In Part 1, I described the anatomy and function of the pelvic diaphragm.  Now I’ll talk about how to take healing into your own hands and care for your pelvic diaphragm before any problems arise, or reverse the tension or weakness that you are currently experiencing.

Unfortunately, due to shame, fear or embarrassment, many people suffer in silence with pelvic floor dysfunction, which left untreated will only worsen over time. Even more troubling is the fact that when people do seek help, they may be given bad advice from professionals untrained in the area of pelvic floor health.  The best advice is to seek out a pelvic floor physiotherapist, or a certified Yoga Tune Up® teacher.

When the pelvic floor is weak and unable to properly support the lower abdominal organs, it can result in incontinence of the bladder or rectum, prolapse of an organ causing pain or discomfort, weak muscles supporting the vagina or prostate – affecting sexual pleasure and function, and even inefficient respiration and a general lack of core strength and stability.  When the pelvic floor is hypertonic and tight due to too much “clenching”, it can result in pain, restricted movement, constipation, urinary retention, vaginismus (excessively contracted vagina causing pain during intercourse) and poor breathing mechanics.  (In this case – no Kegels! – lengthen PF muscles)  Also, imbalance and dysfunction in the pelvic floor muscles can refer pain anywhere in the body!

Here are some great exercises helpful in maintaining or strengthening your pelvic floor.

“Tune Up Tadasana” Posture!  Get brain over heart, ribcage over pelvis – breathe.

SQUAT! – breathe – relax pelvic floor (if PF weak –pull up gently on exhale, relax on inhale)

Uddihyana Bandha –connect respiratory & pelvic diaphragms, massage abdominal viscera

Happy Baby – pry open the pelvic floor, encourage sacral nutation, cultivate awareness

Baddhakonasana – stretches pelvic floor and adductors

Adductor Slides – strengthen inner thigh muscles and pelvic floor

Frog Crawls/Frog at the Dock – open pelvic floor and hips

Moon Rises Minivini – external and internal hip rotation

Savasana – Breathe, Relax and Renew – down-regulate nervous system

In addition to these pelvic floor exercises, roll out with you Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls – special attention to hips and buttocks, lower back, feet and lower legs.  Also, you can try very gentle compression on the perineum with a soft, “broken-in” ball, and soft cushioning under the ball.

Finally, get to know your body – all of it – including your perineum, your pelvic diaphragm and all adjacent and related muscles.  Learn how to isolate and differentiate between the actions of these muscles, and how to feel and control contraction and relaxation of them.

For help with this:

Find a Yoga Tune Up® teacher in your area and start tuning up!

Julie Wiebe PT – YouTube channel – watch “The Fit Floor” parts 1,2,3 and “The Core Machine: Gears Gotta Move” www.juliewiebept.com

Katy Bowman – www.alignedandwell.com

Blandine Calais-Germain – “The Female Pelvis- Anatomy and Exercises”

Watch our free Quickfix videos.

Learn about our Therapy Ball Programs

Lynda Jaworski

I first began practicing Hatha yoga over 16 years ago (at age 35) and experienced the benefits so deeply I felt compelled to certify and teach. I completed a 250 hour teacher training with Maureen Daigle of Innerquest Yoga - Kripalu tradition, and continued my studies through annual workshops and trainings in a variety of styles – Kundalini, Yin, Vinyasa and Therapeutic. I owned and operated “Yoga Break" for ten years (outside Toronto) prior to re-locating (in 2011) to The Sultanate of Oman. In 2012 I became a certified Yoga Tune Up® Teacher and I continue to train with Jill Miller today. As a YTU teacher, I am excited to offer classes grounded in anatomy, exploration and self-care; classes that create positive and lasting structural changes in the bodies of my students!

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Dominique Pelletier

Thank’s for all this pose to work with my pelvic floor. I will do for me and my clients.

Charmaine Garry

Thank you for your insight with the exercises and the connections with the pelvic floor musculature. This will be a very helpful reference.

Amy Moore

Thank you for the great info on the pelvic floor. I didn’t realize that it could be the indicator for something happening elsewhere in the body. It makes sense and I am glad you also provided a list of exercises that can help round out any practice for overall health.

