Stretch Your Spine with Breathing on the Arc Barrel

Breathing on the Arc barrel is a very easy exercise. You sit, you move, and then you breathe. The Arc barrel provides a lift and support of your legs to help you get a deeper stretch in your back with less stress to your body. Plus, because the barrel helps support your legs, it’s easier for you to focus on spinal articulation and control what your abs are doing. Here’s how to correctly practice this spine stretching exercise.

Breathing on the Arc Barrel

  1. Place the Arc barrel so that the curve seems like a bump in the road on your mat.
  2. Sit next to the edge of the barrel and allow your legs to relax over the top of the barrel.
  3. We will use Pilates breathing throughout.
  4. Take a moment to make sure that you feel your SITs bones connected to the mat.
  5. Broaden your collarbones and place your shoulder blades on your back. Reach your straight arms in front of you and allow your fingertips to lightly touch the mat in front of you. Make sure to keep your arms shoulder-width apart.
  6. Inhale to lengthen and draw your belly button toward your spine.
  7. breathing on the arc barrelExhale. Begin sequentially rolling through your spine, starting with your head, until your rib cage pivots forward. Don’t allow your belly to collapse onto your thighs. As you articulate forward, you will notice that your fingertips slide forward on the mat.
  8. Hold here. Inhale and exhale three times. Each time you inhale, imagine filling the back of your body with air to help tight muscles relax.
  9. On your last exhale, draw your belly button to your spine and stack each vertebra up one at a time until you finish with your head on top.
  10. Complete steps 5-8 two more times.

Another Philosophy

I like to practice Breathing on the Arc barrel with muscular energy. This means that I like the control of moving one vertebra at a time and feeling my abdominals draw into my body cavity and lift my ribs away from my hips. However, there are times when I like to practice another version of Breathing on the Arc barrel.

In this second version, I draw my belly to my spine and articulate forward so that my chest rests on or near my thighs. I’m still not collapsed, but I am more relaxed in this version. In particular, I practice this version if I’m really tight or tense. A couple rounds of this type of Breathing helps me relax enough to correctly complete my preferred version of Breathing on the Arc barrel.

Finding the Best Arc Barrel

If you’re in the market for an Arc barrel, I recently compared the top five Arc barrels on the market. Here’s who made my top five list and which barrel I’d buy.

Breathing on the Arc Barrel Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

I love how this version of Breathing helps me stretch my spine. What do you think? Do you like this version better than the Matwork version? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.