stacking the diaphragms

by julee snyder

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Each of our diaphragms have a point on the front midline, a point on the back midline, and one each on the right and left side seams of our body. For the pelvic floor, for example, we have the tip of the tail, the pubic disc, and each of the sitting bones. For the thoracic diaphragm, we have the xiphoid in front, T12 in the back and the tips of the 11th Rib on each side. For the shoulder diaphragm, we have the manubrium in front, the two acromimum processes at the tips of the shoulders, and the T7 vertebra. For the cranial diaphragm, we have the ethmoid bone behind the nose, the temporal bones beneath the ears, and the inion point of the occiput.

Most of the muscular structures we typically look at in anatomy are longitudinal or vertical structures running along the length of our bones. The diaphragms are horizontal doming support structures, like hovercrafts, that we can stack one above the other for an internal sense of alignment, or more accurately, relationship.

Come to standing. Begin to feel the parallel structures stacking: menisci of the knees over the arches of the feet, pelvic floor over the doming arches, thoracic diaphragm over pelvic diaphragm, thoracic inlet and shoulder diaphragm over thoracic diaphragm, vocal diaphragm and hyoid over shoulders, palate and cranium stacking over the vocal diaphragm and shoulders. Shift your hips forward in space; do you feel the back of your pelvic floor contract? How does that affect the diaphragms above and below? Do you have the same access to your feet? Has your breath changed? Has your head position changed? Does your throat feel open or closed? Has your voice changed?

Come into a down dog, up dog, triangle pose. In each of theses poses, can you keep a dynamic and open relationship between each of the diaphragms? What does the attempt to do so teach you about your poses? Sometimes we sacrifice the integrity of this interrelationship as we push to achieve a certain external form. Is it worth it? What do we sacrifice by doing so?

Try a half moon pose and an inverted pose. How does the awareness of the diaphragms as inter-related hovercrafts assist you in orienting your internal alignment in non-vertical or pelvis over head positions?

Happy practicing!

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