The pelvic floor is made up of a series of muscles and spongy tissues that support the uterus, bowel, bladder and sex organs. The pelvic floor muscles combined with the abdominal muscles embody the core, which helps you to develop balance and stability. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles with the help of yoga postures can be beneficial during pregnancy and for improving sexual functioning and bladder control.
Mula Bandha is the Sanskrit term used to describe a "root lock" or energy center located in the pelvic floor area. The application of Mula Bandha during yoga poses is said to tone the pelvic floor muscles, increase energy and improve balance. Mula Bandha is a subtle contraction of the pelvic floor muscles, but if you are new to this practice is might be difficult to isolate the specific muscles used. To start, try engaging the muscles you would use to stop the flow of urine. Imagine that your pelvic floor muscles are a hammock swing that you can pull upward toward your belly button.
With the activation of Mula Bandha, you can bring more strength to your pelvic floor muscles in mountain pose. Mountain pose looks like simply standing in place, but it's actually a subtle interplay of alignment. Standing with your feet together, press your tailbone forward as you tilt your pelvic bone upward. Imagine that you are holding precious liquid in the bowl of your pelvis, so you want your pelvis to tilt neither forward nor backward. Engage your pelvic floor muscles and draw the energy upward toward your heart. Lift your chest, roll your shoulders back and place your arms by your sides.
Plank pose deeply engages the core muscles, including to the pelvic floor muscles. During this pose you'll use your core muscles to balance your body weight and lift your hips. To focus on your pelvic floor muscles in Plank pose, come to the top of a pushup position, aligning your wrists under your shoulders and extending your legs straight. Engage your pelvic floor muscles and draw them up toward your heart. At the same time, pull your belly button back toward your spine, engaging your abdominal core muscles.
Pelvic Tilt Bridge Pose
Performing pelvic tilts while you practice Bridge pose allows you to bring more strength and awareness to your pelvic floor area. To perform pelvic tilts during Bridge pose, start by lying on your back. Place the soles of your feet on the floor and point your knees toward the sky. Press your lower back into the mat and tilt your pelvis toward your navel on an inhale. Exhale and tilt your pelvis toward your feet, arching the lower back off the floor slightly. Inhale and return the pelvis to neutral. Exhale and press your hips up toward the sky, as high as you can.
Nicole Carlin is a registered yoga teacher. Her writing has been published in yoga and dance teacher training manuals for POP Fizz Academy. Carlin received a Masters of Arts in gender studies from Birkbeck University in London and a Bachelors of Arts in psychology from Temple University, Philadelphia.