The pelvic floor is a group of muscles which create a hammock of sorts connecting to each hip bone, sacrum and coccyx (tail bone). It serves to support our internal organs and plays a role in the function or dysfunction of our posture, continence, sexual function, fertility and much more.
Many of us have experienced temporary incontinence when we have coughed, sneezed or laughed too hard. If you have had a baby, you are familiar with an often shocking, although usually temporary loss of pelvic floor control and the resulting incontinence. Strengthening pelvic floor muscles is often recommended to help prevent or treat incontinence.
Prolapse, or the dropping of pelvic organs can occur in some women often due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. While genetic factors can explain some cases, others factors including lack of muscle strength also contribute.
Should we strengthen or release the pelvic floor? Kegel exercises are often recommended to strengthen the pelvic muscles can help protect against incontinence and prolapse. It is worth noting however, having ‘weakness’ in your pelvic muscles can also be the result of too much clenching and tightness. Learning to lengthen and release these muscles is equally important.
Ground Your Yoga and Meditation Practices
Practicing Mula Bandha or root lock, the upward lift of the pelvic muscles, when engaged in our yoga practice has the benefit of stabilizing the pelvis and giving us a sense of grounding. Explore Mula Bandha throughout your asana and meditation practices.
Improve Your Sex Life
Both strengthening and learning to control the pelvic floor has been shown to improve sensation and enjoyment of sexual intercourse for both men and women. In addition, research shows pelvic strengthening can aid in the treatment of ED in men.
Aid Relaxation and Stress Reduction
When we think of our pelvic floor, we often think about the lack of engagement or strength, however we often unconsciously over-engage and tense our pelvic floor muscles. This can lead to tension and stress throughout the body and mind, poor posture and even painful intercourse. In yoga it is believed we hold our stress, tension, emotions, fear and anxiety in the pelvic region or ‘root’ of our body. Developing an awareness of our pelvic floor muscles through yoga, meditation and exercise can have wonderful benefitsin terms of our ability to relax both physically and mentally.