Kegels and Beyond
Kegel exercisesIn the 1940’s, Dr. Kegel suggested that women needed to exercise their pelvic floors. So, he instructed pelvic floor muscle contractions - Kegel exercises (named after him). However, pelvic floor muscle training was known millenniums before Dr. Kegel.
In the Yoga tradition this exercise is known as Mula bandha. It is part of pranayama (breathing exercises) and it is performed to control the flow of prana (vital energy). The word “bandha” in Sanskrit means binding, catching, closing, stopping or joining together. A bandha can be initiated in various yoga postures so that certain organs in the body are contracted in order to free or to unlock energy.
According to the ancient yoga teachings, a residual energy called Kundalini lies dormant within us in the sacrum bone. From an anatomical perspective, the sacrum along with the coccyx, ilium, ischium and pubis form the bony pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles attach to these bones and the muscle fascia. For many centuries the importance of this area has been known not only in yoga but also in different traditions, cultures and medical systems. The ancient Greeks knew the importance of the sacrum bone and that’s why they called it “sacrum” which means sacred.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the energy known as Qi flows at the front part of the body through the conception vessel (Ren Mai) and in the back part through the governing vessel (Du Mai). There is an energy gap between the first point of the conception vessel – CV1 and the first point of the governing vessel – GV1 at the level of the anal sphincter. While performing a pelvic floor muscle contraction or squeezing the anal sphincter, we are actually closing the energy gap between the conception vessel and the governing vessel causing Qi to flow smoothly throughout the body. In TCM this exercise is used as a routine practice for health benefits and disease prevention. This also explains the high success rate of PH physiotherapy.
The ancient Taoists studied the natural principles of healing. They established a system of Internal Exercises aimed to stimulate body’s natural healing abilities and to maintain optimum health and longevity. One of these exercises is the Deer Exercise, named after the animal. According to the Taoist masters, this exercise builds up the pelvic floor muscles and draws the energy to the pineal gland, thus activating the parasympathetic (relaxation) system. When performed correctly it improves our pelvic health and balances the endocrine glands contributing to improved health, sexuality and longevity. The Deer Exercise for Male and Female is the improved holistic version of Kegels.