Becky Battle

Thank you for writing and giving links to additional information for a “sensitive” area, but hello??? There are muscles down there and people need not ignore them!! The perineum is so sensitive, but needs pliability and balance of strength. Love the list to provide a template for classes.

Line Bernier

Merci, vous me confirmez que la respiration uddhyana (adominal vacuum) est vraiment bonne pour assouplir le plancher pelvien.

Melody

Useful list on how to strengthen our pelvic floor muscles. More people should be talking about this. Next time it comes up with my friends, I’ll refer them to your exercises for a strong and supple pelvic floor. Thanks.

Camille Corrivault-Gascon

Merci pour ces suggestions d’exercices pour renforcer le plancher pelvien. Une des choses que j’ai appris dernièrement à ce sujet c’est qu’il se peut que l’incontinence soit du au fait que notre plancher pelvien est contracter, c’est intéressant de savoir qu’il y a différente raisons pourquoi il peut y avoir des problèmes d’incontinence.

april N

Thanks for this great article

Megan McDonald

I absoloutely love that this is being blogged about! And I am so grateful for your reference to vaginismus, because I have realized quite possibly I am a sufferer of such a condition. I practiced pilates for less than a year, and as my core felt so good, I started realizing that I would pee when I sneezed, but then when I needed to pee, it too all my possible concentration to relax and let it come out. And then, the last bit had to be FORCED out! I told my instructor this, and he said, oh wow, no more… Read more »

Matt Halawnicki

Powerful article. Love your sequence.

Alexandra L

Thank you for shedding light on this sensitive subject. For years I thought that I needed to strengthen my pelvic floor, so I did. Now I’m beginning to realize the effects of a hypertonic pelvic floor and need to release these muscles.

Karen Smereka

The number of replies to this post indicates the interest that people have in this area. Yesterday in our training one of the participants was in awe of the the effects of the therapy ball massage on her pelvic floor and body. I have stopped my unintentional dribbling with the therapy balls and some relaxation. I needed less tighteness in my pelvic floor and the therapy balls helped loosen things up SO when I engage my bum muscles I worry that I’m re-tightening my pelivc floor…. It feels like it anyway. Thoughts?

Angela

Thank you for the sequence and the suggestion of compression with a “broken in” yoga tune up ball. I will be using this myself and with my students.

Kate

Wonderful article! People are now starting to emphasize functional exercises for pelvic floor stability over Kegel’s, but rarely do you find such a comprehensive list of suggested postures. In addition to the exercises, one should also consider overall digestive health. It’s important to know which foods are most compatible with your body’s digestion, drink plenty of water and make sure that you’re walking in a position that benefits your body. These all contribute to good pelvic floor health.

Linda

I am hoping our Level 1 teacher has time to show us the pelvic floor ball rolling on the perinium. I had a complete tear from my 1st pregnancy and would like to add that part of my body in hopes that it connects to all the other Yoga Tune-Up exercises we are doing.

Rita

Thank you for the list of poses to deal with this area. The specifics on what each pose does is helpful to encourage students to keep practicing. It does make a difference!

Jimmee Greco

What an amazing article! (I really liked part 1 as well–super-clear functional anatomy lesson.) I never knew that pelvic floor dysfunction could be healed without surgery. Thank you for opening my eyes, and for your links to Julie Weibe’s exetremely informative videoes. I’ll definitely be researching this more!

Melinda

Great article with concrete examples of what to do to strengthen the pelvic floor. This is a subject that I definitely want to explore more. Thank you for this! 🙂

Tanell

I’m so excited to see that Moon rises help to strengthen the pelvic floor. They feel absolutely delicious to do and I have so many clients who struggle with pelvic floor dysfunction. If you are one of them, don’t feel alone, it is very common!

Dawn

Wow, thanks for this! I must admit that the pelvic floor is a foreign area to me, especially strengthening it. The poses you provided give me a concrete way to work on building awareness in this area.

Aubrey Heinemann

I am really excited to try out this routine for myself and my students. I have found that my breath, especially my exhale, has helped me understand how to engage pelvic floor. Also sitting on a block and or birthing ball and feeling that engagement of pelvic floor moving up and down have been great tools. Again the importance of being able to contract and relax is so important to always mention to our students. Thank you again for the above sequence to keep pelvic floor muscles strong and supple.

