A New Holistic Approach to Pelvic Health
Getting to the core of the core is the focus of Pelvic Floor Yoga, a holistic approach to pelvic health created by Leslie Howard, a San Francisco-based yoga teacher. Pelvic Floor Yoga combines ancient yoga methodology with current understanding of the pelvis to address the pelvic floor issues and dysfunction that affect one in three women.
The National Association for Continence estimates that over 25 million Americans suffer from urinary incontinence, and while 80 percent of those affected can be improved, only one in 12 people will seek help. In a 2014 study published in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that women participating in a six-week yoga program specifically designed to improve pelvic health had a 70 percent improvement in urine leakage.
The pelvic floor is a multilayered network of muscles, ligaments and tissues at the bottom of the pelvis that supports the pelvic organs, maintains urinary and fecal continence and helps manage abdominal pressure. Common problems related to the health of the pelvic floor may include hip or lumbar pain, pelvic or sciatic pain, prolapse (falling), incontinence and/or digestive, menstrual or sexual difficulties. Sometimes there is too much tone in the pelvis, while other times there may not be enough. A healthy pelvic floor is not only strong, but is also able to relax.
The therapeutic use of yoga for incontinence, prolapse and other pelvic floor conditions is a relatively new application of yoga. Pelvic Floor Yoga offers the same mind-body benefits that students find in their regular yoga practice. This yoga-inspired approach to pelvic health encourages mindful awareness of an area that is often ignored; integrates whole body movement; balances muscular strength with flexibility; improves the breathing relationship between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor; and incorporates relaxation as a way to relieve anxiety and stress often associated with pelvic floor dysfunction.
Susan Kratzer, E-RYT 500, is a certified Pelvic Floor Yoga teacher and owner of Moving Well Yoga. For more information, call 804-357-1737 or email MovingWellYoga@gmail.com.