Donna Brooks is a somatic movement educator and therapist, Yogi, and embodied meditator who has 35 years of experience teaching, counseling and coaching in movement and the healing arts.

The Pelvic Floor and Emotional Resilience

Tightening and relaxing the pelvic floor is great exercise. BUT if that is all you are doing you are missing a lot.

Perhaps the most important part of being alive is having resilience.

Just like our pelvic floor, humans have to be both flexible and strong. Yet, we are often overloaded, juggling responsibilities and trying to preserve our well being through gripping, pushing and then collapsing. Adding rote exercises on top of this distress can make us more anxious and pushed. Treating our pelvic floors with the respect and nurturing they need, builds our emotional resilience and helps our physical issues at the same time.

How do we treat our pelvic floors with respect?

We can get stuck or cause more pain and weakness when we split the “problem” of the pelvic floor from the rest of our body. The habits of your thoughts and reactions can contribute to healing and wholeness or make the problems of incontinence, pelvic floor pain, prolapse, weakness and related hip pain or sciatica worse.

Many, if not most people, are trying to do it all or at least trying to handle competing and overwhelming demands. This will cause your nervous system to get “overcharged” or exhausted. Maybe both. Briefly, try an experiment, think of a pressure you feel and see where you can sense your body tightening.  Even if you don’t feel tightening all the way down to your pelvic floor, please know your jaw, your shoulders, your central diaphragm and your spine can push, full, strain or tighten your pelvic floor just because you are operating with pressure and strain.

Of course, pelvic floor issues are specific but starting to treat your pelvic floor well means taking care of all of you. It means finding a way out of feminine pressure into feminine resilience.

What Happens above the Pelvic Floor

Your pelvic floor is technically made up of muscle and that muscle needs a proper balanced tone.

But it also has the qualities of a jellyfish. It contracts and expands in relationship to the fluids around it.

 

Because we don’t live in an ocean we can easily forget how our bodies are an internal ocean. We don’t have containers of water in us BUT we are saturated with several types of fluid. These fluids help the propulsion of the pelvic floor, allowing us to continually alternate between a more condensing and a more expanded pelvic floor. Depending on your exact condition, what happens above the pelvic floor may be more important than what happens within it.

 

Breath is Key

 

Our breathing changes where the volume of fluids is above the pelvic floor. Held breath, chest breathing or even belly breathing can negatively influence how your jellyfish finds its movement or even if it can.

 

You can easily learn breathing methods you place on your body. Some of them may really help. And, there is an art to finding  full, easy breath and it has to do with being fully embodied. As you open up places of stuckness, unwind old habits of movement and reclaim the spontaneity and option of your moment, your breath will begin to work with you to heal your pelvic floor and increase emotional resilience.

 

I am a big advocate of understanding and experiencing how the actual anatomy works. There has been a big shift from chest breathing into belly breathing and that has value but it’s not really how the diaphragm works.

 

Your central diaphragm also has jellyfish-like qualities and the head of the jellyfish flattens a bit with each inhalation and bobs up again with the exhalation. Of course, your jellyfish central diaphragm is anchored to your ribs and spine so it doesn’t move freely BUT its “bobbing head” changes the pressure on the upper abdominal not just the frontal organs.

 

How can you feel your diaphragm?

 

  1. Find your breast plate and trace it down to the Xiphoid process (the very bottom towards your belly)

  2. Wrap your hands around the sides of ribs at the level of the Xiphoid

  3.  Gently squeeze your ribs.

  4. Take a long inhalation and a long exhalation

  5. Can you feel the sides (and even the backs ) of your ribs move?

  6. It is the central diaphragm that creates this 360 movement of the ribs.

 

Right a way you can feel a true diaphragmatic breath – one that is 3 dimensional and not just  a ”belly breath”

 

You can Watch a quick video on diaphragmatic breathing here.

You can also sign up for zoom video classes that integrate true diaphragmatic breathing and your jelly fish here.