Breathing in Pilates- Part Two

By now you may have had a read of our initial blog- Breathing in Pilates Part One, and gathered that breathing is inextricably linked to your Pilates practice. In this blog we will go into further detail about how to breathe to make the most of your practice.

Learning to Breathe Properly

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. (Although you can do this exercise while sitting or standing, it’s easiest to practice by lying down at first.)
  2. Place your hands on your abdomen.
  3. Breathe in through your nose, counting to four. Picture a balloon in your belly that you’re inflating with the air you are inhaling. Your hands should rise as your abdomen fills with air.
  4. Hold the breath for a few seconds.
  5. Exhale slowly through your mouth, counting to four. Picture letting the air out of your belly balloon. Your hands should go down as your abdomen deflates.

Practice this exercise for a minimum of five minutes at a time, at least two or three times a day. You’ve probably been breathing improperly for a long time, so it may take awhile to retrain your body to breathe properly without you thinking about it. Some exercise techniques such as yoga, Pilates, and tai chi stress proper breathing techniques and can be particularly helpful in training your body to breathe correctly.

Proper vs. Improper Breathing

Breathing affects virtually every part of the body. It oxygenates the body, revitalizing organs, cells and tissues. Breathing properly:

  • Fuels energy production
  • Improves focus and concentration
  • Eliminates toxins
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Improves bowel function
  • Reduces stress, tension and anxiety
  • Increases feelings of calmness and relaxation
  • Can lower blood pressure
  • Increases metabolism, aiding in digestion and weight loss.


Featured Team Member- KIERA!


MEET KIERA- one of our our wonderful Rehab Pilates Instructors!

Give us a brief summary of your career to date – how did you get involved with Pilates?
I graduated from La Trobe University in 2010. Since then I have worked across a variety of settings including private practice, acute and rehabilitation hospitals and aged care. I have a particular interest in women’s health physiotherapy which initially drew me to Pilates. I also plan to complete a post grad certificate in women’s health physio in March 2014.

What is your favourite thing about Pilates?
Pilates is accessible to all ages, body types and levels of fitness. Pilates enables people to develop their strength and flexibility which leads to participation in everyday activities and recreational activities that may otherwise be difficult due to pain and dysfunction.

If you could go anywhere in the world right now where would it be? Why?
Brazil. The energy, beaches, sunshine and excitement.

What food could you not live without?
Sweets and Falafels!

What piece of advice would you give to someone about to embark on their Pilates journey?
Concentrate on one aspect of the exercise at a time, initially the mind is working very hard to re program the body and experience the new movements. Over the course of the 5-6 sessions it’ll get easier and the movements will become automatic.

What do you love about Balance & Control Pilates Studio?
The people of course! The team and all the clients are absolutely wonderful!


Meet more of our team at

Why Does It Matter If You Have Stiff Hips?


The hips are an area of the body that are often taken for granted, many people don’t stretch or strengthen them until they are stiff, but why does it matter if you have stiff hips? Your hips are the fulcrum upon which most activity depends. From bending down to pick something up off the floor, getting up off a chair, walking, jogging, we even need our hips to be functioning well to allow us to sit well.

If you own a set of hips, the ability to traverse their full range of motion will improve your life in many ways. Treat them well, keep them moving, and you will reap the benefits and reduce your chance of injury.

What’s the worst that can happen? Stiffness in your hips results in additional stress to other areas of your body due to compensations for the lack of movement. The most commonly affected areas are:

  • Your lower back, causing back ache
  • Your knees, sometimes resulting in pain and grinding (also called crepitus)

The good news is – Pilates is here to help! Your instructor will observe you performing a range of hip movements to determine where you restriction lies. A program tailored to release your tight structures and explore the full range of motion in the hip will be created for you. Equally as important as creating new mobility in your hips is strengthening the muscles around your hip socket and core to support your new found freedom.


Your Pilates instructor will use a range of techniques including strengthening, guided mobilization, and contract relax stretching, utilizing the full range of studio equipment.

For in between your Pilates sessions here are some home exercises to help keep your hips beautiful and free. If you have any discomfort during these movements stop and book in to see your Pilates or Rehab Pilates Instructor.

Circle/Heel squeeze – lie on your tummy with a Pilates circle between your ankles (heels can squeeze together if you don’t have a circle). Squeeze circle/heels for a count of 5. Try to drive the movement from your hip sockets. Repeat 10 times



Fire hydrant circles – lift one knee off the floor. Draw circles with the lifted leg being sure to keep the knee bent. 10 slow circles each leg


Hip flexor stretch – hold for 30 seconds and repeat twice each side


Side lunge stretch – place hands on the floor with feet wide. Send your weight over to one side using your arms for support. Find a gentle groin stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat twice each side.


