Developing Mula Bandha Awareness through Pelvic Breathing

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The pelvic floor muscles are among the deep muscles of the abdominals & help to stabilize the hips & spineThese muscles also provide the primary support for our internal organs. Strengthening these muscles helps to stabilize our SI joint, the final & largest joint in the spine. In toning these muscles, along with our abdominal muscles, we increase the balance & support for the spine. By contracting these muscles, we engage mula bandha & prevent the downward flow & escape of energy through the pelvic floor by restricting their downward movement when we breathe. The pelvic floor muscles also support the bladder, uterus, & rectum, which is why strengthening them is often linked to reducing urinary incontinence. During sex, the pelvic floor muscles are responsible for pleasurable genital area contractions during orgasm. 

Strong pelvic floor muscles are thick. They have a powerful blood flow through them & provide support for your internal organs. If these muscles are weak, they grow thin & have reduced blood flow & muscle mass. For women, this often translates into reduced sensation & a general feeling of looseness.

Kegel exercises, which involve tightening & releasing the pelvic floor muscles, can help us strengthen our pelvic floor & to develop an internal awareness of mula bandha, or “root” energy (not to mention, enhance sexual pleasure). Engaging mula bandha prevents the downward escape of energy through our pelvic floor by contracting these muscles & preventing their downward movement while we breathe. Engaging mula bandha during our asana practice will allow a grounding sensation. This is of particular importance when practicing balancing postures. In order to feel steady & balanced, we must remain confident & stable in our foundation. Mula bandha helps us to achieve that solidity.  

Alright, let’s kegel! For this exercise, I utilize this pranayama breathing exercise provided by Breathing Mantra on YouTube. To identify the pelvic floor muscles, try engaging the same muscles you use to hold in gas & stop urination midstream. These actions engage the pelvic floor muscles. When we contract these muscles, we feel a lift of the anus area & contraction of the lower abdominals along the front of the pubic area. Once you have an understanding of which muscles to engage, you can practice kegels in any position. To start, we will practice in supine position on the floor.

For those with vaginas, you may want to include the use of kegel balls in your practice. Kegel balls are small, weighted balls that are used to assist in strengthening the vaginal & pelvic floor muscles. Also known as benwa balls, geisha balls, vaginal cones, jiggle balls, pleasure balls, & orgasm balls, they come in a myriad of sizes, weights, & options. As with any practice, make sure to start low & slow & then increase as you build strength. If you’d like to include them in your practice, great! And if not, great! Our target in this practice is pelvic floor awareness & engagement, with or without kegel balls. 

For those with vaginas

To begin:

  1. Lie in a comfortable position on the floor.
  2. Make sure your hands & the kettle balls are clean. Apply a generous amount of lube to the kegel balls.
  3. Slowly & gently insert the first ball into your vagina. Once in, insert the second ball. Push both as far into your vagina as you are comfortable. If your balls have a removal loop, make sure that stays just outside the vagina & is not tucked in along with the kegel balls.
  4. As stated in the video, inhale during the word So, retain the breath during the music. As you inhale, imagine sending the breath to your pelvic floor & feel those muscles expand with the breath.
  5. Exhale during the word Hum while simultaneously engaging the pelvic floor muscles, then retain that contraction & your exhale while the music plays. Release upon starting your next inhale.

For those with penises

To begin:

  1. Lie in a comfortable position on the floor.
  2. As stated in the video, inhale during the word So, retain the breath during the music. As you inhale, imagine sending the breath to your pelvic floor & feel those muscles expand with the breath.
  3. Exhale during the word Hum while simultaneously engaging the pelvic floor muscles, then retain that contraction & your exhale while the music plays. Release upon starting your next inhale.

Attempt to isolate the muscle contraction to your pelvic floor muscles & not engage the entire abdomen, thighs, or glutes. The full cycle as listed above is one repetition. To truly strengthen these muscles, consistent practice is key. Aim for 3-5 sets of 10 repetitions per day.

As with any exercise, there come a few risks including overexertion, pain, & tearing. Make sure to choose the correct size, weight, & technique for your practice. Consult a medical professional before integrating kegel balls into your practice especially if you have had gynecological surgery, are recovering from childbirth, are pregnant, or have an IUD.

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Larissa Farrell

Ecosexual, environmentalist, rope switch, yogini, sex educator, & freelance writer. Like what you are reading & want to collaborate? Check out my freelance writing, design, & photography site.