All parts of nature require a strong foundation. In forests, trees rest their weight on mineral-rich soil, channeling nourishment from deep beneath the earth’s surface. In the ocean, water pulses far above the seafloor, which serves as a giant container for our planet’s largest ecosystems. Within humans, the pelvic floor plays a similar role for the physical and energetic elements within the body.
In most traditions, the lower abdomen and pelvic floor have long been seen as the foundation of health and vitality. Like bedrock beneath a mountain, it lays deep within us and supports all parts of our being. Physical, emotional, and even spiritual qualities are reliant on the health of the pelvic floor.
To explore its importance, we spoke with Kelley Linn, an experienced Pelvic Floor Therapist and Sexuality Educator. As a dedicated Qi Gong practitioner and yogi, Kelley offers a comprehensive perspective that integrates both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and yogic philosophies.
The Energetic Qualities of the Pelvic Floor
While there are some distinct differences between yoga and Qi Gong, the two practices are remarkably similar in how they view the pelvic floor. According to both practices, the pelvic floor holds some of our most primal and essential human qualities.
In yoga, the pelvic floor and lower abdomen are home to the first and second Chakra points, which are known as the Root Chakra and Sacral Chakra. The Root Chakra is the foundation of our most core needs including safety and stability, while the Sacral embodies our creative and sexual energies.
In Chinese Medicine and Qi Gong, this area of the body is known as the Lower Tan Tien.
The Lower Tan Tien holds our Jing energy, which embodies our physical essence and corresponds with the qualities of creativity, sexual desire, and physical vitality. This energy is also known as “prenatal Qi” because it is the gift we receive from our parents before birth. Our bellybutton is a constant reminder of the Lower Tan Tien’s direct connection to our origin.
When our pelvic floor and Lower Tan Tien are healthy, our body has a strong container to hold its energy, allowing health and creativity to circulate freely and manifest in all parts of our being. Through the microcosmic orbit, Jing energy in the Lower Tan Tien can transform into joy and love in the heart center, which can continue upward and lead to spiritual awakening through our mind’s connection to the divine (Shen). In turn, divine consciousness can return to the heart center and then to the Lower Tan Tien, bringing a complete, nourishing cycle of energy throughout the entire body.
Like any part of the body, the pelvic floor can lose strength and become weaker over time. Energetically, this can lead to energy “leaking” from the body, resulting in a loss in creativity, increased fatigue, and reduced sexual vitality.
Physical Qualities of the Pelvic Floor
In both Qi Gong and Yoga, every energetic quality corresponds with a physical manifestation. With the pelvic floor, its state of wellness has a significant impact on overall physical health.
Looking at the structure of the human body, it’s easy to see that the pelvic floor holds many important organs. In a very real sense, it is the “floor” that supports the rest of our being. The muscles that surround the anus and genitals keep everything in position and bear the weight of the lower abdomen, including a female’s uterus. These muscles are also critical for controlling urine, defecation, and erections in men.
Because western culture generally avoids (and shames) conversations around sexuality, many people aren’t aware of the importance of pelvic floor health until challenges arise. It’s common to go to a personal trainer to learn cardio exercises or a massage therapist to address back pain, but when was the last time a trained professional helped you learn about pelvic floor health?
Unfortunately, the lack of resources and knowledge about pelvic floor health has led to numerous ailments becoming commonplace. Incontinence is one condition currently experienced by many during the aging process. For men, erectile dysfunction is another common result of weakening pelvic floor muscles, and 50% of all men have symptoms of prostatitis at one point or another in their lives.
Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition in which the pelvic floor muscles can no longer support the pelvic organs. This can lead to organs such as the uterus, bladder, or rectum, falling (prolapsing) from their original position.
Fortunately, there are many practices and resources available to help individuals cultivate a strong and healthy pelvic floor.
Cultivating Pelvic Floor Health
Just like any muscle group in the body, the pelvic floor benefits from exercise.
Most personal trainers won’t prescribe pelvic floor exercise routines, but there are some very simple practices that you can do on your own to strengthen the region.
Two effective exercises for pelvic floor strengthening are the kegal and reverse kegal. Although fewer people are familiar with the reverse kegel or downtraining, it’s just as important as the kegel or uptraining. Without proper downtraining, tension, tightness, and trigger points can build up in the pelvic floor muscles.
In addition to physically strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, it’s important to focus on healing any past traumas that may be stored in the lower abdominal region of the body.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for individuals to have experienced shame surrounding their sexuality or physical body at some point in their life. Because the pelvic floor and Lower Tan Tien are home to our physical essence (Jing energy), trauma can often accumulate in that part of the body.
Energetic clearing practices can be a great way to let go of past trauma and create spaciousness for internal healing. There are a variety of exercises that can help to facilitate the process, and Kelley Linn focuses on integrating each into her work with students and clients.
As a dedicated Qi Gong practitioner, Kelley uses the principles of Qi to help others experience a self-empowered approach to healing and growth. Like Lee, her passion for educating others originated through her own personal challenges and the healing practices she discovered through her journey.
Today, Kelley has over twenty-five years of training experience and is dedicated to helping both men and women cultivate pelvic floor health. To learn more about her work and the services she offers, check out Kelley’s website (by the way, she’s preparing to launch some exciting courses soon).
Tao Yin Online Course
At Holden QiGong, we recently launched our Tao Yin Online Course experience that is taking place over the course of four months. As a special bonus, students who sign up will also receive a free pelvic floor training that Kelley will be teaching.
Although we’ve already held one practice weekend, all replays are available for participants who still want to sign up.
Tao Yin is an ancient practice that combines the ‘flowiness’ of Qi Gong with the ‘stretchiness’ of yoga. Therefore, it offers many of the same benefits of Qi Gong while also integrating nourishing stretching exercises that free up energy in the meridian lines and cultivating flexibility throughout all the major muscle groups.
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