Organs Somatic Anatomy

Please use for your study - but do not share them on your facebook page- it has taken me 15 years to compile these images - thank you!


1. Intro


Thank you for your involvement with each unit, and for all of the work you have done already to prepare. Students come prepared with a model to class. These knit organs are an example of a model that was created to embody some of the learned anatomy that students engaged with, before arriving to embody the material together. The knitting also expresses how our engagement with the subject and engagement with 3d anatomy, the time spent focusing on it helps us learn a lot about space within the body. A big learning in organs, how these asymmetrically organized organs stack and fold and fit around each other. The ability to allow for movement between all of them for sliding determines how free each of our organs can function and be healthy. And to understand the protection and support of the bones, esp. ribs and pelvis, as well as the connective tissues and diaphragm that support the organs. All of this gives us a sense of 3d space that can move and slide and co-exist.

In the left picture below, we can see how tightly packed the organs are and how - from the inside out - they provide support for the skeleton. We are not empty! We are packed! We have volume. We have resonance in all of our organs. And we can utilize this in our life to know ourselves, to express ourselves deeply, to have a depth of experience, and to have a perspective from the organ layer to see the world or experience self.

In the right picture below, the spine is surprisingly central in the torso. What you can’t see is that the organs come around to the left and the right of the spine. We see how the spine lays centrally in the abdomen and torso and is not our ‘back’ bone. You can see how the arteries of the mesentery and small intestine are organized - the small intestine hangs from the back wall of the abdomen and spreads like a curtain from there, all across the middle or abdomen or belly. Small intestine is not just like a vacuum cleaner tube, but is a skirt with a 5 meter tube dangling off the back wall, supplied by arteries, nerves and lymph vessels. This picture also beautifully shows the different spaces between the organs. The lesser and greater omentum and the thoracic diaphragm on top and perineum on bottom, it outlines the peritoneal sac. As we learn about the ligamentous and fascial supports of the organs, this image is very helpful.


2. 3-hour afternoon class


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Donec consectetur, odio eget porta varius, orci mauris viverra ante, eget egestas turpis sapien vel orci. Donec eu ornare augue, ut efficitur velit. Vestibulum et magna mattis, sollicitudin ligula ac, facilisis dui. Ut blandit lectus neque, sit amet fringilla nisi mollis eget. Sed a eros nec leo euismod eleifend sit amet ut nisl.

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Here is your description of this project.  Nullam tempor dolor sed nulla auctor, nec placerat felis sodales. Etiam et turpis mattis, efficitur mi ut, ultrices diam. Donec consectetur, odio eget porta varius, orci mauris viverra ante, eget egestas turpis sapien vel orci. 

Donec consectetur, odio eget porta varius, orci mauris viverra ante, eget egestas turpis sapien vel orci. Donec eu ornare augue, ut efficitur velit. Vestibulum et magna mattis, sollicitudin ligula ac, facilisis dui. Ut blandit lectus neque, sit amet fringilla nisi mollis eget. Sed a eros nec leo euismod eleifend sit amet ut nisl.

Vestibulum et magna mattis, sollicitudin ligula ac, facilisi. Ut blandit lectus neque, sit amet fringilla nisi mollis eget. Sed a eros nec leo euismod eleifend sit amet ut nisl. Donec consectetur, odio eget porta varius, orci mauris viverra ante, eget egestas turpis sapien vel orci. Donec eu ornare augue, ut efficitur velit. 


3. Ribs Content Container


These are unusual perspectives of the space that is available above and below the diaphragm, showing the space that the lungs will fill up and surround the heart on top of the diaphragm. We often underestimate the space the lungs take up. This also shows the beautiful double-doming o the diaphragm where the stomach and liver will fit. This also shows where the arteries, veins, and lymph squeeze through the diaphragm and are protected by the vertebral bodies, and are also protected by the lungs (above the diaphragm). There is a reciprocal relationship between the rib cage and the organs. The ribs protect and support the organs (lungs and heart) and the organs support and lift the ribs from the inside. Our breath itself supports our structure.

