“Just remember,” I told my friend right before she got onstage to perform a poem to a room full of strangers, “Speak from your vagina!”
She laughed, but she knew I was serious. As a yoga teacher, a performer, and a woman, I know that there are times when you need to tap into a confidence that you don’t think you have. As it turns out, you can find it anytime, right in the center of your body: your vagina. Or more specifically, your pelvic floor, which all genders have.
Anatomically, the pelvic floor is a net of muscles near the bottom of the pelvic bowl that supports the pelvic organs. If you stop the flow of urine midstream, you are contracting the pelvic floor.
It’s also an important part of what Thomas Myers, author of Anatomy Trains, calls the Deep Core Line. When the pelvic floor engages, it can create a chain reaction of engagement down through the inner thighs and inner arches of the feet, and up through the deep core muscles, the throat, and the tongue.
Most of the time, we move through the world with our mouths closed and the pelvic floor relaxed. Energetically, it’s like the bottom of the boat is leaking. Then, when we try to speak up, our energy is flowing down and out, rather than powerfully up through the throat.
In a yoga practice, we cultivate an energetic container by sealing the lips and the pelvic floor, generating an energy through the breath that is directed inwards, towards our yoga and meditation. When we need to engage with others, however, we can use these energetic seals (or bandhas) in different ways.
When we engage the pelvic floor, the chest lifts, the shoulders broaden and relax, and the voice gets louder. We appear almost denser. When we are nervous, it’s easy to lose energy as we fidget with the hands and feet. Connecting to the pelvic floor helps us to stay calm, still, and grounded.
For women, getting heard and taking up space is often discouraged in our culture. Sometimes the best way to feel more confident is to simply pretend. Lifting the pelvic floor sends a signal to your nervous system that you are tall, powerful, and you have a right to be here. That power is right in your vagina!
It is also vitally important to be able to release this area. We need times where we feel safe enough to let go. When I get home after a long day of teaching or facilitating, I like to snuggle in, relax my pelvic floor and rest my voice. I imagine it like a cup I’m turning over, emptying myself of my day.
Relaxing the pelvic floor and closing the mouth can make you feel quieter, softer, and more receptive. It can be a powerful way to listen to another, energetically offering them more space in the room.
Most of the time, my pelvic floor is engaged when I teach, but when I trust my students and can feel that they trust me, I can stop talking and relax my pelvic floor. It allows me to fade slightly into the background so that whatever personal experience my students are having can come to the forefront.
I encourage you to explore this in your own life (whether you have a vagina or not). Try engaging your pelvic floor when you are entering into a difficult conversation. Soften it when you are listening to your lover. When you need to access your power and confidence, just remember: speak from your vagina!