Poses by Anatomy

Reduce Pain and Discomfort with These Poses for the Pelvis

Pain and discomfort can be gone with these therapeutic asana sequences from pelvic-floor expert and yoga teacher Leslie Howard.

If you are plagued by pain or discomfort down there, these exploratory tools and yoga sequences (no, we’re not talking Kegels) can help you either tone or release tension. You won’t believe the benefits—from better sex to walking through the world with more freedom.

As girls, we are exposed to relentless conditioning. We will be told to walk, sit, stand, move, and behave in ways that are appropriate, sexy, ladylike, and motherly. We will even be told which bathroom to use. By adulthood, each of us will carry these ways of being women throughout our body, but we will feel them particularly in the pelvic region, the part of our bodies most deeply associated with our gender. The pelvic region becomes a complex, multilayered storage unit—I call it the original 1-800-MINI-STORAGE—the place where we store the things we can’t let go of but don’t want to deal with right now.

This can lead to health issues that are both emotional and physical in nature. We need to explore and liberate this terrain and take charge of ourselves—openly acknowledge and understand our issues—and skillfully tune in to the healing power of our own bodies. I believe it’s time to liberate your pelvis.

See also Discover the Connection Between Your Head and Pelvis

Every Pelvis Has a Story

“Every pelvis has a story” is what I tell my students. My story is this: In 2005, I had already been a yoga teacher for 20 years, so I thought I knew the anatomy and mechanics of “down there” fairly well. But around that time, I began to experience pain and discomfort in this nether region. And then as I worked to figure out why, I realized that much of my knowledge about the pelvic area was abstract, generic, and derived mostly from anatomy books. I didn’t understand the specifics—the muscles housed within it and that entire region’s relationship to the rest of my body, mind, and life history.

I began experimenting with yoga poses and breathing practices to familiarize myself with, and ultimately explore, the many layers of trauma, held emotion, and pain that lay hidden between my hip bones. The more I understood how the intricacies of my pelvis intersected with personal history, cultural conditioning, sexism, anatomy, and symptoms of ill health, the more I began to see how my pelvis was tied to my general well-being—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It turned out that my pelvic floor muscles were way too tight, but I had no idea why or how that had happened. My exploration turned into an investigation of the factors that shaped me, such as my postural, sexual, and medical histories; my struggles with body image; and the influence of relationships, family, advertising, media, and movies. Bringing the story of my pelvis to light became a key component of my evolution as a human being. From there, I eventually developed a yoga protocol that formed the cornerstone of the pelvic-floor workshops I now teach around the world.

Plank Pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Why Yoga?

Many people with pelvic issues attend my workshops after having tried a number of different approaches to deal with them, often consulting first with their general practitioner, then a gynecologist, then a urologist. They may have tried Kegels, other muscle-building exercises, or even antidepressants. Some have reached a point where they are considering surgery. Let’s look at this scenario: A woman in her mid-40s starts feeling pain during intercourse. Her doctor recommends using more lubricant, but that doesn’t help. She visits a gynecologist who can’t diagnose a reason for her painful intercourse. She starts to read about the issue on the Internet, which offers exercises that may solve the problem. She does the exercises but they don’t help. She starts to wonder if her symptoms are psychosomatic and seeks a psychotherapist . . . The list goes on.

See also Why Balancing Your Pelvis Is Key to Good Posture

Each of the approaches above (allopathic medicine, exercise, counseling) has its merits. But for many women, yoga is the last resort. I’ve worked as a pelvic-floor yoga teacher for over 12 years, so I say this with absolute certainty: Yoga should be the first resort. Here’s why. Practicing yoga cultivates self-awareness and sensitivity toward your body; it isn’t just another set of exercises you do. Yoga fosters subtle observation and awareness of your body’s mechanics and energetics. It gives you experiential insight into the unique form and shape of your individual embodiment. It allows you to understand what is happening as it is happening, and it gives you the tools to adjust your practice to constantly fluctuating conditions, moment by moment. It is one thing to have a general conceptual understanding of the anatomy of muscles; it’s something else to be able to locate, sense, and work with the individual muscles in your own body.

