Why so much talk about the pelvic floor?
Well it’s all about harnessing the power of your pelvis, and then unleashing that energy right where you want it.
The pelvic floor was designed not to be a muscle you train, but rather a muscle that moves fluidly in connection with the muscles in your lower limbs and trunk of your body, and the base of our natural breathing. The combination of these muscles working together in a feminine flow is what results in a healthy pelvic floor.
However, it not all about contraction. When our pelvic floor muscles are too tight it can dull our sensitivity and ability to strengthen and restrict the flow of the energetic awareness to this energy centre.
Our pelvis is the best renewable energy source around, and totally organic.
First you have to make contact, and open the communication lines from your brain to your pelvis. Your pelvis is a bony structure that can be visualized as a bowl. The Taoist call this area the “Cauldron of Desire”, because they recognize that this is where generative energy is collected, refined, and stored. Your pelvis is the most potent generator of energy in your entire body, and the practice is to learn how to move that energy up through your body and literally release it around your body.The Taoists call life-force energy Chi (Qi) and charted its movement through the body. Indian yoga adepts call it Prana and used it for healing. In the West, Dr. Wilhelm Reich discovered the same energy and called it Orgone energy. Dr. Reich felt this creative energy was the basis of life and could sometimes be seen in the air as blue or white balls of energy. The Chinese, Hindus, and Dr. Reich all taught their students the benefits of arousing this energy and moving it throughout the spine and brain.
Did you know that there is a direct line of fascia linking your jaw to your pelvis?
The connection and bio-mechanical relationship that your jaw and pelvis have is particularly helpful for women to understand. It’s especially relevant for women with pelvic floor pain. A study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics from Hanover Medical School in Germany revealed that TMJ (aka temporo-mandibular joint dysfunction) plays an important role in hip mobility restriction experienced by patients with pain. This indicated a connectedness between these two intrinsic parts of the body.
If you’ve been stuck in a pattern of clenching the pelvis it may be difficult to even know where to begin when it comes to relaxing those muscles. Going to the jawline can be a more accessible place to start and will seem to magically open the pelvic bowl. Ina May Gaskin, a female healer and wise leader in midwifery, even coined the term “the sphincter law” to explain that if the jaw and throat are relaxed then the buttocks and pelvis will be too. She says, “The state of relaxation of the mouth and jaw is directly correlated to the ability of the cervix, the vagina, and the anus to open to full capacity.” (Gaskin, 2003, p. 170) On the flip side, if you are clenching your jaw often, you’re probably also clenching your pelvis.
How do I know if my pelvis is contracted?
If you exercise frequently, stress easily, or wear heels above 1/8th of an inch, your pelvis is probably contracted. When we wear heels it causes an anterior pelvic tilt.
These incredible bodies we live in were made to keep each body part in balance with the other. If one body part becomes fixed, the whole system has to compensate. This can lead to a chain reaction of imbalance causing our abdominal organs to be squashed and our belly to bloat.
Many of us have lost our sensitivity to even feel this hyper-flexed state because we’ve become somewhat disconnected from our bodies. By engaging in more fluid, less structured movement, and through time spent softening, surrendering, and relaxing the pelvic floor those muscles will actually become stronger! Just like the rest of the body, when you overtax a certain muscle, you need adequate rest and recovery time in order for that muscle to actually grow and remain healthy.
How can we maintain an overall healthy pelvic floor?
Diversify your movements! Don’t just focus on one exercise. Doing kegels is similar to doing a bicep curl for your pelvis. You’re only going to strengthen one muscle. Try engaging in a wide range of fluid motions. Movements in our yoga practice involving squatting, lunging, and lengthening of the limbs will help tone the pelvis while also help to strengthen the extremities which will create ease on the pelvis while also gaining strength and longevity.
Exercises to tone, relax, & strengthen the pelvis:
- Breathing practices with elongated exhales
- Long walks in shoes without heels
- Take pause throughout the day to relax the jaw
- Get or give yourself a face massage
- Chakravakasana (cat cow) with lion’s breath to loosen the hips and the jaw
- Anytime you are doing tightening or strengthening exercises make sure to take adequate recovery time and focus on relaxing the jaw & the pelvic bowl. Remember in your yoga practice, that the pause is just as important as the activation.
How will having a more relaxed & toned pelvis lead to experiencing more pleasure?
When the pelvic floor muscles are chronically tensed the muscles will eventually become less flexible. When the muscles are unable to move and stretch, sensations will become weakened and the ability to engage with that area emotionally will also become more difficult.
Similarly, when we educate ourselves on the pelvic floor it is essential for us to focus on being in continuous engagement with our bodies. The key element to building strength, fluidity, and our ability to experience pleasure is to return to movements that are less rigid, more balanced, and more fluid. It is there where we will find more ease with the body, mind, and spirit.
What is Mula Bandha…..I hear it mentioned in my yoga class?
Mula Bandha is the Sanskrit term for the “root lock” or energy centre located in the pelvic floor area. The lowest lock in the body,Mula Bandha cuts through the Brahma Granthi, the energetic knot of our resistance to change, which lies in the muladhara or root chakra.
On the physical level, practicing it creates attentiveness in the supportive muscles of the pelvis, which increases stability in the pelvis, and creates a safe environment for spinal movement.
The action of locking this bandha is similar to doing a Kegel exercise on your pubococcygeus or PC muscle.
Remember: where the blood flows, the energy follows, so an engaged Mula Bandha regularly in your yoga practice, heightens sensitivity and energy flow, which can only be a good thing 🙂