The power of our diaphram and how yoga can strengthen it.

this short article I will be looking at the function and importance of the diaphragm, how it affects health, and what we can do to make it work optimally.

Yoga literature is full of descriptions about the power of the breath, and its connection to health, vitality and energy. We hear a lot about Prana, but very little about what we can actually do to harness the breath for everyday good health. It is not an exaggeration to say that a nation’s health depends on proper breathing, and yet this simple fact is generally ignored throughout the Health Sector.

- See more at: http://amritayogamagazine.com/2016/01/08/more-power-to-the-diaphram/#sthash.fDyIP5mj.dpuf

I have just attended a wonderful yoga workshop and it has reminded me of the importance of our diaphram and how through yoga practice we can strengthen it. The health benefits which arise from exercising out diaphram is considerable, it helps to alleviate back pain, stress, our posture, increase oxygen supply to our organs. Within weeks of regular yoga practice you will notice the benefits.

The diaphragm is a very important muscle, it operates like a pump bringing blood back to the heart. When the diaphragm pumps stronger, the venous return increases. And increased venous return increases the hearts cardio-vascular efficiency. An optimally functioning diaphragm is directly linked to good cardio-vascular function.

The diaphragm is dome-shaped and serves as the main muscle of respiration and plays a vital role in the breathing process. Also known as the thoracic diaphragm, it serves as an important anatomical landmark that separates the thorax, or chest, from the abdomen. The origins of the diaphragm are found along the lumbar vertebrae of the spine and the inferior border of the ribs and sternum.


Below are some of the yoga practices which helps to massage and strengthen the diaphram:

Belly Breathing

Lying on the back, bring awareness to the diaphragm by breathing ‘down’ into the belly.  The descending diaphragm is pushing on the internal organs, causing the belly to rise. Link the rising belly to the depth of inhalation. Once this connection is established, add a gentle weight,  also pay attention to the exhalation, making sure it is complete. As the diaphragm strengthens, more weight can be added.

Frontal Breathing

Lying on the front, breathe into the belly against the weight of the body. Feel the rise and fall of the body with the breath, enjoying the sensation of full and complete inhales and exhales.

Cobra Lift

This is a great way to strengthen both the back muscles and the diaphragm. Clasp hands on the back and lift the head and chest off the floor using the inhalation to lift and relaxing slightly down on the exhalation. Make sure the feet stay on the floor. As the diaphragm descends against resistance there will be a distinct lifting of the torso against gravity as the diaphragm supports the muscles of the lumbar spine. This exercise can be intensified by varying the arm position; from mild with hands on the back to strong with the arms stretched out in front. Repeat as often as desired, always working to synchronize the breath to the movement.

A more detailed account of the importance of our diaphragm and how to exercise it is in the January's edition of Amrita, the Yoga Alliance Magazine.

How Yoga Helps

There are simple exercises which are suitable for all levels of student, and the results can be impressive, with alleviation of back pain, improved posture and fuller breathing within weeks of regular practice.

Belly Breathing

Lying on the back, bring awareness to the diaphragm by breathing ‘down’ into the belly.  The descending diaphragm is pushing on the internal organs, causing the belly to rise. Link the rising belly to the depth of inhalation. Once this connection is established, add a weight (start with something like a bag of potatoes) and attempt to lift the weight through the same distance as previously. Also pay attention to the exhalation, making sure it is complete. As the diaphragm strengthens, more weight can be added.

Frontal Breathing

Lying on the front, breathe into the belly against the weight of the body. Feel the rise and fall of the body with the breath, enjoying the sensation of full and complete inhales and exhales.

Cobra Lift

This is a great way to strengthen both the back muscles and the diaphragm. Clasp hands on the back and lift the head and chest off the floor using the inhalation to lift and relaxing slightly down on the exhalation. Make sure the feet stay on the floor. As the diaphragm descends against resistance there will be a distinct lifting of the torso against gravity as the diaphragm supports the muscles of the lumbar spine. This exercise can be intensified by varying the arm position; from mild with hands on the back to strong with the arms stretched out in front. Repeat as often as desired, always working to synchronize the breath to the movement.

Intensifying the Practice

For more advanced students classical Hatha Yoga offers incredible techniques. Although these are described in the language of Tantra, they have physiological effects Yogis were clearly very familiar with.

- See more at: http://amritayogamagazine.com/2016/01/08/more-power-to-the-diaphram/#sthash.fDyIP5mj.dpuhttp://amritayogamagazine.com/2016/01/08/more-power-to-the-diaphram

this short article I will be looking at the function and importance of the diaphragm, how it affects health, and what we can do to make it work optimally.

Yoga literature is full of descriptions about the power of the breath, and its connection to health, vitality and energy. We hear a lot about Prana, but very little about what we can actually do to harness the breath for everyday good health. It is not an exaggeration to say that a nation’s health depends on proper breathing, and yet this simple fact is generally ignored throughout the Health Sector.

- See more at: http://amritayogamagazine.com/2016/01/08/more-power-to-the-diaphram/#sthash.fDyIP5mj.dpuf