Body awareness is key to properly diagnosing ailments. No doctor in the world will be able to tell you what it’s like for you to feel pain or tension or relief or any other sensation; this is information only you can access. This type of insight is critical to making a proper diagnosis. Yoga combines external conceptual knowledge with the internal experiential understanding that only you can access. Yoga is empowering. It empowers you to take an active role in your own healing rather than handing over responsibility to a doctor or someone else. It encourages and supports you to see for yourself. After all, it is your body, and you should not blindly give up control. You hold primary authority over your body, and you need to exercise that authority by exploring, observing, and learning about yourself. Yoga helps you shed your self-imposed states and empowers you to emerge, to mature, and to take responsibility for yourself.

Legs Up the Wall Pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Is Your Pelvic Floor Hypertonic or Hypotonic?

These are two conditions that can cause a fair amount of pelvic pain and discomfort. To assess if you are dealing with either, here are some informal diagnostic tools.

See also Not ALL Hips Need Opening: 3 Moves for Hip Stability

A little sitting-bone massage is an ideal way to develop greater awareness of this area. In any seated position, lean onto your left buttock so that the right sitting bone is easily accessible (you can also do this lying on your side). With one hand, find the tip of your right ischial tuberosity, a.k.a. sitting bone. Using the sitting bone as your landmark, begin to massage the muscles just on the inner edge of the sitting bone, toward the vulva. Massage a little toward the front and a little toward the back. Are there are any tender or tight spots in the corridor between your vulva and the bone? Is there any pain? Take note of the density of the muscle around the bone. Is it firm, hard, squishy, tense? Does the area have any “give”? Continue for one full minute.

Now sit back on both sitting bones and observe the difference between the right and the left sides.

• Has anything changed as a result of releasing muscular tension on one side?

• Does the right sitting bone feel lower on the seat? Is there a sense of more space around the bone?

Now take a few deep breaths and shift your attention to breathing sensations.

• Does the right side of your body feel more spacious as you inhale?

Repeat on the left side and notice any differences.

Where you notice tightness and soreness is where you might be hypertonic.

Basic symptoms of a hypertonic Pelvic floor

• Pelvic pain

• Urge incontinence: strong immediate feelings of needing to urinate, without leakage

Basic symptoms of a hypotonic Pelvic floor

• Stress incontinence: leakage that often happens without any forewarning

See also A Pelvic Floor Sequence for an Easier Labor + Delivery

warrior 2 pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Both a hypertonic and hypotonic pelvic floor can often be effectively remedied with yoga.

Yoga provides a complex and nuanced set of tools you can fine-tune to address your specific circumstances in a noninvasive, holistic way. As you practice the poses on the following pages, I encourage you to pay attention to the specific energy each of them carries. Poses are often experienced as calming, invigorating, focusing, heating, cooling, and so on. When you understand the energy of different poses and how they affect you, you can use this knowledge to energize, balance, and calm your life; to challenge yourself; to cultivate greater sensitivity and compassion; or to simply enjoy a richer and much more complex range of sensations and emotions.

None

Some of the poses in the sequences build strength and help you find and contract muscles. Some lengthen muscles, while others soften muscles. Some focus on the breath. I have separated the poses into two categories to address hypertonicity and hypotonicity. The poses are presented from easiest to more challenging, but not in a specific sequence for a particular symptom. Hopefully you have done some exploration and you know whether you need to do the poses for a hypertonic or hypotonic pelvic floor. Remember, if you are a combination of both hyper- and hypotonic, you need to address the tight muscles first. Getting chronically tight muscles to let go can sometimes happen rather quickly or in some cases may take up to a year (that is how long it took mine to let go).

See also Soften Your Middle for a Stronger Core

Practicing alone and in a quiet space can open you up to continual inquiry: What am I feeling? How is my breath? Where do I feel movement created by the breath in each pose? Remember that some yoga postures are more difficult to maintain than others. Be patient with yourself. If you are feeling tired after practicing some of the more challenging postures, switch to practicing supported Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose) or supported Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) for 10 minutes. With practice, you should find it easier and more relaxing to assume and maintain all of these postures. The heart of practicing yoga postures is to train your nervous system to be calmer, even in a physically challenging pose. Your breath will always let you know if you are doing too much.

