Ever wondered what people are talking about when they talk about the diaphragm? You aren't alone! For one thing, you have more than one diaphragm in your body! When talking about breathing and how to bring breath into the lungs, we are often referring to your thoracic diaphragm. This diaphragm is shaped kind of like a big dome or the top of a balloon. It is positioned below your ribs and above your organs -- it is like the Pantheon at the base of your ribs. When the diaphragm engages, the central tendon pulls the center of the diaphragm down towards your pelvis, creating a vacuum in your thoracic cavity which causes your lungs to take in air. On the exhale your diaphragm moves up and assists your lungs in emptying their air.
The diaphragm is an involuntary muscle that doesn't need your thoughts to make it work. This being said, it is very beneficial to take time to get to know this muscle, how it works, and to do breathing exercises to help it work better. Having tension in any of your breathing apparatus can cause havoc on the rest of your body. Taking a few minutes to slow down and breath in a thoughtful way can massively change not only your Pilates practice, but can also alter your stress levels, loosen your back and give you an overall sense of calm.
Come see us at the Swan to learn about the relationship of the diaphragm to the iliopsoas and your Kidney and Adrenal function!