I find this a really helpful way of experiencing the area of soft tissue we commonly call the “pelvic floor”. Once you can feel and sense this diamond shape area muscle you can work with both contractions and relaxations to keep the area toned. These exercises are for all women and are suitable both in pregnancy and for postnatal recovery but note the different instructions for using your breath.
How is my pelvic floor like a diamond?
You may want to do some exploring here on your own body to find the four bony structures that form the corners of your pelvic diamond.
Here is a rough diagram I drew by sitting on an A4 piece of paper and marking the four bony landmarks and approximate locations of the urethra, vagina and anus.
To make your own pelvic map grab yourself a sheet of A4 and get hunting for these four bony structures.
- the symphesis pubis (pubic bones) – low down in the front of the pelvis
- the coccyx or tailbone – this is the very bottom of the spine, low down in the back of the pelvis (you need to feel right down in between your cheeks to find the end!
- the two ischial tuberosities (sitting bones)
The pelvic floor muscles connect to these four bony landmarks in a lovely diamond kite formation.
What’s the best pose for feeling my diamond?
Personally, my favourite pose for feeling the pelvic diamond is to be on forearms (elbows) and knees, so my head is lower than my pelvis and I can imagine I have a tail that I am slightly sticking in the air (more on bringing your tail to yoga coming soon). In the pose, the diamond is lifted and open, there is less internal pressure from the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, rectum) and the trampled on pelvic floor is suddenly transformed into a fabulous pelvic kite, flying high in the sky! Just this shift in perspective is enough to feel you’ve done some great pelvic healing.
Stay in this pose for 2-3 minutes or as long as you can just feeling this lovely open diamond shape and allowing the pelvic floor muscles to open and gently stretch. Especially if you have been sitting a lot or tucking your pelvis as a postural habit this is likely to feel delicious and will be doing you good. Breathe freely and easily and only move on to the toning exercises below when you feel really connected with this area and have good sensations here. If you have very recently given birth, wait until you are no longer bleeding before moving on to the toning exercises below. This varies woman to woman but may take a few weeks. Go gently and seek advice if you have pain.
Tip: bring your thumbs and finger tips together to form a diamond with your hands that you can look at and help you visualise the diamond in your pelvis.
Weird fact: the diamond you make with your fingers is the same size as your pelvic diamond!
How do I tone the pelvic diamond?
Once you can easily sense the diamond kite of the pelvis and its four bony corners see if you can imagine the following scenarios:
- Could you bring your two sit bones closer together?
- Could you draw your tailbone and pubic bones closer together?
- Could you do 1. and 2. both together at the same time?
There will be no external movement when you do this but hopefully you will start to feel some contraction in the pelvic floor muscles. It may take some time to feel the uplift so be patient and just keep coming back to the pose and checking in every now and again.
Repeat each exercises 4-6 times, synchronised with your breath.
Specific Breathing Suggestions
- Postnatal / Most of the Time – I usually teach these exercises so that the contraction of the pelvic floor is synchronised with the exhalation. Breath is moving up and out, diaphragm moves up, pressure is relieved from the pelvic organs and the pelvic floor is moving in harmony with this orchestra of naturally uplifting movement.
- Pregnancy – to prepare the pelvic floor to open and stretch during birth I suggest my pregnant yoga students synchronise the relaxation of the pelvic floor with the exhalation. This also helps to connect with a feeling of ‘bearing down’ or ‘breathing down the baby’.
- Menstruation – same as pregnancy, release on exhale, or just feeling the kite flying easily with the rhythm of the natural breath (no need for contracting and relaxing).