I’d like to invite you to pause what you’re doing and drop your awareness down into your pelvic floor. That dome-shaped, multi-tiered group of muscles at the base of your pelvis. Feel confused? Perhaps it feels difficult to connect to this mysterious place in the body? You’re not alone! The vast majority of us live our lives disconnected from our own pelvic floor, and even worse living with the pain, confusion and discomfort of pelvic floor dysfunction that is all too common. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 women will experience pelvic floor dysfunction. Luckily, pelvic floor wellness is an emerging and important field helping more women understand how critical it is to care for this dynamic part of our body.
One of the best ways we can restore wellness in our pelvic floor is through Pelvic mapping, a technique used to feel for and treat areas of tension, trigger points, and altered sensation in the pelvic floor, vagina, vulva, and surrounding tissues. Your body copes with emotional and physical stress by creating tension in particular areas. Over time, these areas have less resiliency, elasticity, and are also less likely to engage, making your pelvic floor and core weaker.
Pelvic Mapping is a part of Holistic Pelvic Care, created by author and Pelvic Floor physical therapist Tami Lynn Kent. As a yoga teacher, doula, and Holistic Pelvic Care practitioner, I have combined my skills to create a Pelvic Mapping workshop that is trauma-sensitive, inclusive to all those with a vulva, and accessible. I also work one-on-one with clients who prefer to personalize their care more.
During the pelvic mapping workshop we dive into pelvic floor anatomy, debunking cultural misconceptions about our vulva, vagina and pelvic floor. Next we practice yoga sequenced specifically to help you connect to your pelvic floor and bring more circulation into the pelvic bowl. From there you’re guided through the in’s and outs of creating a pelvic map, self-touch and massage, and what exactly you’re feeling for. If you’ve ever massaged out knots in your shoulder, you are already familiar with techniques used in this practice. The nice part about being home all the time is that this can all be done virtually, turning our zoom camera’s off during the self-massage portion of class.
There is of course time for sharing and connecting with other women, one of the most powerful antidotes to the shame and holding space for the llayers of emotion that can come with relating to this area of the body. The workshop is not only about mapping the physical, but all the other layers weaved into our tissues: the emotional, energetic and spiritual realms.
As a collective we all carry areas of tension and rigidity in the pelvic floor caused by sitting too much, chronic stress, trauma, and being active just to name a few. These areas require dynamic breathing and palpation to release. Now you might be thinking “but I thought my vagina was supposed to be tight and that I was supposed to do lots of kegels to keep it that way?”
Not exactly. While Kegels have their place in helping us achieve balance in the pelvic floor, they have been used as a bandaid, being over-prescribed as a cure-all for a wide range of issues that require more investigation, like we do in pelvic mapping. While they might provide initial relief from symptoms like incontinence, in the long-term, they can actually exacerbate them. In addition, the vast majority of us haven’t been taught how to properly kegel, often over-contracting areas of the pelvic floor that need to relax before they can be properly strengthened.In Pelvic Mapping, we break down how to kegel properly and how to assess your own kegel, as well as other exercises to restore wellness in our pelvic floor.
Taking care of our pelvic floor becomes especially important when having a baby, with a reported 58% of child-bearing women suffering from pelvic floor trauma. Everyone who births a baby, regardless of how they deliver, experiences significant changes in their pelvic floor that often remain ignored and untreated. Ideally, postpartum women should receive routine pelvic floor physical therapy (like in France and other countries) even when trauma to the pelvic floor isn’t severe, but we are far from making that care accessible to all birthing people.
While severe pelvic floor issues require medical attention, pelvic mapping can be an excellent way to practice preventive self- care, whether it’s for preparing for pregnancy and childbirth, or healing postpartum (even many years after delivery). It can also work in conjunction with any pelvic floor physical therapy you have received. For some, the simple act of touching their own vulva, vagina and pelvic floor in a non-clinical, non-sexual way is incredibly transformative and empowering.
Benefits of Pelvic Mapping:
● Optimized blood, nerve and lymph flow in the pelvic floor and surrounding tissues/organs
● Release and relaxation of areas of chronic tension, weakness and dehydrated tissue
● Restoring areas with scar tissue from perineal tears and episiotomies
● Ability to contract (kegel) more effectively
● More body literacy
● Increased sensation during arousal
● Can heal issues such as: pelvic pain, incontinence, hemmorhoids, anal fissures, chronic yeast infections and UTIs, menstrual pain, prolapse, and more
● Bring emotional and energetic healing to the whole body
The next Pelvic Mapping Party takes place on Zoom on Saturday, January 9th 2-5pm CST Cost: $50. To register email firstname.lastname@example.org and/or visit waking.yoga for more information.