The pelvic diaphragm is a term used to describe the muscular and fascial components that span the base of the pelvic cavity. It is a dome-shaped structure primarily composed of the levator ani and coccygeus muscles, as well as their associated fascia. The terms "pelvic diaphragm" and "pelvic floor" are often used interchangeably, but there are arguments in favor of using "pelvic diaphragm" for precision and clarity. Here's why:
Three-dimensional Perspective: The term "diaphragm" captures the three-dimensional nature of this structure. Describing it as a "floor" might lead one to think of it as a flat and hard structure, which is not the case. The pelvic diaphragm has depth, flexible, and it's shaped more like a basin or bowl, or even a hammock, rather than a flat floor.
Functional Analogies: The term "diaphragm" offers a functional analogy to the thoracic diaphragm, the primary muscle responsible for breathing. Both the thoracic diaphragm and the pelvic diaphragm work dynamically, moving in coordination during breathing and other bodily functions. When we inhale, the thoracic diaphragm descends, and the pelvic diaphragm has a coordinated movement. Understanding this coordination is essential for certain therapeutic approaches.
Better Therapeutic Understanding: For individuals undergoing physical therapy, particularly pelvic floor therapy, conceptualizing the pelvic muscles as a dynamic diaphragm can be beneficial. It reinforces the idea that these muscles can move, stretch, contract, and relax just like other muscles in the body. This can be especially vital for individuals with pelvic tension or dysfunction.
Reinforcing the Holistic Approach: Emphasizing the term "pelvic diaphragm" can help in recognizing the interconnectedness of the body's systems. For instance, issues with the pelvic diaphragm might impact respiratory function, sexual health, urinary function, and more.
Dissociation from Gendered Connotations: The term "pelvic floor" is often (though not always correctly) associated primarily with female anatomy and health issues. Using "pelvic diaphragm" can emphasize that this muscular structure is present and essential in all genders, reinforcing the importance of understanding and addressing pelvic health in everyone.
In today's article we are going to explore some practices to hep support a hypertoni pevic diaphragm.
This exercise can help stretch and relax the pelvic diaphragm muscles by utilizing the natural weight and pull of your body.
Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Ensure your toes are pointing outwards, roughly at a 45-degree angle.
Keep your chest lifted, shoulders relaxed, and spine in a neutral position.
As you inhale, slowly lower your body down into a squat, aiming to get your buttocks as close to the ground as possible.
Keep your feet flat on the ground. If you're struggling to do this, you can roll up a towel or yoga mat and place it under your heels for support.
Allow your arms to come in between your legs, with your elbows inside of your knees. Your hands can be in a prayer position at the center of your chest or resting on the ground in front of you.
As you hold the deep squat, breathe deeply and try to relax the pelvic diaphragm muscles further with every exhale.
Place your hand on your yoni and see if you can feel movement with your breath, if not, be sure to do this practice as much as you can along with other practices to help support more pelvic diaphragm movement
Hold the position for as long as comfortable, aiming for 30 seconds to a minute, and then use your leg muscles to stand up again.
Note: This position might be challenging for some, especially if there are existing hip or knee issues. Make sure you listen to your body, and don’t push into any painful range.
Pelvic tilts are an excellent exercise to increase awareness of the pelvic diaphragm and surrounding musculature. For individuals with a hypertonic pelvic diaphragm, where the muscles are overly tight, pelvic tilts can help facilitate relaxation, improve mobility, and enhance proprioception (the sense of the relative position of body parts and strength of effort being employed in movement).
Here’s how to do pelvic tilts specifically with a focus on relaxing a hypertonic pelvic diaphragm:
1. Starting Position:
Lie on your back on a comfortable surface, like a yoga mat or carpeted floor.
Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart. Your arms should be by your side, palms facing down.
Begin with a neutral spine, meaning there should be a small, natural arch in your lower back, and it might not be touching the floor.
Anterior Tilt (Arching the Back): As you inhale, arch your lower back by pushing your belly button towards the ceiling and allowing your tailbone to tilt down towards the floor. You should feel a slight lifting of your back off the ground, primarily focusing on the lumbar region.
Posterior Tilt (Flattening the Back): As you exhale, gently tighten your lower abdominals and push your lower back into the floor. Think about tilting your pelvis so that your tailbone lifts slightly off the ground. As you do this, you should feel a gentle engagement of your core muscles but also focus on relaxing the pelvic diaphragm. Imagine the pelvic diaphragm muscles lengthening and softening.
3. Progression and Awareness:
Move slowly between the anterior and posterior tilts, making the movement smooth and controlled. The emphasis for hypertonic pelvic diaphragm issues should be on the relaxation phase (during the posterior tilt) and ensuring the pelvic diaphragm is softening and not clenching.
As you get more comfortable, try to increase the depth and range of each tilt, but always maintain control and avoid any pain.
As you practice this movement, become mindful of any tension in the pelvic diaphragm. Your goal is to facilitate relaxation of these muscles, so visualize them releasing and lengthening with each repetition.
Aim for 10-15 repetitions at a time, making sure to keep the movement controlled and focusing on the relaxation of the pelvic diaphragm.