Achieving full hip mobility will improve your posture, help you to run faster, squat lower, have more freedom in your golf or tennis swing and delay age related joint problems. Enjoy the benefits of full hip mobility while reducing the likelihood of injury!



Breathing in Pilates – Part One

We all know that breathing is important – without it, we wouldn’t be alive, correct breathing in Pilates is also extremely important. Breathing is the first thing we do when we enter this life, and our last act on leaving it. Breathing affects and is affected by our emotional state and posture. But what is all the fuss about breathing? After all, I can hear you saying, if I am sitting at my desk reading this post, rather than collapsed on the floor, I must be breathing fine. Right?

Well, yes, to an extent. But breathing is something that a lot of people especially those who experience emotional stress, neck, shoulder or back pain do not do correctly. People under stress or in pain will often hold their breath for short periods of time without even realizing it. And when they do breathe, they frequently have a very shallow, disordered breathing pattern. While this is probably an unconscious protective reaction to pain, it can actually increase the level of pain. Learning to breathe better will help you in your everyday life, sports, and Pilates.

When we breathe very short breaths we are not flushing all the carbon dioxide from our system. By breathing in this manner we increase stress to the tissues of our body.

In Pilates we focus on Lateral Breathing through the base of the rib cage. It could almost be described as a 3D breath- you are breathing to expand the rib cage out to the side and through the back- you want to get a sense of expanding your ribcage with the lower portions of your lungs. Through your Pilates practice you will learn that this type of breathing goes hand in hand with engaging your core.

Try to breathe low and wide into the base of your lungs. Breathing deeply and directing air into the bottom and sides of your ribcage will let your body absorb oxygen most efficiently. Breathing well has a huge impact on your energy levels, spinal mobility, and overall vitality.


Who would have thought breathing could be so complex hey? It does take some time to learn the lateral breath, and combining it with stabilization and movement takes some more time. But like anything in Pilates, once you begin to live your practice outside your session, it becomes second nature, and you will most definitely reap the benefits.


Are Your Breathing Properly?

To find out if you are breathing properly:

  • Lie flat on your back.
  • Place your hands on either side of your ribs just above your waist.
  • Breathe as you normally do.
  • Notice: Do your hands move when you breathe?
  • Now place one hand on your chest.
  • Does your upper chest rise when you breathe in? (You may even feel your shoulders rise slightly.)
  • If your lower ribcage expands, tummy rises slightly, and your chest stays relatively flat, you are breathing well.
  • If your lower ribcage and abdomen barely moves and your chest rises, you are not breathing properly and need to practice the breathing exercise below.

breathing in pilates

Tram Line Upgrade Victoria Street throughout January

Please be aware of the tram works on Victoria Street throughout January. We expect traffic in surrounding streets to be heavier than normal during the works from Wednesday 8th January to Thursday 23rd January. Parts of Victoria Street including the Victoria Street Bridge will be completely closed to traffic during this period. To make sure you don’t miss out on any of your Pilates you can easily access the studio via Leslie Street from Buckingham street. If you need to cross the Yarra River from Hawthorn/Kew we suggest using Bridge Road then coming along River Street or Burnley Street.

Full details from Yarra Trams below

Routes 24, 30, 31 and 109 – Track renewal and maintenance work – Wednesday 8 to Friday 24 January

As part of the modernisation of Melbourne’s tram network, Yarra Trams and Public Transport Victoria will be renewing the tram tracks on Victoria Street bridge, between River Boulevard and Findon Crescent in Richmond. This work is part of the Victoria Street bridge refurbishment. During this time, maintenance work will also take place between Burnley Street and Church Street. The major work on Victoria Street bridge will take place from approximately 1am on Wednesday 8 January and continue 24 hours a day until 5am on Friday 24 January 2014. This renewal work will take longer to complete than other track renewal projects due to the complexity of working on a bridge, as well as additional bridge strengthening works. Tram service changes – first tram Wednesday 8 January to last tram Thursday 23 January 2014 No trams will operate on Victoria Street between Stop 29 Barkers Road & High Street and Stop 18 Hoddle Street & Victoria Parade. Route 109 trams will divert via Route 48 along Bridge Road, between Stop 29 Barkers Road & High Street and Stop 8 Spring Street & Collins Street. Route 31 will operate normally with additional trams on Route 31a each day. These trams will operate approximately every 20 minutes from first to last tram, between Stop 12 St Vincent’s Plaza and Stop 18 Hoddle Street & Victoria Parade. Route 24 will not operate during the work. Passenger should consider taking Route 48, 75 or 109 trams during this time. Route 48 and 75 will operate as normal.


