If you have one of these common pelvic floor symptoms: incontinence, constipation, pelvic floor pain, pain with intercourse or even pelvic organ prolapse we want you to know that SomaYoga & Somatics is powerful medicine to regain voluntary control over the pelvic floor muscles and the associated stabilizers of the pelvis.
Pelvic Floor Anatomy
Learning a bit of anatomy is always helpful to get a sense of what the pelvic floor looks like. Visualization of these muscles helps your brain to connect with them too.
The pelvic floor is made up of layers of muscles that hang like hammocks connecting the sits bones, pubic bone and tailbone. The deepest muscle is called Levator Ani and has the important role of supporting your pelvic organs, preventing a pelvic organ prolapse, and unwanted downward pressure on your bladder and pubis.
As we mentioned in last week’s post, good functioning of the pelvic floor has a lot to do with how well the other muscles of the Red Light Reflex, Green Light Reflex and Trauma Reflex are moving. The image below, comes from the Anatomy Trains Deep Front Line 2014 poster series and shows just how intricately our muscles live in relationship with each other.
You may know the muscles you see above as: hip flexors, adductors (muscles of the inner thighs), abductors (outer hip muscles), extensors (paraspinals, hamstrings, calves), abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus, transversus, obliques) and our breathing muscle (diaphragm) – imagine just how well they need to work in cooperation to support healthy pelvic mobility and stability.
Pelvic Floor Muscles and the Respiratory Diaphragm
The pelvic floor muscles have a parallel relationship with the respiratory diaphragm in that, as we breathe in, the diaphragm muscles contract and descend towards our feet. At the same time the pelvic floor diaphragm also descends in the same direction towards our feet.
As we breathe out, the respiratory diaphragm muscle lengthens and lifts. On the exhalation the pelvic floor muscles lift as well.
This relationship is essential to a healthy core and pelvic floor. When these natural movements are impeded we have a disrupted rhythm at our center, which impedes core stability and causes tension and pain.
Let’s explore sensing and feeling the relationship of your pelvic floor and respiratory diaphragms. This is a great place to start a Somayoga and Somatics routine – a powerful medicine for your pelvic floor.
Here is a simple practice to help you learn more about the current state of your pelvic floor.
AWARENESS PRACTICE #1:
- Lying supine, on your back with your knees bent, feet hip distance apart. Shoulders relaxed, palms facing up and away from your sides.
- Spend 2-3 minutes bringing your awareness to your breath and how your body is moving as you breathe in and breathe out.
- Start to consciously breathe into your belly and ribcage. Sense as you inhale your belly rising and as you exhale your belly falling.
- See if you can feel your belly and ribcage expand and your diaphragm muscle descending towards your feet as you inhale?And on your exhale can you feel your belly falling, ribcage knitting back together and your diaphragm gently and naturally lifting towards your head? Practice this for some time.
- Next shift your awareness to your pelvic floor, the hammock of muscles that connect your pubic bone to tailbone and across the sits bones.Breathe in and out for 3-4 minutes, notice the movement of your pelvic floor (PF). The PF diaphragm should settle towards your heels on your inhale, and subtly lift up into the body on your exhale. This movement matches the movement pattern of your respiratory diaphragm when all the muscles are moving well.
- If you are unable to notice a relaxing and softening of your pelvic floor on your inhale, or any subtle movement at all – and if you know that you have pelvic floor pain, sacrum pain, chronic constipation or urge incontinence – then learning to become connected to this area of your body is your first order of business.Continue with this practice, at least 2 more times this week to build competency.Notice as you practice, tension falling away and sensation growing.
Next week we will build on this awareness practice learning how to pandiculate your pelvic floor. Pandiculation is not only powerful medicine for the pelvic floor, but it starts by addressing the relationships of the entire trunk of the body.
Stay tuned for our upcoming live pelvic floor workshops and trainings in 2020.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned to learn more about how SomaYoga & Somatics is powerful medicine for your pelvic floor.