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Complementary Fitness Newsletter 31 October

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Welcome to this week’s newsletter & updates:


We often don’t think about it.  It happens naturally (just as well) but have a think about it… are you breathing shallowly at the moment or are you breathing in a more relaxed manner?

When we’re stressed, we often shallow breathe into the upper part of the chest/clavicle and when we do, it’s a short and sharp breathe, excited and may be hurried and isn’t the best for long-term health.


The mid breath/thoracic breathing when mastered, inflates the ribcage, directs air to the mass of the lung that sits in the back of the body and can help us to lift more, stay longer, move with stability and ease and endure greater load, stress and even pain.

An interesting fact is that 2/3 of the lung sits at the back of the body and yet most people breathe into the chest!


Here’s a challenge for mid/thoracic breathing: place your hands on the side of your ribcage with fingers lying on top and in line with the ribs.  As you breathe in for approx. 6 counts, inflate the ribcage widthways (picture/think about superman in his standing stance).  Do this without lifting the shoulders or shoulder blades and then exhale at the same speed.


The full breath/deep lung space opens doors to more relaxation, mindfulness and meditation.  Our ability to fill and empty the lungs to their fullest capacity is the basis for absolute lung health and the precursor for combating stress disorders, disease and mental health issues.

I didn’t know this but around 15% of dirty air sits around the base of the lungs which illustrates that Joseph Pilates may have had a point when he referred to the base lungs as a ‘cemetery for the deposition of diseased, dying and dead germs’.

Clearing this space is vital for health and wellness.


A full breath/deep lung space challenge: drag as much air into your lungs, immediately directing the inflow downwards to the pelvis and work up to/work on 8 count breathing in and the same slow, controlled breathe release out.


When we’re new to classes, don’t get caught up too much with which type of breathing, when to inhale or exhale and lose sight of what we’re doing ie the stretch or exercise.

Basically in an exercise class though, we inhale to prepare for the exercise or stretch and exhale just before and when we’re performing the stretch or exercise.


When we’re used to classes and the options and challenges, we can use our mid thoracic breathing to help us focus and get the most out of the workout or stretch.

We can alter the cadence and depth of each breath and learn to control the breath while performing range of motion exercises ie flexing, extending and rotating.

Towards the end of a class (especially in our fitness Pilates/yoga classes), when relaxing and stretching, do some full and deep breaths in/out.


Finally, we can include breathe retention/holding with full and deep breathing.

As we mentioned above, so often when we’re under pressure or stressed and our breathing’s shallow and quick, it can result in a rise in blood pressure and stress hormones – not good.

A way to combat this is to notice and change those short, sharp breaths to relaxed, full breaths combined with breath retentions when we inhale and when we exhale.

We’ve done this in class before and we aim to focus and do more of this in the relaxation part of some classes but especially when it comes to our festive tea light evening classes that we do on a Tuesday & Thursday in December (more about those below* and at a later date ie end of November).


So if you choose to try relaxed, full breathing with breath retentions as a challenge, try breathing in for a count of 4, 6 or 8 (maybe start with 4 then work up to 6 or 8 as you practice more) then hold the breath for 2, 3 or 4 then exhale for the same number as your inhale was.  Hold for 2, 3 or 4 counts then begin the cycle of breaths again.

With the breath retentions/holds, don’t get to the point where you’re gasping for air or feel anxious, claustrophobic or light-headed.

Just relax into it, go at your own pace, you’ll know what’s right for you.


And remember, do this in a relaxed space, somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed.  Maybe sit in a comfortable supported chair with your feet on the floor, eyes closed (to help you relax and focus more) or when you’re in a supine position (lying on your back) on the floor.


Do a few of each of the breath types and see how you feel.

Hopefully as you focus on, become aware of, and regularly practice relaxed breathing, you will feel more relaxed, alert and focussed.

(I’ve adapted/added my own words to the article by Jayne Nicholls which was in a fitness mag and a fitness body that I subscribe to.  I did my fitness yoga stretch certification with Jayne years ago)


I also wanted to add that when we get into a regular breathing practice, we can rewire our nervous system out of stress mode and we can dramatically decrease anxiety.

We can also dramatically improve our fitness and endurance, increase oxygen levels to our cells and improve our health as well sleeping more deeply too.

It’s all good.  And breathe.


You know that I like to add in a few interesting health quotes or pieces of information that I’ve heard about or read and instead of putting them altogether as I usually do, I thought I’d ‘sprinkle’ some in here:


  • A sensible lifestyle with healthy food, regular moderate exercise and restful sleep is still the best medicine for health.


  • Last Wednesday was a busy class (woo hoo) and thanks to everyone who brought a pumpkin with them to use as a weight.

  • Our diet is the most powerful weapon we have for our health. Food nutrients maintain rejuvenative powers and rebalance body systems that may have gotten out of balance.


  • We are what we eat and how we live (and what we think too).


  • We’re all unique and different – something to celebrate.


* So if you don’t know about our December Tue & Thurs candlelight classes, what happens is: we all bring a tea light or candle or even a battery-operated candle (saves time, any mishaps re candlewax on the floor etc).  Anyway, we do our usual class and then two-thirds of the way through, we light our candles, I put the main lights off and we stretch, relax and breathe in the glow of the candles.  A very relaxing 20 minutes.

Pilates + yoga by candlelight

Reminder that you can pay for classes:

With cash ie £6 per class

Directly into my bank account

Using my SumUp card machine.


Remember to let me know if you have any comments, news and keep me updated with anything that’s happening with you ie health-related stuff, goals, achievements etc.


I look forward to seeing you and working out with you this week.

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