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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Bush

Benefits of Yoga for Pelvic Health Further Explained!

Due to the interest generated from my Facebook and Instagram posts the other day on the benefits of yoga for pelvic health, I want to take a deeper dive into the impact of yoga on the pelvic floor and pelvic health. To start, as a Doctor of Physical Therapy, I focus on helping my patients and clients achieve function and movement in their everyday lives and activities without significant limitations or restrictions through skilled physical therapy and wellness/fitness-based exercise including yoga and pilates. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), our governing professional body, defines the ‘movement system’ as “the collection of systems (cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine, integumentary, nervous, and musculoskeletal) that interact to move the body or its component parts”.

Technical, I know, but as a women’s health and pelvic health physical therapist, I treat the ‘whole person’ and consider all body systems involved and how they coordinate and work together to promote functional movements. In the physical therapy world, this requires a thorough musculoskeletal examination and evaluation to identify the primary body functions and structures involved impacting a person’s activity and participation limitations, as well as, taking into consideration any personal or external factors that may be contributing to or impacting someone’s current activity level and functional movements. Similarly, Certified Personal and Fitness Trainers, Pilates Instructors, & other movement specialists, as well, focus on total body functional movements (hopefully) to promote optimal physical health and wellness and help their clients achieve their personal goals.

Now, you are thinking, what does this have to do with yoga?!?!?! Yoga defined in Sanskrit is derived from the root word ‘Yuji’ meaning to join, to yoke or to unite. Yoga allows for and facilitates a total mind, body, emotional and spiritual connection, experience, and practice fostering a journey of self-discovery daily and throughout life. This is at the heart of “treating the whole person”!

The body systems which benefit from yoga include: skeletal, muscular, respiratory, digestive, eliminatory, urinary, reproductive, circulatory, endocrine, lymphatic, immune and nervous. It takes total body ‘functional movement’ exercise to the next level!!! In the area of pelvic health physical therapy, yoga touches every body system involved in maintaining a

happy health pelvic floor and pelvis!

When we think about physical functional movements in the PT world this equates to one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, Asana. Asanas in yoga are the various poses in which you move the body bringing attention to your posture, flexibility, strength and balance. Achieving and moving through theses poses requires concentration, turning inward and breath (limbs of yoga that we will discuss in another blog😊) During my personal practice this morning in class, I thought how can I move by body to go deeper into a pose…whether it be lengthening just a little more, grounding stronger through my feet or hands, adjusting my posture better to effectively load through my joints or facilitate more of a neutral spine, how does my movement change with my breath

For my pelvic floor, in particular, can I sink just a little deeper into a child’s pose or malasana (yogi squat) to lengthen and relax my pelvic floor muscles and let go, can I root through my feet just a tad more and engage my pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles and stack my ribcage over pelvis in mountain pose to activate more through my core muscles to improve my balance and core strength, can I tap into my inhales more to lengthen and elongate or can I exhale more purposely for better contraction of my pelvic floor muscles and go deeper and stronger into a pose….this is just the tip of the iceberg!!!

Please look out for my next blog post as I discuss the importance of breathing during functional movements and how this impacts the pelvic floor muscles…

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