simon-borg-olivier-uddiyana

Pelvic Floor Exercise and Breathing for Enhanced Sexual Function

by Simon Borg-Olivier

The following series of exercises form a great sequence that I have practiced for many years to help strengthen the function of the pelvic floor and the reproductive system. This sequence can really help anyone improve the function of their urogenital system and improve sexual health and performance in both men and women. In combination with the breath-control exercises, this sequence is excellent at improving heart rate variability, which helps to give excellent health for your immune system. This practice is also very useful for relieving:

  • lower back pain
  • urinary incontinence
  • male erectile dysfunction
  • female sexual dysfunction
  • pelvic floor weakness after childbirth

This sequence includes basic muscular contractions and expansions of the entire pelvic floor (urethra, anus, and genitals) at the same (if possible) while regulating your breath.

The two parts of this sequence, pelvic floor contractions, and the breathing practice can be done separately, and can also be progressed to more challenging breath-control exercises and longer duration of pelvic floor contractions.

Regulating your breath in the way that I have suggested here has tremendous benefits for your health. It can help increase heart rate variability, which has been repeatedly shown to improve the health of your immune system, your cardiovascular system and even your mental health. Please see our previous blog on on improving your heart rate variability using breath-control.

Many people will find that trying to control the pelvic floor while regulating and slowing your breath is very difficult. In this case I strongly recommend breathing normally while while working with the pelvic floor and doing separate breath-control (pranayama) exercises while the pelvic floor muscles (and all your muscles) are completely relaxed.

Here are some safe accessible breath-control exercises I have developed and found help people immensely for all levels of internal health and energy.

Simon Borg-Olivier practicing uddiyana bandha on an exhalation retention in Bhadrasana, (Note that although the pelvic floor exercises described in this article can be done in this position it is more suitable for most people do these exercises while seated cross-legged, kneeling or even sitting on a chair)

Simon Borg-Olivier practicing uddiyana bandha on an exhalation retention in Bhadrasana, (Note that although the pelvic floor exercises described in this article can be done in this position, it is more suitable for most people do these exercises while seated cross-legged, kneeling or even sitting on a chair)

The basic pelvic floor enhancement program has three parts, and the whole practice takes between 15-17 minutes. (In the 17-minute program described below, it is possible to omit the relaxed breaths numbers 9 and 17).

PART 1:

Duration: 4 minutes

Pelvic floor contractions: 2 seconds contracted pelvic floor and 1 second relaxed (or expanded) pelvic floor

Breath-control:

Do 8 X 30 second breaths (times of each breath cycle can be increased as your breathing improves)

Minute 1: Inhale 28 seconds exhale 2 seconds

Minute 2: Inhale 2 seconds, hold in for 26 seconds, exhale 2 seconds

Minute 3: Inhale 2 seconds, exhale 28 seconds

Minute 4: Inhale 2 seconds, exhale 2 seconds, hold out for 26 seconds

Pelvic floor 1

Region of Pelvic Floor (between the pubic bone, the tail bone and the sitting bones) showing no muscles (From the Program Essential Anatomy)

PART 2:

Duration: 4 minutes

Pelvic floor contractions: 5 seconds relaxed pelvic floor (or expanded) then 15 seconds contracted pelvic floor

Breath-control:

Minutes 5 and 6: Do 3 X 40 second breaths; hold the breath out for 5 seconds (pelvic floor relaxed) then inhale 15 seconds (pelvic floor contracted) then hold the breath in for 5 seconds (pelvic floor relaxed, then exhale for 15 seconds (pelvic floor contracted)

Minutes 7 and 8: Do 3 X 40 second breaths; inhale for 5 seconds (pelvic floor relaxed), then hold the breath in for 15 seconds (pelvic floor contracted) then exhale for 5 seconds (pelvic floor relaxed) then hold the breath out for 15 seconds (pelvic floor contracted) (advanced people can do an optional uddiyana bandha while holding the breath out)

Pelvic floor 2

Region of Pelvic Floor (between the pubic bone, the tail bone and the sitting bones) showing deepest muscles (From the Program Essential Anatomy)

PART 3:

Duration: 9 minutes

Pelvic floor contractions: 60 seconds relaxed pelvic floor (or expanded), then 60 seconds contracted pelvic floor (Do a total of 4 X 60 seconds with the pelvic floor contracted)

Breath-control:

Minutes 9, 11, 13, 15 and 17:

Do 2 X 30 second breaths (pelvic floor relaxed for both breaths and a total of 60 seconds);

Breath 1: Inhale for 10 seconds, hold the breath in for 10 seconds, exhale for 10 seconds.

Breath 2: Inhale for 10 seconds, exhale for 10 seconds, hold the breath out for 10 seconds

Minutes 10, 12, 14 and 16:

Do 2 X 30-second breaths (pelvic floor contracted for both breaths and a total of 60 seconds);

Breath 1: Inhale for 10 seconds, hold the breath in for 10 seconds, exhale for 10 seconds.

Breath 2: Inhale for 10 seconds, exhale for 10 seconds, hold the breath out for 10 seconds

Pelvic floor 3

Region of Pelvic Floor (between the pubic bone, the tail bone and the sitting bones) showing superficial muscles (From the Program Essential Anatomy)

Once you have built up enough strength in the pelvic floor as a complete unit, it is good to learn to isolate each of the three parts of the pelvic floor. This will give you much better control of your sexual organs. This can be achieved more easily when you can control the transversus abdominis (the abdominal belt muscle) in a way that you can softly draw the lower abdomen inwards without moving or hardening the upper abdomen, and vice versa. Another useful trick is to push the pelvic floor outwards as if to gently begin to defecate and simultaneously urinate at the same time (but being careful not to actually urinate or defecate) and at the same time draw the region between the anus and the urethra (the perineum) inwards and upwards towards the diaphragm. This is initially most helpful for breath-control when it is mastered on the inhalation.

 

Once again it is important to stress the importance of learning breath-control and pelvic floor activation as separate activities initially. Please review these safe accessible breath-control exercises that we have developed as they can prepare you well for the pelvic floor work and they also help improve your internal health and energy levels.

You can read more about how to control your breath in yoga and exercise and also the many benefits of doing this in the following Yoga Synergy blogs:

Breathing (Part 1): How to breathe to help your spine, internal organs and energy levels

Breathing (Part 2): Passive Seated Pranayama: Generate Internal Energy by Doing Less than Nothing

Secrets of advanced breath-control (pranayama) with internal locks (bandha), energy-control gestures (mudra) and internal cleansing (kriya)

 

If you want to learn more of this type of information you can join one of our live or online courses

Live Courses: Teacher Training Courses and Intensive Training for Serious Students 

Online courses:  1. ‘Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga’ 2. ‘Essentials for Teacher Training: Yoga Fundamentals’ (These courses are the public versions of the award-winning RMIT university courses that were written by me and fellow physiotherapist and co-director of Yoga Synergy, Bianca Machliss. They are the culmination of the 30 years of teaching experience.)

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