Hypertonic Pelvic-Floor Sequence

Relaxation Pose with Weight

Supported Savasana with props, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 4 blankets—1 folded under your head, 1 rolled under your knees, and 1 under the ankles (bolsters under your legs work too), 1 folded across your thighs; one or two 8- to 10-pound sandbags or weights; optional eye pillow

Set up the props as pictured and lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides, palms up. Close your eyes and invite your breath to travel into your belly and lower back. Deep breathing in this pose helps the pelvic floor stretch on the inhale and contract on the exhale. Imagine your body releasing toward the ground. Stay in the pose for 5–20 minutes.

See also Tap into Your Authentic Voice with this Sequence From Jessamyn Stanley

Half Happy Baby Pose (Ardha Ananda Balasana)

Half Happy Baby Pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 1 blanket folded under your head; optional strap and block (if you have discomfort in your hip crease when doing this pose)

Lie down with your head well supported. Bend your knees, with the soles of your feet on the floor. Bring your right knee toward your chest. Reach between your legs with your right hand and take hold of the little-toe side of the right foot. Bring the sole parallel to the ceiling, knee lined up with your armpit, and ankle over your knee so your shin is perpendicular to the floor. Flex your foot. Lengthen your right sitting bone away from your head. Bring your attention to your sacrum and release the tip of your tail toward the ground as if you were unfurling it. Stay 1–3 minutes, then switch sides (pictured). 

See also How a Daily Meditation Practice Helps You Find Trust

Reclining Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)

Supra Padangusthasana
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 1 blanket folded under your head; 1 strap

This posture stretches your hamstrings, which when tight can contribute to tight pelvic-floor muscles. Stay supine with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Check that your lumbar spine has its natural curve. Draw your right knee toward your torso. Interlace your fingers around your shin and gently hug your thigh to your belly. Place the strap around your right sole. Straighten your right leg, reaching your heel toward the ceiling and pushing into the strap. Lengthen the back of the left leg along the floor, pushing through the heel. Imagine releasing your tail toward the floor. This will help the pelvic-floor muscles elongate. Notice your breath. Hold for 1–3 minutes. Relax both legs for
a few breaths, then switch sides.

See also The Healing Power of Trauma-Informed Yoga Classes

Figure 4

Figure 4, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 1 blanket folded under your head

Still supine, with knees bent and feet on the floor, draw your right thigh into your chest. Turn your right thighbone out. Place the right ankle above your left knee. Flex the right ankle. Bring your right arm through the legs and interlace your hands either behind the left thigh or around the front of the left shin. For a deeper stretch, bring your left foot off the floor and draw your left thigh toward your chest. Your weight may shift toward one side in this pose. Keep the weight evenly distributed on the back of your pelvis and more toward the top of your sacrum than the bottom. Hold for 1–2 minutes. Switch sides.

See also An Energy Release Trick for Lasting Headache Relief

 

Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana Sarvangasana)

Supported Bridge Pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 1 block

This version of Bridge Pose encourages relaxation and movement of the respiratory diaphragm. Lying on your back, bend your knees to 90 degrees with feet on the floor. Walk your heels close to your butt, keeping them hip-distance apart. Push into your feet and lift your pelvis as high as you can. Place a block under your sacrum at a comfortable height. Keep pressure on your inner heels and the mounds of your big toes so your knees don’t splay apart. Draw your upper arms under your torso and toward one another, pushing them into the floor. Keep your chin neutral. Lift your sternum toward your chin. Stay 3–5 minutes.

See also A Yoga Sequence to Heal Your Bladder and Kidney

Legs on a Chair (Viparita Karani Mudra)

Viparita Karani Mudra, Legs on a chair, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 1 folding chair; 2–3 blankets (1 folded under your head, 1 under your hips, 1 on the chair seat); optional eye covering

This pose helps untuck your pelvis by elevating your buttocks and supporting your legs. Sit on a folded blanket with a chair seat facing you. Bend your knees with feet on the floor. With your hands placed behind your pelvis, lower your back to the floor. Bring your calves onto the chair seat. Adjust so that your pelvis is in neutral and your breath can flow deeply. Let your arms relax, palms facing up. Stay here, breathing deeply, for 2–20 minutes.

