As a part of project mulabloga, I interviewed friends and yoga teachers about their pelvic floors in yoga. The answers were so precious, beautiful and personal.
I’m going to try to answer these same questions now for you.
1. How much does the pelvic floor inform your yoga practice?
A lot. I believe that a special intelligence lives in the pelvis, and I like to consult her regularly.
2. Do you use Mulabandha in asana or pranayama? If so, in which poses or breathing techniques do you employ Mulabandha, and how (and why) do you do it?
This is a tricky question! Yes, I do it where I find it appropriate to do so. I find that activating the pelvic floor can be really helpful in backbends, and Warrior 2 seems to initiate a natural lift “down there”. One of the ways I do it, when I am seeking that support at the base of my body is try to draw my sitting bones toward one another, and I might also try to draw my tailbone towards my pubic bone, and when I feel a toning and lift I feel that I’ve got something. I do it (when I do it) because I find it helpful, or I’m testing it out to see if it might be helpful wherever I am at the time.
3. Are you aware of any dangers in practicing Mulabandha?
I think it can cause harm if we think that we are supposed to be toning the pelvis all of the time. Many women and men can have physical problems if they are unwittingly gripping their pelvises. Gripping pelvic muscles can be the cause of painful intercourse in women (and men?). Constantly engaged muscles “down there” can also cause problems with blood flow, pelvic pain, back pain, and hip pain for men and women. It may also contribute to prostate problems in older men, and incontinence in women and men. Over-gripping muscles can lead to overall weakness in the pelvis, just as muscles with lack-of-tone can cause problems.
4. Do you teach pelvic floor actions or Mulabandha? If so, how?
Yes, I teach specific pelvic floor actions, and pelvic floor relaxation techniques when individual circumstances call for it. Because of my research project people are asking questions, and I try to tailor my answers to meet my audience at the time.
5. Do you have an interesting story about having a teacher (big or small name) teaching you mulabandha through touch/adjustment/words? Was it traumatic, funny, helpful?
I have a story that was traumatic, or maybe just embarrassing when it happened, but now it’s mostly funny. When I was still somewhat new to Ashtanga yoga, I took my boyfriend to a workshop called “Introduction to Ashtanga”. I mistakenly thought that this offering would be appropriate for someone who was new to yoga. I wanted to offer my boyfriend a really good and inviting introduction to the practice that I was turned on by. Well, about the tenth word of the workshop was the word “anus” and from then on about every fifth word after that was either “mulabandha” or “anus”. I remember sheepishly smiling at my boyfriend who was practicing across the way, knowing that this was a totally weird experience that I had gotten us into. And I was teased for some time after this. Eventually we broke up, but it wasn’t the workshop’s fault.
6. Other thoughts on the subject?
For more of my thoughts, please read on in this blog.