Exploring the diaphragm muscle
What does the name diaphragm muscle mean?
The word diaphragm comes from several Greek words:
- dia, which means across
- phragmos, which means a fence
- phrassein, which means to enclose
You could get the idea, then, that the diaphragm encloses something. It does, in the sense that it divides the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity.
The diaphragm separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity.
It has three openings: the esophagus, the inferior vena cava and the aorta.
It originates on the L1-L5 vertebrae, the lower 6 costal cartilages, and the xiphoid process.
It inserts onto the central tendon of the diaphragm. In other words, it inserts on itself.
What actions does the diaphragm muscle do?
The diaphragm does most of the work during breathing.
As it contracts it flattens, pulls on the lungs, and creates a negative pressure to allow more room for air to fill the lungs.
Poses where we may be more aware of the diaphragm muscle and breathing in yoga
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David summarizes research which evaluates physical effort needed to do common standing yoga postures and how that effort compares to walking.