See also 10 Poses to Empower You to Create Positive Change in the World

After a week, gradually add these poses

Dynamic tabletop

Dynamic Tabletop
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 1 blanket folded under your knees

First, come to hands and knees with a neutral pelvis, tops of your feet on the floor. Inhale and lift your head and tailbone toward the ceiling, lengthening your pelvic floor. Exhale and move your head and tail toward one another, shortening your pelvic-floor muscles. Move between Cow Pose and Cat Pose, doing 3–5 rounds with your breath. Return to Tabletop. Next, move your pelvis from side to side to lengthen muscle fibers from center to left and right. Tail-wag for 1 minute. Return to Tabletop. Then move your hips in slow motion as if you had a hula hoop around them. Move in one direction for a minute, and then reverse the direction for another minute.

See also 5 Poses to Practice in a Cramped Airplane Seat

Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana) with Circular Movement and blocks

Anjaneyasana with blocks, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 1 blanket folded under your knees; 2 blocks

This modified lunge creates more space in and around your hip joints, which can be tight in people with pelvic pain. From hands and knees, place hands on blocks. Step your right foot forward to the outside of your right hand, with your foot slightly turned out. Your shin and thigh are at 90 degrees. Press your inner right heel firmly into the floor. Similar to the pose above, move your pelvis in a circular motion. Remember to keep your head and tail in neutral. After 1 minute, change the direction of the circle. Rest in Balasana (Child’s Pose) before coming to the second side. Notice if the two sides of the pelvic floor feel different.

See also How to Step Into Your Feminine Power with the Wisdom of the Dakinis

Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Downward Facing Dog
Christopher Dougherty

Bending your knees in this pose enables you to slacken your hamstrings and therefore untuck your pelvis and stretch your pelvic-floor muscles. From hands and knees, place hands forward of your shoulder joints. Your pelvis should be in an untucked position, as in Cow Pose. Tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Strongly pull your hips away from your hands. Extend through your tail and sitting bones, lifting them toward the ceiling. Push your thighbones back by engaging your quadriceps and drawing your pelvis away from your torso. Keep your rib cage stable and don’t let extra weight fall into your hands. Now bend your knees. Your tailbone and sitting bones can then move farther away from your shoulders. Spread your fingers and ground through your thumb mounds and the roots of your index fingers. Keep your ears in line with your inner arms. Rotate your thighs inward. Stay 20 seconds to 2 minutes.

See also 4 Yoga Leadership Retreats Every Yoga Teacher Should Consider

Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana), variation

Wide Legged Forward Fold, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

This pose stretches your pelvic floor by taking the pelvis into an untucked position. It also stretches your hamstrings without straining your back. Start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Separate your feet 3–4 feet apart, setting them parallel to each other. Push down on your inner and outer heels and the balls of your big toes. Lift your inner arches. Fold at your hips, bringing your hands to the floor with straight arms. Maintain the length from your pubic bone to your navel (don’t round your back). Keep your head in line with your spine, rib cage in neutral. Lift your hamstrings to your sitting bones while spreading your sitting bones away from each other. Lift your tailbone toward the ceiling. 

See also What is Qi Gong?(And How You Can Start Practicing Today)

Relaxation pose with weight

Supported Savasana with props, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 4 blankets—1 folded under your head, 1 rolled under your knees and 1 under the ankles (bolsters under your legs work too), and 1 folded across your thighs; one or two 8- to 10-pound sandbags or weights; optional eye pillow

Set up this pose again and close your eyes. Invite your breath to travel into your belly and lower back. Deep breathing in this pose helps the pelvic floor stretch on the inhale and contract on the exhale. Imagine your body releasing toward the ground. Stay in the pose for 5–20 minutes. 

See also How Gravity Affects Your Yoga Practice More Than You Realize

See also Understanding Your Sacroiliac Joint

Hypotonic Pelvic-Floor Sequence

Relaxation Pose with Weight

Savasana with weight, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 4 blankets—1 folded under your head, 1 rolled under your knees, and 1 under the ankles (bolsters under your legs work too), and 1 folded across your thighs; one or two 8- to 10-pound weights; optional eye pillow

Set up the props as pictured and lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides, palms up. Close your eyes and invite your breath to travel into your belly and lower back. Deep breathing in this pose helps the pelvic floor stretch on the inhale and contract on the exhale. Imagine your body releasing toward the ground. Stay in the pose for 5–20 minutes.