It is uncommon for most people to know and to allow the lungs to take up all the space they have available, so we need to expand our visualization and embodiment of the spaces all the way up to 1st and 2nd ribs and down to the space of the floating ribs to allow our breath to enter and release fully.


4. Lungs


This first picture beautifully shows how our breathing. Lungs accomplish breathing by offering our circulation system immense access to the air we are breathing. What you see here are the arteries and veins that enter and return to the heart. What you see below is how they eventually end up encircling surrounding and eventually becoming the alveoli.

You are creating millions and millions of alveoli at the end of the branching bronchi, supported by cartelidge into tissues that, as you can see in this image have beautiful looping muscles. What you can’t see here is how fine the lung membrane actually is is Again, the body has created a membrane that is both very strong yet pliable, yet very light and thin. And what might the yellow strands around the alveoli be?

In the image from Grey’s anatomy, you see how the vertebra is central; how the different arteries and veins group together near the protection of the spinal cord and how there is space between the ribs and the lungs. There is a ‘skin’ or sac around the heart and around the lungs.


5. Heart


In the first diagram, we are seeing the embryological origins of the heart starting from primitive blood vessels that connect and create flow by connecting to each other, and how these tubes, then, fuse together into a primitive heart tube, and then fold and spiral into a heart, after which different pathways are opened up and created between the heart chambers to make our now-modern human heart work.

In the second image, we see a spliced heart. It is so interesting that in the development of the heart starting from tubes signifies how the heart is connected to the whole circulatory system of tubes, and there is just one part that has specialized into a pump that nevertheless needs the support from the whole system.

6. Homologous


In this first image we see a small baby hanging by both hands off the surface of a desk and pulling himself over the surface. In the second image we see the monkey holding onto mother with hands, fingers and toes and a bit with the tail. This grasping and holding on with both hands is considered a homologous pattern. It is a very strong reflex to hold onto mothers, sisters, brothers, cloth, breast, and to pull itself to family and to nourishment, and to pull itself to belong or cozy up.

The developmental pattern of homologous means that movement is initiated in both hands or both feet simultaneously in a yield-push or reach-pull pattern. We can debate if the pull came before the push, and then the push came and then the reach-pull again. Try them all out (see below)!

This pattern relies on the underlying pre-vertebral patterns that establish tone throughout the body and from mouth to anus. It provides the movement pattern of the jellyfish, whose rhythmic patterns of spasm and release and are still present in the body — the sphincters of the digestive tract and heart.

The seals below demonstrate the width of support available during tummy time, and make clear how the organs can be a huge support in this pattern.

Try Them Out!

Homologous Yield-Push: Upper Limbs, hands and lower arms &
Lower limbs, feet and lower legs

Using both upper then lower limbs simultaneously to yield and push against the earth while maintaining the prior pattern of Spinal - moves the torso AWAY from hands/ feet and a short way into space back/ forward ( don’t cheat or pull!) It builds strength and is effortful. Think frog!

Homologous Reach-Pull: Upper Limbs, hands and lower arms &
Lower limbs, feet and lower legs

Now with the connection of all the previous patterns - sit and reach hands far forward in space until body must follow, when the navel is pulled toward the hands. You may use some push of the lower AFTER you reach.  

Reach and pull of the feet is best felt when reaching from both feet down off a ledge into backspace, sensing for the earth, then arriving into support and pulling center in a slight whole body flexion. It can mean just reaching back with feet, which allows for head to reach higher in space. Think raptor!


