Taking care of your body seems easy until it is not. Your pelvic floor is an example of a part of your body that you may take for granted until there are issues. It's common to barely acknowledge its presence and the hard work it does for your body until it starts to loosen.
What is the Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor is the set of sixteen muscles that work together from the lower depths of your abdomen. You can imagine it like a four-corner hammock with pivots in the frontal pubic bone and the base of the spine, stretching sideways to the sitting bones. This hammock cradles the bladder, bowel, uterus, vagina, and prostate, controlling their inner pressure. It also helps the diaphragm, abdominal, and deep back muscles to build our core strength and spinal support.
A heavy strain on the pelvic floor muscles can loosen them and compromise how they function. This kind of strain can come from pregnancy and childbirth, a rigorous exercise regime, a traumatic injury to the area, or surgery on the pelvis or prostate. However, pelvic floor hypotonia, or over-stretching, can also result from aging, menopause, and physical inactivity.
This pelvic floor dysfunction has unfortunate consequences ranging from a loss of control over urination and defecation, urine or stool leakage, increased urgency to urinate and frequency, or bowel constipation. You may experience lower back pain unrelated to any other cause; this pain can be temporary, happen during sex or while using the bathroom, and can be a repeating occurrence.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can develop into more severe conditions, like erectile dysfunction, pain during intercourse, prostatitis, interstitial cystitis, and prolapse of the pelvic organs.
If you present any or more of these symptoms, we recommend visiting your doctor for a more detailed diagnosis. Meanwhile, even if you do not feel any discomfort, adhering to a routine of pelvic strengthening exercises is proactive way to maintain your sexual and inner organ health. Other self-care routines that you will benefit from include eating healthy, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, and enhancing the care of your genital area.
Using CBD-infused oils and lubricants like GoLove will enhance your sexual experiences and relax your mind and body, improving the effects of your yoga routine. The added hyaluronic serum of GoLove adds to its benefits by soothing and nourishing your delicate genital skin.
Yoga Kegel Exercises
In 1948, Dr. Arnold Kegel proposed a series of exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. His research concluded that these exercises efficiently prevented urinary incontinence and pelvic organs prolapse. Many specialists recommend Kegel sets to their patients after childbirth or facing mild urinary incontinence. Similarly, people suffering from pain during sexual intercourse report significant benefits from practicing these exercises.
The basic Kegel exercises seek to tighten the pelvic floor muscles. To find these muscles, the next time you go to the bathroom, try this exercise: start urinating, then stop. Try to be conscious of which muscles you are using when performing this action. When you are sure that you have the proper tension handle, you can practice Kegels properly.
With an empty bladder, sit or lie down and tense your pelvic muscles for a few seconds, no more than a count of five. Release tension for the same amount of time and repeat ten times. Try doing each set three times a day.
It is important to recall that the original Kegel exercises are more than sixty years old. As good as they are, Kegels focus only on tightening the muscles, neglecting proper relaxation techniques. Keep in mind we are constantly expanding our knowledge of the human body.
How to Engage Pelvic Floor in Yoga
If you do not have a yoga mat to practice these exercises, try to do them on a soft yet firm surface. Professional yogis recommend practicing yoga in direct contact with the earth to connect your mind and your body. However, it can be challenging for novices. An orthopedic mattress, a thick towel, or a grassy lawn will all work as suitable surfaces. Choose whichever suits you best.
Use breathable clothes, flexible around your bottom. Clothes that are too tight will affect your blood flow, and too loose may drop over your head during downward facing postures. Keep a water bottle nearby. While yoga is a relaxing discipline, it can demand a lot from your body, so remember to hydrate.
Yoga postures, or asanas, engage different muscle groups of your body while placing your mind in a meditative state, making you conscious about your breathing. When you do a yoga posture, some of your muscles will stretch while others will contract in a dynamic balance.
The postures we recommend in this article will have different effects on your pelvic floor. Some of them will help you relax hypertonic, very tense pelvic muscles. Others will work in a similar way to Kegels, strengthening your pelvis.
In either case, focus on your pelvic muscles and the way they relax or contract. Feel the air entering and leaving your lungs, push it to your abdomen when you inhale, and allow your pelvic organs to move upwards when you exhale.
Yoga Positions to Strengthen Pelvic Floor
Practicing yoga in addition to your Kegels is a dynamic way to strengthen your pelvic floor. It will help you maintain a healthier posture, regulate your breath work, and focus the mind. Here we offer you some yoga poses for pelvic floor strengthening. Practicing these asanas every day will improve the function of your pelvic floor muscles, reduce urinary leaking, and reduce back pain.
