Yoga in Real Life: How To Practice Pelvic Floor Awareness During Your Daily Activities
By Julie Blamphin
Certified Pelvic Floor Yoga Instructor
If you’re anything like me, you do NOT need anything more to add to your To Do List. Most days, it seems I’m teetering between a productive bad*ss boss and an anxious hot mess. I typically fall asleep wondering, “Where the heck did the day go…and why does my body feel tight as a drum?”
But, to be honest – I’m okay with all this because I have a practice – it stays at the top of my To Do List and is my priority every single day. I’m NOT okay with feeling like an anxious hot mess. I want to feel joyful, stable, and sexy! This is why I prioritize my practice. And once you put a practice at the top of your list, you will too. It may even seem you have more time in your day. You’ll notice clarity of mind, you’ll feel more joyful, and your body will be more free. Here’s how I know this.
Growing up in a school of gymnastics was a blessing and a curse for me. The blessings being the memories made with other gymnasts, the start of my coaching career, and the wisdom I gained from my mother as my coach and mentor. Yet as a gymnast, I always strived to stretch further, practiced routines to the point of pain, and performed with the intention of perfection. And therein lies the curse: the striving, perfection, and pain. But I truly wouldn’t change one thing about that experience, as it was the catalyst for one of my current specialties: pelvic floor wellness for women.
I’ll come back to all that in abit. First, I’d like to tell you a story.
It was 1973 and I was 6 years old. This was the year my mother founded Bonnie’s School of Gymnastics. For the next 20 years, she enriched the lives of hundreds of people – teaching not only the sport of gymnastics, but also life lessons such as humility, resilience, and most importantly, self-awareness. So when I began teaching at the age of 12, this was my focus: self-awareness. My very first students were kids in the local Special Olympics program who came to our gym to practice their routines. A few of them had paraplegia and couldn’t use the gym equipment. These were the amazing youngsters who worked with me. We would sit on the mat and practice self-awareness – balance, strength, and flexibility. It wasn’t gymnastics. It was yoga.
The word YOGA is translated as yoke or union – the connection between mind and body. We could also say this is the definition of self-awareness. Yet, how often are we truly aware of self… and what do we do about it if we are? This is where practice comes in. We pick a practice, prioritize that practice, then practice, practice, practice. This is how we cultivate self-awareness.
Case in point: When I notice my ‘anxious hot mess’ self is running the show, I know it’s time for deep breathing, a yoga pose or two, and/or a moment outside in nature. The more we’re aware of self, the more we notice when something is amiss. Why should we make any adjustments if we’re not even aware of our baseline?
Frannie is a woman in my yoga program. When she met me 5 years ago, she was struggling with leakage, urgency, and chronic pelvic pain. At that time, her schedule was so frantic that she rarely could find the time for anything other than her work and her kids. After a few weeks of practicing breathing exercises and simple yoga poses, she felt her mind and body respond “in such a positive way that it almost felt too good to be true.” Remember that her schedule was frantic and she rarely could find the time for anything other than her work and her kids? Here’s the thing. She wanted to feel more joyful, stable, and sexy so she made the time. Now she’s practicing yoga in real life at random moments during her day.
You can do this, too. When, you ask?
- In the shower
- Brushing your teeth
- In the kitchen
- Sitting on the toilet
- Driving your car
- Watching Netflix
- In bed
This is real life, and it’s the perfect time to practice! Practicing pelvic floor awareness during your daily activities helps you know what you need, when you need it.
In the shower, reach your arms up high and wiggle your hips. This can help to unlock the iliopsoas muscle, which can often cause tightness and pain in the low back and pelvic floor.
Relax your jaw while brushing your teeth. The fascia at the base of the jaw runs right down through the pelvic floor so calm the clenching!
There are sooo many things we can practice in the kitchen. (Top tips in link below).
Don’t get me started about what we should (and shouldn’t!!) do while sitting on the toilet. Most importantly – relaaax. Rest your feet up on a stool. If you don’t have a Squatty Potty, get one. No pushing. No ‘stopping the flow of urine’ even though you may have heard it’s a good idea. (It’s not.) Never go to the bathroom just in case. Trust me on this.
When you’re driving your car, make sure your pelvis is neutral. If your pelvic floor muscles are tight, reach under both sides of your bum to move the flesh outward for a nice stretch. At stoplights, move through a mini cat/cow yoga flow.
While binging Netflix, make sure you take breaks! Moving your body during the evening will calm the nervous system for a good night’s sleep.
At least 2 hours before bedtime, stop drinking all liquids. Nobody likes waking up to pee. Perhaps you practice legs-up-the-wall yoga pose for 15 minutes right before bedtime. When you get into bed, take a moment to sprawwwl. Stretch into a 5-pointed star pose (like a big X). Pause here for a moment, then move into your position of choice. Focus on your breath, sleep well, and leave your To Do List for tomorrow.
Obsessed with cartwheels and alone time, Julie Blamphin is a yoga pro, motivational speaker, retreat leader, and the founder of Stretch Your Spirit.