Dancing The Web Of Life: Fascial Connections Of Breath And The Pelvic Floor

Dancing The Web Of Life: Fascial Connections Of Breath And The Pelvic Floor
Divo explores the intuitive, archetypal aspects of Continuum and combines this ongoing creative discovery with scientific findings of modern fascia research.

March, 2020

Soft and tender like fish, we enter our life on land, needing to adapt to the challenges of the gravitational field: bones densify, muscles grow, the connective tissues form resistant elastic membranes. Throughout our lifetime many aspects of the human body provide healthy function due to our “fishlike” nature.

We are all a little bit like fish.
The diaphragm developed out of structures that preceded it in evolution. The diaphragm shares some characteristics of the gills in fish, especially when you consider the movements of breathing – the undulant opening and closing of gills is analogous to the rising and falling of the diaphragm.

There is a saying, “C3, C4, C5 - keep the diaphragm alive,” indicating that the nerve supply of the diaphragm comes from your cervical spine. That may help to understand how a gentle relaxation of some previously tightened neck structures can have beneficial effects on diaphragmatic breathing function; and also vice versa, relaxing the diaphragm can benefit your cervical spine.

In addition to this innervation from the cervical spine, the diaphragm also receives input from the Autonomous Nervous System. This is particularly expressed in the dorsal (back) part of the diaphragm, where it connects with the lumbar spine and where it is linked with the vagus nerve. In addition, there are also some connections between the sympathetic nervous system and diaphragmatic function. It is therefore anything but surprising, that breathing tends to both reflect and also to influence our deeper emotional state.

Free up your ribs. Release the pelvic floor
Breath is life, but life is easy and flowing only if the diaphragm is free to function in a flexible thorax. Otherwise, we struggle for breath, and then through a change in blood chemistry we experience tightness in our muscles, an anxious mind and general feelings of unease. The rib cage compromises the internal aspect of the diaphragm/pelvic floor connection. Struggling for breath results in a compressed pelvic floor. This is a quite common reason for incontinence. Therefore, freeing up your ribs can decompress the pelvic floor and provide the ground for resetting your inner sense of strength.

Muscular myths and fascial facts
Many of us learn that the diaphragm is our primary breathing muscle, but its strength is due to so much more than just its muscular actions. Indeed, the diaphragm has muscle fibers, but it also consists of collagenous components. In quantity there are even more collagenous tissues than there are skeletal muscle fibers. Maybe even more surprising, the same is true for the pelvic floor. Most pelvic floor trainings usually aim to strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, leading to an imbalanced excessive tension in the pelvic floor, without a relationship to its synchronized function with the diaphragm. According to the findings of fascia research, an essential contribution of the kinetic storage capacity of the collagenous fibers is called “elastic recoil” or “elastic rebound.” Both the diaphragm and the pelvic floor respond in concert with the highly elastic event of breathing. A strong pelvic floor acts like an internal trampoline and is capable of simply bouncing off the increase of abdominal pressure during breathing, laughing, lifting, or coughing.

Bounce your breath – strengthen the pelvic floor trampoline
To change the elastic springiness (i.e., kinetic recoil capacity) of the fascial tissues, you’ll need to add the quality of staccato breaths and sounds in your explorations. A basic Continuum staccato breath is the Hu Breath, with a variety of audible sounds including, “Hu, Hi, Ha, and Ho” on an equally balanced exhalation and inhalation. We emphasize jumping with the breath to affect the tendinous plate of the diaphragm. If you “listen” carefully you will feel the rebound effect of your pelvic floor tissues responding. An adequate loading of the fascial tissues of the diaphragm/pelvic floor connection requires the interaction with gravity. Play with different positions as we do in Jungle Gym: on all fours (on your hands and knees), suspended on a chair, or in an upright position.

Eros of breath and the pelvic floor
Finally, let’s set the stage for eros with contrasting breath qualities like a subtle, slowed-down breath like the Lunar Breath and the fast and staccato Hu Breath. Allow the currents to ride you like the fluid dynamics of a river, which undergoes phases of acceleration and phases of slowing down. An organismic interaction of breath is a call to the sensual fires of your pelvic floor, and your somatic intelligence responds. Take time and open your attention to tend the internal magical moments without an agenda. Similar to the “green fire” called photosynthesis, when sunlight kisses chlorophyll in a leaf, and oxygen is exhaled, this can be a creative, life-enhancing erotic moment.