Chronic pain, especially pelvic pain that continuously flares up, is usually a result of your body overcompensating for your pain. The pelvic floor muscles will tense in order to guard what they think is an injured area. This will put pressure on nerves in the area and cause stiffness, resulting in pain.
Yoga is a great tool for reaching pelvic floor muscles and allowing them to relax. There are many poses that open the pelvic region and force these muscles to stretch and repose. Yoga also encourages conscious breathing. Typically when in pain, we take shallow breaths, but this reduces blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, further constricting them. Taking deep, measured breaths helps deliver much needed nutrients to the pelvic floor muscles.
For pelvic pain, a gentle yoga routine focused on stretching and breathing is best. Hatha or restorative yoga do just this. If you have pelvic pain, avoid yoga poses that will work to strengthen your pelvic floor until your pelvic floor physical therapist feels you are ready. If pelvic floor strengthening poses are performed too early in the rehabilitation process they can aggravate pelvic pain. It is beneficial to focus on poses like Garland Pose, Lord of the Dance Pose, or Lotus Pose.
- Allyson A. Shrikhande, MD