Five Poses Your Pelvic Floor Will Love
The pelvic floor is a hot topic lately, and for good reason! Just like other muscle groups, the muscles of the pelvic floor functional optimally when they are neither tight and stiff nor over-lengthened. When our pelvic floor muscles can fully relax and lengthen they are better able to contract appropriately when we need them to. It is also important to know during which activities these muscles should be relaxed and when they should be active. Before we focus on activation let’s first work on relaxation and lengthening. To do this, we must focus directly on the pelvic floor muscles as well as surrounding muscle groups such as those of the hips and back. Try these five poses to find length, mamas, your body will thank you!
Malasana. This pose lengthens the pelvic floor, low back, and soleus (one of your calf muscles!). If you are having trouble fully relaxing into this pose, try propping a pillow, folded blanket, or yoga block under your pelvis for support or positioning yourself with your back against a wall. Focus on your pelvic floor, the area between your pubic bone and tailbone front to back and between your sits bones side to side. During the inhale, lengthen the pelvic floor, imagining it opening and lowering towards the ground (like a flower blossoming). On the exhale, simply recoil back to the starting position…we are not contracting here – this is all about length! Hold for 60-90 seconds.
Badha Konasana. This pose lengthens the pelvic floor and hip adductors (inner thigh muscles). You can sit flat on the floor or on a folded blanket for comfort. Place the soles of your feet together with your knees open. Inhale, lengthening the pelvic floor. Exhale, return to the starting, resting position. Hold for 60-90 seconds. If you want more of a stretch, you can gently hinge forward.
Pigeon Pose. This is a favorite to target those hip rotator muscles! From hands-and-knees, bend one knee and rotate the leg so that the outside of the leg is resting on the floor. Extend the opposite leg back behind you. You will feel a stretch on the outside of the hip that is rotated. For comfort, you can prop a folded blanket or yoga block under your hip to allow you to fully relax into the pose. You can keep your trunk upright or slowly hinge forward. Inhale, lengthen the pelvic floor. Exhale, return to the starting, resting position. If pregnant, be mindful not to put pressure on baby. Hold for 60-90 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Hip Flexor Stretch. This stretch targets the hips flexors and I am going to say that just about ALL of us could use this stretch! Start in a kneeling position. You can place your knees on a folded blanket or yoga mat for comfort. Lift and place one foot forward, moving into a “half-kneeling” position. Check in with your low back. If you are arching, sticking your bottom out too much, gently tilt your pelvis so your spine is neutral. Shift forward while maintaining that neutral alignment. You will feel the front of the hip stretching. Inhale, lengthen the pelvic floor. Exhale, return to the starting, resting position. These poses are about letting go and relaxing, learning how to tune in to your pelvic floor muscles in various positions. Hold for 60-90 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Puppy Pose. This pose targets the mid-back and shoulders. Maintaining adequate length and mobility in our mid-back and shoulders is important for our posture and our ability to take deep inhales, which can influence our pelvic floor muscles! Start in a hands-and-knees position. Slowly walk your hands forward and lower your chest. Your hips should remain over your knees, different from Child’s Pose where we sit our hips back. Inhale, lengthen the pelvic floor. Exhale, return to the starting, resting position. Hold 30-60 seconds.
During all of these poses, try to fully relax from head to toe! If it's difficult to relax, modify or use props so that you can. Breathe rhythmically with a focus on letting your pelvic floor fully relax and lengthen.
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