Pilates Breathing & Butterfly Wings

by | Feb 21, 2008 | Breathing, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips | 5 comments

I’m always looking for good new visual imagery to use with my clients that will help them better relate to their body, movement, AND better understand how to improve their technique.(I can’t take credit for this one, came from one of my teachers newer clients this week.)

Since we want clients to breath into their posterio-lateral ribs for Pilates, try explaining the feeling of breathing into this area like a butterfly, opening it’s wings to fly. Breathing into your wings might help your clients associate to where they should put their air, and if they continue the breath out to the tips of their wings, you’ll really be able to open & widen the back ribs on every breath.

My last hint for the day on this – Suggest that their butterfly wings are attached very close to the spine. This way as they fill there will be a better sense of using the breath to elongate the spine as the ribs are opening. Without this, they might just be widening the sides of the ribs and not using the breath for the benefit of opening and lengthening the natural curves of the spine.

What color are your Butterfly Wings?

Happy Breathing!

Aliesa George: Over the past three decades, Aliesa George has helped assist people with their personal health journeys by sharing, teaching, and developing Pilates, Foot Fitness, and other Mind-Body programs.


  1. Ford Saeks

    Thanks Aliesa for the great Pilates teaching tip! I like the visual idea of butterfly wings for explaining the breathing technique.

  2. Susan Royal

    I lOVE that one!! I am always looking addtional imagery to help my clients “get it”


  3. Leslie Debach

    Thanks Aliesa. Great visualization techniques. I think asking the client to visualize the wings being attached very close to the spine really helps to create a picture of both length and width. To cue by asking the client to inhale bringing the air out to the tips of the wings also helps to understand what we mean by beathing into the posterior- lateral ribs specifically. The butterfly is a great visual association!

    Also want to let you know how much I enjoy all of your articles. They are very informative and easy to understand and follow. I look forward to all the information you have learned and then pass on for us to benefit from. Thanks again!

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