Preliminary work – 6am Thursday 2 January to 1am Wednesday 8 January 2014 Preliminary work to prepare the site for construction will begin at approximately 6am on Thursday 2 January and continue until the bridge track renewal work commences on Wednesday 8 January. This work significantly reduces the amount of time that the site needs to be closed to trams and traffic during the major work. The work will include the unloading and pre-welding of rail, and will take place as per the table below. Details of the times, locations, and effect on traffic of the project are as follows:

Preliminary Work

Location Date and time of work Effect on vehicle traffic
Victoria Street, between River Boulevard and Findon Crescent Thursday 2 to Wednesday 8 January, 6am to 10pm Partial road closures on Victoria Street.

Major work

Location Date and time of work Effect on vehicle traffic
Work zone 1Victoria Stree,t between Burnley Street and Findon Crescent 1am Wednesday 8 to 5am Friday 24 January Victoria Street bridge closed to all traffic. Full road closure on Victoria Street between River Boulevard and Findon Crescent. Partial road closures on Victoria St/Barkers Road between Burnley Street and High Street South.

Maintenance work

Location Date and time of work Effect on vehicle traffic
Work zone 2Victoria Street, between McKay Street and Burnley Street. 5am Saturday 11 to 5am Monday 13 January Full road closure on Victoria Street between McKay Street & Burnley Street. McKay St & Burnley St will remain open to traffic. Vehicles from Burnley Street will not be allowed to turn left onto Victoria Street.


Effect of major work on traffic Full and partial road closures will be in place on Victoria Street, and Victoria Street bridge will be closed to all vehicle traffic during the project. Please see the table on the previous page for details. Traffic will be diverted around the work zones during this time.




The renewal of more than 200 metres of tram track will improve safety for everyone, as well as deliver a better road surface for motorists and cyclists, a smoother ride for tram passengers, and less tram noise associated with potholes, broken rails and wheel squealing. Associated noise from machinery, vehicles and work crews will be unavoidable but Yarra Trams will do all it can to keep this to a minimum. The use of reverse beepers and flashing lights is a safety requirement and these devices cannot be switched off. We thank you for your patience and regret any inconvenience caused by this essential renewal and maintenance work. We advise that it is being performed in accordance with our obligations to Public Transport Victoria and is necessary to maintain a safe tram network as required by the Rail Safety Act 2006 (Vic). Accordingly Yarra Trams will not be compensating third parties for any losses incurred during the conduct of the work.

Flexibility and Pilates

We all know that being flexible is important for dancers and gymnasts, but what comes as a wake up call to many is that flexibility is one of the keys to decreasing the risk of injury, improving posture, lengthening your muscles for a longer, leaner look and making cardio workouts a lot lighter and easier, therefore it is no surprise that flexibility and Pilates go hand in hand. So it turns out flexibility is something that we should all be focusing on, and is inextricably linked to Pilates.

We can define flexibility as the ability of a joint to move freely through its natural range of movement. That range of movement should be primarily determined by the shapes of the bones of the joint, and the length of the ligaments surrounding the joint. Oftentimes, however, flexibility is limited by other factors, including: weakness of the stabilizing muscles around a joint, groups of muscles not working together as a well coordinated system, and shortened, tight muscles.

This last factor is the one we are most likely to focus on when we think about flexibility because it is generally accepted that if we can just keep stretching ‘those’ muscles then we can improve our flexibility! In many cases however is it because the stabilizing muscles of the joints are not functioning properly that affects the alignment of joints and therefore our flexibility.

Flexibility is one of the first things to disappear as we grow older, and therefore we need to make a conscientious effort to stretch and stabilize our muscles. As a runner from a young age, I hardly ever stretched before or after a run, and can now see the consequences of my actions: extremely tight ITBs (outer thigh area) causing knee pain and shin splints… What could have helped to prevent this would have been targeted stretching and strengthening of my inner thighs and hip muscles so that they could work to stabilise and support the load of my training. Flexibility has never seemed so important!

Alongside strengthening, one of the release techniques I have found hugely helpful in my Pilates sessions, is rolling the outside and front of my legs on a long round foam roller. Rolling techniques help loosen knots in the connective tissue of your body.

Foam rollers are affordable and easy to use on many areas of the body to improve flexibility and spinal mobililty.

