Yoga For Pelvic Floor: Easy Poses For Pain Relief
Doing yoga for pelvic floor problems is a natural remedy. It can be easily done at home and doesn’t have any adverse effects if done correctly. Through yoga, you can ease the stress and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Pain and discomfort can be gone with these therapeutic asana sequences from pelvic-floor expert and yoga teacher Leslie Howard. Yoga Poses for the Pelvis | Reduce pain and discomfort
If you are plagued by pain or discomfort down there, these exploratory tools and yoga sequences (no, we’re not talking Kegels) can help you either tone or release tension. You won’t believe the benefits—from better sex to walking through the world with more freedom.
As girls, we are exposed to relentless conditioning. We will be told to walk, sit, stand, move, and behave in ways that are appropriate, sexy, ladylike, and motherly. We will even be told which bathroom to use. By adulthood, each of us will carry these ways of being women throughout our body, but we will feel them particularly in the pelvic region, the part of our bodies most deeply associated with our gender. The pelvic region becomes a complex, multilayered storage unit—I call it the original 1-800-MINI-STORAGE—the place where we store the things we can’t let go of but don’t want to deal with right now.
This can lead to health issues that are both emotional and physical in nature. We need to explore and liberate this terrain and take charge of ourselves—openly acknowledge and understand our issues—and skillfully tune in to the healing power of our own bodies. I believe it’s time to liberate your pelvis.
Every Pelvis Has a Story
“Every pelvis has a story” is what I tell my students. My story is this: In 2005, I had already been a yoga teacher for 20 years, so I thought I knew the anatomy and mechanics of “down there” fairly well. But around that time, I began to experience pain and discomfort in this nether region. And then as I worked to figure out why, I realized that much of my knowledge about the pelvic area was abstract, generic, and derived mostly from anatomy books. I didn’t understand the specifics—the muscles housed within it and that entire region’s relationship to the rest of my body, mind, and life history.
I began experimenting with yoga poses and breathing practices to familiarize myself with, and ultimately explore, the many layers of trauma, held emotion, and pain that lay hidden between my hip bones. The more I understood how the intricacies of my pelvis intersected with personal history, cultural conditioning, sexism, anatomy, and symptoms of ill health, the more I began to see how my pelvis was tied to my general well-being—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
It turned out that my pelvic floor muscles were way too tight, but I had no idea why or how that had happened. My exploration turned into an investigation of the factors that shaped me, such as my postural, sexual, and medical histories; my struggles with body image; and the influence of relationships, family, advertising, media, and movies. Bringing the story of my pelvis to light became a key component of my evolution as a human being. From there, I eventually developed a yoga protocol that formed the cornerstone of the pelvic-floor workshops I now teach around the world.
Many people with pelvic issues attend my workshops after having tried a number of different approaches to deal with them, often consulting first with their general practitioner, then a gynecologist, then a urologist. They may have tried Kegels, other muscle-building exercises, or even antidepressants. Some have reached a point where they are considering surgery.
Let’s look at this scenario: A woman in her mid-40s starts feeling pain during intercourse. Her doctor recommends using more lubricant, but that doesn’t help. She visits a gynecologist who can’t diagnose a reason for her painful intercourse. She starts to read about the issue on the Internet, which offers exercises that may solve the problem. She does the exercises but they don’t help. She starts to wonder if her symptoms are psychosomatic and seeks a psychotherapist. The list goes on.
Each of the approaches above (allopathic medicine, exercise, counseling) has its merits. But for many women, yoga is the last resort. I’ve worked as a pelvic-floor yoga teacher for over 12 years, so I say this with absolute certainty: Yoga should be the first resort. Here’s why.
Practicing yoga cultivates self-awareness and sensitivity toward your body; it isn’t just another set of exercises you do. Yoga fosters subtle observation and awareness of your body’s mechanics and energetics. It gives you experiential insight into the unique form and shape of your individual embodiment. It allows you to understand what is happening as it is happening, and it gives you the tools to adjust your practice to constantly fluctuating conditions, moment by moment. It is one thing to have a general conceptual understanding of the anatomy of muscles; it’s something else to be able to locate, sense, and work with the individual muscles in your own body.
Body awareness is key to properly diagnosing ailments. No doctor in the world will be able to tell you what it’s like for you to feel pain or tension or relief or any other sensation; this is information only you can access. This type of insight is critical to making a proper diagnosis. Yoga combines external conceptual knowledge with the internal experiential understanding that only you can access.
Yoga is empowering. It empowers you to take an active role in your own healing rather than handing over responsibility to a doctor or someone else. It encourages and supports you to see for yourself. After all, it is your body, and you should not blindly give up control. You hold primary authority over your body, and you need to exercise that authority by exploring, observing, and learning about yourself. Yoga helps you shed your self-imposed states and empowers you to emerge, to mature, and to take responsibility for yourself.
Is Your Pelvic Floor Hypertonic or Hypotonic?
These are two conditions that can cause a fair amount of pelvic pain and discomfort. To assess if you are dealing with either, here are some informal diagnostic tools.
A little sitting-bone massage is an ideal way to develop greater awareness of this area. In any seated position, lean onto your left buttock so that the right sitting bone is easily accessible (you can also do this lying on your side). With one hand, find the tip of your right ischial tuberosity, a.k.a. sitting bone.
Using the sitting bone as your landmark, begin to massage the muscles just on the inner edge of the sitting bone, toward the vulva. Massage a little toward the front and a little toward the back. Are there are any tender or tight spots in the corridor between your vulva and the bone? Is there any pain? Take note of the density of the muscle around the bone. Is it firm, hard, squishy, tense? Does the area have any “give”? Continue for one full minute.
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