Class #4156

Pelvic Floor for Strength

55 min - Class


In this Mat class of Leah Stewart's Prenatal series Move and Bloom with Leah, you will be exploring Pelvic Floor movement and how to acquire strength through your discoveries. Leah begins with an informative tutorial about the Pelvic Floor, then guides you through creative ways to lengthen, relax, and strengthen it. You will gain a full body connection through your work that can be integrated into all of your daily movements and give significant benefits to you and your baby.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Hi, there and welcome. I'm so glad you're here today for the third class in this five-class series that I am doing here at Pilates Anytime in my home studio here in Southern California about prenatal Pilates. So, the first two classes, we did our upper body work. Last class, we did our abdominal work and how it pertains to prenatal and pregnant women, and just safe abdominal work. And for the next two classes, we're gonna be addressing the pelvic floor.

So, this is our first class addressing the pelvic floor. I'm gonna give you a tiny bit of a tutorial here at the top of our class, and then we're gonna get right into our movement. And I just wanna talk about some of the things about the pelvic floor. So, this first class, we're gonna be talking about using grace to acquire strength. And what I mean by that is really exploring pelvic floor movement and really exploring the flow and the grace that we can do with it.

And what different body positions can we move in? And how can we move our pelvis? And so that's what I really wanna explore today. And we're gonna talk about how we acquire adequate strength within the pelvic floor through that movement exploration. And then in the next class, we're going to be talking about more of that pelvic floor work, but we're gonna be doing more standing work.

So, today, we're gonna focus on the mat, and then in the next class, we're gonna be focused on standing work. So, I'm so excited that you're here, it's gonna be awesome. So, we need to talk about the importance of balance and exploration when it comes to the pelvic floor. We often first think about the Kegels, right? We've talked about this before, Kegels, and kind of the restoration of the pelvic floor to kind of regain that ability to contract the pelvic floor when there's been some sort of injury on the pelvic floor, whether it's from labor and birth, or whether it's from another instance in somebody's life, or even in pregnancy, there's a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor.

Well, the good news for you is, is that you don't have to sit there, and just do Kegel exercises, which are great, I have nothing against Kegel exercises. I think they're awesome. But we really have the opportunity to explore movement in its entirety, and we are not limited to a certain set of exercises when it comes to pelvic floor work. So, I want you to walk away from today's class just feeling super good in your pelvic floor, super good in your pelvis and your hip joint, feeling that connection with your abdominals, feeling that work in your thighs, work in your upper body a little bit. I really want you to feel that full body connection because the reality is is pelvic floor work is absolutely a full-body integration.

It's a full-body experience. Our pelvic floor responds to almost every single movement that we do in our life. It responds to the stresses that we feel, the emotional stresses, the mental stresses that we feel. And right now, we really want to address kind of what that means as it pertains to the pelvic floor. As far as pregnancy goes, when we're talking about the pelvic floor, we have a job to do.

We need to maintain the integrity and the strength and the supportive quality of the pelvic floor because that pelvic floor is supporting the entire weight. I am now 32 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. And you have a baby that's in there, and extra fluid in my body and extra blood, and all of this stuff that is weighing down on the pelvic floor. In conjunction with that, so I want that support, in conjunction with that, my pelvic floor also has to prepare to open and relax, so I can go into my labor and my birth in the way that I so desire, and in a way that is just advantageous for myself and for my baby who is going to be brought into this world. So, we need to have that balance because when we are in the act of labor and birth, we need the strength to help support the baby as it descends through the birth canal and is born.

We also need the ability for the pelvic floor muscles to stretch along with the cervix, everything to stretch so that everything can open, so that the baby can descend through the birth canal. If somebody is going to experience a cesarean birth and they will not be experiencing the baby traveling through the birth canal, this work is still very, very adequate and very important for women that are recovering from a cesarean birth or preparing for a cesarean birth. Or like all of us, even myself, who maybe would go into an emergency C-section if things were needed to go in that direction. So, we still wanna maintain that beautiful pelvic floor work, especially if a woman is going through pushing, and then she gets transferred into an emergency cesarean. It's very, very important that we have that balance of the pelvic floor work.

And then of course, that will also help us into our recovery stage. So, that's just a little bit on that topic. There are three parts of the pelvic floor work that we're gonna be talking about today. We're gonna be talking about lengthening, relaxing and strengthening. So, we often think about this idea that we have to strengthen, strengthen, strengthen, strengthen our pelvic floor.

