In praise of Squatting - Pelvic Floor
In Praise of Squatting – Pelvic Floor
I have been reading a great article by Nicole Crawford about a biomechanical engineer in the USA called Katy Bowman who is an expert on PFD Pelvic Floor Disorder. I have mentioned this to many of you in class.
The pelvic floor supports the bladder and bowel, and in women also the uterus. Our pelvic floor is important because it keeps us continent ( stops us peeing our pants and worse ) and also figures in erectile dysfunction in men.
An older friend in her early 70’s told me the other day that nearly all her female friends are incontinent to some extent – and we have all seen those Poise adverts on TV and been plagued by nasal delivery commercials for erectile dysfunction – PFD is a real problem as we age.
Traditionally we have been taught to improve strength in the pelvic floor by doing contraction exercises called Kegels which shorten the muscle; but shorter is not necessarily stronger. The pelvic floor hangs like a hammock with quite a weight above it. If you can imagine a hammock where the hanging points are too close together – saggy – too far apart – too tight. The alignment of our pelvis affects the drape of our pelvic floor, and the tightness of the muscles can affect the alignment of our pelvis - doing too many Kegels with weak glutes and tucking the pelvis under flattening out your spine from its natural curvature can all contribute to PFD. The solution? Squatting – arranging your home so that something you use every day – several times a day is down low – like the coffee cups – so you have to squat to get one, squat to put one away - restorative yoga can provide some squats longer than you might be willing to stay ducked down in front of the kitchen cupboards!
I have realized in researching this topic that I have regularly been asking people to tuck their tailbone in Tadasana ( resting standing pose ) – I am no longer going to use that as a cue toward achieving a neutral spine – I can see now that tucking tilts the pelvis, affects the pelvic floor, and has a flow on affect up the spine – especially mine now I change it – Katy Bowman says that you can first pick PFD by the loss of the curve just above your buttocks - I was also reading another article today by Kara Leah Grant on observing yourself in Tadasana in the mirror, making minute changes based upon what you see and then bringing them into your practice on the mat – I love that idea.
There is interesting emotional implications around pelvic floor and the angle of the pelvis, if you tuck your tailbone under you are protecting your heart by hunching forward – and weakness in your foundation, its relationship to worry and stability in the face of inevitable change - and when we are too tight it is helpful to look for the emotional causes of the desire to hold on. Self examination such as the mirror exercise – regular squatting, emotional examination can all support your pelvic floor.
Which brings us to the concept of release - of really letting go - practicing letting go in your pelvis - to the point just short of wetting your pants - in the shower - and as you get better at it - during your day!