Yoga Tune Up® Blog

The Diaphragm: The Ripple Maker

By: | Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 | Comments 13

The diaphragm is not an obscure muscle, but a central, totally essential muscle. The focus of this inquiry is the relationship of the diaphragm to the pelvic floor. The diaphragm moves in concert with the 16 muscles of the pelvic floor; like a piston moving up and down in unison. Thus the muscle which gives us oxygen, existing between the heart and lungs above and the liver, stomach, and intestines below, influences the tone of our pelvic floor and affects both elimination and reproduction.

Learn to ride the wave of the diaphragm and its connections to all its surrounding muscles.

Learn to ride the wave of the diaphragm and its connections to all its surrounding muscles.

How we breathe, the health of our diaphragm, affects how we connect to and tone our pelvic floor muscles. The dance of the diaphragm is that as the diaphragm lifts, relaxing, on an exhalation, the pelvic floor also lifts, but it lifts via a contraction. Similarly when we inhale we contract the diaphragm, pressing it down, and the pelvic floor also moves down passively, a release of the pelvic floor muscles.

As the top and bottom of our abdominal cylinder move, the abdominal or core muscles also are engaged. As we inhale, the transversus abdominis, multifidi, and pelvic floor release and broaden, and with the exhalation they all three contract; their activation is in sync with the pelvic floor muscles.

Thus we have a muscular barrel with the respiratory diaphragm above, the pelvic floor below, the abdominal muscles in the front and sides and the tails of the respiratory diaphragm connecting into the quadratus lumborum and psoas in the posterior.

Your breath is a powerful pathway into your pelvic floor, and abdominal cavity! The breath is far grosser than the subtle movement of the pelvic floor; practice toning your respiratory diaphragm and your powerful core muscles, you will feel your pelvic floor catch the ripples and benefit tremendously.

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About This Author

Amanda is a certified Yoga Tune Up teacher in Sebastopol, CA. Her sessions with individuals and small groups, integrate her extensive training in Iyengar and Ashtanga Yoga, as well as fitness work from CrossFit to MovNat. Amanda can be reached at

13 Responses to “The Diaphragm: The Ripple Maker”

  1. Charles says:

    This is a great article and very clearly written. I sometimes have a challenge feeling these cues. I would like to get into the breath seminar at some point. Any ideas on how to start this process or techniques that you use?


  2. Camille Morris says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for the article, the relationship of the diaphragm to the pelvic floor is something I’ve only been recently exploring. I’ve noticed that several of my clients who have a tucked pelvis in their normal posture do not breathe well. I’m constantly trying to bring them into a neutral pelvis and recently experimenting with their breath as their posture changes627. On a different side of the spectrum for posture, would it make sense to say that if someone splayed their ribs out even a few degrees in their posture that their breathe would become more shallow and their diaphragm would become tight? I don’t know if that is correct at all I’m simply processing through this relationship. Thanks again!


  3. Sonja says:

    Really enjoyed reading your explanation of how the diaphragm and the pelvic core are connected. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  4. Hilary says:

    Ahhh, this connection makes so much philosophical sense – the strength of the core is connected to the strength of the diaphram. Healthy breathing, clear mind, strong center. Thank you!

  5. Allison Cerilli says:

    I just learned about all of this in Yoga Tune Up the other day! It’s amazing how significant the breath’s impact is on the rest of the body. Yoga, with its focus on breath, can have a powerfully positive affect on our overall health.

  6. Nikola Michaud says:

    Hi Amanda, thanks for the refresher on the relationship between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor. I had no idea the multifidi relaxed in tandem with the TVA and pelvic floor on inhalation, does that mean they also contract in tandem on exhalation?


  7. David Bateman says:

    Thanks for the article – I am a singer as well as a practitioner and thinking about the diaphragm from a barrel perspective even helps with creating air through the throat so that singing can get more range. Just another application!

  8. Rachelle Gura says:

    This was so well done! The explanation of the importance of the diaphragm in relation to the pelvic floor was revelational to me, it really inspires me to find ways to utilize our breath to pin and stretch muscles that students wouldn’t naturally link together. Thank you.

  9. Terry Littlefield says:

    LOVE the muscular barrel! Great blog!

  10. Matt says:

    Thanks, Amanda. Even though in every class I teach various forms of pranayama, I’ve not related normal inhalations and exhalations with the contractions and relaxations of the pelvic floor muscles. What you wrote makes so much sense! I can hardly wait to add this tidbit of knowledge to my YTU classes — as well as classes I teach for students over 50.

  11. Kristin says:

    Thank you for this great article on the relationship of the diaphragm to the pelvic floor as well as the core. Breath isn’t really thought about as a whole body connection and it should be. If our pelvic floor and diaphragm are not aligned all sorts of issues arise.

  12. Elise Gibney says:

    I had never really thought about the beautiful relationship between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor. This post is another of many reminders that the body functions as a fluid whole and that regarding it as such, rather than trying to break it down into disparate components, is a more natural way of understanding movement and function. Thank you!!

  13. Laurie Streff Kostman says:

    Thanks for this descriptive post about the function of the diaphragm and the very articulate explanation of how it is so intrinsically connected to the pelvic floor, the muscles of the abdominal cavity, the psoas and the QL. Your description of how interconnected the diaphragm is with the movement of the breath and the health of the pelvic floor really drove home the importance of practicing diaphragmatic toning. Now, on to practice a few rounds of Uddiyana Bandha! Thank you for the reminder!

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Jill Miller, Creator of Yoga Tune Up®

After studying yoga, movement, and the human body for over twenty years, I created Yoga Tune Up® as a simple way to restore my body and mind, keeping me balanced and free of pain. Using a specific and unique set of poses, movements and self massage tools, you too can LIVE BETTER IN YOUR BODY WITH YOGA TUNE UP®.


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