"Concentrated attention on the primordial navel centre brings understanding of all bodily systems."
- Yoga Sutra III:29
If you (like me), are a woman in your 20's or early 30's, who has never carried a child, then there is a great chance you have never paid much attention to your pelvic floor. Apart from knowing that I should be doing kegels, hearing my yoga teachers mention the mula bandha occasionally, and seeing some #tantrica influencer posting about how much she loves her yoni egg, I didn't know much about this part of my body. I had no idea how to access her or why I should, and truth be told, I hadn't given it much thought either.
Despite my disinterest, little drops of pelvic floor information started entering my field. And as I sat down to write my "study list" for fall, it suddenly seemed all too obvious that I should dedicate the month of September to studying the pelvic floor...
The pelvic floor is composed of an intricate weaving of muscles that work as the base of support for the rest of the body. It holds the weight of the abdominal organs; the ventricle, the intestines, the bladder, and uterus along with the ovarian tubes and ovaries. These muscles are located in the pelvis, hence the name pelvic floor, but they also include the lower abdominal muscles. A healthy pelvic floor is vital for normal bodily functions such as peeing and pooping, menstruation and sexual function.
Due to a dominantly sedentary and stressful lifestyle, a lot of women (and men) have not only weak, but also tight pelvic floor muscles. Sitting places all the weight of the abdominal organs on the pelvic floor, and stress restricts blood flow to the same area. This increases the risk of urinary incontinence and pelvic floor prolapse, especially after childbearing, birth and menopause.
The pelvis is not only a storehouse for the abdominal organs, but also a storage bowl for undigested emotions, painful experiences, female ancestral trauma, childhood trauma and birth trauma. Who are still living in your pelvis and affecting you? We often find feelings of fear and shame in this area of the body, and to cope with it all, a many women feel nothing but numbness. We have escaped our pelvis, and find ourselves living from the neck and up.
Given the society we live in and how most of us spend our days, there's no wonder we are not tapped in to the immense powers that are in reality housed in the pelvic bowl. This is also where our spiritual and sexual potential is latently coiled up, and to awaken these energies we must start inhabiting the pelvis. In truth, the pelvis is a hub of correlative agency, where we can join with our divine feminine energy and access our life force. Even the Yoga Sutras states how important this part of the body is, in Sutra III:29.
To access the magic of the pelvic floor, we need to first soften, and then strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. To become conscious of the pelvic floor, try lying on your back, bringing the attention to the space between your pubic bone (a student of mine just renamed the pubic bone the "love bone" and I adore that), right sit bone, tailbone and left sit bone. Notice if it lowers with the inhale, and lifts with the exhale, almost like the diaphragm. Keep your awareness here as you continue your practice.
Some of my favourite yoga poses for softening the pelvic floor are:
- Supported Child's pose with a bolster: Offers a soft stretch of the entire pelvic floor and allows the belly to soften forwards and down which removes the pressure on the pelvic floor.
- Half frog: Stretches each half of the pelvic floor separately. Great to pick up and work with any differences in tone and/or tightness between the two.
- Reclined closed twist with bolster: Allows one side of the pelvis to be supported by gravity, while the other side works against gravity. This pose is a beautiful way to start working the pelvic floor unilaterally, and strengthen the sides individually.
- Supported half bridge with a block under the sacrum: This inversion removes all pressure from the pelvic floor and is great for restoring balance to this are and prevent prolapse.
Resources for further study:
- The female pelvis anatomy and exercises by Blandine Calais-Germain
- Pelvic Power by Eric Franklin
- Ending Female Pain by Is Herrera
- Pelvic Floor Anatomy & Physiology for Women’s Health online course by Bliss Baby Yoga
- 20 hr Online Pelvic Floor Training with Leslie Howard