Yoga is a complimentary form of exercise to pelvic floor physical therapy because breathing and moving are essential to the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor moves with the diaphragm. When we inhale, both move down to make space for the lungs to expand. When we exhale, both move back up as the lungs deflate. The transverse abdominal muscles engage and move with the pelvic floor as well. Our spine supports the core with the multifidus muscles running along the vertebrae. The diaphragm also attaches to the thoracic vertebrae. The pelvic floor, diaphragm, transverse abdominus muscles, and multifidus make up the CORE FOUR.
Try practicing a pelvic floor breathing exercise on your back. Lie with your legs extended and the arms alongside the body. I suggest placing a rolled up blanket or a bolster underneath the knees to offer a little more support for the lower back. You can also place a rolled up blanket or towel under the neck so that you feel supported in the neck and shoulders. Allow the chest to open and relax your shoulders. Make sure your spine is neutral, having your body’s natural curve. Do not draw the tailbone down or press the belly up. Take a few inhales and exhales. Let the breath enter and exit the chest and rib cage. The upper part of your belly will rise a little, but try not to bring the breath into the belly. However, your very upper back and shoulder blade area should expand into the ground. I think to think of the breath like an umbrella opening and closing. Close your eyes and rhythmically breathe in and out the nose for a few minutes.
During this simple exercise, you are allowing the pelvic floor to relax. You are also allowing the torso to make space for all your organs as you breathe, plus there is no downward pressure on your pelvic floor. Your diaphragm, pelvic floor and transverse abdominal muscles will sync together. Your multifidus will still support the spine, but without the extra weight of the head.