Last week I had the huge honor of flying to New York City to teach the Pelvic Empowerment section of Leslie Howard’s 5-day pelvic floor yoga training (with options for teacher certification) at Om Yoga.
One of the things we talked about was vaginal massage, which is a super-helpful thing to do to honor and care for the pelvis, and it helps to eliminate certain kinds of pain and disfunction.
Leslie Howard, pelvic floor goddess and yoga teacher who spreads the word nationally, finds that 30% to 40% of women that she sees have too much tone in their pelvic floor whether they’ve had a child or not.
This goes against the commonly held notion that all women need to do to be healthy is to “do your kegels” to strengthen the pelvic floor. Some (perhaps many) women actually need to learn how to release and soften tense muscles “down there” before strengthening exercises can be truly effective and helpful. You can see Leslie talk about the subject in this video interview on
During the training I heard a woman describe her initial attempt at vaginal massage as feeling “clinical.” At first I was just listening and not sure if I was relating or not. But then I had a revelation.
As the memories of my vaginal massage journey began to flow into awareness, I became aware of a similar experience I had.
First attempting this massage was a bit like “poking around” down there. It was almost as if the finger was like a stick, and the places accessible inside the vagina were also hardened or softer, depending on where I touched. When the vagina is approached clinically, the fingers are protected with gloves, and hard instruments are sometimes inserted. It is typically a dispassionate interchange.
The vagina is an emotional and receptive part of the body. When she is approached, it needs to be with a caring touch. This helps to bring a yielding response if someone is attempting to soften tension held there. When the muscles of the pelvic floor receive this caring touch, they are more likely to want to soften.
This process helps to develop physical communication with these muscles at the root of the body: the fingers communicate concern for the pelvic floor, and the pelvic floor communicates by letting go or resisting depending on the situation.
If we treat ourselves like a hunk of muscles and pounds of flesh, or merely functional—like a machine, the body feels that and is less sensitive and responsive to this kind of touch. And if we treat ourselves like a loved one the body gets that, too. And this love and care makes a real difference for our well-being, as well as a very real difference in response.
* Love your pelvis. *
If you want more info on pelvic floor massage these books are good:
‘Wild Feminine’, by Tami Lynn Kent
‘Ending Female Pain’, by Isa Herrera
And this book includes male pelvises:
‘Headache in the Pelvis’, by David Wise, M.D. and Rodney Anderson, M.D.