Lie on your back with your knees folded and feet flat on your mat. Place your hands on your sides, palms down, and bring your feet closer to your hips until you can touch the heel with the tips of your fingers. Press your hands to the mat and slowly lift your hips until they make a straight line with your knees and shoulders.
Imagine your sitting bones trying to reach your knees while you breathe slowly. Try to keep your neck and buttocks relaxed, and do not move your head while you are in this posture. Stay like this for ten seconds, slowly return towards your mat, and repeat five times.
From a standing position, take a long step forward, making a right angle with your knee. The foot that stays back will stand only on the ball while the knee gets as close to the mat as you can. Use a rolled towel under your knee for comfort if needed. Lift your hands upwards while keeping your shoulders down. Keep your hips facing forward and pull your inner thighs to keep them contracted.
Space your feet at hip width and placing your hands down in a push-up position. While you inhale, pull your navel in, and exhale while lifting your hips until your shoulders make a straight line with your hands and hips. Your feet should be flat on the mat.
If this is difficult for you, place a rolled towel under your heels for support. Your body should look like a downwards “V.” Keep this posture for up to ten breaths and let go slowly.
Legs Up the Wall
As the name states, you'll need to place your mat against a wall to execute this posture. Sit down with your back against the wall, with your hips touching the corner. Drop your torso slowly and bring your legs straight up the wall, keeping your hips in contact with it. Breathe slowly while being conscious of the straightness of your spine and neck.
Yoga Exercises to Relax Pelvic Floor Muscles
Learning to relax your pelvic muscles is just as important as tightening them. If you have a tense pelvic floor, exerience pelvic pain, or frequent constipation, these yoga postures will help you relax your pelvic floor and release tension.
Cat and Cow
Place yourself in an all-fours position, ensuring that your knees are directly under your hips, your ankles are parallel and aligned with your knees. Your hands, elbows, and shoulders should all make a straight, vertical line.
While you inhale, lift your hips, turn your face upwards, and round your spine. While exhaling, arch your back in the other direction and letting your head fall until your chin touches your chest. Repeat ten times or more and remain mindful of your breathing.
Flex one leg under your body, with your knee facing front and the sole close to your contrary hip, facing upwards. Stretch the other leg behind you until it is flat on your mat. Your folded hip should sit comfortably on the mat. If you do not reach it, you can put a folded towel beneath it. Now slowly relax your torso forward and rest your head on your crossed hands.
If your head does not reach your arms, use a pillow for support. Release your hips and let your pelvis relax for 30 seconds before placing your hand under your shoulders to raise your torso and change sides.
Separate your feet and let your hips down as far as it goes. Try to keep the foot soles in complete contact with the mat. If you can not touch the mat with your heels, place a rolled towel under them for support. Press with the backside of your arms to the inner side of your thighs while putting your hands against each other in the manner most comfortable for you, flat palms or interlacing your fingers.
If you have difficulty maintaining your balance in this posture, you can use some frontal or back support to help yourself. Sustain this posture while focusing on your breathing and relaxing the pelvic muscles.
This is a very fun posture. Lie on your back and bring your legs up, folded by the knee. Grab the feet by the outer side and hold them vertically over your shoulders. Your knees have to touch the outer part of your arms, opening your hips. Rock yourself softly from side to side in small movements.
Yoga Exercises for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Pelvic floor dysfunction is a medical condition where you can not control or coordinate your pelvic floor muscles, which keep tense to the point of pain. This condition will make it difficult for you to urinate or defecate properly and can make sex an uncomfortable or painful experience.
These yoga postures will help you regain control over your pelvic floor and regulate your pelvic organ functions.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold
From a standing position, open your legs wide, keeping the feet parallel. Let your torso fall forward slowly while exhaling. Support your torso with your hands, but you can also use a yoga block or a chair for support if the posture gets uncomfortable.
Stand with your feet at the width of your hips. Bend your knees carefully as if you were going to sit on a chair. Be careful not to bend them so much that your hips go lower than your knees. Raise your arms over your head with your hands linked. Make a straight line with your hands, shoulders, and hips. Inhale while you go back up to a standing position and exhale when squatting again.