Lara

I do some of these exercises with my pregnant clients, but I look forward to trying a few more – the frog walk perhaps. I’m not sure what moon rises minivini means?

Sandy Ahlensdorf

Hello Lynda – thank you for both articles. When it comes to squatting, I wonder if there is a goal depth (provided range of motion is not an issue) for the squats for this pelvic floor therapy? To 90 degrees, below the hip crease (CrossFit style) or all the way to the bottom? Thanks!

Nikola

Hi again,
I love the idea of focusing on the pelvic floor while in the bottom of a squat, I had never put that together.
I can even see the possibility of putting a YTU ball on a block, squatting onto that and staying there for a while!
Thanks for the post.
Nikola

Cindy

An important topic to deal with for so many women. This subject has also been discussed in YTU classes I have been attending. Thank you for such a great post.

Kim

I was just discussing this issue with a client. So many women that I know are beginning to get to the stage that being unprepared for a cough or sneeze produces very embarrassing results. Everyone constantly says, “kegels, kegels”. I knew there had to be another answer out there. I’m really looking forward to adding “Moon Rise Mini-vinis” to my next class.

Roselyn Ramthun

I loved the moon rises and now am more motivated to explore. I’m fascinated by opportunities to strengthen the pelvic floor. Your list of pelvic floor asanas is a gift, thank you.

Shakti Rowan

This is information’s so valuable! I have serval clients who have recently had babies and there is not a lot of information out there for them for strengthening the pelvic floor. I have been wanting to offer a post natal yoga class and this article will support my vision.
Honestly all of us need to take care of our pelvic floor to keep our sexual health and lower abdominal muscles in good shape. Thank you!

Christina

Wow! I never thought about someone’s pelvic floor being too contracted. Of course, this isn’t the case for me after 4 children and Crohn’s Disease. However, I’m ready to take back control of my pelvic floor. Thank you for the wonderful list of exercises and resources. No doubt I’ll be referring to this post and those resources often. Guess I better get squatting!

Caitlin Vestal

I love that the pelvic floor has become such a hot topic in the yoga and fitness world! As a prenatal yoga teacher, I work with so many women who would benefit from connecting to their pelvic floor pre-birth or who are struggling with issues post-birth. All most of them have heard is “Kegels, kegels, kegels!” and it’s truly a process of becoming aware of what it means to awaken and connect to the pelvic floor in a way that is balanced and integrated. Thank you for both of these posts about it!

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction No More! | Yoga Tune Up

[…] Tune Up® Blog « Stop Migraines Before They Start With YTU Therapy Balls For Strong And Supple Pelvic Muscles – Squat! […]

Geoff Brown

Over and over again I keep on hearing about the benefits of squats. I love the way that it engages the pelvic floor and even helps stabilize the spine. I have added squats to my practice and feel more stable all over, from my core, legs and spine!

Geoff Brown

Over and over again I keep on hearing about the benefits of squats. I love the way that it engages the pelvic floor and helps stablize te

Bev Hotchkiss

Thanks so much for the response, Lynda! I will definitely look into the resources that you mentioned. Thanks so much!! Had my first anatomy dream last night…the quadratus lumborum…then just realized now that a lady asked me today about that exact muscle. Weird!

Lynda Jaworski

Also, I Can’t Leave Out gentle compression and gentle rolling on the perineum with a nice soft broken-in Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball. And also rolling of the feet and lower legs, hips and buttocks, adductors, IT Band, lower, middle and upper back. 🙂

Lynda Jaworski

Hi Bev! Well, the “short answer” is SQUAT!! (that is, squat in good form) to maintain strong and supple gluteals and pelvic floor muscles. As well – correct posture is key! The spine needs to maintain it’s natural lumbar curve – sacrum nutated (as in anterior tilt), to maintain the length of the pelvic floor muscles. When the spine looses its lumbar curve(as in posterior tilt or tucked tail) the sacrum becomes counter-nutated and creates a short, tight and weak pelvic floor. As “we, the people” spend so much time sitting, and so many of us sit with our tails… Read more »

