The Yoga Breath vs The Pilates Breath
iAspire Yoga The Yoga Breath vs The Pilates Breath

Read on to learn a little more about these 2 critical components in your yoga and Pilates practice.

Quite simply when we breathe in yoga we inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose whilst in Pilates we inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, but why is it recommended to stick to nose breathing in yoga especially tricky when we are in the heat of a vinyasa flow or in the midst of dolphin prep to kick up to a handstand?

Well, in yoga it is more beneficial to keep up the yoga breath throughout a class, this in turn keeps a calm, focused mind which is what yoga is essentially all about right?

iAspire Yoga The Yoga Breath vs The Pilates Breath

Let’s look a little closer at the yoga side of things: In yoga there are many pranayama (breath work techniques to begin or end a practice) but the one I encourage my clients to start their practice with is the Three-Part Breath — Dirga (or Deerga) Swasam Pranayama The “three parts” are the abdomen, diaphragm, and chest.

During Three-Part Breath, you first completely fill your lungs with air, as though you are breathing into your belly, ribcage, and upper chest. Then you exhale completely, reversing the flow.

The Pilates breath also known as Lateral breathing which is also referred to as intercostal breathing focuses on the lateral expansion of the rib cage on the inhale but maintains an inward pull which engages the abdominal muscles. This is a sharp contrast to diaphragmatic breathing where the abdominal muscles are relaxed throughout the breath.

Lateral breathing is used in Pilates as it keeps the abdominal muscles engaged which helps to stabilize your core. Sometimes the breath focus can be solely placed on the exhale where the inhale is equally important:
Think of it like this

  • INHALE through the nose, directing the breath into the sides of the ribs (expanding the ribs laterally)
  • EXHALE through the mouth, closing the rib cage down and in
  • Perform a normal inhalation (not an exaggerated, deep breath in) and a slow, forceful exhalation

So if you aren’t entirely convinced try a yoga class with a Pilates breath and see how you feel. By experimenting with the breath you will see the benefits of breathing correctly and in turn get the best results from your practice!


Amy YogaAmy instructs at iAspire Yoga Main Beach, Gold Coast and is passionate about teaching Yoga plus Pilates and connecting with her clients.

Come and meet her on the mat! Book a class at Main Beach Yoga Classes