a deep inhale it is natural to expand the chest, ribs and stomach. Our goal is to breath deeply, keep the front of the ribcage closed, and to keep the abdominals scooped deeply toward the spine.


How do you do that? Answer, “Lateral breathing.”


First take a few big breaths. Go ahead and let the stomach expand, let the ribs open as wide as possible, and notice the feeling of expansion. On the next inhale focus mainly on the ribcage; really feel the ribcage opening up and expanding. We have muscles called the intercostal muscles in between the ribs. One of the best ways to stretch the intercostal muscles is through breathing. On the next inhale be aware of keeping the front of the ribcage closed. The air has to go somewhere, right? As you keep the front of the ribcage closed, the ribs should open and expand to the sides. That is called lateral breathing.


It may take some practice to master lateral breathing. Once you do, you will have the power of utilizing all of your abdominals (the scoop), and at the same time, taking in all of the air you need to execute even the most difficult of tasks!