I went to a physiotherapist earlier this week, one who is specializes in pelvic floor health and rehabilitation. Ever since the birth of my son nearly 7.5 years ago, I have not been able to sneeze, laugh, or even exclaim in excitement without having a little ‘accident’. And to go for a run, jump, or dance around is a no-no unless some form of leakage protecting is in place. In all honesty, my incontinence has been a deterrent for social engagements, a hindrance when playing with and chasing my son around, and a down right embarrassment as a grown adult.
But, in the 90 minutes session I had with the physiotherapist, I learned more about my undercarriage than I have in 43 years of experience. She took such time and care in explaining how and why bladder leakage occurs. It was as much a health counselling session as it was an anatomy lesson. And she explained it all in such a way that A) it made sense, B) it was educational and useful, and C) it didn’t leave me feeling vulnerable, awkward, self-conscious or uneasy in any way, shape or form. In fact, after leaving her office with my exercise regime in tow, I felt inspired – inspired to help myself heal, get stronger AND to learn more.
As I drove away, my mind immediately went to the correlation of the muscles and exercises she shared and the association with the mūla-bhanda, the root ‘lock’ posture that is performed during asana practice. I have referenced this pose and the mūla-bhanda term countless times on the mat as a teacher. Not to mention the repeated practices of trying to find and engage this sheathed location in my own body somewhere in and around the area of the bladder and genitalia. And yet, after leaving her office, I felt like I had a whole new way of understanding what it was that I was trying to accomplish.
The really cool thing in learning, practicing and relearning all of this is how the pelvic floor exercises I have been given from a modern day health professional and pelvic floor guru are a refinement of what the great yoga sages and masters mystically taught 5000+ year ago. This week, as I continued my self-study and researching this week, I found this passage from David Keil’s Functional Anatomy of Yoga book really kind of a cool link as to what she shared and what yoga aims to teach. He writes:
“I acknowledge that bandhas are both energetic and physical-as is our entire body. We are not just energy, not just emotions, not just spiritual, not just thoughts, not just physical. We are all of these at once.” He goes on to write, “If the bandha is an energetic component of who we are, what role does the actual muscle play? I describe the pelvic floor and the contraction of it as the pathway towards mūla-bhanda. In other words, the physical contraction does two things. First, it creates a conscious mental relationship with mūla-bhanda. It seems that prana (energy) follow thoughts. So if you are thinking of a part of your body, you are sending energy there. Second, the contraction of the PC (pubococcygeal) muscles stimulates the energetic centre, creating mūla-bhanda. Its purpose is to prevent the escape or downward movement of energy through the pelvic floor.”
Food for thought, and practice.