A Laughing Matter: How Laughter and Breathing Better Your Health

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Pilates at Lake Oconee

Posture. Form. Flexibility.

They’re the secret to Pilates and the key to a healthier self.

But laughter? Breathing? It’s no joke!

They’re also important elements to bettering your wellness, says Carey Macaleer, founder of Brooklyn’s top studio Aline Pilates. They not only put you in a better mood, they release tension, anxiety and endorphins while giving your abs a workout of their own — the perfect remedy to a tumultuous 2020.

“Breath is laughter and laughter is breath,” says Macaleer. “Often times a new student will come in and not know how to coordinate their breath with movement. When you hold your breath, it causes more tension, and that’s something we have been seeing more in the COVID era. Getting them to laugh is an immediate release of tension and connection to the diaphragm and the intercostals of the ribs. Once that spark of tension is released, we can then start the mind/body work of connecting the breath to movement.”

Additionally, laughter is “a way to connect breath to movement but also an endorphin booster, mood booster and a release of tension,” says Macaleer. 

The pandemic has had profound effect on people’s health beyond contracting the virus. Uncertainty, sadness, anxiety and fear are just a few of the emotions that has come with COVID and the ensuing shut down. Pilates is one of the activities people have gravitated towards to heal and better their physical and mental health, whether doing online or finally going into the studio. 

Pilates is a mind/body exercise,” says Macaleer. “It puts you into a form of mediation and flow. The amount of concentration it takes to execute the exercises correctly demands that you focus exclusively on the exercises. This gives your mind a solid break from the ever-flowing thoughts, concerns, anxiety that we’ve all felt in 2020. When I’m not instructing Pilates, I’m doing it myself and it feel like a re-set.”

Macaleer’s studio was one of the only studios that saw an uptick in business after she pivoted to online learning before virtually everyone else. created a menu of online classes, including with tradition groups, one-on-ones (Saturday sessions with Macaleer are particularly popular, and only $15), On-Demand training and even an archive of pre-taped classes people can do at their own leisure. Macaleer donates a portion of the proceeds to local Brooklyn organizations that support communities, including Covenant House, Heights and Hills and West Brooklyn Waterfront Mutual Aid. You can see Aline’s full menu here.

“I expect that sometime in 2021 we will go back to classes indoors, but I plan and am excited about keeping some of the online platform that was born in pandemic,” she says. “This way the mom who can’t get out due to a sleeping baby or the student who is traveling for business can still get in a weekly class with an instructor they know and trust and knows their body. A live online class with an instructor who knows your body will always be valuable and sought after.”

Since its opening four years ago, Aline has become a haven for the most seasoned practitioners, fitness enthusiasts and those just looking for a life change. The studio provides the most expert, seasoned training for a bursting clientele who come to attain “Strength for Life,” a mantra and mission statement Macaleer follows. She believes it’s an essential part of giving clients the tools to maintain their well-being, including physical strength, health and peace of mind. 

“We have a firm belief that by introducing Pilates into people’s everyday routines, they will become stronger both mentally and physically,” says Macaleer, a former dancer who discovered the practice at 12-years old. “We have an incredibly diverse group of clients from all walks of life and ages, from teens to seniors, and our hope is that we can open their eyes to a sustainable Pilates program that will exist outside of our studio walls. We aim to give them a roadmap for keeping their bodies’ strong over their entire life. As teachers we all work hard to keep synergy for the student.”

Discovered by Joseph Pilates during the eve of the 20th century, Pilates has proven to be a resilient practice that emphasizes alignment and breathing while developing a strong core (abdominals, hips, and low back) and improving coordination and balance. Macaleer and her highly experienced, passionate trainers help clients achieve this through five distinct principles: centering, control, precision, breath and flow. “Pilates helps you to learn how to engage certain muscle groups that may not be firing so the body works evenly and systematically helping to improve balance, flexibility and deep core strength,” she says. 

Macaleer is not only a trained practitioner, coach and teacher, she is an entrepreneur who is giving voice to female entrepreneurs. “Aline is a woman-owned small business, and it’s important we be a part of our community,” says Macaleer. She recently started a program called “The Parlor Series” which welcomes local residents into the studio for events, talks, complimentary classes and consultations and other community-centric sessions.

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