I’m learning all the time – I recently attended a fab workshop with my good friend and fellow Yoga teacher Louisa Thomas all about core and pelvic floor health and the range of tools that can be used for supporting women with core and pelvic floor dysfunction in a movement class. I’ve now got some great new approaches to play with and things to think about and explore.
As a women’s wellness specialist, Doula and Yoga teacher/Yoga teacher trainer, core and pelvic floor issues is a subject close to my own heart and an area where I support lots of women through both movement and Mizan abdominal massage.
What you need to know about your core and pelvic floor
1. No amount of leaking is normal – urinary incontinence is often the body struggling with intra-abdominal pressure. If it’s happening to you, don’t ignore it, you need to seek some help.
2. Internal scar tissue, sometimes following an operation but often just from the birth itself, can cause misalignment of the internal pelvic organs which can result in pelvic floor issues. If something is tipped to one side, it is not being held by the muscles and everything has to work much harder.
My friend and amazing women’s health physiotherapist Anna Crowle specialises in using myofascial releaseto treat pelvic issues, working with a biotensegrity view of the pelvic floor.
This great video from Anna gives an overview of how the pelvic organs support each other and explains the importance of alignment of the womb for womb health, as well as the effect scar tissue can have on this alignment and how obstruction of the tissues can lead to issues such as prolapse. It’s literally issues in the tissues.
The Mizan abdominal massage that I offer is a practice traditionally used in Asia to support women’s health and wellbeing by realigning organs that have become misaligned causing a restricted flow of blood and lymph and impeded nerve and qi energy within the body.
3. The way we breath and the way the body is aligned is important for core and pelvic floor health and helps to either ease or accentuate intra-abdominal pressure.
Pranayama (restraint or expansion of the breath), one of the eight limbs of Yoga, is one of the most important parts of the practice and an area that is essential to master.
4. The belief that tighter means stronger is outdated. Weakness within the body is caused by an imbalance where some areas of the body are working harder or more efficiently than others. This applies to the whole body, including the pelvic floor.
5. The pelvic floor is not linear and requires non-linear approaches.
6. Moving the body in lots of different ways will really help.
7. There is not one single exercise that will fix things. It’s not about squats versus kegels, it’s about how the body works together as a whole.
My approach to Yoga nowadays is a very somatic and intuitive one that means I regularly look at my own movement patterns to see what’s working well for me and what isn’t working so well.
My own healing postnatally, which took around 18 months to two years, was very much a full body approach that helped me with my own diastasis and pelvic floor issues. I took my time with it, taking things slowly and not pressurising myself to achieve this shape or that shape. I just focused on healing myself slowly from the inside out. I got support from my talented female physio friend, did lots of research and some specialised online programmes too. And I’m now doing a course of Rolfing, a technique of deep tissue manipulation and movement education that helps to realign the body as a whole, which I’m finding really helpful.
In the modern world, there are images all around us of what is expected of us. These pictures are often hard to ignore, but we must. After all, birth is a profound experience that requires time to recover. In fact, full postnatal recovery can take between two and four years.
On my Facebook page and Instagram profile, I’ll be sharing a few simple pelvic floor awareness techniques designed for new mums to do as well as for movement teachers to share that will help women to reconnect to their pelvic floor either in the early days postnatally or at any time when that connection might have disappeared for whatever reason.
Pelvic floors can be a delicate subject but hopefully with programmes like Channel 4’s 100 Vaginas being on the television recently, we can start to have more open discussions about our own experiences.
If you would like to find out more about how I can support you with core or pelvic floor issues or you’re a movement teacher who would like to work with me as your mentor, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.