Knees to Chest
Start by lying on your back with your legs folded and your feet flat on the mat. Stretch your arms over your head while you inhale. Feel your spine and abdomen stretch. Exhale while bringing your knees to your chest and holding them in postion with your hands.
Lie flat on your belly, with your forehead touching the mat and your hand palms facing up. While you inhale, raise your head and your legs, letting your abdomen support your body. Make your gluteal muscles work together with the pelvic floor. Hold your breath for a few seconds and slowly release the air while returning to your initial position.
Pelvic Floor Yoga Stretches
If you do not have any pelvic issues, it's still important to train your pelvic floor muscles and keep them in shape.
Early exercise of your pelvic muscles will prevent them from distension and its consequences, urinary incontinence, constipation, and pain during sex, among others. Exercise your pelvic floor muscles with these yoga poses.
Stand with your feet separated to the width of your hips and your hands relaxed by your sides. Place a yoga block, a rolled towel, or a thick book between your thighs and close your feet to keep it in place. Use your inner thigh muscles to try to lift the block upwards. The Mountain is one of the best yoga poses for your pelvic floor and the starting position you move into other asanas.
Sit down on your mat, with your legs bent and your knees facing outside. Your toes should be together in the center, preferably touching. Relax your legs and let your body slowly lie back onto the mat. Breathe deeply and hold the posture for as long as you feel comfortable. This asana gives you a perfect opportunity for meditation and mindfulness exercises.
Start by standing with your feet at hips width, in Mountain pose. Breathe consciously and be mindful of your posture, your spine, and head. When you feel balanced, shift the weight of your body to one foot. Lift the other foot and bend it, placing the sole against the inner thigh of the standing leg. Then, bring your palms together in front of your chest and point downwards with your tailbone.
Spread your legs with one bent knee and the other one straight. Point away from you with the foot of the bent leg. Place the foot of the straight leg pointing to your front, with the heel pressed to the ground. Let your hips and torso point forward.
Then, spread your arms to your sides, parallel to the floor, with the palms facing down. Turn your head to the side of the bent knee. Hold this pose for thirty seconds and change sides.
Lie down on the mat with your knees bent at a right angle and your feet spread wide, soles flat on the mat. Place your hands on your abdomen, just above your pelvis. Feel your hands lifting when you inhale and your abdominal muscles contracting when you exhale. This pose helps you focus on yourself and the flow within your body.
Yoga for Pelvic Pain
Pain in the pelvic area can come from many causes, almost all of them related to your pelvic floor. Even those conditions that come from different organs can improve notoriously from proper exercising of the pelvic muscles.
Many people focus on strengthening their pelvic floor, forgetting that relaxation is an essential part of its correct function. They sometimes end up with pelvic pain because of the over exertion of tension to their pelvic floor.
If you suffer from pelvic pain, these exercises will keep your pelvic floor toned yet relaxed, free of discomfort. You can combine these pelvic floor yoga poses with a CBD lubricant like GoLove. The therapeutic properties of the CBD will relax your mind and body, enhancing the connection you gain from your yoga asanas. In addition, the hyaluronic serum of GoLove nourishes your skin, increasing your feelings of well-being.
This kind of squat is more straightforward than the standing variety. Lie on your mat with your shoulders flat and your chest open. Bring your legs up, bending the knees to your chest. Let your knees rotate outwards and use your hands to hold them in place. Keep your hips angled towards the mat and sustain the pose for ten breaths.
Sit down on your heels with your big toes touching. Support yourself with your hands and allow your body to relax forward between your knees. Remember to breathe evenly and relax your shoulders, torso, and pelvis. After 30 seconds, use your hands to push yourself up slowly. Repeat this pose a few times.
Lie on your back with legs folded and feet flat on the mat. Lift one leg and carefully place its ankle on the other leg’s knee. Wrap your hand or a stretching band around the back of one thigh, just under the knee, and lift both legs to your chest. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and gently put them back on the mat to change sides.
Lie down on the mat and lift your legs, bending them so that your knees stand vertically over your hips and your ankles are parallel to the mat. Place your hands on your thighs, just below the knees, and apply the gentlest pressure to your legs, letting them resist it. Hold the push for a few seconds and relax. Repeat five to ten times.
With constant practice, these pelvic floor yoga poses will help you have a healthier pelvis, allowing you to avoid having to treat any disfunction. Remember to carefully curate the best yoga poses for your pelvic floor goals.
When in doubt, talk to your doctor or certified yoga instructors to help create a routine. We hope you found this guide useful and namaste!