Repeated practice can guide you to:
release tension from the pelvic area, especially the vulva and vagina
practice fully relaxing the whole pelvic area
enhance the mind-body connection
increase sensitivity and decrease numbness
experience more pleasure
deepen orgasmic sensations
build a stronger connection to your vagina
increase blood flow in the pelvic area
gently release stress and emotions
deepen breathing during sex
strengthen pelvic muscles
improve bladder and bowel control
reduce the risk of prolapse
support recovery from childbirth or gynecological surgery
Since everyone has different bodies, even if you don't physically have all of the parts mentioned in this exercise, you can still visualize them if you would like to, or substitute them for the parts you do have. The most important thing is doing what feels right for you.
Curious how other people experienced this practice? Here are some reflections from the participants that did the practice for the first time during a live event that took place in March 2021. “Wow, so relaxed. I felt so connected.” “I was tilting naturally before you told us to, so cool!” “I had been feeling a lot of tension that was affecting me in my pelvic area and now I feel relief.” “Open.” “Relaxed. I released a lot of tensions.”
Squeezing and releasing In female anatomy, the pelvic floor muscles consist of different layers of muscle that support the organs at the bottom of the pelvis. They attach to the front, back and sides of the pelvic bones in a diamond shape, with two holes in the middle for the entrance to the vagina and anus.
Just like other muscles in our body, our pelvic muscles can get tense, and cause discomfort and even pain. Exercising or massaging these muscles can make them not only stronger and healthier, but it can also help to increase flexibility and release tension. And when these muscles are tense, they can also restrict the flow of blood. As free blood flow is needed for the full arousal of our erectile tissues, releasing tension from our pelvic muscles can help us to increase pleasure, and reach erection and orgasm more easily.
This practice also gives you an opportunity to practice consciously - and more deeply - relaxing all the pelvic muscles. And this in turn can help you to more easily let go and release, which is necessary for orgasm. Learning to fully relax the pelvic muscles can also help to reduce vaginal discomfort or pain, and it is essential for safe and enjoyable anal play.
Because there are so many nerve endings all throughout our genital universe, and because our muscles and nerves connect all these elements, simply tensing and releasing the pelvic muscles can feel pleasurable to many people.
Like other practices that help to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, this practice also has several other health benefits including: improving bladder and bowel control, reducing the risk of prolapse, and speeding up recovery from childbirth or gynecological surgery.
Breath, tilting and imagination
Breath, when combined with conscious focus, can guide us to shift our awareness. In turn, with full awareness we can notice sensations and pleasure more easily. This is why continuous breathing - especially when combined with visualizing the movement of our breath - can be experienced as if we are guiding (pleasurable) sensations to expand and move through our bodies.
Just like with the “Light Bath” exercise, using your imagination can help to strengthen your brain-body connection - in this case with the vulva and vagina. As we invite people to imagine breathing in and out of the vagina, many people report feeling a stronger connection to - and an energized feeling in - the vagina afterwards. This is because when we imagine an activity, this creates similar responses in our brain as to when we are actually doing the activity. So this is why many people can experience great pleasure just from tilting their hips and imagining breath moving through them.
If you experience pain during penetration, it is possible that this is a result of tension in your pelvic floor muscles, and repeated squeezing during this practice may not be suitable for you. If this is the case, you may want to consult a doctor before doing the practice. Otherwise, you can do the exercise without squeezing, focusing instead on relaxing, breathing and tilting.
Positions This practice is best done whilst lying on your back. You can experiment with how the position of your legs influences your ability to clearly squeeze different parts of your pelvic muscle group. For example try the difference between:
placing the soles of your feet on the floor with your knees raised to the sky;
having your legs outstretched resting on the floor;
having your feet crossed under your thighs;
placing the soles of your feet together and allowing your knees to fall to the sides.
Start by choosing the position that makes it easiest for you to gently yet effectively squeeze your pelvic muscles. Once you are more familiar with the practice, you can use different leg positions to explore different sensations.
The below guidance is to support you with any potential challenges that you may experience during the exercise. Breathing If breathing in and out of your mouth is challenging or causes discomfort, you can do this practice with nose breathing, and try mouth breathing as you become more familiar with the practice. Tension It is valuable to learn how to properly contract your pelvic floor muscles and how to pull/lift them up. Initially, you might find you are also tensing other muscles in the body and find it hard to completely relax on the exhale. This is not a problem. Strong and precise squeezing and complete relaxation come with practice. So don’t give up! Emotions and Sensations Often our full capacity for pleasure lies hidden underneath layers of repressed emotions, like shame, sadness, fear or anger. It is common for practices which focus on intimate areas of the body to allow us to open up to these kinds of challenging feelings.
