So many women (and men, hey, guys – welcome) I’ve worked with over the past decade have had some form of pelvic floor challenge.
Yet many of them couldn’t – or wouldn’t – name it and make it known. A different issue brings them to their first private session, and over time we unravel the story and clues in their body – and often end up right back at the center, the core.
We end up discovering that the pelvic floor may be a causal piece in their puzzle.
I’m happy to share my passion and expertise – and bring much needed lightness and humor to this area of our anatomy, health and lives. My certification and studies in The Franklin Method dramatically increased my own embodiment and performance, and has served me well in helping my clients with similar areas of concern.
The pelvic floor deserves some attention, y’all. Seriously.
And if talking about it feels weird / awkward / shameful / uncomfortable – then it really deserves your love and attention. Your pelvis is a part of YOU.
Everyone loves core training, but unfortunately much of the ‘core training’ happening out there focuses on limited planes of motion, and targets the more superficial muscles of the anterior (front) abdominal wall. True core training involved three dimensional, natural breathing, varied movement patterns including standing exercises, and ideally includes the deep spinal muscles, psoas and pelvic floor.
Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be. What if your practice wasn’t about doing a bunch of stuff for the sake of ‘doing stuff’, but instead focused on joyfully, skillfully embodying each part of you?
Embodiment is a more effective goal than exercise.
For the love of your deep core, lower back health and longevity with dignity, it’s worth it to explore the pelvic floor.
For the record, I’m also not advocating for the classic exercise called kegels. They’ve been shown to be ineffective and even problematic. There’s a better way, folks.
Can you relate to any of these issues?
Lower back pain
Knee pain, especially when unrelated to injury or arthritis
Prolonged sitting or standing, poor posture
Relentlessly tight hamstrings or hips
Sexual or reproductive trauma
Yes, we just went there.
For the purpose of this post, I’ll stick to the physical plane, but we all know that our emotions, psyches, past traumas and sensuality can relate to the health and healing of our lower chakras and pelvis. It’s the source of creation and site of elimination in our material world, and many of us carry some level of shame around our sexual, sensual centers. Know that it’s ok, I’ve been there, too – and I’m happy to guide you through it all.
3 Tips to Get Started with Improving Pelvic Floor Function
I met with an online private client last month for her first session. She initially reached out to me wanting to resolve her incontinence issues. We talked about her experiences and desires, her current exercise routine, and I shared a bit about what her practice would look like over the coming months.
We began with a brief seated meditation, where I gave her a ‘mental tour’ of her spine, pelvis, and pelvic floor. We finished the imagery experience, and she opened her eyes.
I asked her how it went. She said “It feels like I’ve never been there before, in that part of my own body. I’m not sure I can feel anything.”
I congratulated her.
Yes, that’s right. Because even the awareness of a lack of awareness is a brilliant starting point.
Later on in our session, through a bit of movement and more guidance she then discovered incredibly creative imagery to describe what she felt happening there as she moved. Well done!
Believe that all awareness can be useful. Stay with your embodied experience.
Relax, and Breathe
The pelvic floor responds really directly to stress, especially with issues related to hypertonicity (where the pelvic floor is rigid and tight, and thus, weak) like constipation, elimination habits like bearing down while under tension, and issues like stress incontinence.
Stress can create a sense of ‘holding on for dear life’ in many of our tissues – think shoulder tension, clenched jaws, or the proverbial ‘tight ass’. Even if you want your tush toned, I don’t recommend gripping your rear end all day. Those are muscles that need to move, too, friends.
Can you find a neutral state of being?
Where your breathing is quiet, smooth, and calm?
Bringing this awareness of ease, fluidity, and breath can lend great strength to your efforts – and allow the pelvic floor to function far better.
I want to clarify that I love working hard, like with running, hiking mountains, rock climbing – so I don’t mean that we should relax always and forever and all will be well. The body responds well to mindful, skilled application of stress (exercise, etc) and we need these healthy doses of stress to cultivate resilience.
But if we want a new result, we must be willing to discover new ways of being – so when we do resume training at high levels, we’re truly performing at our peak. We’re deeply supported.
Sometimes we need to reset, to start again. How can we expect to finish that triathlon or do powerful olympic lifts if we can’t do something far simpler, with precision and awareness? And runners – the function of your pelvis dictates whether it feels like you’re slogging along with massive ground impact or feeling light, agile and efficient.
When we move, the pelvic floor moves.
Every breath we take, ideally there’s an echo, a ripple effect into the pelvis. Lay down and rest right in the middle of your day for 10 minutes.
Breathe. Relax. Notice.
Standing Poses (Asana)
The next time you’re executing your favorite dynamic standing poses – like warriors, chair pose, or sumo (also known as Goddess, a wide squatting action) pay attention to your pelvic parts.
Can you feel any change in the muscles whether they’re elongating or sliding together (contracting)?
Weight bearing knee bending can be downright painful if we’ve developed dysfunctional movement patterns, or it can be incredibly therapeutic for things like low back, hip, and knee issues when we truly understand how to train the pelvic floor well.
See if you can shift some awareness from the knees or large thigh muscles up to the space between the sit bones, and the area around the tail bone.
Start to sense what you’re working with and remember – all awareness is useful, even if you start out discovering a massive blindspot and can’t feel anything – yet.
All movement can be helpful, but powerful awareness is key. How we execute the movement is everything.
Pay attention to your power.
My hope is that this article helps shed light on an often ignored or uncomfortable topic that is truly essential for our health, joy and healing.
I look forward to sharing lighthearted Pelvic Power conversations with you, and hearing about your progress.
Big love to you and your pelvis!
PS: If you’d like support, reach out to Cheri for private lessons or consider joining her Monday and Wednesday therapeutic yoga class at 11:00-12:15am at Be The Change in Irvine, CA. During the month of July, we’ll be focusing on strengthening techniques and imagery for pelvic health.
PPS: Thanks for reading! If you have a questions about this article or how it pertains to your practice, comment below. (Or, for anonymity’s sake, email cheri here.)