I walked into the lecture hall at the well-renowned Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, MA last week and I paused to soak in and feel what was about to take place. I found out about “A Chronic Pain-Management Conference for Healthcare Professionals: Shifting the Paradigm” randomly through a colleague's facebook posting and as soon as I read the program I knew I had to be there. I’d been wanting to visit Kripalu for quite some time and the content of this conference was EXACTLY what Enlighten PT is all about! The week was a passion project for Denise Barack, Director of Programming at Kripalu and it was the perfect integration of western research meets ancient holistic practices-- with a nod towards a retreat style experience addressing the self-care needs and burnout problem in health care professionals like myself.Read More
"What the heck is my "root" and why exactly might I want to retreat to it?" is a pretty common question I've been asked as I've shared about my offerings to my patients, my family, my friends, and random strangers at the coffee shop.
When I named "Retreat to Your Root (RTR): A Yoga for Pelvic Health Retreat" I felt it important that the title spoke to what the experience itself would entail (the retreat) and the multiple levels of healing that could take place (in the root). I chose the word "root" for it's complex and multifaceted nature and it's ability to describe all at once the physical, energetic, and emotional components we would touch on.Read More
It's been about a year and a half since the concept of "Retreat to Your Root (RTR): A Yoga for Pelvic Health Retreat" came into my consciousness. The idea sprang from my Yoga for the Pelvic Floor program which I was implementing in the clinic with my patients and after attending 3 yoga retreats in a 3 month time period. I knew I wanted to spread the word about yoga for pelvic health to a larger audience and I had just experienced the immense benefits of retreating away from normal life while immersing into a healing experience. As the concept developed my mission and goals for RTR emerged. With two retreats under my belt (pun intended), one coming up in the fall, and at least 3 in-store for 2018 the mission has grown and the benefits have revealed themselves.
I want to share my mission with you as RTR has become an aspect of my personal and professional life which I feel most passionate about and feel incredibly grateful to be able to offer.
I had the great pleasure of acting as right-hand woman to my dear friend and yoga for pelvic health expert, Dustienne Miller, this past weekend. I got to chime in, answer questions, and lend assists as she led 25 pelvic floor physical therapists in her Herman & Wallace course, Yoga for Pelvic Pain, in Seattle, WA.
One fun thing about the class was that we had women of all levels of yoga experience in the class which allowed us to show up and teach from a beginner’s point a view. I was inspired to write this blog as a “quick and dirty” reference for the types of yoga one might encounter so that my fellow PTs and potential clients can make appropriate referrals/choices when they choose to seek out a yoga practice. This list is by no means exhaustive nor is it more than a very basic way of interpreting the types and styles of classes that you may see on a yoga schedule.Read More
Our Memorial Day weekend retreat, Retreat to Your Root: An Immersion into Pelvic Health, is filling up fast, but Dustienne Miller of Your Pace Yoga and I want to continue to share previous retreaters' experiences.
Today's blog features Sophia's experience which she has graciously offered to share as a glimpse into the retreat experience.Read More
For those of you who haven’t heard, Dustienne Miller of Your Pace Yoga and I have officially opened sign-ups for our spring and fall retreats: Retreat to Your Root: An Immersion into Pelvic Health.
As I start talking to more and more people about the retreat I’ve found myself sharing fun retreat stories as a way to convey the mood and the experience of what Retreat to Your Root actually is. Through these conversations I’ve realized that people like to know what they’re getting into so I decided to do a series of interviews from my lovely 2016 retreaters. Today's blog features Jennie's experience which she has graciously offered to share as a glimpse into the retreat experience.Read More
As a former high level gymnast I was saddened to see the news this week that 3 women who at one time held places on the US National Gymnastics Team have come forward with reports of being sexually abused a national coach using internal “treatment”. For those of you who missed it, there was a ‘60 Minutes’ featuring an interview with three former gymnasts, Jamie Dantzscher, Jessica Howard and Jeanette Antolin, who have now publicly accused their former doctor, Dr. Lawrence Nassar, of repeated instances of sexual abuse. The full report can be found on the CBS website.
This news was upsetting to me in many ways.Read More
I wasn’t necessarily going to address the energetic connections of the pelvic floor in this article, however in light of the intense stress and fear surrounding this election week I think it’s important to at least draw a connection between the physical and energetic bodies. Anatomically the pelvic floor is a group of muscles that sits at the base of your body lining the bowl of your pelvis. Energetically the pelvic floor sits in and surrounds the first (root) chakra of the energetic body. To boil it down really briefly the root chakra represents our basic instinctual survival needs. It deals with things like safety, boundaries, security, our ancestors and family, how supported we feel. Many many of us are feeling threatened in all of these aspects right now so my hope is that perhaps even if you don’t have pelvic floor “issues” these poses might help you to connect with your root (or pelvic floor) in way that is healing to the stressors we all are accumulating in our bodies right now during this trying time in our country.
