Do you know which describes your pelvic floor? Hypertonic, hypotonic or mixed? Knowing the answer to that question may be your first step toward resolving your pelvic pain. This week’s book is Leslie Howard’s Pelvic Liberation. The book came out in 2017 very soon after I completed Leslie’s Pelvic Floor Yoga Teacher Training. It was a great follow up to the workshop, but the book is very much written to be useful as a stand-alone resource.
Leslie writes that, “A clear understanding of our pelvis’s anatomy greatly facilitates the self-exploration of our body and expands the experiential knowledge we can gain.” And that, “only when we come to understand the anatomy of the pelvis do we come to fully appreciate and admire its beauty and miraculous powers” (pg. 32). Both of those statements really resonate with me and that is what I found so powerful about learning from Leslie, first in-person and then from her writings.
When you have had pelvic trauma, physical and/or emotional, that trauma can very directly affect both the structure and function of the pelvis, and can result in pain. One of the most vivid and tangible takeaways from Leslie’s workshops and from her book is about sitting on your tail. I had learned versions of this in other workshops, Judith Aston’s work being one of the first. When you sit, your knees should be lower than your hips and that keeps the pelvis in a “neutral” position where you are on the front of your sit bones.
Leslie talks about making sure you don’t sit on your tail, like by imagining that you have a tail extending from the base of your spine, like animals who do have tails. They don’t sit on their tails and we shouldn’t sit where our tails would be. The visual of an actual tail extending out from the tailbone has been a really useful tool when speaking with bodywork clients about optimal seated posture. Nearly every seat we encounter through the day is conspiring to get us to “tuck” our tails, and pelvis, into a posterior position. That is not good for the structure and function of our pelvis.
I like cats so I like to visualize a really thick, sturdy tail that I keep clear as I sit, whether at a desk, in the car or on the toilet. Yes, don’t sit on your tail on the toilet either. Maybe you prefer to visualize a dog’s tail or maybe a peacock’s tail. Whatever works for you, works for you. I had been explaining sitting on the front of the sit bones for years, but it often didn’t give people enough to work with. When I started explaining about avoiding sitting on your own tail, the image of that postural cue clicked for my clients.
Pelvic Liberation is filled with really useful self-care tools if you are experiencing pelvic pain and would like to find out if you need to lengthen or strengthen your pelvic floor and what techniques to use to bring balance to your whole pelvis. I highly recommend the book and any of Leslie’s workshops. What is the story of your pelvis? Leslie will ask you and you just might be surprised what you learn. I know that I was. Leslie teaches from the heart and from an extensive background that is deeply rooted in years of yoga practice and her own experience of embodying a female pelvis.