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Class Resource: The Lungs

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

A note on anatomical illustrations:

The Feldenkrais Method invites us to see the body as an integrated whole, a collection of relationships, parts, and many things in between. Flat images of organs allow us to focus on specific aspects of function, but they do not fully reflect human evolution and behavior. When we situate these images in our embodied exploration, their value as a tool for self-perception comes to life.

The Lungs

via Shutterstock

These branching, elastic structures in the thorax exchange gasses like oxygen and carbon dioxide between our blood and our environment. Since the lungs do not have direct muscle attachments, their movement is created by changes in volume within our bodies. As a result, breathing is intimately tied with our sense of our size and shape, full body action, and overall relation to time, comfort, urgency, and arousal.

via Visible Body
via Visible Body

In our tetrapod ancestors, air was driven into the lungs by mouth and throat muscles, a movement still used by amphibians and some fish. In humans, the primary breathing muscle is the diaphragm, a mushroom-shaped structure at the base of the ribcage. In addition to the diaphragm, the intercostal muscles (between the ribs), abdominal muscles, back muscles and pelvic floor muscles all contribute to the breathing process.

Some interesting observations about the the lungs include their sponge-like texture created by the alveoli (air sacs), unique 3-dimensional expansion/contraction, and adaptive involvement in spine movements.

Check out these video links:

Check out these lessons for exploring breathing and rib movements:

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