Issues surrounding women’s health, natural cycles and ageing are bit of a taboo and at the bottom of the conversational topics list but having worked with numerous women at different stages of their lives and health, we want to create an open dialogue and share some really useful information.
Half of the world population is women with vaginas, uteruses, who give birth, raise children and mature (popular to the modern belief that women should remain ageless and externally youthful) and therefore common issues surrounding pelvic health e.g. prolapse need to be openly spoken about. There is so much you can do to help yourself but also to support the health of your pelvic organs.
Recently on social media we shared a few tips for women’s health...mainly pelvic health. For ease of use, we gathered them all in the same page. We hope they are useful to you!
DAY 1 | FROM THE GROUND UP 🦶🦶
Comfortable stance, feet hip width. Equal weight between both feet. Knees soft. Raise all 10 toes (or as many as you can) and spread them as far away from their neighbours as possible, keeping them off from floor. Practice this at anytime of the day anywhere (shoes allowing). Start short and frequent and build up slowly to reduce any potential for cramps or aches in places you never knew were muscles!
Lower big toes, pressing knuckle into ground. Draw a diagonal line to outer heel and ground. Lower little toes, pressing (as best as possible) knuckle into ground. Again draw a diagonal line this time to inner heel and ground. Imagine these three straps: Big toe knuckle - outer heel. Little toe knuckle - inner heel. Big toe mound - little toe mound. Nice sandals! Finally lower three middle toes keeping them spread.
Yoga block, large book (don’t drop on toes) or folding cushion is a good prompt to keep upper thighs engaged.
DAY 2 | ROCKIN’ N ROLLIN’🌀🌀
There are many reasons why you might experience pelvic organ shift or prolapse; for example prolonged poor/unsupportive posture, labour (both in physical work or giving birth), age, genetic or hereditary and psycho-emotional.
One of the most important exercises you can do for yourself is bringing conscious awareness of where your pelvis is currently positioned and how this changes throughout the day and with the way you move. This ultimately has an effect on the pelvic organs.
This practice is mainly to bring awareness to the area but is also really helpful to relieve any discomfort or tension in the lower back, abdominal or sacrum area, menstrual cramping and constipation.
The most important thing - go slow and stay tuned in with the movements
Here we use the wall for feedback
Stand roughly a foot away and rest back on wall, feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
Back to yesterday’s practices....activate feet and legs!! Allow for spine to be neutral/your natural curves (this usually means lower back is slightly off the wall)
Exhale...tailbone begins to move towards heels, lower back may start to make contact with wall. Start peeling tailbone and lower back away from wall whist middle and upper back, head and neck remain resting against wall.
Inhale...reverse: lower back and sacrum slowly make contact with wall, keep going until you come back to your neutral spine and continue to tilt pelvis forward. You will feel the lower back and sacrum move away from wall with the only contact being the tailbone against wall (neck may even arch, let movement feel natural)
If you find it difficult to combine breath with movement, just go with what feels comfortable in your body.
Start with 3-5 rounds and do as often as needed.
DAY 3 | DANCE FLOOR THRUST 💃 ...KIND OF
Today’s practice builds on yesterday’s Rockin’ N Rollin’ pelvic moves but requires a bit more effort and awareness on your part.
When the hips are higher than the torso, this allows the organs of the pelvis and abdomen to move up into the body, giving the attachments that they connect to...quite literally a break from hanging all day when we are in the upright position.
These exercises aim to work and tone the big muscles of the legs, butt, back and stomach, combined with subtle pelvic tilting and spinal undulation.
This works on the deeper postural muscles which we rarely have conscious control over but support us in everyday life. Once we start to engage and become aware of them, we can begin to release tensions in these muscles or patterns of habit.
Combining slow movement with our breath soothes the nervous system (the root of tension starts here).
Have something soft underneath you (carpet, blanket or yoga mat).
Lie on the floor with bent knees and feet on the wall hip width apart. Hips and knees at right angles (you can use a yoga block, book or cushion between upper legs).
Activate feet against wall (day 1) which will engage and work up through the legs.
Allow your spine to be natural against the floor (usually lower back is slightly off the floor).