Bev Hotchkiss

Lynda hello!!! Great follow article. I have to admit I was a little lost in all the Latin/muscular names of the first article though I found the diagram that was attached helped me to gain a general sense of the main muscular trinity of the pelvic floor. As I mentioned in my earlier comment I know so many people who suffer with a ‘wee pee’ when they don’t want one. I have a question: I know all the exercises mentioned help but are there specific ones that would be more effective? Thanks for the article and thanks for everything over… Read more »

mimi martel

Currently in the YTU TT with Todd and Amanda in Ontario , We had the chance to experience the perineum release with a (not so broken) TU ball! As you get over the fear factor of putting something so near those “sweet” parts (I am also currently 20 weeks on in my pregnancy ) , the effects during and after the myofascial release is amazing. Done many workshop focusing on pelvic floor, mula bandha , etc but never felt soooo clearly the relationship of the diaphragm with the pelvic floor and the ischios moving back and forth as you breath… Read more »

Yvonne Duke

Very informative blog. I agree this is something most women are embarrassed about and don’t want to talk about it. The good news is there are exercises and ways in which we can help ourselves. Way too many women are having surgery…let’s spread the YTU word.

Nancy

Thanks Lynda, this sequence especially squat is now on the radar for my adductors ! Nancy

Jennie Cohen

Leslie Howard is another great resource for information on pelvic floor health: http://lesliehowardyoga.com/

Dana

Thanks for breaking down both sides of the story. This is not only an area we don’t discuss or are embarrassed to speak up about, but also unless there is an issue, we may not ever think about it. So think is great preventative practice as well.
Years ago, a former co-worker was having major issues with incontinence after two vaginal births. Doctors recommended surgery and since she was just fed up, she went with it. If only this info was in her hands or her body before, perhaps surgery would not have been her path.

Kathleen

So interesting!! I am so excited to teach squatting with focus on the pelvic diaphragm – the breathing cues are so helpful and will allow students to cultivate awareness and develop a balance of tone and elasticity. Great blog.

Elizabeth

I searched for adductor exercises on the blog and found your post. I am really glad I found this whole list of exercises for the pelvic floor. In yoga teacher training we were focusing on the band has and how to engages the mula bandha. I was too embarrassed in class to say that this was difficult for me in some poses. I look forward to doing this sequence to increase strength in both adductors and PF!

Thank you!

Lauren

So true. Why would we shorten an already short muscle? If someone has been hanging out with their pelvis in post tilt all the time- the PF muscles will be stuck short. So layering a Kegel into already short unyielding muscles will make them shorter. The key is to SQUAT! A lot!

Marisa

I recently talked to a few different people about PF muscles and the need for them to be strong but also supple. Each time I received some funny looks. Its interesting how many people only see the need to strengthen; everyone I had a conversation with mentioned kegels, no mention of the need to be relax them. Everyone has a PF yet there is such a disconnect with this part of their body. I don’t think people realize the PF is made up of muscles and those muscles need to be exercised-stretched and strengthened just like every other muscle in… Read more »

Paula B

As a mother of two vaginally born children I have very close experience with the weakening of the pelvic floor:-) And, most importantly, how it can affect your whole life. I made it a mission in my teachings to bring yoga student’s awareness to the pelvic floor and to understand the relationship between a weak pelvic floor and the constant downward drain of Apana. When Apana is weak, the integrity of the mind-body complex is also weakened, and we become susceptible to illness, fear, doubt, confusion, insecurity and loss of Sankalpa. Squatting is one of my favorite approaches, especially when… Read more »

Cheryl Hsu

This is great. I have a client who has a pelvic floor dysfuntion and I’m already teaching her how to squat. Thanks.

Kathy

I am now on a mission with my students to focus on this work. In Core Immersion I realized how much I’ve avoided this work for myself and how much I need it. “Teach what you know?” I guess I’d better get on it, because even though I understand the theories, my body doesn’t know this work very well. I am committed to adding this to my own practice and dedicating part of each class to this work.

kim haegele

Thank you for this – I now have a template for a pelvic floor themed self practice and class.