I can’t count how many times I’ve uttered the phrase “lift your pelvic floor…,” Usually right before “navel to your spine….” All in an effort to protect the low back, cultivate core engagement and awareness of the pelvic floor.
I can count how many times people have made it happen. Less than 100, I’d say, and that’s over nearly a decade of teaching. How can I tell? Well, when you engage the eight muscles intertwined into figure “8” patterns that traverse the lower portion of the pelvic bowl and hold all your stuff up, it really does transform not only your posture, but your attitude, awareness and emotional state. It’s totally obvious when someone goes from lack of engagement to even partial engagement in this area.
So imagine my surprise when I give the instruction in an EMT Basic/Intermediate Refresher class and Voila! like a kind of magic you dream of as a yoga teacher, a wide range of people – young & old, skinny & obese, fit and unfit, people who’ve taken yoga and people who wouldn’t show up in a yoga studio if their lives depended on it (they might, BTdubs) – everyone… lifted their pelvic floor! Like magic laced with tequila and frozen into a pop. Magic.
So let’s back up. What’s the pelvic floor, why were these people lifting it and what was I doing teaching at an EMT Refresher?? Fair questions, all. I’ll try to brief:
- The pelvic floor is one of three layers of muscle in the body that, together with connective tissue (thus the “diaphragm” designation) form compartments and regulate passage among those compartments. The others are the respiratory diaphragm and the vocal diaphragm. All three are rarely sensed, but when consciously engaged and released can contribute to mood, energy and posture regulation. If you’re a bandha kinda yogi, you might note their correlation to mula, uddiyana and jalandara bandhas.
- I’ll address Q3 next: Why was I teaching at an EMT-B/I Refresher? When I’m not writing and teaching yoga, I’ve been a Paramedic. I still teach from time to time because I so adore EMS. Yes, really. This was a 45 minute practice lab on “splinting.” I know! Can you think of title more sure to cause yawns?? So, I decided that we’d review the principles of splinting [Super easy: you splint to prevent unnecessary inflammation and edema (thank you Larry Cobb, Master Paramedic Teacher) , pain, movement and further injury (all sequellae of I&E); you can splint in position found or aligned (if trained in latter); and proper splinting requires immobilizing bones above & below joint, or joints above & below the target bone)] and then undertake the application of a traction splint for femur fractures (which necessarily involves long spine board immobilization).
- Whew! Still with me? Okay, here’s where the yoga came in (I know, I can find it anywhere, but this was fun). A traction splint, particularly the Hare type common in our area, requires positioning against the ischial tuberosity. The wha-huh? Exactly. EEEEE…xachery.
- How Breathing Leads to Bandhas. ~ David Keil (elephantjournal.com)
- Pelvic-floor problems no longer a taboo topic (miamiherald.com)
- Your pelvic floor wants to say hello (hunterrileysexeducation.com)