The Breathing Diaphragm
The diaphragm is a muscle. It looks like this from underneath:
And like this from the front (sort of):
And from the side, "e" is the space where the diaphragm lives, between the lungs + heart above and the abdominal organs below.
What does the diaphragm do?
The diaphragm is a big player in making air come into and go out of your lungs. It flattens down when you inhale and domes up when you exhale.
When the diaphragm flattens down, it removes force on the lungs, thereby decreasing the pressure in the lungs to less than atmospheric pressure, and air rushes in to make up the difference (fill the empty space).
When the diaphragm domes up, it pushes on the lungs, thereby increasing the pressure in the lungs to greater than atmospheric pressure and air is pushed out to bring the pressure back to normal.
The diaphragm is contracting (or doing work) during the flattening down action. It pulls its center tendon down towards its peripheral tendons on the spine + ribcage.
The diaphragm is releasing (not doing work) during the doming up action. It releases the pull on its central tendon to return to its original relaxed position.
This is of course the simplest version of what happens. In practice, it is quite a bit more complex with several more players determining how you breathe.
Want to practice breathing with this new information?
Inside the podcast episode (coming soon) is the full story on the above outline and several guided breathing practices to help you apply the information and make it usable practical knowledge.
Practicing with you,