Adventures in Borderland Anatomy

From the rather obscure title of this blog, you would be forgiven for not knowing that it refers to pelvic floor awareness and was mentioned in feedback that I received recently at the end of a course of Well Woman Wisdom Yoga classes.   It was given to me by Kate Codrington, who goes on to say...


“Claire’s well woman classes are brilliant.  I love the slow, explorative style of expanding body awareness. It’s so rare to find a class where we are encouraged to move in ways that are pleasurable and kind to our bodies, whatever time of the month we are at. It not only helps with Women’s health issues (my symptoms have significantly improved after 5 classes) but it’s a great antidote to the fast pace of life, I'm building more strength and vibrancy in my body and my shoulders feel 10 years younger this morning too.”


Borderland Anatomy – think deserts, wild lands out west where epic films have been shot and many gunfights take place.  The Pelvic Floor – a wild and mysterious frontier that women know exists, but have yet to venture to.   Perhaps they feel they haven’t acquired the right travel visa in which to appreciate its many functions and the versatility in ways in which it can be activated through the practice of yoga?


It’s not all weightlifting ... you know what I mean ... “lift and squeeze” “lift and squeeze” and repeat. Forever...


Well Woman Wisdom addresses the whole woman – encouraging women to understand the joy that can come from improved posture, which has an impact on their breath and inner strength and how they hold themselves, which in turn addresses how their pelvis may sit, which in turn supports the hips and lower back.  Not to mention how classes help reduce anxiety, as well as support women with a variety of needs relating to the menstrual cycle and menopause too.


Many women believe that the pelvic floor is like the Lone Ranger – that it acts alone and is solely responsible in preventing any leaks.  But the muscles of the pelvic floor actually are part of a team of muscles that need to work together, in a co-ordinated way.


The team members are:

• Pelvic Floor (PF - from the pubic bone at the front to the tailbone at the back)
• Diaphragm (dome inside the rib cage)
• Transverse Abdominis (TA – our deepest abdominal muscle)


When this team works together they not only prevent leakages, they work together to give us our stability (core) which is the foundation for movement as well as fitness.



As our diaphragm drops on the inhale, it sucks air into our lungs (think of the plunger in a cafetiére).  When this happens, the pressure pushes our organs downwards, creating pressure within the abdomen.  This sounds bad, but in fact, this pressure is the first part of our stability system.  Our PF and TA responds to this pressure by opening and lengthening.  They’re gently stretched under this loading from above.

When the diaphragm lifts on exhale, the PF and TA rebound back up and contract – this is the second part of our stability system.  So, if there’s a weakness somewhere within the team, the PF can go into overwhelm and is therefore unable to be an effective member of the team.


Lovers of Strictly Come Dancing would be amazed at the dance that takes place between these two areas of the body with such beautiful synchronicity and ease.


Our pelvis is an amazing portal through which movement occurs.  It provides the foundation for the upper and lower parts of the body to move with efficiency.  So if we have overwhelm within the system, it impacts strongly on so many other areas of our body.


Well Woman Wisdom Yoga addresses the whole woman.


Details of forthcoming classes can be found here: Well Woman Wisdom

You can also find out more about the amazing work that Kate does here Love Your Belly

[Photo copyright: Nevada by Claire Murphy]


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