When people think of strength, they often think of the big muscles: biceps, quadriceps and trapezius. It’s true that these large muscles play a big role, but they’re often not the key players. There is something more subtle at play in the true source of your strength, and it comes from deep inside. This is the power of the pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor is two bands of muscle located just above the pubic bone. They span the base of the pelvis and hold the organs in place, somewhat like a hammock. They provide support for your torso and connect your upper and lower body. Even though the pelvic floor is neither large nor visible, these two small bands of tissue are one of your greatest sources of strength.
Having connection to a strong pelvic floor is what allows us to lift our bodies in arm balances, like lolasana (pendant pose), but it is also the source for kundalini energy. Kundalini, which rests at the base of the spine and travels up, is a transformative energy that moves you into your higher chakras and allows you to access higher states of awareness. This energy connects you to yourself as eternal spirit, cultivating power from far beyond the physical.
Your pelvic floor provides subtle, powerful strength with great physical manifestations. Engage it by placing your attention inside just above your pubic bone. You may not feel it, or you may notice a light, but powerful, lifting sensation that travels up your spine. With practice, you will learn to engage the pelvic floor in everything you do in life. It will help you avoid overusing your shoulders in asana or keep you from straining your back when you need to move the couch.
Lolasana (or steps toward it) is a great pose to practice connecting with this important band of muscles. Try lolasana with and without engaging your pelvic floor. You’ll be surprised at the difference.
Here at Hale Pule, we talk about asana with three designations: essence, anchor and strength. This is a simple tool to remember the intention of the pose, where your body is grounded and the muscles you engage for proper alignment. These components will support optimal energy flow and a sustainable practice throughout your life.
Lolasana from the ground up
Make the choice to be inspired by this pose, not intimidated. When you tap into the universal power of your pelvic floor, you are stronger than you imagine. Use your breath and be amazed.
1. Begin on your knees, hands relaxed. Bring your legs and feet together and cross your right ankle over your left.
2. Sit on your heels and move your hands to the ground to line up with the middle of your thighs. Look forward and slightly up.
3. Take your attention inside, just above your pubic bone to engage your pelvic floor. Breathe as you press into your hands and the tops of your feet to lift your thighs toward your chest and your bottom off your heels. Be sure not swing your hips back or all the work will go into your arms.
4. When you are ready, lift one foot. Stay there, or if you are comfortable, lift the other foot. No matter which phase you are in, keep your toes pointed up toward moolabandha, in the area of the perineum. Breathe to come out and switch your ankles. You can also rest in balasana, child’s pose, in between sides.
Common trouble spots
Head down. Wherever you focus your attention is where your energy will go. To lift up, look up.
Hands next to knees. This puts all your weight directly into your shoulders and arms. Move your hands back to mid-thigh to lift with your pelvic floor.
Elbows hyperextended. Be kind to your joints in asana and life. If you have a tendency to hyperextend, keep your elbows straight before lifting up.