Embodying the Pelvic Floor

One of the aspects of embodied anatomy I love to teach is the Pelvic Floor. It is a powerful place of support, and rich in potential expression.

Pelvic floor is an integral part of our core support - and here I speak of core support as a verb, a dynamic relationship with ourselves and the events in your life. Pelvic floor is a station along the myofascial line from feet to head, a "drum skin" that reverberates with the other diaphragms of the body - the bottoms of the feet, thoracic diaphragm, thoracic inlet, vocal chords, soft palate and Tentorium Cerebelli. Even the palms of our hands. It supports not only our movement, breath and voice, but also our expression.

The pelvic floor muscles are what wag the tail of the dog. And similarly, we express emotions through our pelvic floor.

Think of something happy - like meeting a good friend after a long time. Notice how your tail and pelvic floor respond to this image. Do you notice the happy little wag in the lowest part of the spine, your tail?

Now imagine being ashamed, or being told off. What happens in your tail/pelvic floor now?

Our body-mind is a creature which responds to every event in our lives. It's not just our minds saying "So great to see you!" as our whole body expressing that emotion.

At least let's hope so.

Now imagine meeting that same old friend and holding your tail still. Which is what many of us tend to do, unconsciously. Do you notice how that changes your emotion, your expressive quality? How does that read as an action? Is that familiar?

Gaining an experience of the pelvic floor as a station along your deep core fabric, can build an understanding of it's integral role in your emotional and physical health - and by health I mean your adaptivity and ability to respond. Any holding pattern in one area of the body, resonates along the connective tissue lines, precipitating further holding and cutting down the choices for movement and expression.

When it comes to health, we like choice. The basis of somatic work is to provide you with more choice. And when it comes to injury or trauma, or just long-term unconscious habitual usage, that range of choice has often become severely limited.

Anatomically pelvic floor (or pelvic diamond) is a set of muscles stretched across the bony landmarks of your tail bone, sit bones and pubic bone, thus creating a diamond shape.

Pelvic diamond - muscular hammock, or diaphragm, consisting of the levator ani and coccygeus muscles and their fascias.

 

To embody your pelvic floor begins with a sensory process; we need to come aware of what is present to our nervous system through sensation first. You may want to spend some time holding the bony landmarks and allowing your sensitivity to develop by staying with the various tissues and the sensations accompanying them - be they warmth, tingling, pain, pressure etc. It is really just about staying present to the tissue, not trying to change anything.

If you like, the pelvic diamond can also be sensed as four quadrants - a diamond separated into front and back halves, and then again into right and left halves. This can give a great deal of information about various areas of the pelvic floor, tensions in one quadrant being more noticeable than on another, for example.

Breathing and sounding (hissing) is a way to focus your awareness even more acutely to this area, which often is rather void of sensation. By practice (and I'll share one shortly), we can train the pelvic floor to feel, to notice and to adapt.

The goal is not to judge what you sense, rather just staying with what ever is present - even if it is "nothing". This "staying with the sensation" (or even staying with the "nothing") is a great way to map this, or any area, back into your body schema.

While there is much more to say about this area of the body and it's health implications - I want to end with an exercise I've created, called pelvic floor writing.

Please take a pen and a note book/paper. Crayons/paints if your more visually inclined.

Get in touch with the sensations at the level of your pelvic floor or the bony landmarks. The "task" is to write from those sensations that you notice - and dedicating yourself to return back to the pure sensation if you notice yourself being pulled away by the content or the ideas in your writing. Write without editing at least half page to a page at a time. Drawing or painting from the sensation is also an option. See what speaks to you most strongly.

This can be done with another person, or within a small group as an exercise of embodiment, building mutual support of that process.

May it yield surprising gifts to you.

600720_4950109063251_796586215_n.jpg