Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Female Pelvic Floor Workshop with Leslie Howard at Yogaview





This was an incredible workshop experience! It's amazing how a little concentrated attention and some *seemingly simple* (but not necessarily that easy) exercises can radically change ones perception. I have a glimmer of insight where there was once a black hole of misunderstanding. I mean, who really "gets" their pelvic floor? Leslie Howard certainly facilitates an experience that can open up a potential of greater health for women. Ms. Howard is doing a great service for womankind!

The female pelvic floor is one of the great mysteries for many of us. I see it kind of like space exploration or mapping the deep sea. Well, this region is certainly a lot more accessible than the other places I mentioned, but it has remained largely a mystery due to an invisible cultural warning sign that says, "Do not disturb." or "This territory is for your doctor or husband."

But, hey! Wait a minute. The female pelvic floor is important for women's overall strength and health. A woman's pelvic floor is so much more than her vagina! It is important for back and groin health, urinary health, and the health of her abdominal organs.

Women have a very unique situation "down there." The female pelvis is much wider than a man's to accomodate the birth of children. Women have a uterus! The pelvic floor of a woman has three holes: the anus, vagina and urethra. The width of the space inside the bony pelvis, plus the three holes, as well as the way the organs are stacked inside make the strength and suppleness of the pelvic floor of extreme importance!

Did you know that 50% of all women experience incontinence (meaning anything from a few drops of pee from a sneeze to total loss of bladder control)?

Women would benefit from learning to use the pelvic floor as the base of their core work. If we just work to get strong abs or a tight belly without proper pelvic floor engagement, it can actually be dangerous for our health, because our internal organs can push downward into a potentially weak pelvic floor. And our abdominal work can be much stronger with a properly engaged pelvic floor!

"Kegels" are not enough. Here's a quote from the handout from the workshop:
"Kegels" have morphed into what I call "indiscriminate gripping" of any muscle you can get a hold of "down there". The most common definition of a Kegel is to practice cutting your urine flow. This is not very accurate and is not a good idea.

Leslie Howard is also a delight to listen to and really funny. Somehow, she created a safe space for 40(?) women to explore specific ways of activating and stretching our pelvic floors. We even did partner work! It was stunning. I would not have imagined that to be possible, but it is!

To learn more about Leslie Howard and the female pelvic floor, check out her Web site www.lesliehowardyoga.com


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5 comments:

Carrie said...

very interesting read

Anonymous said...

I will buy some books to learn more, thank you for this interesting post

Y is for Yogini said...

I do mine pretty regularly, like a good girl. Kundalini (so much mula bandha) also gives me lots of practice. Whenever I read about the kegels it always makes me think of the SATC episode where Samantha says at lunch, "I'm doing mine RIGHT now!" and grins wickedly. :) LOL.

Emma said...

any good exercises you would recommend?

Brooks Hall said...

Thanks for comments, Everybody!

Emma: 

Here are some resources from Leslie Howard's web site:
"A must have book for all women is The V Book by Elizabeth Stewart. Stewart addresses ALL kinds of disorders and demystifies vulvovaginal health. The Female Pelvis by Blandine Calais-Germain and Pelvic Power by Eric Franklin, are both a great introduction to pelvic floor work. And are more geared to strengthening. However, if you suspect you might be a person that grips their muscles, or you know you have cystitis, vulvodynia etc. A Headache in the Pelvis by David Wise and Rodney Anderson is a brilliant book of the why we hold and grip. Ending Female Pain by Isa Herrera tells you how to deal with it. She has some great advice for self massage. All are available on my site (part of the proceeds go to support women's health)."

* Yes! Let's learn more about the pelvic floor! *