When I was in university, during a well deserved break in dance class, a group of my fellow dancers and I sat down in front of the giant fan in a boiling hot studio (Anna Hiss Gym http://multimedianewsroom.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/DSCN1013.jpg
Obviously we were in leotards and tights, normal dance apparel that permits the dance teacher to see the dancers' positions, alignment, and help to make corrections. So it was in this setting that my very dear friend Marika looked at me, put her hands around my ribcage and said, "How do you fit all of your organs in there?" I had never really thought about that. To this day I think about her words, 25 years later.
Breathing is CENTRAL to the Pilates technique. I've had my hands wrapped around so many ribcages in my career, I couldn't count the number of times. One thing I can say is that most people have some sort of restriction in one part or another. What I love about the ribcage is that it is so plastic, so beautiful and the muscle patterns are so incredibly laid out and intricate, and it is responsive. This is an area of the body where we can effect change relatively quickly and vast improvements can be felt in the short term.
I always remind my clients that Pilates breathing is not normal breathing. But for the hour that they are in the studio, they should practice our type of breathing, then plan it into their day --> intermittently as an exercise. Regular breathing will then be facilitated and an autonomic function is thus enhanced. I'll go into more detail in the part II.