Know your body: The pelvic floor

This is not just a topic for women, but for both sexes.

Strength in the pelvic floor and ability to engage and disengage this set of muscles is an ancient technique to lift the sexual energy inward and upward where it will be transformed into higher spiritual energy. This is known as Kundalini rising, and is based around the Eastern belief that sexual energy lies coiled like a snake at the base of the spine. Meditative practices and/or informed sexual activities can help inspire this energy to rise up within the body.

Whilst there is this spiritual background behind the practice of engaging and strengthening the pelvic floor, it is also useful for a number of different purposes:

  • Sexual fulfilment:

    Through proper engagement of the pelvic floor muscles, men are able to hold a strong erection and can start to practice holding this erection for longer. Women can create a number of effects to please the male partner but most importantly, it is through the engagement of these muscles that deep vaginal and cervical orgasms are stimulated and achieved. Exercise increases blood flow in the area, which leads to a rejuvenation of nerve sensations and ultimately heightens sexual sensation.

  • Core strength and lower back pain:

    The pelvic floor muscles are the foundation for the core of the body. They help stabilize the pelvis, and they support the organs of the lower abdominal cavity, like the bladder and uterus. The pelvic floor muscles, along with the deep muscles of the back and abdomen, form the group of muscles we work when we focus on developing core strength. For those suffering from back pain and scoliosis, deep muscular engagement and alignment start with the pelvic floor.

  • Spiritual Practices and Kundalini:

    Your primal energy, or Kundalini, is stored at the base of your spine. Tantric and Yogic traditions describe it as a coiled snake, lying dormant, which you have the ability to ‘awaken’ to obtain spiritual enlightenment. By working on the pelvic floor and strengthening the root lock (mulha bhanda), you contain this energy, or Chi, rather than letting it flow down and out of you. Once able to contain your primal energy, you can direct how it is used and have control over the path of your existence.

Work it: Tips and tools for pelvic floor engagement

Crystal Eggs

Ancient Chinese tradition advocated the use of crystal eggs to train the pelvic floor. This tradition was originally kept secret within the Chinese Royal palace but has since become common in the teachings of Taoism and Tantra. The crystal egg acts both as a weight, stimulant and healing instrument.

Crystals promoted specifically for this use are Jade and Obsidian:

  • Jade due to its reputed medicinal property of curing calculus stones and disorders of the kidneys or bladder.
  • Obsidian as a protective stone used for emotional healing and for the removal of negativity.

The egg must be drilled (have a hole running from top to bottom) through which you insert a string. This string aids removal.

How to use your crystal egg:

  • Start lying down. Insert the egg inside the vagina and keep hold of the other end of the string.
  • Squeeze your vaginal muscles around the egg. Hold for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat this 10 times.
  • You can also experiment with resistance by pulling on the string when you are squeezing your vagina, to increase the resistance needed.
  • Once you are comfortable with the exercise, try pulsing your vaginal muscles around the egg. Pulse 100 times, quick engagement and release.
  • When you feel ready, you can start to try performing these exercises whilst standing and expand them to include more repetitions. You can even leave the egg in whilst you go about your day or do your yoga set, but a word of warning; the muscles that pull up are the same muscles that push out when you go the toilet, so be sure to remove your egg before using the bathroom!

There are many different techniques that focus attention on the engagement and toning of the pelvic floor:

  • Kegel exercises: Dr Arnold Kegel invented a set of exercises in 1948 to help patients with urinary incontinence. These exercises then went on to help women before, during and most importantly after pregnancy. Read more about the exercises and the history of the practice here.
  • Pilates: With its focus on core strength, Pilates exercises naturally target pelvic floor and deep internal strength.
  • Vaginal weights: Using any kind of ball or weight inside the vagina naturally tones the internal muscles. Several products are designed for women after childbirth, however they are just as useful for women at any time!

“Take care of your body.  It’s the only place you have to live.”

Jim Rohn

Welcoming your Blood

What is menstrual blood?

Menstrual blood originates from the normal shedding of the endometrium during normal menstruation as part of the ovulation cycle. It is made up of blood, tissue from the uterus, cells from the vaginal lining and bacteria making up the vaginal flora. It is different from normal blood in that it does not contain coagulants that make blood clot and so remains liquid both inside and out of the body.

 

It is the fluid in which a baby would grow, were the egg fertilized. It is precious and full of energy, enough energy to feed and support the very beginning of human life.

Menstruation is an innate part of the female cycle. It is beautiful, natural and for most women, monthly. It is an essential part of a healthy cycle that must be destigmatised. How can we love our blood? By learning not only about what it is, but also about how we can use it and our ability to control it, both women and men can start to readdress our attitude towards this part of our bodies and our lives.

Menstrual blood is precious

In ancient tantric traditions, the menstruation was celebrated as precious vital energy, to be preserved and reused if possible. This blood is the fertile soil upon which a baby grows. It is only when the egg is left unfertilised that the woman’s body allows this blood to be released. It is with this mindset that tantric tradition considers menstrual blood a fluid full of life force and, like with sperm, discourages its waste. Women are encouraged to give their blood back to the earth directly and in some practices the men drink the blood.

Taking care of your body during menstruation

Due to the cultural taboos around menstruation, a number of practices have arisen which are detrimental and damaging to female health. Most specifically, we seem committed to ignoring the natural cycles of our body, continuing our everyday lives, our exercise routines, our pace regardless of how our body feels. The use of over-the-counter painkillers or even prescription drugs to kill pain and numb ourselves away from our body should be questioned rather than accepted as commonplace.

 

How can we look after ourselves better? When we listen to our bodies and respect the need to take rest. We can review the cravings we have before and during menstruation.

 

There are however some great alternatives if you are willing to try something a little different. Namely, the mooncup or menstrual cup. Here’s why it is so great:

  • Sensitive and non-allergic:

    A menstrual cup is made from medical grade non-allergic silicone. Silicone is good for those with sensitive skin so suits women who suffer from thrush, eczema or allergies.

  • No bleach:

    Menstrual cups, unlike tampons and towels, contain no bleaches, deodorisers or absorbency gels that might interfere with the skin or internal pH.

  • No Toxic Shock Syndrome:

    Menstrual cups have not been associated with toxic shock syndrome, unlike tampons.

  • No interfering!:

    Menstrual cups don’t interfere with the vaginal environment. Tampons not only absorb the blood but also the natural moisture of the vagina. They take about 65% menstrual fluid and 35% natural moisture, creating an imbalance of pH and moisture which can lead to vaginal dryness. As menstrual cups have a smooth surface, they allow the mucus membranes of the vaginal wall to carry on their normal cleansing and protective functions.

  • Environmentally friendly:

    On average, women throw away anything from 125-150kg of tampons, pads and applicators in their lifetime. Menstrual cups are reusable and last several years.

  • Save money!:

    Campaigners in the UK recently calculated that women spend an average of £492 on “sanitary products” every year. That’s around £18000 over the course of your life. Compared to the price of two or three menstrual cups, at around £25 each.

    Menstrual cups are usually available to purchase in most ethical food stores and pharmacies. Search for ‘Mooncup’, ‘Ladycup’ or ‘menstrual cup’.