Some of my friends have drawn a blank when it comes to yoga and the pelvic floor. “What’s that?” they might ask, or “Why?” is another question that sometimes comes up.
What’s a pelvic floor?
Humans and other primates are in principle quadrupeds, whose legs were stretched horizontally backward and then rotated by 90 degrees. Suddenly the weight of the inner organs lay no longer on the abdominal wall, but on the pelvis. In order for the bowels not to fall embarrassingly to the ground, the tail, which at first was stretched out and reaching to the back, had to be pulled in and shortened in order for the new floor to be closed off. Furthermore, the muscles used to move the tail were reinforced and the connective tissue made thicker.
~Eric Franklin, ‘Pelvic Power’
The pelvic floor is made up of muscle groups and connective tissue at the base of the torso where we sit. It forms a protective barrier and essential support structure between our internal organs and the outside world. It is often a quiet and pacified region of the body, because even when we have active lifestyles we are often seated, sometimes in cars, airplanes or at a desk. The pelvic floor becomes stiff and stagnant for many of us, and might also be weak.
Yoga at the “Y,” why?
Yoga can be a great way to wake up a stagnant “seat.” And just as we learn to spread our toes and extend our arms, should we not also learn how to release, stretch and strengthen the muscles responsible for so much at the base of our torsos at the seat?
Some physical concerns that can benefit from pelvic floor yoga:
* pelvic pain
* leak when laughing or sneezing
* lower back, hip or groin problems
* have to go the bathroom too often
* discomfort during sex or while using tampons
* prolapsed organs
* skin irritation
* pregnancy and birth
This list includes things that are specific to women’s bodies, and I want to honor that I believe that men can also benefit from some pelvic floor specific work.
Now a shameless plug for my pelvic floor yoga teacher:
Leslie Howard is offering her first ever 5-day pelvic floor yoga training for women in Chicago at Yogaview from February 11, 2012 to the 15th. The final 3 days are sure to be an intensified experience that is available only to teachers, teachers in training, and serious students. Time to get serious about our pelvic floors, women!
I am so excited about this work as well as the training, and so I’m shouting it out here at Elephant so women who might need to fly into beautiful Chicago will have time to make their plans! It is sure to be a very special Valentine’s Day for our pelvises!