Yoga and the Pelvic Floor

I would estimate that a large majority of pelvic rehabilitation providers are current or past students of yoga- some of you may even be experienced or new yoga teachers. As a yoga student myself (of various teachers and approaches, and a tendency to wish I was more consistent with my own practice) I have often marveled at how old and well-founded so many yogic practices are in relation to the "new" techniques "discovered" by entrepreneurial practitioners in health-related fields. Look at pelvic muscle activation: by engaging our patients in awareness techniques involving the pelvic floor we are continuing a long tradition of a yogic principle. This principle, known to many as mula bandha, is an ancient phrase often interpreted as referring to "root" and "lock."

Over the past 5 years I have observed a tremendous increase in yoga practitioners who are interested in not only exploring the ability of the locking or stabilizing ability of the pelvic muscles, but also in exploring the necessity to "unlock" the person who is holding too much tension in the base of the spine and pelvis. The discussions related to this issue are at times hotly debated as well as thoughtful and elegant. One article might suggest a flow within which mula bandha can be integrated, and other articles warn against the overuse of the lock and the lack of awareness required to properly use mula bandha during asanas.

Last year I was approached by a local yoga school and studio, Yoga North, to learn more about how they were already incorporating pelvic floor awareness and practices into curriculum and classes dedicated to pelvic health. I had an opportunity to attend a class by a yoga teacher trained in their curriculum and in somatics, and I was very impressed at the language and techniques used to improve pelvic muscle awareness. More than ever, pelvic rehabilitation providers have an opportunity to engage other community practitioners and teachers so that we can learn from each other. It is not necessary that we speak each other's languages fluently, but that we find the common principles and share successes and challenges with which our patients/students present.

Another valuable resource recently announced is the coursework created by Ginger Garner in Medical Therapeutic Yoga. Check out her website for more background information and the course information available at MedBridge Education. If you prefer to see Ginger at a live course, she will offer "Yoga as Medicine" courses for peripartum issues- check these courses out on the Institute's home page for courses. Dustienne Miller is also offering this weekend! her new Yoga for Pelvic Pain course. You may have seen her well-attended presentation at CSm this year in San Diego. If you would like to host one of these courses at your facility, please contact the Institute.

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