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Whole Body Breath

It's not just a lung affair! Your whole body breathes when you breathe.

One of my students said she was connecting more deeply to her pelvic floor during breath. That inspired me to pick that up as a focus in classes this week.

Here is an image of the thoracic diaphragm and the pelvic diaphragm (aka pelvic floor) from Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews.

The muscles of the thoracic diaphram and pelvic floor are colored in red. As you can see, the thoracic diaphram has long muscle attachments (crura) that run down the front of the spine to the lumbar region. When we inhale, the diaphram muscle fibers engage with the crura muscle fibers to pull the diaphram down into the abdominal cavity, which pulls down the bottoms of the lungs and fills them with air. On the exhale, those fibers relax and naturally rebound, doming into the rib cage and emptying the lungs.

The pelvic floor moves in conjunction with the thoracic diaphragm for 2 reasons:

  1. the abdominal organs shift down with the movement of the thoracic diaphragm, pressing down on the pelvic floor

  2. there are connective tissues running from the diaphragm and crura into the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is literally connected to the thoracic diaphragm. When we breathe, all the organs breath with us.

An animation is worth a thousand words. Check out this inspiring anatomy animation from YouTube:

The cervical (neck) diaphragm is the vocal aparatus. The cranial (head) diaphragm is made of the connective tissues around the brain and spinal cord, which extend down through the spinal canal. Everything in the body is connected and everything moves and gets massaged as we breathe!

The synchronization of the diaphragms:

  • creates the movement of the visceral system

  • creates circulation

  • stimulates the nervous system

  • provides a reflex coactivation of all core components

  • is responsible for the movement and dynamics of the lumbar spine

And every cell in the body breathes oxygen and releases carbon dioxide, just like our lungs do. When we breathe, the whole body breathes!

Do the cranial bones really move when we breathe? Here's an article discussing that!

Happy Yogaing . . . ❤️🙏

Top Image source: Olga Nayda at Unsplash

Tthoracic and pelvic diaphragms image: Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews.

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