See also 10 Yoga Sequences for Strong Feet and Better Balance

Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana)

Supported Hero Pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Props (optional): 1 bolster and 1 blanket folded under knees

If done with a focus on your pelvic floor, the work of your lower legs in this pose directly engages your perineum and lifts your spine. Kneel with your thighs together, knees in line with hips, toes untucked, and heels in line with your sitting bones. Place a bolster or thickly folded blanket between your heels and buttocks, if more comfortable. Bring your buttocks back to your heels. In this transition, strongly lift your tailbone and sitting bones to maintain a neutral pelvis. Keep the weight of your torso directly over your sitting bones. Do not tuck your tail under as you sit down. If this happens, add more height between your buttocks and heels. During the transition, your heels will try to splay away from each other, so actively hug your outer heels, outer ankles, and outer calves toward your midline. Rest your hands on the tops of your thighs, palms down, elbows slightly bent. To engage your pelvic floor, press the tops of your feet, fronts of your ankles, and fronts of your shinbones down. Remain in this pose for 1–5 minutes. 

See also A Surf Yoga Retreat Aimed at Helping You Find Creativity Is Exactly What You Need This Winter

Tadasana, with block Mountain Pose

tadasana, mountain pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Prop: 1 block

This variation teaches the neutral position of your spine and pelvis, so that pelvic-floor muscle function is maximized. This pose takes work! Stand up straight with your feet slightly apart. Place a block on its narrowest width so that the faces of the block touch your upper inner thighs. Stand with your weight distributed evenly between your feet from side to side, but with a bit more weight in the heels than in the balls of your feet. Find neutral so that the center of your perineum is parallel to the floor and in line with the crown of your head. You might feel like you are sticking your tail out more than you are used to. This could be good if you tend to be a mothertucker. Rotate your thighs inward slightly so that the block rolls back. This action creates space on the sides of your tailbone and spreads your sitting bones. Release the top rim of your buttocks down, away from your lower back. Lift your quadriceps to lift your kneecaps. Notice how your breath changes with these actions. Lift the crown of your head away from your perineum. Place your arms at your sides, palms facing your thighs. Stay here for 1–5 minutes.

See also Yoga at the Airport: 5 Poses for a Long Layover

Dynamic Utkatasana, with block Chair Pose

Chair Pose with block, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 1 chair; 1 block

This pose brings awareness to imbalances in your legs and helps you find assistance from your pelvic floor when you sit down and stand up. Sit on a chair with your sitting bones in the middle of the seat. Place your feet flat on the floor so that your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Place a block between your upper legs. Place your hands on your hips. Push into your heels and keep your torso as upright as possible as you come to standing. Reverse the process and sit down. As you go to sit back into the chair, make sure you’re sticking your tailbone out. Repeat several times.

See also Achieve Uttanasana the Safe Way

Parsvottanasana, with blocks Intense Side Stretch Pose

Parsvottanasana with blocks, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 2 blocks

Stand in Mountain Pose with a block just outside each foot. Place your hands on your hips. Step your left leg back 2–3 feet, keeping your front hip points facing the same direction. While pushing down into your inner and outer heels, contract your quadriceps to keep your kneecaps lifted and legs straight. Align your perineum with the crown of your head. Hinge from your hips, keep your head in line with your torso, and lengthen the front of your spine forward over your front leg. Stop when your torso is parallel to the floor or when your back begins to round. Lightly place your fingertips on the blocks. Hold 30–60 seconds, then switch sides (pictured).

See also Loosen Up Your Calves in 2 Minutes with Self-Myofascial Release

Warrior Pose II (Virabhadrasana II)

warrior 2 pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Ground your feet and externally rotate your thighbones in this pose to contract your pelvic-floor muscles and stabilize your torso. From Mountain Pose, separate your legs 3–4 feet. Turn your left foot in a bit and your right foot and leg out 90 degrees. Push weight into your front heel and back foot. Gently squeeze your heels toward each other. Contract your quadriceps to stabilize your knee joints. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them away from each other. Bend your right knee, shin perpendicular to the floor. Draw your pubic bone toward your navel. Lengthen your top buttock flesh away from your lumbar spine. Hold 1 minute. Switch sides (pictured). 

