It's no secret that yoga is extremely popular in the Unite States. It seems like more and more people are picking it up all the time. Ask any regular practitioner and you're likely to hear about the many ways yoga has impacted their body, mind, and life. With all the stories, the breathing into your body, and all the pelvic floor engagement that are inherent parts of yoga, it's no wonder people considering the practice start to question how yoga affects your vagina.
Yoga is said to have life altering effects on many body parts, according to the Kripalu Center of Yoga and Health. Renowned trauma expert Bessel Van Der Kolk is just one of the many experts engaging in all kinds of (pretty awesome, if you ask me) research on how yoga helps people healing from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It turns out that, when done with the help of a qualified teacher, yoga asana (posture) practice can have a significant effect on all aspects of one's life.
I have, however, found disturbing levels of mansplaining from male-identified, self-purported penis-owning yoga teachers about what yoga does to and for my vagina. I'm not linking to them here because I don't want to give their blatant vagina-shaming anymore web traffic than they already have. But, as a vagina-owner myself, my strong reaction made me think that other vagina-owners might be thinking the same thing about mansplaining of vaginas. (Probably something along the lines of, well, STFU.)
So how can we learn what yoga does for our vaginas in an accurate, non-judgmental way? Vaginas are body parts, after all, and if you're anything like me you want to keep yours happy and healthy, too. For starters, you can go directly to the source. I spoke to two long-time yoga teachers who've also given birth to kids and, therefore, know a thing or two about vaginas. Gretchen Fruchey, RYT500, Inner Power Yoga Director, has a private practice in Indiana where she teaches adult and kids' classes, gives private yoga instruction, and is a mentor for budding yoga teachers. Ingrid Anna Sepahpur, RYT500, is a teacher's teacher out of Lincoln, Nebraska where she instructs in many different venues including a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.
I asked Fruchey and Sepahpur to explain, in their own words, what a regular yoga asana (posture) practice does to vaginas. Here's what they had to say:
"Squatting is a natural form of kegels. It strengthens not only the pelvic floor but the vagina as well! Awareness of the pelvic floor in yoga is more whole, like with breath and squatting. We can access the back end of the pelvic floor that is not usually reached or strengthened with traditional pelvic exercises.
Pranayama (yogic breath work) and awareness help to relax and release the pelvic floor. This is huge for women, especially traumatized women. The opening and softening of the psoas, hips, and, sacrum is good for health of the vagina, and the ability to experience or enhance pleasure. This allows more movement, such as tilting, in the pelvis and the tailbone. Women who are locked into a posterior tilt usually have a lot of tension in that whole area — making sex uncomfortable.
Ingrid Anna Sepahpur
"The Yoni is regarded as the 'divine gateway to life' in Sanskrit, and is a sacred symbol of the Goddess Shakti. Women were/are regarded as the embodiment of divine female energy. So, think energetics, too, in connection to the vagina. [Yoga is] awakening dormant consciousness — or awakening from unconsciousness — and opening to passion and creativity. [The vagina is connected to] Mula Bandha, Muladhara [Chakra], Svadhisthana [Chakra]."
So how will yoga affect your vagina? Try it and see.
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