The pelvic floor—which is linked to our nervous system—can be cared for in a number of physical and emotional ways.
Your pelvic floor is a net of eight separate muscles that runs between your sit bones and between your tailbone and pubic bone. It acts like a trampoline, rising and falling with the breath, and a big part of its job is supporting the pelvic organs. It is also deeply connected to the nervous system and can sometimes store trauma. When we are anxious or fearful, the pelvic floor naturally contracts. When we feel safe, it tends to relax a little bit.
Some signals that your pelvic floor may not be functioning optimally include pain, especially with sex; incontinence, such as peeing while sneezing; chronic constipation; hip pain; and lower back pain.
The pelvic floor is connected to muladhara chakra, the energy center that is connected to our sense of home, safety, and security. Sometimes when our pelvic floors are out of balance, we need to work on feeling more safe and secure in our day-to-day lives. Spend some time making your home feel cozier and more comfortable. Seek out people you feel safe with and spend more time with them. Do some work on your financial situation—adjust your budget, how you save, or how you receive income, whatever is possible for you.
Kegels for All
The most prescribed exercise for strengthening the pelvic floor is Kegels. To do a Kegel exercise, sit or lie down comfortably. Inhale in a relaxed way, and as you exhale, imagine you are trying to pick up a blueberry with your vagina or perineum and draw it inside yourself. As you inhale, relax again, allowing this area to soften and descend. (You may want to talk to your physiotherapist or doctor about how often you should be performing Kegels or any other pelvic floor exercise.) Dr. Arnold Kegel was a gynecologist. Through almost two decades of research, he developed the exercise that now bears his name.
Kegels can sometimes contribute to too much tension in the pelvic floor, and weakness can come along with tightness. Reverse Kegels can be the solution. Sit or lay down. Inhale normally, and as you exhale, find the contraction described in No. 2. Then inhale and imagine your sit bones separating, your tailbone and pubic bone moving apart from each other.
It can also help to imagine you are lengthening your perineum down towards your feet. As you exhale, stay as relaxed as you can. Inhale and again find the stretch and release.
Watch Your Heat
The pelvic floor acts like an energetic gate. When it is engaged, energy stays strong in the body and heat can build. Hold on too long, however, and energy that should leave the body cannot. When we are working hard, especially doing core exercises, balancing, or lifting things, we need the pelvic floor engaged. But we must also make sure we are spending time when we feel safe and relaxed, where we can be in a state of receiving. In these circumstances, the pelvic floor can stay soft and mobile.
Need more help? A pelvic floor physiotherapist can assess your pelvic floor function and teach you exercises to bring it back into balance.