Pelvic tilts not only offer benefits for the pelvic diaphragm but also help in improving the mobility of the lumbar spine and coordination between the core and pelvic muscles. If you're dealing with a hypertonic pelvic diaphragm, it's essential to work closely with a pelvic diaphragm physiotherapist or another specialized professional such a s yoni massage therapist to ensure you're doing exercises correctly and addressing the root of the issue.
Potential Concerns for Pelvic Tilts:
Incorrect Technique: If performed incorrectly, pelvic tilts could exacerbate tension. For example, if someone is forcefully tucking their pelvis under (posterior tilt) and squeezing their gluteal muscles too hard, they might inadvertently be adding tension to the pelvic floor.
Overemphasis on Strengthening: The focus of pelvic tilts for someone with a hypertonic pelvic floor should be on relaxation and mobility, not strengthening. If someone approaches the exercise with the mindset of a traditional workout (thinking "more is better"), they might overdo it and increase tension.
Lack of Guidance: Without proper guidance, individuals might not be aware of the subtle cues and sensations that indicate relaxation or tension in the pelvic floor. They might miss the benefits of the exercise or, worse, perform it in a way that exacerbates their symptoms.
Happy Baby Pose
Happy Baby Pose offers various benefits, one of which includes its influence on the pelvic diaphragm.
Anatomy of the Pose in Relation to the Pelvic Diaphragm:
When performing the Happy Baby Pose, the legs' positioning (wide apart and drawn towards the armpits) promotes a stretching or broadening of the pelvic diaphragm, primarily affecting the levator ani group of muscles. This stretch can be especially beneficial for individuals who carry tension or have tightness in the pelvic region.
Impact and Benefits on the Pelvic Diaphragm:
Stretching & Relaxation: The pose gently stretches the muscles of the pelvic diaphragm. This can help in releasing tension and facilitating relaxation, especially in individuals with a hypertonic (overly tense) pelvic floor.
Increased Awareness: The grounded nature of this pose allows individuals to focus on the sensation in their pelvic area, enhancing their proprioceptive awareness of the pelvic diaphragm. Over time, this increased awareness can lead to better control and coordination of these muscles in daily activities.
Promotion of Circulation: Stretching and relaxation of the muscles can aid in increased blood flow to the pelvic region. This can be beneficial for healing, recovery, and general well-being.
Facilitation of Diaphragmatic Breathing: While in the Happy Baby Pose, the positioning allows for easier diaphragmatic (deep) breathing. This type of breathing further promotes relaxation of the pelvic diaphragm. As the diaphragm descends during inhalation, there's a corresponding relaxation response in the pelvic diaphragm.
Tips for Maximizing Benefits on the Pelvic Diaphragm:
Mindful Breathing: Breathe deeply and mindfully, focusing on the rise and fall of the abdomen. This deep diaphragmatic breathing can encourage the pelvic diaphragm to move in coordination.
Engage in Progressive Relaxation: As you hold the pose, try to progressively relax the pelvic muscles with each exhale. Visualize the pelvic diaphragm gently stretching and releasing tension.
Gentle Movement: Add a slight rocking side to side, which can provide a gentle massage to the lower back and further encourage relaxation of the pelvic region.
Duration: Hold the pose for a duration that feels comfortable. Over time, as flexibility increases, you may find you can hold the pose longer, amplifying its benefits.
Remember, while the Happy Baby Pose can be beneficial for the pelvic diaphragm, it's always essential to listen to one's body. If there's any discomfort, it's crucial to come out of the pose and, if necessary, consult with a yoga instructor or physical therapist knowledgeable about pelvic health.
Yoni Egg Usage for Hypertonic Pelvic Diaphragms
Using a yoni egg while experiencing a hypertonic pelvic diaphragm for some may be beneficial, though there are some very important things to be aware of before attempting to do so.
Potential Concerns with Using a Yoni Egg for Hypertonic Pelvic Diaphragms:
Counterproductive to Relaxation: Inserting an object into the vagina when the muscles are already tense might lead to more tension or spasm, making the condition worse. The body might perceive the egg as a foreign object and tighten the muscles in response.
Risk of Overexertion: Some proponents of yoni eggs promote exercises that involve squeezing or contracting the pelvic muscles around the egg. For someone with a hypertonic pelvic floor, this could lead to overexertion and exacerbate symptoms.
Potential for Incorrect Use: Without proper guidance and awareness, there's potential for incorrect use, which could lead to discomfort or worsening of symptoms.
Biofeedback Tool: For some, the presence of the yoni egg could serve as a biofeedback tool, helping them become more aware of their pelvic muscles and the tension they're holding. This awareness could then be used to work on relaxation techniques.
Mindfulness and Connection: Some individuals find that using the yoni egg helps them connect more deeply with their bodies, fostering a sense of mindfulness that could indirectly aid in relaxation.
General Well-being: Some people believe in the metaphysical properties of the stones used for yoni eggs and feel that using them promotes emotional and spiritual well-being.
See below for some more exercies to support your journey of pelvis expansion, of course, always chekcing in with your body and seeking guidance when needed.
To go deeper, join us in the pelvic Blossoming Course.