Exhale...press into feet, lengthen tailbone towards wall (lower back will flatten to floor) and start to peel (slowly and smoothly) the sacrum and then lower back off the floor. Upper back, neck and head stay relaxed on the floor.
Inhale...reverse: slowly and smoothly lower the back, sacrum then tailbone back onto the floor until you return to your natural lying position.
Repeat 3-5 times or as comfortable.
If you want to progress this movement, you can increase the range that you raise the hips and back off the ground working all the way up so that only the head, neck and shoulders are on the floor.
IMPORTANT: try and keep ribs in line with the body (not flaring them up and out). Here we want the range of movement to come from the hips and strength of legs, not from bending of your back.
If the breath doesn’t work for you, just use your natural breath and focus on the movement.
As stated in the intro video, please don’t do this if you are menstruating or pregnant.
DAY 4 | SWITCH ON YOUR INNER HOOVER 🌬
When you have a good posture, your bladder and uterus rest securely on top of your pubic bones. Good posture here means that we have a natural curve in the lower back, the abdomen moves with the breath (not sucked in and up) allowing the pelvic organs to sit snuggly on the pubic bone.
Your first practice today is building awareness of the pelvic position and how the breath actually affects this.
The second practice known as ‘decompression’ aims to reverse the effects of being in an upright position against gravity. It draws the organs, their suspension systems and the perineum (which all organs rest on) up into the body with the natural breath. It is similar to some of the bandhas used in more advanced yoga practices only much more accessible. It’s a beneficial exercise for anybody to do, not just women and not just for female health.
Allowing the time is key in awareness practices. Here we are lying on the back, knees bent and supported.
This can also be done in any position - sitting, standing, lying.
Observe your natural breath. See how the breath moves your physical body. Notice how the breath rocks the pelvis back and forth.
Decompression breath (inspired by @wombyoga): bring your arms to cactus (or in some way supported so that you can press against them). Take a deep inhale - abdomen, chest and ribs expand.
Exhale - press into arms and hands against the floor to keep chest and ribs expanded whilst letting the abdomen fall. Here you will notice the abdomen caving in deeper under the chest. This is where the organs are being sucked up or decompressed.
Repeat 2-3 times then return to observing breath and maybe noticing any changes in body.
You can do this with legs up the wall also for added benefit as we will see on day 6
DAY 5 | MASSAGE YOUR BUTTERFLY 🦋
We are going to get a bit more hands on today and do a bit of self massage and acupressure. Remembering back to Day 1 when we learnt how important the feet and legs are...here we are following the three Yin channels in Chinese Medicine, which are particularly important in matters of the pelvis, female health, menstruation, reproduction and hormonal regulation. It’s also really good to take a bit of time to give yourself some care and love!
Come into your butterfly - soles of the feet touch, knees fall to the sides (can be supported), spine tall (sit on cushion or raise hips to make more comfortable) - keep it loose (more like a diamond 💠 shape)
Using your thumbs, firmly press and release moving along foot and leg:
Base of big toe
Arch of foot
Below ankle bone
Around back of ankle bone (in the big dip between bone and Achilles)
Up the inner leg just off the shin bone on the muscle
Below the knee
You can sweep up the channels using the pressure of the palms of the hand, running al the way up the inner thigh and behind the back to rub the kidney area (lower back). Take your time and enjoy doing these a few times each
DAY 6 | LAST DAY...GET YOUR LEGS UP! 🙃
So the last posture is one for everyone...legs up the wall...it is one of the best restorative postures for the body and mind.
Having your legs higher than your torso reverses the blood circulation in your legs and is therefore good if you have been on your feet all day, cramping, achey or swollen legs, restless leg syndrome, varicose veins, lower back pain, relieves the pelvic muscles, good for menstrual and genealogical disorders, lowers heart rate (which in turn slows breath, reduces anxiety and stress) and is generally a good way to finish your day and your practice.
5-10 minutes: have a go!
We hope in some way that this has informed or helped you or someone you know. If you think someone might benefit please share openly.
50-80% of women will experience pelvic organ prolapse at some point in their life - let’s not be quiet about it 🔈!