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Breath-work is Hip!

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

I know what you're thinking, you clearly meant hype. Get with the times John you nerd.


Well guess what, I got you!


It was a play on words *punchable smug face*. Read on to understand.


The diaphragm, a word that makes adolescents laugh, PT's cringe and yogi's say "ya I know all about diaphragmatic breathing." Do you really though?


What this oddly shaped, asymmetrical muscle means to me goes way beyond "diaphragmatic breathing."





Diaphragmatic breathing is the process by which you inhale (through your nose please) and activate your diaphragm. If you look at the parachute looking striped muscle to your right you will see that the fibers run down. So activating this muscle pulls the muscle downward, vacating space for the lungs up top, and basically dragging air into the lungs. If you've ever had an issue with your diaphragm and gone for a run you know the reality of "dragging air."


You should also notice that the structure is asymmetrical. That means one side has more work to do to clear some space. The right side of your diaphragm has the liver attachment to hold onto as an anchor, and therefore requires more effort to activate and descend than the left, which does not have the opportunity to attach to an organ of such mass. This naturally encourages greater descension of the left hemi-diaphragm.


So if it is easier to activate the left diaphragm more than the right, there would logically be some asymmetrical tendencies contained in this system. (Keep this in mind, we are about to take a detour).



The Pelvic Floor


The Pelvic floor acts as a trampoline for pressure created by the diaphragm during breathing. Imagine your belly, inside is a bunch of stuff (organs and what you ate for lunch). That stuff is always there, so when you inhale, that air pressure pushes down on the contents of your stomach, and therefore the pelvic floor (run on sentence if I ever saw one).


AS YOU BREATHE YOU ACTIVATE YOUR PELVIC FLOOR. If you have a natural tendency to perform breathing asymmetrically then I am sure you can imagine that this tendency can become exaggerated. If you always drive with one hand, it can be awkward and difficult to switch to the other. I learned this watching the country folk from Williamstown, VT drive out of the school parking lot with their left arms on the open window and their right hands driving. When I tried it I thought I was going to crash. Just wasn't country enough I guess. I DIGEST.



(Scroll down to the bottom to get to the point, read on to learn some biomechanics)



As you breathe, you activate your pelvic floor. Asymmetrically. If it was easier and more energy efficient to activate the left diaphragm and push pressure down the left side of the pelvic floor, you will do so. Now when you've done so, you encourage your left pelvic wing to move (a little bit) out to the side to catch that pressure. Imagine that the top of the pelvis, right below this word, or if you are on a mobile view the rounded portion at the top (true left, right view), moves out to the side.

The bottom of the pelvis moves in to the middle some more (like it's catching the pressure). To be honest, this picture looks like it is doing just that based off the shadows. Amazing what wikipedia has available nowadays.





Why does that make breath work hip? As you breathe you activate all the musculature around your pelvis and hip. If this activation is always asymmetrical because you do not challenge your body with great enough variability and stress, then your ability to perform movements can change, adapt, alter the space time continuum. Seriously, your body will adapt until the day you stop all biological processes. If you perform an asymmetrical motion over and over and over and over, and over and over and over again, you've done something amazing! You've learned a skill! Does that skill benefit you? Does it feel "pain-free"? That is of no concern to your diaphragm.


If you are altering your movements to a degree that it is causing you issues, get with times. Do some legitimate breath work. You can find a couple free tips on the home page of my website, but pouring water on a fire doesn't always put it out, sometimes you need to know how big the fire is.