Looking for pelvic floor exercises to stretch or strengthen the pelvic floor?
Bridge pose can work wonders! It's great for both hypertonic and hypotonic muscles, you just need to learn which modifications work best.
How can pelvic floor exercises work for two different problems?
Surprise! There are lots of pelvic floor exercises that can both stretch and strengthen. Sometimes it's a specific movement coming in or out of a yoga posture that can help with building strength while at other times holding the pose for multiple breaths can help with stretching. In this blog, I will give you some tips for holding the pose as well as using motion to help both tight and weak muscles "down there."
Bridge Pose to relax the pelvic floor:
This is one of my favorite pelvic floor exercises to relax the muscles below your belly button. There are a lot of modifications that can be done in bridge pose, but I’ll stick with the most basic here. To relax the pelvic floor in this posture, you need a yoga block. Lay back on the floor with the feet and knees roughly hip-distance apart. If you find that your spine has a lot of space and is making a big curve coming off of the floor, you can place a thin pillow or blanket under your head, which will lower the rib cage.
Regardless of how you modify the pose, when you raise the body your chest should come toward the chin, the chin should come toward the ceiling, and your spine should be relatively straight. To relax the pelvic floor in this pose, you need to find your sacrum (the triangular-shaped bone between your hips at the base of the spine). Lift your bottom up, place the sacrum (NOT the spine) flat on your yoga block and allow the hips to rest downward. Breathe deeply to give the pelvic floor its full range of motion, and experience the benefit of this pose as it relaxes your pelvic floor. This is one of my favorite postures to teach breathing techniques because it’s really obvious when you inhale that the belly is moving out.
Modified Bridge Pose: one of the greatest pelvic floor exercises to relax and release tension below the belt.
Bridge Pose to strengthen the pelvic floor:
No props are really required for this posture, but gently squeezing a yoga block between the thighs helps activate the pelvic floor and increases the intensity. As I mentioned when using Goddess Pose to strengthen, you’ll follow a similar Hatha Yoga movement technique. Start with the spine on the floor and take a deep breath, allowing the belly to expand. As you slowly exhale, lift your booty up and allow the pelvic floor to naturally move upward. Squeeze the glutes slightly at the top to further activate the pelvic floor and then release those muscles again as you inhale and return to the starting position. In any strengthening pose, it’s especially important to ensure that you relax completely on the inhale before continuing the motion on the next exhale.
When considering pelvic floor exercises, what about kegels?
There are a lot of different techniques in yoga to build strength in the pelvic floor, but you need to be careful with how you do it. Some people think that kegels are the solution to all problems (in yoga for the pelvic floor we “lift the perineum” instead). Here’s the problem though. Those with tight pelvic floors may cause more harm than good in using this technique, while those with loose muscles may think they should do this intense move every posture and end up weaker than when they started.
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