Walking and breathing….

Walking and breathing. Two things most of us do everyday usually without too much thought. That is unless you are thinking about them. And I have been thinking about them – a lot. Many of you know that I attended a training in May in which I grew a deeper appreciation for gait analysis and how to identify dysfunctional patterns. On a very basic level our gait can provide  a wealth of information about our movement patterns, both functional and dysfunctional. Improving gait patterns and connecting into the breath is critical to improving how you move your body.

Joseph Pilates said, “Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very life depends on it.” I could write pages about the importance of breathing, and if you have been practicing Pilates then you should have a basic understanding of  just how critical it is to the connection of movement in your body. Bigger even than our Pilates practice though, the breath connects our internal world to the external – the exchange of air from that outside our bodies to inside them, and this constant cycling is pure life force.

Learning how to control and manipulate the breath is a valuable tool not just during your pilates practice but for many situations in life. In a world of chaos I know that at least I can control my breath. “It is tragically deplorable,” Joseph Pilates once said, “to contemplate the millions who have never mastered the art of correct breathing.”

Think about how many breaths you take each day. Now think about how many steps you take each day. And those of you with tracking devices will know exactly how many you have taken. (or haven’t taken!) Within each step is a complex movement pattern. From the moment the heel strikes the ground there is a rotation through the leg, hip and pelvis and consequently through the rib-cage and and spine. You are even balancing on one leg for a brief moment. Every step you take is a full body movement. Through careful analysis of gait we can see and identify dysfunctional patterns that could potentially be holding you back from feeling freedom of movement.

If we could make even small changes in habits and patterns that we do every day, what larger impact might that bring to our overall quality of movement? And if movement is life – well, then we have to believe that it will make a difference that is worth putting some thought into!

I encourage you to take a walk and be thoughtful about your breath and gait. Some things for you to consider; Are you taking a full breath? Do you feel your diaphragm inflate and do you completely exhale each breath?  Do you inhale through your nose? Does your heel strike the ground first when you extend your leg to step forward? Do you have weight on the outside line of the foot as it rolls towards the big toe? Do you push off your big toe? Are you able to keep your “domes” stacked when you transfer the weight to the other leg? Do you feel relaxed? Do you feel balanced? Can you feel more grounded?

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