Breathing New Meaning

The Breath-a-Cizer might look a little archaic, but the little prop’s purpose is anything but outdated. By bringing awareness to the founding principle of Pilates—the breath—you’ll take your practice to new depths.

By Kerri Campbell • Edited by Amanda Altman

What exactly is a Breath-a-Cizer, and how can you integrate it into your practice? This original piece of equipment designed by Joe isn’t a regular at most studios—but it should be! The first time I saw one in action was when my teacher, Ron Fletcher, was demonstrating Pilates on television as a guest on The Phil Donahue Show. That got me to thinking, Why does this little prop even exist—and how can it help my teaching and practice?


Anterior Pump Handle Breathing

THE FOCUS Directs breath into the front of the chest to create a discernible lift and fall of the breastbone, while highlighting
the relationship of that movement to the thoracic spine (rib cage).

START Get into a standing (or seated) position while holding the Breath-a-Cizer.

MOVE Inhale through your nose and take as much air into the front of your chest as possible without shifting your spine forward; consciously use your abdominals to draw the air deeper into your lungs. Exhale as you actively press your sternum down while using your abdominals to press your breath through the straw, moving the
wheel with a smooth and steady motion without shifting your spine.

TIPS One of the most common challenges is the ability to move the ribs without shifting the spine or the torso forward. Try using a wall, the Ped-o-Pull, or a doorjamb against the backline of the body to increase awareness of this movement. Note: This exercise can also be used as a building block to teach thoracic extension; you can also time the length of your inhale and exhale, and then record and compare future times.

ADVANCED Once you have the stability of the spine coupled with the easy movement of the sternum, try timing your inhales and exhales to see if you are able to increase the duration as you progress over time and repetitions.

Get the rest of this article, exercises and so much more in the March/April 2019 issue. Or better yet, subscribe and save!

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