Click here to visit our online store to purchase your foam roller


In your Pilates sessions, we not only focus on stretching, we also work on training the muscles that stabilize joints. This is working towards stabilizing the joints effectively, and this is the key to improving flexibility- flexibility, that is important for more reasons than being able to do the splits!

So, with this information, consider why you feel you need to be more flexible. Then ask your instructor what you need to do, for your body, as simply stretching alone may not be the best path to achieving your goals.





Pilates for Dancers

It is well understood that many would recommend Pilates for dancers across all genres. Pilates creates unique, core specific, cross conditioning crucial to a dancer’s range of movement and career longevity through injury prevention. After all, it was dancers who first discovered the benefits of Pilates at Joseph Pilates first Studios in New York and set in motion the Pilates fitness programme we see today.

Many of the industry’s most accomplished Pilates Instructors come from strong dance backgrounds- we can most certainly attest to this with our very own instructors Jade, who trained with the English National Ballet, and Jess , who performed internationally for several years .

One of the most important outcomes Pilates can achieve for a dancer is to teach them how to use their muscles effectively. We often see ballerinas who have larger hamstrings than they should, as they have not effectively been activating their inner thighs and buttock muscles during Plies. What is fantastic about Pilates is that you get the chance to slow right down and focus on the muscle groups that you should be using during each exercise.

The difference between using a Pilates reformer machine and hitting the gym is that the machines at the gym aim to bulk, and often-put strain onto the muscles in order to do so. A reformer machine aims to lengthen and strengthen without bulking, while facilitating the core to stabilize.

A regular, targeted Pilates workout will strengthen and stabilize a dancer, as well as improve technique. Learning to activate your deep abdominal muscles is a lot easier when you take the time in a Pilates class to visualise it, rather than having to concentrate on having soft ballet hands, lowered shoulders, slightly bent elbows etc during ballet Barre.

Learning to use specific muscles such as your deep abdominals and hip stabilising muscles allows a dancer to gain a stronger understanding of their body, and use it in different ways, for example by relaxing their hamstrings and utilizing their inner thighs during plies to achieve a deeper bend.

Let’s not forget the role Pilates plays in injury prevention. Using your muscles in a balanced way greatly reduces stress and strain on joints especially ankles, knees and hips in dancers. Have you or someone you know suffered from a recurring muscle strain? Pilates’ focus on strengthening AND lengthening trains muscles to be strong in all positions and under varying loads preventing injuries.

We are enormously proud to be continuing the passion of Mr Joseph Pilates in working side by side with dances to achieve their goals and move beyond their expectations!



Share your Pilates successes

Let us know what Pilates success you’ve had recently… here’s an email that came in today……
“I have to share what Pilates has done for my body.

Pretty much pain free and the revelation is ……. now my core-to-ribcage connection is better.. and guess what….. the shoulders are released!! I reckon I just joined some dots for me and also my clients.

Also the left hip bursitis, medial knee ligament stuff and brain block on my left gluts has really improved. Now standing strong into the left leg, and actually lengthening the shortened waist on that side…… what Scoliosis?

I think I get this Pilates thing now!!”


The Hidden Benefit of Tremors & Shaking in Pilates‏ – Information Workshop

Saturday 31st August – 2pm-5pm

Early-bird price $79

(book before EOD Wed 28th August)

Usual price $109

at Balance & Control Pilates Studio, 474 Victoria St, Richmond, 3121

Learn how to release stress and tension by invoking your body’s own innate tremor release mechanism.

The TRE approach is that the common experience of shaking muscles during a workout can actually relate to a deeper physical release of tension than is otherwise possible through our conscious control!

This shaking response, termed ‘Neurogenic Tremors’ can be considered as the body’s innate reflex to release deeply held unconscious tension-patterns as a way to create a deeper connection with ourselves and our movement.

In this workshop Executive Director of Trauma Release Australia, Physiotherapist, and TRE Level 3 Trainer Richmond Heath will teach you how to intentionally activate these tremors in a safe and controlled way using simple exercises that can then be used on an ongoing basis to help create greater freedom, flexibility and functional movement in your life.

Watch these videos to find out more about the TRE approach, including an introduction to this workshop by Richmond Heath.

For more information regarding TRE, visit

TRE-logo-dark-greenthe Australia site

TRE_logoor the International site


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November Newsletter

Read the Balance & Control Pilates November Newsletter here

Including the following news:

  • November Merchandise Special
  • New morning Allegro classes
  • Client Christmas party
  • Zac’s back
  • New team members
  • Tanya’s a Poster Girl!
  • Franklin Method Workshops
  • Christmas closure dates
  • Spring Wine Recommendation
  • Updated Website
  • Staff Christmas Party