We all want a happy pelvic floor – it means or organs can function better, our posture is better, our core is stronger and our confidence grows. The pelvic floor muscles can be more illusive to find than most muscles. We know where our hamstrings are because they are large muscles that have an obvious action but the pelvic floor muscles work in a much more subtle way. The following breathing pattern (pranayama) will help you access these muscles, both strengthening and relaxing them for a toned, flexible pelvic floor.
Pelvic Floor Anatomy
You can find a picture of the anatomy of the pelvic floor here. But for our purposes all you need to know are the following basic connections:
- First Layer (outermost) – Pubic Bone <–> Tailbone
- Second Layer – SIT Bone <–> SIT Bone
- Third Layer (innermost) – Pubic Bone <–> Sacrum
Pelvic Floor Breathing
This is a Krama Pranayama – a gradual breathing pattern. As I mentioned above, the movement of these muscles can be subtle, especially at the level we are trying to access them here. So, if you don’t get it immediately keep imagining it and eventually you will feel it.
If you have given birth before, you may have been prescribed Kegel exercises by your doctor – the following breathing pattern is kind of like a refined version of Kegels.
*Just a note, it can be energetically powerful to access the pelvic floor. Yogic philosophy places the powerful kundalini energy here and this conscious movement can have unintentional consequences sometimes. If you are not in good mental health, I do not recommend this breathing practice. Likewise, if you have severe pelvic dysfunction in your pelvic area, you should first consult your doctor.
Sit or lie comfortably. If you have difficulty connecting with your pelvic floor muscles, you may wish to lie in Supta Baddha Konasana (soles together, knees wide).
- Exhale 1/3 of your breath as you lift the first layer (drawing pubic bone and tailbone toward each other).
- Next, exhale the next 1/3 of breath as you lift the second layer (drawing your SIT bones toward each other).
- Lastly, exhale the last 1/3 of breath as you lift the third layer (pubic bone and tailbone toward one another).
Now, reverse that for your inhale:
- Inhale 1/3 of your potential breath as you relax the third layer.
- Then, inhale the next third of your breath as you relax the second layer.
- Finally, inhale the last third of your breath (completely full now) as you relax the first layer.
Repeat as long as you like.