By Yoga Journal
In a standard pregnancy and vaginal birth, the amount of loosening that happens in the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor catches many women off guard, especially if you've had more than one child. I think of strengthening the pelvic floor as returning to being grounded, or re-building the connection from the waist down through the legs back into the earth again.
Practice: Heal Yourself With Mula Bandha
Re-engaging your pelvic floor by engaging the mula bandha (root lock) can help you heal after childbirth. On an anatomical level, it requires an engagement of the pelvic floor muscles as well as the transverse abdominis, the deep abdominal muscle layer that wraps around your torso from back to front. Mula bandha can also initiate a deeper sense of stability in both the body and the mind.
Doctors and midwives will tell you to do Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, or to hold your urine to reestablish the connection with that area, but after my second child -- and this is what I do for a living -- if you would have told me to engage those muscles, I would have said, "I can't even feel a thing." However, doing Kegels, or creating a pulsating movement with the mula bandha, while you're doing other poses makes you more likely to carry through with the doctor's orders.
Mom-asana of the Week: Low Lunge with mula bandha engagement
From any lunge (Low Lunge is shown) or Goddess Pose or Warrior II, try creating a pulsating movement with the mula bandha. Squeeze the pelvic muscles and inner thighs to create isometric movement. Feel the whole body lifting up from the ground and sinking back in. You can emphasize this with a micro lift in the body on the exhale (when mula bandha is engaged) and then softening downward on the inhale (when mula bandha softens). Not only will this help you strengthen the pelvic area, it will also help you come to re-own this space and understand that it is a safe place, which may also help you regain desire to connect with your spouse or partner.
ABOUT JANET STONE
San Francisco-based yoga teacher Janet Stone started her practice at age 17. A student of Max Strom and meditation teacher Prem Rawat, Stone teaches vinyasa flow at events around the world. Her new kirtan album with DJ Drez, Echoes of Devotion, hit number 1 on iTunes's World Music chart this year. Stone has two daughters and offers this advice to moms: "Motherhood offers infinite lessons in the realms of surrender, empowerment, grace, mistakes, and patience, and then some more patience--as well as the endless unfurling of transitions and change. Practicing yoga amidst this adventure can support us in myriad ways to find our center." Learn more about her upcoming course, Yoga for Moms.