This can be valuable, because repressing emotions often causes mental and physical tension and pain. Doing a practice in the comfort of your own home is often one of the best places to gently and safely release these types of feelings.
It is important to acknowledge that this practice may bring up challenging sensations and emotions, and you may want to skip this exercise if you do not feel ready to do this. If you want to know more about what the practice will involve before listening to it, the instructions below give an overview of what it will cover.
If you do feel strong emotions or feelings arising during the practice, consider allowing your body to express some of these sensations if it feels safe to do so and you are feeling fully present in the moment. You could pause the practice to acknowledge what you are experiencing and to give yourself space to release some of the emotions that are arising. If you feel tears coming, you may want to cry. If you feel anger bubbling up, you could try hitting or screaming into a pillow or hitting your arms and legs next to you, if you are lying on a bed or thick mat.
Whatever arises, acknowledge what you are feeling, stay present, breathe deeply and try to allow the emotions to release. It is important to never push yourself in your emotional release. It is as effective (and gentler on your nervous system!) to release little bits at a time. After the practice, you may want to check in with how you are feeling and take a moment to acknowledge that you have allowed your body to open up to repressed sensations and emotions. Overwhelm If you feel overwhelmed by the arising sensations or emotions, you can stop the practice at any time. You may want to come back to the practice another day, or you may decide that you want to focus on different practices instead. There is no pressure to do any of the practices if these are bringing up difficult thoughts or feelings, and the most important thing is to choose what feels right or comfortable for you. If you decide to continue with the practice, there are different ways you can support yourself.
Slow down, breathe more slowly and do the practice with very slow movements.
Focus on a part of your body which makes you feel safe or where you are experiencing pleasant sensations.
Ground yourself in your environment, e.g. by feeling the texture of the ground or bed beneath you.
Try to feel compassion for yourself and what you are experiencing.
Limited Sensation or Numbness If you experience limited sensation or numbness in the vulva or vagina, it may mean that you are feeling disconnected from these areas. This is very common, and it is important to be compassionate towards yourself. There are many reasons, including social and cultural conditioning, shame around the way the vulva looks, having been touched in an insensitive or rough way, or the impact of sexual violence and abuse.
We all differ in vulva and vaginal sensitivity, and in how nerves innervate our pelvic area. Yet, we all have these nerves, and thus the capacity for sensitivity and pleasure. If you experience numbness, this is often a protective barrier that is blocking the release of repressed emotions. But this barrier may also be blocking sensitivity and pleasure.
Sensitivity can also reduce after surgery in this area. Whatever the cause, this practice can gently support you to release blockages and restore the natural sensitivity of your skin, nerves and tissues.
Instead of specifically looking for pleasure, gently scan your whole genital universe for any arising sensations, no matter how small or faint they are. If you experience a sensation that you don't want to be feeling, acknowledge it and move on until you get to something that you would like to focus on.
You can also ask yourself, “what am I feeling underneath this numbness?” This question may help you to tune into that emotion and allow yourself to feel it, so that the numbness subsides and sensations return.
With regular practice to connect to a numb area, people can experience a change in sensation after a few weeks. For others it may take longer, but with repeated practice, many people experience increased sensation and feeling.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, or if you would prefer to guide yourself through the practice rather than listening to the audio guide, you can use the instructions below. If you are planning to listen to the audio file then it will guide you step by step, and you do not need to memorize the instructions below. Squeezing & Releasing Try to contract your pelvic floor muscles and pull them upwards, without tensing or contracting any other part of your body. Each time you release, try to relax your whole body. Breath During the practice, try to breathe in and out of the mouth rather than the nose. Relaxing the jaw and mouth helps to also relax the sphincter muscles around the vagina and anus. Breathing in and out of the mouth rather than the nose also makes it harder to focus on thoughts and therefore easier to connect to the sensations in the body. Inhale for a count of 4 when you squeeze and exhale very slowly for a count of 8 when you release. During the second part of the practice, imagine that you are breathing in and out of the vagina and take the fullest and deepest inhale and longest and slowest exhale that still feel comfortable to you. Tilting If it feels comfortable, you can arch the spine on the inhale to tilt the pelvis down, and relax on the exhale, which tilts the pelvis back up.
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