The Pelvic Floor: 4 Essential Points

The Pelvic Floor: 4 Essential Points

Shari Friedrichsen

In tantra, the human body is seen as a shrine to the divinity living within it. When we look at the body, and the shrine that it is, we sometimes forget how important our foundation—the pelvis, and the pelvic floor in particular—is to our own personal inner shrine. In the same way that a faulty foundation will not support a sacred and lasting shrine in the outer world, an unstable or weak pelvic floor will not support us in our endeavors to discover true joy and fulfillment in life. And a pelvis that is rigid and cluttered with outdated ideas and thoughts may make us unconsciously believe that our lives are worth less; in other words, the value of our shrine may start to shrink until we can no longer see its beauty and grace.

For that reason we will look first at what the pelvic floor is on the physical level. Then we will look to see how valuable the pelvis is to finding peace and happiness in our work, our financial situation, our relationships, our desires, our attitudes toward our selves, and our spiritual life. Once we have this base of knowledge, we can work with reversing any damage that has set in, strengthening where we are weak and softening where we have held our pain and sorrow.

Now let’s look at four essential points regarding the pelvis.

1. The Pelvic Floor as a Physical Base

The pelvic floor consists of overlapping layers of muscles that span the bottom of the pelvis and support functioning of the eliminatory, sexual, and reproductive organs and glands. A healthy pelvis is highly functional, but when there are problems here, it can also lead to weakness and instability. Problems with the pelvis include painful hemorrhoids, prolapsed organs, or embarrassing incontinence. Over 20 million Americans experience incontinence, and 85% are women. Women have long been reminded to do Kegel exercises to keep the pelvic floor strong, or to regain strength after pregnancy and childbirth. Doctors are now recommending that men do pelvic floor work, too, especially before and after prostate surgery.

But yoga wisdom—and common sense—tells us that everyone can benefit from pelvic floor work, regardless of age or gender. In fact, research is showing that weakness and incontinence do not have to be a part of normal aging, and are, for the most part, preventable. In other words, working with the pelvic floor in a targeted way can prevent incontinence and other pelvic floor–related problems, and can keep pelvic organs, glands, and tissues strong and healthy.

2. The Pelvis and the Four Primordial Urges

We are born with the primordial desires for hunger, sleep, procreation, and self-preservation. The pelvis is home to these four primitive urges, which manifest in gross as well as subtle ways. By balancing and strengthening the pelvis—especially the pelvic floor—we can bring these urges to a state of internal and external balance and awareness. In doing so, we can learn how to moderate and channel these urges to experience a deeper, richer life.

The pelvis is home to four primitive urges: hunger, sleep, procreation, and self-preservation.

We all deserve to be happy and fulfilled. It’s part of our nature. And when we are wise about our primordial urges and our desires, we can use them to bring about a balanced state of life and mind. We learn how to live comfortably in this world with healthy relationships and to support ourselves in the way we find the most fulfilling. We can learn to be aware of these urges so they do not control us. Working with the pelvis can give us the intelligence to know the difference between short-term pleasure and long-term joy.

3. The Pelvic Floor and Mental–Emotional Health

A strong, stable pelvic floor supports mental and emotional health. But quite often we find our pelvic floor compromised, which can cause emotional and mental issues. For example, if we develop urinary incontinence from a weak pelvic floor, we often begin to withdraw from social engagements, friends, and various activities and hobbies. This can increase social isolation, which may lead to depression, reduced self-esteem, hopelessness, and other mental or emotional pain.

With a strong pelvic floor, however, the four basic urges are balanced. This leads to emotional balance and mental well-being. Our work becomes more meaningful. Relationships are nourishing and fulfilling. We feel good about our lives. Our faith that we are on the right path and that we are doing well socially and personally is strengthened. We take pleasure in the meaningful aspects of our lives.

4. The Pelvic Floor and Spiritual Life

When our physical foundation is strong and resilient, we are no longer driven by our urges. We become emotionally and mentally stable. We can see more clearly what our greater purpose in life is and have the courage to walk toward it. Pelvic floor work keeps our spiritual practice real and grounded, without having our head lost in the clouds.

Pelvic floor work keeps our spiritual practice real and grounded.

In tantra, the pelvic center is considered to be the well of beauty and creativity, and a source of great power and potential. Shakti’s own abode is here. In yogic and tantric texts and prayers, including the Saundaryalahari, the Divine Mother is described as “wet,” “moist,” and “surrounded by an ocean of ambrosia.” This subtle water center of the pelvis replenishes us when we’ve become dry or brittle, physically, emotionally, or mentally. It supports our lives like an oasis in the desert. The pelvis, as the “basin” for this subtle water, contains the streams that nourish every cell in our being. When this area of our body is healthy and vibrant, we have the energy necessary to live in a freer way and to experience greater fulfillment.

We can awaken this potential energy by strengthening this area and working with practices that lead to greater health, vitality, stamina, and intelligence. Through this awakening, we come to understand that our life is filled with grace and beauty.

As these four points illustrate, the pelvic floor is a powerful support for our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being—for our upliftment and transformation. Find the best way to access, strengthen, and balance this area and you will be richly rewarded. The internal shrine you build will be indestructible.

To learn more about how to start strengthening and balancing the pelvic floor, please join me for my Pelvic Floor Essentials video workshop. In this workshop, I’ll teach several practices—and tips you can integrate into daily life—that will help make your pelvic floor strong, supple, and able to serve as your foundation.

Practice Resources

Pelvic Floor Essentials

Shari Friedrichsen

In this workshop with Shari Friedrichsen, learn the spiritual significance of the pelvis and how its two opposing forces can transform both the physical body and the pranic subtle body for lasting freedom and healing.

About the Author

Shari Friedrichsen

Shari Friedrichsen has been teaching and studying yoga for more than 40 years and is a key facilitator at the Himalayan Institute’s Teacher Training & Professional Certification programs, nationally and internationally. She is a faculty member of the 500-hour teacher training program at 8 Limbs Yoga in Seattle, WA, and also conducts numerous classes, seminars, and trainings worldwide. Shari has studied asana, meditation, and philosophy with respected teachers Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Rolf Sovik, Amma Karunamayi, and BKS Iyengar. Shari's unique style integrates subtle and gross anatomical awareness with breath awareness to draw the student into the inner experience of yoga. Her approach uses yoga as a vital, powerful, and compassionate component in supporting the body and the psyche. Shari holds the following certifications—C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, and YACEP, and has presented over 60 videos on YogaInternational.com as well as a frequent contributor to the Wisdom Library.