See also Free Your Side Body: A Flow for Your Fascia

After a week, gradually add these poses

Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana), with block

Triangle Pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Prop: 1 block

From Warrior Pose II, straighten your front (right) leg. Again, squeeze your heels toward each other and draw energy up your inner legs into your perineum. Raise your arms parallel to the floor. Anchoring the inner and outer heel of your left foot, extend your torso to the right, directly over the plane of your right leg. Place your right hand on the support. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling. Bring your right-leg sitting bone toward your perineum. Hold 1 minute, then switch sides.

See also Baptiste Yoga: 9 Poses for Strong, Toned Glutes

Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), with block

Extended Side Angle Pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Prop: 1 block

From Triangle Pose, lift through the arches of your feet. Root down through your heels. Bend both knees to help externally rotate your thighs more. Your buttocks will engage more in response. Then straighten your back leg. On an exhalation, bend your front knee, aligning it directly over your ankle. Maintaining the stability of your left (back) leg, bring your right hand to the block. Stay for 1 minute, then switch sides.

See also 11 Calf and Forearm Openers for AcroYoga, Climbing + More

Cat Pose and Cow Pose

Cow Pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Come to hands and knees with your pelvis in neutral. On an inhalation, lift your head and tailbone toward the ceiling, lengthening your front abdominal muscles. On an exhalation, round your spine up toward the ceiling and move your head and tail toward one another, tucking your pelvis. When the head and tail are tucked, the pelvic floor is shortening. Move between Cat Pose and Cow Pose 3–5 rounds, with your breath. Return to Tabletop. Engage and release your perineum (quick flicks) 5–6 times, rest for a few breaths. Then practice longer holds (5–10 seconds) without holding the breath. Pause between holds.

See also Claire Missingham’s Flow to Balance Your Lower Chakras

Plank Pose

Plank Pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

This is one of the best poses to build abdominal and pelvic-floor strength. Be gentle with yourself while building stamina. From Tabletop, spread your fingers and press down through the roots of your index fingers. Don’t let your breastbone collapse; draw your abdominal muscles toward your spine. Tuck your toes under and step back, one foot at a time. Bring your body and head into one straight line. Keep your thighs lifted and abs engaged so your hips don’t sink. If your buttocks are high in the air, realign so your shoulders are directly over your wrists. Draw your pelvic-floor muscles toward your head. Broaden across your upper back and widen your collarbones. Don’t tuck or overarch your back! Hold for 3–5 breaths.

See also 5 Steps to Master Standing Forward Bend

Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana Sarvangasana)

Supported Bridge Pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Prop: 1 block

Lie on your back, bend your knees to 90 degrees with feet on the floor. Walk your heels close to your butt, keeping them hip-distance apart. Push into your feet and lift your pelvis as high as you can. Place a block under your sacrum at a comfortable height. Keep pressure on your inner heels and the mounds of your big toes so your knees don’t splay apart. Draw your upper arms under your torso and toward one another, pushing them into the floor. Keep your chin neutral. Lift your sternum toward your chin. Stay 3–5 minutes.

See also How Yogis Do Squat: Malasana

Supported Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

Legs Up the Wall Pose, pelvis
Christopher Dougherty

Props: 2 blankets–1 folded under your hips and 1 rolled under your head.

This posture removes the weight of gravity from the pelvic floor and induces a generally relaxed state. Pad your mat with a blanket. Use a second blanket under your head. Sit sideways to a wall with one hip touching the wall. Bend your knees, swivel your hips, and extend your legs up the wall so that you land in an L shape with your back flat on the floor. Remain in the pose for 2–10 minutes. 

See also Get Strong and Shine On: Half Moon Pose

See also Understanding Your Tailbone

About the Author

Teacher and writer Leslie Howard is an internationally acclaimed yoga educator who pioneered the growing field of yoga for pelvic health. Sonima.com named her one of the top 50 yoga instructors in the United States. University of California–San Francisco medical studies have scientifically demonstrated the effectiveness of Leslie’s techniques for improving women’s pelvic health. Learn more at lesliehowardyoga.com. Model Lenore Kitani is an Iyengar Yoga teacher and physical therapist in Boulder, Colorado.