Most women know they should be strengthening their pelvic floors but lengthening? Yes. Try this 10-step practice for strong and supple muscles to support childbirth, your vital organs, and even your love life.
Pregnancy, labor, and delivery are some of the biggest challenges a woman’s body faces in her lifetime, but a strong, supple pelvic floor can minimize many of the discomforts of pregnancy and make delivery easier. Most women know that pelvic floor strength is important, but many of us are unaware that these muscles (even yogis') are not only weak but tight. And it’s essential to address the tightness of the muscles before attempting to strengthen them.
Tight pelvic floor muscles are usually a symptom of a lack of deep breathing. When we don’t breathe fully, the pelvic floor doesn’t stretch. It stays in it's shortened, contracted state. Over time the muscles become more rigid, making it more difficult to lengthen without a concerted effort. And since the pelvic floor is the matrix that supports our vital organs, we want it to be as strong and long as possible. Not to mention, its strength and elasticity also plays a big role in a woman's ability to orgasm. It’s an important network of muscles!
Like most women, during my three pregnancies, I was told to “do my kegels” to strengthen my pelvic floor, that it was just using the muscles that “stop the flow of urine.” My religious practice of kegels never stopped the flow of urine, though, while I was pregnant—or after. As a matter of fact, I always needed to carry extra clothes with me in case I sneezed or laughed too hard. It wasn’t until after my third baby that I learned the actions a kegel was meant to do!
The combination of length and strength in the pelvic floor creates muscles with great integrity to support a baby in addition to all of the organs that rest on it. These strong muscles in conjunction with the gluteus medius are called upon during the second stage of labor (pushing) and are responsible for helping the bones of the pelvis come back together after delivery. Use the following poses to develop the strength and flexibility of these muscles and leave mama with a healthy and happy pelvis!