Many of us don’t think about the pelvic floor much, (I know I didn’t before becoming a physical therapist), but for those who do, I would guess that most think about strengthening these muscles.
While keeping the pelvic floor muscles strong is important, what many of us don’t realize is that there are many men and women out there who hold their pelvic floor in a state of tension who need to learn how to relax these muscles.
If you’re reading this post, you may have been told by a physical therapist or doctor that you have tight pelvic floor muscles. Yoga is a great way to teach these muscles how to relax again.
In today’s post, we’ll go over 3 different yoga poses that can be super helpful in relaxing the pelvic floor muscles.
If you have no idea what the pelvic floor muscles are, read this post here.
Remember, all poses should be pain free! If any pose causes pain, take the modified variation. If it still causes pain, hold off on the pose.
3 Yoga Poses To Relax The Pelvic Floor
1. Supine hip internal rotation
To understand how this pose helps relax the pelvic floor, we need to review a little bit of pelvic anatomy.
The pelvic floor muscles are like a sling that supports our organs. In some people, this sling can become too tight or too loose.
Since some of the muscles that make up this sling externally rotate our hips (meaning they turn the hips in an outward facing direction), we can relax the pelvic floor by internally rotating our hips.
This pose may seem simple but it is effective. If it’s pain free, it’s safe for most people to do but sometimes you aren’t supposed to internally rotate your hips after a having a hip replacement, so check with your doctor if this is the case.
- Lay on your back with feet on the floor and your knees bent.
- Bring your feet to the outside edges of your yoga mat and let the knees fall in toward each other.
- Make sure your shoulder blades are tucked underneath you to keep the chest open.
- You can either place your hands on your pelvis, or place your hands on the floor.
- While in this pose, focus on letting the pelvic floor muscles relax and perform diaphragmatic breathing (aka belly breathing). Click here for video instructions on belly breathing.
- Hold this pose for 1-3 minutes if it feels good for you.
2. Happy baby pose
Happy baby pose is one of my favorite yoga poses to stretch the pelvic floor muscles.
There are two ways you can do this pose:
Option 1: Modified happy baby
- Lay on your back.
- Hold onto your inner ankles and let your knees fall out to the sides.
- Keep your entire spine and your head in contact with the ground in order to protect your back and relax.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
- If you have lower back issues, hip issues, or bone density issues such as osteopenia/osteoporosis, take this variations as opposed to option 2.
Option 2: Full happy baby
- Lay on your back.
- Hold onto the outer edges of your feet and gently pull the legs down like you are pulling the knees down towards your armpits.
- Keep your entire spine and head on the ground when performing this pose.
- If you need to lift your low back, sacrum, or head off the floor to get into this position, stick with option 1 for happy baby.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
If you have bone density issues such as osteopenia or osteoporosis, this option is not recommended.
3. Supine bound angle pose
Although this pose externally rotates your hips, it’s still a great stretch to relax the pelvic floor. There are many different muscles that connect into the pelvis and this stretch is great at stretching muscles that attach right into the pubic bone.
There are also two options for this pose.
Option 1: Supine bound angle with support
- Start by laying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
- Keep your feet together as you let your legs fall out to the sides.
- Place yoga blocks or pillows under your knees to keep your lower body supported.
- This option is great if you have really tight hips or if your legs float in the air in this pose.
- This is also a more relaxing variation than option 2 which you may enjoy even if your hips are more open.
- You can hold this pose for 1 to 3 minutes.
Option 2: Unsupported bound angle
- Follow the same instructions as option one but do not use blocks for support.
- Hold for 30 seconds 3 times instead of a long hold.
I hope you enjoy these yoga poses to relax and stretch the pelvic floor muscles.
For a full yoga flow to relax the pelvic floor, check out the video below.
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