Many people believe that only women have to worry about pelvic floor exercises. Think again. Weak pelvic floor muscles are an issue for both sexes.
Chinese Taoists believe that the very lower dantien of the body is the centre of vitality. This lower dantien includes the pelvic floor muscles. Taoists practise many lower dantien-strengthening exercises regularly to maintain youthfulness and internal fortitude. Some of these exercises can seem a little wacky to the common man and I won’t be focusing on those this month. Instead, I will share with you a simple exercise that can be practised by everyone with surprisingly fast results.
Most people have heard of Kegel exercises and they are a great tool to have when wanting to strengthen your pelvic floor. I want to give you another alternative.
First, let’s make sure you know where the pelvic floor muscles are so you can work the right muscles in this exercise. You can identify your pelvic floor muscles by trying to stop urination midstream or by squeezing the ring of muscle around the back passage as if you are trying to stop passing wind. Once you have located the muscles and can perform the action of tensing and releasing them, you are good to start practising my pelvic floor exercise.
I like to call this exercise “The Depends” as a reminder of what you may have to end up wearing if you neglect the pelvic floor (for those of you that do not know, Depends are a brand of adult diapers). Enough said, don’t you agree?
Before I give you the steps to follow, let us first have a look at the benefits of pelvic floor exercises:
- improves bladder and bowel control;
- reduces the risk of prolapse;
- improves recovery from childbirth and gynaecological surgery (in women);
- improves recovery after prostate surgery (in men);
- increases sexual sensation and orgasmic potential; and
- increases social confidence and quality of life.
Now let’s look at the steps involved in practising The Depends exercise:
Start by lying on your back. You will notice that when you lie naturally, your back has an arch. You can slide a hand from one side of the small of your back to the other. You want to take this gap away by tilting your pelvis and trying to pour your hips bones into your belly button. This will press your lower back into the floor. (I like to say you want to feel like you could crack a nut between your lower back and the floor; this is how much the lower back presses into the floor.)
Keep your big toes touching. I know this sounds weird, but trust me, this is a very important part of the exercise.
Keep your shoulders relaxed. You will notice that the top of your shoulders will want to lift off the floor.
The goal is to maintain this pelvic tilt with your back pressed into the floor for one minute. (If this is a challenge, try for 30 seconds first and gradually work up to one minute.)
In actual fact, all the muscles in your abdomen, back, buttocks and sides should remain loose. You want to be isolating only the pelvic floor here. I understand this may take some practice, but practice makes perfect. You may also find that you may be holding your breath. Maintain an even, steady breath pattern throughout the hold.
My advice is to practise The Depends every day – morning and night – and as inspiration I will leave you with this funny quote: “If my body was a car, I would trade it in for a new model, cause every time I cough or sneeze my radiator leaks and the exhaust backfires.”
Metta, Kim oxo
One of the main motivations that drives Kim to teach yoga is her desire to keep true, real yoga alive; the propagation of yoga for yoga. She strives to achieve this through teaching and helping people fall in love with yoga everyday. She gives you her yoga mind and yoga heart to guide anyone wishing to traverse the beautiful journey that is yoga.
Teaching group classes, private classes, yoga intensives and retreats across the island. Monthly subscription is also available on her online yoga channel at KimWhiteYoga.com and you can also listen to her yoga podcast “Let’s Get Bent”.