If you have been following me for a while, you will have heard me say the words, "Relax your pelvic floor (PF) on inhale and gently engage on exhale." What does that actually mean and how do I do that??
When I teach the core breath and I cue the pelvic floor, a lot of people ask me if they are just doing a Kegel. My answer is, "No, this is different from a Kegel, but similar." A Kegel is a specific type of exercise, mainly focused on strengthening the PF. It does not take into account the relaxation aspect. With the core breath, the relaxation training is JUST as important as the activation. Additionally, a Kegel can be cued as a strong activation, the core breath activation is to be very gentle. Roughly 30% of the maximum activation you can do in that area.
One thing I found extremely helpful to know I was relaxing and engaging properly was to see a PF physio. Getting feedback from the internal exam and their cuing was very helpful in feeling for the correct movements. You can perform this on your own as well by inserting a couple fingers into the vagina and feel for your PF muscles to contract around your fingers, then let go when you relax.
As for verbal cues for clients, I wanted to list some here for you to try for yourself! Each person will connect to a cue differently. I recommend closing your eyes to help your mind connect to the areas. Find which one works best for you and go for it!
1. The Blueberry – this is my go-to when teaching the core breath. Take a breath in, nothing should be happening with the pelvic floor. Right before you begin your exhale breath, I want you to imagine picking up a blueberry with the vagina and the anus at the same time. *This is a blueberry, not a piano!* It should be gentle. Maintain this gentle activation through your exhale breath. As you begin your inhale breath again, let the blueberry go. Repeat.
2. The Jellyfish – another one of my favourites! Picture a jellyfish swimming in the ocean. Your inhale breath and relaxation cue are the jellyfish (PF) opening up and filling with water. Your exhale breath would typically be the jellyfish (PF) lifting up and swimming. Picture the jellyfish as your pelvic floor. Open up and relax on inhale, gently lift and activate on exhale. Repeat.
3. The Milkshake – take a breath in while nothing happens through the pelvic floor, then, as you exhale, imagine you are sucking a milkshake up through a straw with the vagina and the anus at the same time (gentle engagement). When you begin your inhale breath again, imagine stopping sucking up the milkshake and let the muscles relax. Repeat.
The image below is for a visual of the pelvic floor (looking up from below). You are wanting to focus on the two openings of the pelvic floor (for women) in order to feel this activation and relaxation.
Try out these cues and please, never hesitate to ask me any questions at all! I'd love to hear from you :)
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