7. Kidney and Bladder


The kidneys we have today are actually a third version of the kidneys we have today. Our kidneys today start as tiny little little tiny broccoli heads, with head horns coming out of a small bladder. They grow up, out and away from the bladder along the back wall of the organs, back behind the peritoneal sac. It is helpful to embody that same movement and understand the triangle that is created between the bladder and two kidneys, which allows for width and space between the two kidneys and discovering the pathway behind the organs to the kidneys. The ureters roughly follow the path of the psoas muscle, which can inspire learning about central support of the ureter from bladder to kidney. The bladder is wonderfully protected by the public bone and is fig-shaped with its stalk reaching back towards the umbilicus, reaching towards the bellybutton as an embryological remnant of the internal umbilicus. Just like you can set your garden hose to a ‘mist’ setting, the kidneys filter the blood by making finer and finer pathways until the blood is pressed through openings that only allow one molecule at a time. This is a process of selection and then sending these molecules into the pathway of the urine down to the bladder and then to be eliminated from the body.

The average person has only 1-1/12 gallons of blood circulating through their body and the kidneys filter that blood 40 times a day. Each kidney weighs 160 grams and eliminates between 1 to 1 1/2 liters of urine a day. They filter 180 liters of fluid in 24 hours!


8. Liver and Gallbladder


In the embryo the liver is THE largest organ. The liver is - at one point — about the size and weight of a third of all the organs, demonstrating why it is so necessary for growth. The blood from the small intestine captures the nutrients from digestion and sends them through the liver, where they are disassembled, stored, reassembled, and sent back into the blood, according to the needs of the cells. The liver mostly lays on the right side of the body underneath the diaphragm, but part of it crosses over midline to the left side, touching the stomach.

The gallbladder is nestled underneath the liver, produces bile and injects into the blood at regular intervals or when the food eaten is especially fatty. Bile is an especially concentrated substance. Play with embodying a fluid that has a high concentration and the ability to break down fat, versus an organ or fluid that is throughout the body and does not have a rhythm or injection capacity.

A healthy liver stores a pint of blood and can release that blood into the system when it is needed. Its finely segmented, guiding the blood through many different liver vessels. [insert image that shows the ligament that divides the left and the right; and more cellular view of the liver]


9. Digestive Tract - Mouth to Anus - Stomach Spleen Pancreas


Embryologically, our digestive system enters the body through (what is now) the navel, that is, the yolk sac on the belly side. It expands up to the area which will become our mouth and expands down to what will become our anus. These two openings -- the oral and cloacal — each have a membrane that eventually open up, are released or ‘pop’ in order to allow the amnion to be swallowed by the fetus, to nourish and keep moist, feed, rinse/coat/cover. This fluid changes as we grow and provides different things that the digestive system needs. We are actually swallowing this fluid through as the organs are developing. The tube moves and expands, starts differentiating into the different digestive organs…

And through an interesting process of expulsion and reabsorption of the small intestine, gains its asymmetrical looping. Due to greater sensitivity of the mouth, lips, tongue and anal area,** we can initiate movement from either direction through the whole digestive tract, which the baby learns as well as it learns to suckle and nurse. This undulatory path, this path of peristaltic movement, path of digesting, … and releasing is something that we learn and something that is simultaneously autonomic, and organized. Our enteric nervous system coordinates this rhythmic movement and supports the chemical, enzymatic and digestive movements that are necessary to extract nutrition from the food that we eat.

Lest you get lost in the anatomy and forget that we are investigating life itself, joy, interaction, take a look at this baby and remember what we are doing. If you start to feel it is too much of a chore, take a look at the baby and dump it. And when in doubt - drool!

Sphincters - how many sphincters do you think there are between the mouth and the anus? Do you consider the mouth, the esophagus a spinster? Play with inserting choice-making and releasing along the digestive path.

The second picture is an amazing picture of the tongue. Where does the tongue come from? Where is the palette? How much room do we have in front of the spine? Where is our mouth versus breathing versus brain? Making space… Generally we don’t really know where our mouth really is, or how it fits into our head. It shows a nice soft palatte and hard palatte and teeth and lips, and hyoid. Give me visceral sense of how the esophagus is pressed between the trachea and the spine. We need to move it back and down.


10. Small Intestine and Large Intestine


This first image helps make the intestines really real and exist in our bodies. Students sometimes look at organs and try to imagine them, instead of believing that they are really there! Students should remember times when they have been with the organs - putting a hand on a puppy’s belly and it really moves or flaying an animal after the hunt. Imagine something that helps you remember that the organs are really real and packed in!

