7 BASIC PRINCIPLES: LITHE BREATH 11 Nov 2015
It's so important to breathe properly at Lithe. It's the foundation of our practice and without the breath, it's literally not a practice. Aim for a full breath pattern, which means full inhalations and exhalations. To do this, forcefully inhale through the nose (your nostrils should almost close), feeling the ribcage expand laterally. Without tensing the jaw, exhale forcefully through pursed lips, knitting the ribs together and engaging the abdominal muscles. Exhale through a small opening, like you are blowing through a straw, in order to more fully engage the abdominals.
Breath cues are specified in all Lithe sculpting, band, and barre exercises and many cardio exercises. Proper breathing supports our movements with the exhale typically occurring on the exertion. You will find that breath is not always specified for cardio exercises. We do not want to over-cue breath and cause you discomfort or confusion when your heart rate is elevated. When breath is not specified, it means that the breath does not have to occur in a specific pattern, however you should still be inhaling through the nose and exhaling through pursed lips.
Breathing in this way helps increase your endurance. Your instructor may also give you the option of a breath pattern if he/she feels it may support the movement. She/he may say, “try exhaling every other one or just breathe like you’re running, in through the nose and out through the mouth.”
The proper breathing technique looks and sounds different for each person. The exact sound or position of the lips is not primary. It is most important for you to forcefully exhale and engage the abdominal muscles, rather than the jaw.
Our goal is to make sure that you do not simply make the correct sound, without taking the correct action in the body. Pay particular attention to the way your instructor demoes the breath while teaching. She may exaggerate the sound in order to help the class stay on beat, but make sure that you focus on the abdominal action in your cues, so that you're not simply mimicking the sound without absorbing the full benefit of the Lithe breath.
Top image via Antrim & Spruce Photography