With fresh inspiration in prepping for my upcoming Yoga for Pelvic Health workshop at Sarton Physical Therapy this weekend, I thought I’d share my 3 favorite yoga poses to help increase pelvic floor awareness, proprioception (the feeling of where we are or a body part is in space), and connection to our roots.
A couple of disclaimers: 1) In my workshops I go through a full lecture on anatomy and function prior to teaching yoga postures because having a clear mental image of these structures is key in making the mind/body connection to this “foreign” area of our bodies. For the sake of time today I’m going to refer you to my good friend Rachel Gelman, DPT's ANATOMY BLOGS for MEN AND WOMEN in order to get you acquainted to the pelvic floor. 2) I’ve spent the last year and half developing yoga programs for a variety of different kinds of clients so my advice is to always consult with a trained physical therapist for a full evaluation of your pelvic floor- especially if you have pain!
With of all that said the following are 3 of my favorite poses for pelvic awareness, how to perform them, and most importantly what to think about while moving through the postures. These poses are generally appropriate for anyone (though there are some exceptions) building awareness of their pelvic floor and looking to facilitate the mind/body connection.
Cat and Cow Poses
- Start in a table top position with a neutral spine. Make sure your hands are right under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
- Inhale into Cow pose by tilting or spilling your pelvis forward and extending your spine. Gently look up and pull your chest forward through your hands to gain length. As you do this imagine your inhale filling your pelvic bowl and the area between your sitting bones. See if you can sense a widening and softening at your perineum to release the pelvic floor.
- Exhale into Cat pose by gently flexing or rounding your spine and looking to your belly. DO NOT overly tuck the pelvis, but take note of how this pose gently engages your pelvic floor compared to Cow.
- Repeat each pose, moving with your breath 5-10 times and notice sensation in your pelvis/ pelvic floor. Feel your pelvic bowl expanding and softening especially in Cow pose. Also notice any emotions or changes in energy as you bring your awareness into your root.
- Modifications: This pose can be performed in an upright kneeling position, sitting in a chair, or in standing if needed.
- Starting on your hands and knees, bring your big toes to touch and your knees almost as wide as your mat.
- Slowly sit your pelvis back towards your heels as your forehead rests on the floor with your arms in a comfortable and supported position. Only sit into this pose to where you feel a GENTLE stretch in your perineum if you have any pain at all.
- The goal of this posture is restorative in this example so get as comfortable as you can (see use of props on right, or use a bolster/pillow under your chest if needed).
- As your spine elongates breathe into your low back, sacrum and pelvic floor. See if you can make more space in your pelvic bowl. Breathe down into the base of your body and feel your perineum (the area between your vagina and anus) lengthen and expand. Stay and breathe and notice any feelings that come up for 10-20 rounds of breath.
- Modifications: You can perform this pose with a variety of props, in a chair with your hands on a table, in a squat position, or standing at a wall with your hands on the wall if needed.
Supported Bridge Pose
- Start off on your back, lift your pelvis, and slide a yoga block or a small towel roll under your sacrum. You want a gentle hip elevation so that your pelvic floor is slightly on slack which allows the pelvic floor to release and “drop more effectively.”
- Relax your pelvis into your prop and breathe into the root of your body, your sacrum, and your pelvic floor. Notice what it feels like to connect to this part of your body.
- Breathe here for 2-5 minutes. Take your time coming out of the pose by gently removing the prop and lying flat on the floor for another 30 seconds. Notice any sensations or feelings that arose.
Perform these poses once a day and especially when you notice tension arising in your body. You can also practice bringing awareness into your pelvic floor, perineum, and sacrum throughout your day by noting sensation and consciously sending your breath down into your pelvic bowl. Observe the grounding effects of these simple practices and how they make you feel. If they make you feel good.... do them more!
The light in me honors and sees the shining light in you,
By Gabriella Cook
When Casie and I first discussed her vision for leading a pelvic health yoga retreat I was immediately inspired by her passion. Without hesitation I offered my energy, creativity, and culinary skills to the endeavor! The final result was “Retreat to your Root,” a beautiful life giving weekend in Ojai thatfocused on empowering and unleashing the potential of every attendee. It was an honor to have met the wonderfully fiery women who made this retreat a success, and who were willing to try all of my culinary creations!
I couldn’t have dreamed up the magic that took place this last weekend in Ojai, CA on my Yoga for Pelvic Health: Retreat to Your Root. I could have never guessed that the perfect group of eleven powerful women could assemble for a weekend dedicated to yoga and pelvic health and come out of that weekend forever transformed. I had this little vision less than a year ago of creating a retreat experience for those with interests in the pelvic floor. That vision manifested this past weekend and I’m still in awe of what that all means.Read More