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Letting Go: Pelvic Floor Relaxation Techniques

Letting Go: Pelvic Floor Relaxation Techniques

When it comes to pelvic floor health, much of the focus tends to be on strengthening the pelvic floor with kegel exercises which are aimed at toning the pelvic floor muscles. However, there’s another crucial aspect of pelvic floor health that doesn’t receive as much attention: relaxation.


Symptoms and Causes

Excess tension in the pelvic floor muscles can result in pain in the hips, low back, tailbone, vagina, or perineum, the area between the vagina and rectum or penis and rectum.

Pelvic floor relaxation is beneficial to those who experience any of the following:

  • Vaginismus: This condition involves involuntary tightness of the pelvic floor muscles, making vaginal penetration painful or impossible. Relaxation techniques can help ease this tension.
  • Overactive Pelvic Floor: An overactive or hypertonic pelvic floor can cause chronic pelvic pain, urinary urgency, and bowel issues. Learning to relax these muscles can alleviate these symptoms.
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain: Often, chronic pelvic pain is linked to muscle tension. Relaxation can reduce pain and improve quality of life.
  • Postpartum Recovery: After childbirth, the pelvic floor can be both weakened and tense. Relaxation techniques can aid in recovery by reducing tension and allowing for better muscle rehabilitation.


Relaxation Techniques

Relaxing the pelvic floor muscles is a skill and may take some practice as it is likely you may have been holding the pelvic floor muscles "tight" for some time and your body and brain deem this to be normal.

We recommend practising relaxation techniques twice a day for 20 to 30 minutes in a quiet environment. Some techniques may work for you while others may not so try them all and find what works for you.


Technique 1: Diaphragmatic Breathing for Pelvic Floor Release

One effective technique for pelvic floor relaxation is diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing or abdominal breathing. This method helps engage the diaphragm and promotes relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. Here's how to do it;

  • Find a Comfortable Position: Sit upright or lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
  • Inhale Deeply: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise as your diaphragm expands. Your chest should remain relatively still.
  • Exhale Slowly: Breathe out slowly through your mouth, letting your abdomen fall as you exhale fully.
  • Repeat: Continue this pattern of deep, slow breathing for 5-10 minutes, focusing on the rise and fall of your abdomen. 

This type of breathing can help reduce tension in the pelvic floor by promoting overall relaxation and improving oxygen flow to the muscles.


Technique 2: Yin Yoga, Poses for Pelvic Floor Release

Yin Yoga, is a slow-paced style of yoga with postures performed mostly in seated or supine (lying) positions held for longer periods than in Yang Yoga. This practice cultivates mindfulness and emphasises passive, deep stretching and relaxation to target the connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, and fascia) rather than focusing on the muscles, which can help release muscle tension and encourage pelvic floor release.

    The period a pose is held for varies depending on your level but always listen to your body and ensure you are not experiencing pain. As a general guide hold poses for the following times;

    1. Beginners: 1 to 3 minutes.
    2. Intermediate Practitioners: 3 to 5 minutes.
    3. Advanced Practitioners: 5 to 7 minutes or even longer, depending on the individual's comfort and practice level.

    Here are some Yin Yoga poses specifically beneficial for releasing the pelvic floor:


    Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)

    This pose opens the hips and stretches the inner thighs and groin, which can help release tension in the pelvic floor:

    • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
    • Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to fall outward, forming a diamond shape with your legs. Use pillows, blocks or any other support under the knees if required.
    • Place your hands on your belly or let your arms rest by your sides.
    • Breathe deeply while you hold the pose.


    Child's Pose (Balasana)

    Child’s Pose gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles, promoting relaxation of the pelvic muscles. To perform this pose:

    • Begin by kneeling on the floor with your big toes touching and knees spread apart.
    • Sit back on your heels and exhale as you lower your torso forward, resting it between your thighs.
    • Extend your arms backwards and rest your forehead on the mat.
    • Breathe deeply while you hold the pose.



    Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

    The Legs Up the Wall Pose is a restorative yoga position that promotes deep relaxation and helps alleviate tension in the pelvic floor through a combination of gentle stretching, improved circulation, and the natural effects of gravity. Here's how to do it:

    • Sit sideways with your right hip against a wall.
    • Swing your legs up the wall as you lie on your back, keeping your buttocks close to the wall.
    • Extend your arms out to the sides with your palms facing up.
    • Close your eyes and breathe deeply while you hold the pose.


    Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)

    This pose helps to release the lower back and sacrum, providing a gentle stretch to the pelvic floor. To perform this pose:

    • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
    • Exhale as you bring your knees towards your chest.
    • Grab the outsides of your feet with your hands, keeping your arms on the inside of your knees.
    • Gently pull your knees toward the floor, creating a slight resistance with your hands.
    • Rock side to side to massage your lower back.
    • Hold the pose and breathe deeply.

    Technique 3:  Visualisation

    Visualisation uses imagination and your senses to redirect your subconscious. To practice visualisation find a quiet place and close your eyes. Imagine you are somewhere that makes you feel relaxed. Picture a place in your mind - it may be a beach, mountain, forest or near a stream, whatever picture works best for you. Imagine what you would see, hear, feel and smell in this place. 


    Technique 4: Progressive Muscle Relaxation

    This technique involves progressively tensing and then relaxing each muscle group in the body. Lie on your back with your eyes closed. Start from the toes and work up to the crown of the head, contacting each muscle and then fully relaxing them. Pay special attention when you reach the pelvic area and focus on relaxing the pelvic floor.


    Technique 5: Warm Baths and Heat Therapy

    Applying heat to the pelvic area can help relax the muscles. Try warm baths, heating pads, or warm compresses to see what helps you relax the most.


    Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

    If you experience persistent pelvic floor pain or discomfort, please seek medical advice. A specialised physiotherapist can provide targeted exercises and manual techniques, including providing advice on the use of dilators, to help release tension in the pelvic floor.

    See our article How to Talk to a Doctor about Vaginal Concerns for some guidance on preparing for an appointment.


    Good pelvic floor health is a balance of strength and relaxation.  Incorporating pelvic floor relaxation techniques, especially through practices like diaphragmatic breathing, Yin Yoga, and visualisation, can benefit people suffering from tension-related issues.



    • Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). "Vaginismus." Retrieved from Mayo Clinic
    • Cleveland Clinic Staff. (2020). "Pelvic Floor Dysfunction." Retrieved from Cleveland Clinic
    • Harvard Health Publishing. (2018). "The benefits of diaphragmatic breathing." Retrieved from Harvard Health
    • International Pelvic Pain Society. (n.d.). "Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy." Retrieved from IPPS
    • Rounds, J. (2019). "Yin Yoga: Benefits, Poses, and How to Practice." Retrieved from Yoga Journal
    • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016). "Meditation and Mindfulness: What You Need To Know." Retrieved from NIH


    Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.