I’ve practiced yoga, on and off, for the past 10 years. Although I struggle with knowing whether or not I have the right be doing it at all, I find yoga to be incredibly restorative and beneficial for both my mind and body. I did yoga while I was pregnant, and I do yoga once a week at a local studio. And while I’ve certainly known of yoga’s potential sex-life benefits, I’ve never tried them out for myself.
Even though I didn’t end up giving birth vaginally, I still pushed (what turned out to be) my daughter’s shoulder into the birth canal for several hours. Postpartum, while doing legs-up-the-wall pose (at home, alone, thank goodness) I noticed some significant and troublesome changes to my pelvic floor. Yes, my friends: the dreaded vagina farts. It’s all fine and well to be “mature” and try to laugh it off, but vagina farts are still pretty mortifying, in the bedroom or the yoga studio. I wanted to see if there was a way to put a stop to it.
Let’s talk about queefing for a second. Turns out, queefing is caused by the displacement of the organs in your pelvis towards your diaphragm, which causes air to enter your pelvis, and that air has to come out. Some people are more prone to it than others, but I have to think that most people with vaginas have experienced queefing at one time or another. Before I had my baby, I definitely had, usually from having sex in certain positions.
There may be no way to completely prevent queefing, but strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is a good place to start, especially if you’re like me and you find kegels interminable. One of my closest friends, Erin, is a certified yoga teacher from Vancouver. I asked her if she thought yoga was a viable solution to my problem, and if she could provide me with some exercises to try. If a yoga moves held the key to a stronger, quieter vagina, count me in.
Erin gave me three simple poses that were easy to work into my busy schedule. All three of them are great for strengthening your pelvic floor, but they’re also simple, gentle, and accessible enough for any stage of postpartum recovery. I spent some time in each pose once a day for three weeks, along with my regular weekly 90-minute yoga class. I wanted to see if, when all was said and done, my legs-up-the-wall pose was uh, silent.
Here’s how it went.
Pose One: Tree Pose (Vriksasana)
Tree pose is amazing for new moms because you can do it on the go. It doesn’t require much warm up or contortion, and it can be done while holding a baby.
Tree Pose is a balancing pose; it helps stabilize your entire body, including the muscles in your pelvis. I’ve never had the greatest balance, so poses like this are always challenging for me. But I try to tell myself that it’s most important to practice the skills I need to improve. Sometimes I really didn’t feel like taking even a few minutes to work out at the end of a long day, but I always felt better afterwards.
Despite my balancing struggles, Tree Pose has always been one of my favorites. As the days went by, I tried to work on maintaining my balance with my eyes closed, and staying in the pose for a couple minutes at a time. I’ve never been good at the mental part of yoga; I don’t think I’ve ever been able to completely clear my mind. But when I worked at it, I would sometimes catch myself not thinking about anything for fleeting moments, which felt like a really big accomplishment.
As the days and weeks went by, I started to notice small changes in my strength and flexibility. I could hold the poses for longer periods of time, and deepen my stretch. Time for more TMI: after giving birth, I noticed that sometimes the position I slept in at night would cause my pelvis to fill up with air, resulting in you-know-what when I stood up to get out of bed. The problem mostly resolved on its own with time, but this yoga practice seemed to be just what I needed to stop it completely.
Pose Two: Triangle Pose (Trikanasana)
A lot of people think of triangle as being primarily a stretching pose. But that’s a huge misconception. Done carefully, it’s extremely challenging, and it works almost every part of your body.
Anything that makes you stronger and more flexible must be good for your sex life, right? Triangle pose is also what’s known as a recovery pose. It’s gentle enough for women at any stage postpartum, even women who have had a C-section.
I liked Triangle Pose while I was pregnant because I found that it relieved the tension on my aching back. This time, trying the move after baby, I really tried to focus on form: hinging at the hips and not the waist, lengthening my torso, pressing my feet firmly into the ground. It was easier to properly align myself without all that extra weight pulling me down. I generally tried to hold this one for about six breaths, as Erin recommended. I found it enjoyable, but I had a hard time feeling like it was strengthening my pelvic floor because with my legs working so hard that I didn’t really notice what my pelvis was up to.
Pose Three: Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
Sometimes the most basic yoga poses can be the most therapeutic. This pose is accessible to most bodies, and you can do it literally anywhere, even if you don’t have your yoga gear with you.
She told me that it’s really important for your hips to be above your knees, and that for most people, that means sitting on a block. I happen to have a pretty flexible groin, so I don’t need one. Like Triangle Pose, Easy Pose is great for postpartum recovery; it’s a gentle way to get your muscles stretching after having a baby.
This is another one of my favorite poses, and it definitely lives up to its name. Again, I had a hard time understanding how it would help strengthen my pelvis. In my mind, my hips being open means that my pelvis is stretching, rather than strengthening.
“Stretching gives you strength!” Erin told me. I never knew it, but stretching is essential for building muscle. Stretching the muscle gives it room to grow.
Good sex, for me at least, has a lot to do with letting go; in order to enjoy myself, I have to let go of insecurities about how my body looks, my performance, any shame I might feel (courtesy of my Catholic upbringing). Easy Pose helps me learn to let go of my thoughts and just be in touch with my body, which is very helpful when it comes to my sex life.
Was I Able To Shape Up My Pelvic Floor?
I’m a single mom of an infant, so my sex life is mostly theoretical right now. But it’s still important for me to know that when the time comes, I’ll be able to avoid embarrassing situations. Even though, if I’m honest, my inner feminist gets angry that I have to worry so much about queefing. In a perfect world, any and all of my potential sex partners would be understanding enough to laugh it off, and to not blame me for a natural function of my body that I have no control over. But unfortunately, things like queefing, stretch marks, cellulite — all natural byproducts of having a baby — are often seen as failures on a woman’s part, especially with celebrities being praised on magazine covers for their magical ability to get back to their “pre-baby bodies” in seemingly no time at all.
So was my experiment a success? Yes, it totally was. I was half-thrilled, half-totally surprised when I did legs-up-the-wall pose again and no air went into my pelvis. I even tried opening up my legs while they were above my head, and still, nothing! It was pretty exciting.
Working these three poses into my daily routine wasn’t difficult at all. It only took a few minutes each day, and I was left feeling more calm and balanced every time. I’m sure the 90-minute yoga class I do one a week accelerated my results, and all bodies are different, but in general, for me, yoga has been an amazing way to heal and strengthen my body after the trauma of pregnancy and birth. I’ve never been much of an athlete, and I felt like my fitness was so depleted after pregnancy that it was really hard to even begin trying to get back to where I was pre-pregnancy. When I started doing yoga again postpartum, it was almost discouraging at first, because I felt that what I was doing was too “easy” to actually improve my fitness level. But over time, I began to see that I was making positive changes, and now I feel that I’m actually stronger than I was before I gave birth.
Now don’t get me wrong: I know I can’t expect to have killed the queef forever. But I’m relieved to know I’ve got some control over the situation, and plenty of time to practice laughing at myself.