This image shows the fat and the huge amount of blood vessels that you need to harvest the food coming from the small intestine. And again shows the image of the mesentery wall, with large intestine pulled away and the beautiful outline of the blood vessels reaching the small intestine through the mesentery wall.

The second image is a simple live version of the intestines.

The third is the skirt of the mesentery reaching down to the small intestine. It kind of blows your mind…You can see how connective tissue works with organs to create the mesentery and create the connection.

In this last image (likely a deer), you start to get a sense that everything is connected to each other. The reason for the enteric to work is that the mouth to anus. When you disembowel an animal, you have to be very careful to pull the whole thing out at once in order to not rupture and thereby you see how it is connected from the mouth and the hyoid bone. You can literally take the organs and hang them from the hyoid bone. In

In a movement exploration, you can embody the hanging of the organs off the hyoid bone and having the lightness of the hyoid bone in the head/cranium. That hanging gives a very different sense of weight, than if you think they are all kind of squished in and that they have a lot of weight fulness that have to be contained by the bones. In fact they are slung by ligaments and fascia and different sacs and they are hanging from the hyoid bone. It gives a completely different way to move with them, gives them a coherence, connectedness, and - for me - sense of musicality. They are not like a drum but they are more like bells hanging off a string. This is an example of how we somatic explorers visualize the anatomy and how that affects our movement, our sense of weight, resistance, weight and inspiration.

The back wall of the small intestine - the blue wall demarcates the back wall hanging of the mesentery, and likely the back wall of the liver and stomach above it. In the lower third, you can see the part of the peritoneal wall that keeps the digestive organs separate from sexual and the whole uro-genital system.

The last image shows the breakdown of the layers of the small intestine. It differentiates the inside mucosa , the muscle layers, the different nerve layers and their directions. In this unit on organs we go into the different directions that muscles are laid in the small intestines to move through and we look the enteric nervous systems in these two layers and see what different functions they may have in the outer layer and their function for digestion. What we see here in the deep muscular plexus — sub-mucosal plexus — we see a true neural net. You see nerve cells that communicate ultra democratically, to their surrounding nerve cell, which communicate to other nerve cells. The enteric nervous system, we have a ‘brainless’ nervous system.

In terms of how the enteric nervous system affects our health and our digestion. The enteric nervous system tells our brain what is going on - it doesn’t need any direction from our brain. Because it is ‘unconscious’, i.e. it acts on its own, it is really great for us somatic people to understand how we can connect with this nervous system differently - through touch, through movement, and conversation. Understanding the gut brain’s response to life challenges and trauma is expressed more or less in these layers. The one closer to the mucosa is more engaged with chemical responses to food, and the myenteric plexus is more considered with movement coordination through the digestive system. So releasing the enteric nervous system benefits from us understanding the opportunities in each of these. I have found that being able to work has provided many people with sexual trauma, food trauma, or states of ‘loss identity’ — not knowing they exist — has provided great change and relief.


11. Organs and Movement Repatterning


Expanding cellular touch to organ touch. Organ motility v. mobility. Sliding. [Worksheet information]

There is something about touching organs, something about comradery how we can be in community with each other, how we hang out with each other - allowing emotions to connect us and be expressed. Laughing, crying, being bored. screaming.

Best SBT photo2.jpg

12. Autonomic Nervous System


Connecting inner rhythms to outer rhythms. Introduction to ANS while in organs, not so much nerves but rather fluid based. And it is built on the fact that there is a lot of self reliance in the ANS.

[Image: Fluid rhythm v. nerve image —- sound maybe or a drawing? Wellbeing, balance, being able to balance excitement and rest. Drawing by C about the loop, front and back body loop.


13. Sexual Organs


[seperate embryology from feminine/masculine]

[more pictures for female body because there anatomy is inaccurate, evasive or not helpful or not clear or not distinct in the last hundred years.