And for some individuals, that is true. But primarily, what we're finding, what physical therapists are finding, what physios are finding, what OB/GYNs are finding is that there's an over-tightness, a hypertonicity within pelvic floor in women, due to a whole bunch of different reasons. And so we need to actually practice the idea of lengthening and softening and relaxing those muscles as well. So, I'm gonna show you some movement vocabulary today that's gonna help you obtain that. And then finally, we're gonna be talking about just kind of how we can integrate it into everyday movement, getting up and down off the floor, standing in your kitchen preparing food, or doing housework or caring for children, or whatever it might be, a simple act of walking through the park, things like that.

And within that, we're gonna explore all the different movements of the pelvic structure, the pelvic bones, forward, back, side to side and rotation. So, that is my little tutorial for you. Thank you for staying with me. If you are doing this class again and again because hopefully you'll enjoy the movement, of course, you can just skip this little tutorial, and you can go right into the movement portion of the class. So, let's get started.

I want you to start in a seated position today. And like I've said before, I do really like starting my classes in a seated position. I think it's a really great way to transition into the movement. I do a long warmup and I really believe in that as far as preparing our body, our muscles and our bones and our ligaments, but also to get us into a mental and emotional state. I don't know where you are in the world today, and where you are experiencing this, or what has happened with you today, but I just want you to be able to leave everything else out and come into this moment of celebration that you are moving.

This time is for yourself, so that's why I do a little bit of longer warmups. So, sitting with your legs crossed, and I want you to sit right on top of your sitz bones, and I want you to face me, and then I will turn to the side in just a little bit. So, we're gonna start with some breath. Let's take an inhale. Exhale.

And inhale. And exhale. Just kind of calming your mind, preparing your body. Keep breathing for me as I speak, inhale. Just kind of noticing the sounds around you right now.

If your window's open, do you hear birds? Do you hear cars? Do you hear the wind, the rain? If your family is present in your home, do you hear them talking or the chatter of children or the clinking of dishes in your kitchen? If you live somewhere where you can hear your neighbors, do you hear them?

And with every breath or every exhale, I want you to focus on relaxing your jaw. Relaxing your shoulders and your neck. And we know that when we hold tension in our jaw, and our lips and our mouth, that directly correlates with tightening of the pelvic floor. So, I wanna encourage you throughout this class, continue your breathing, to just try to keep your mouth relaxed, your jaw relaxed, your tongue softened. If you need to open your mouth slightly to breathe, go ahead and do that.

Whatever you need to do to just be mindful, and I will try to remind you as much as I can during our class. Now, if your eyes were closed, go ahead and open them, so you're looking into your screen. And I want you to just circle your upper body as you exhale. Inhale, so we're gonna start really soft. So, as you do this, you're gonna feel naturally how you are tipping your weight from one side of your pelvis to the other, and back onto your sitz bones.

My equipment's a little squeaky here. I don't think you guys will be able to hear that though. And I just want you to feel how you just really get that full circle. So, if you were to leave an indentation of your bottom on your mat or on your carpet or on your floor, or wherever you are, you would see a beautiful full circle. And that's how we're moving here.

And when we do this, we're gonna stop here, and we're gonna go the other direction. Just keep your breath natural. When we do this, even though you're not actively, meaning purposely, intentionally engaging and releasing the pelvic floor muscles, it happens naturally. You can kind of feel how when you're in this forward position, there's an expansion of the bottom of your pelvis. So, it's an expansion through the back, through the posterior part, through the back of your buttocks.

And when you come into this back position, then you feel there's a narrowing of that pelvic floor. You can feel almost like there's a gentle natural element of contraction there. And that's really good and that's what we want. And so if you're joining me today and you're pregnant, or you're recovering from labor or you're down the road and you're having pelvic floor dysfunctions or pain or things that are just causing concern in your body, this type of exercise, which is just a simple movement, it's something you can do on a daily basis to just help generate that blood flow, and that circulation and that warmth into your pelvic floor. And it's just kind of fun.

And I want you to come and find yourself in the center. So, I want you to notice how your abdominals are gently warmed up here, and your pelvic floor is gently engaged. So again, we'll keep going with our warmup, and then we'll kick it up a notch as we start to move into our movement. So from here, you're gonna rotate. You're gonna mirror me so you're gonna rotate to your right.

I want you to keep your left hip down, and I want you to feel that spiral directly up. Now here, I usually like to do a lot of posterior tilts, but we're gonna do it with that rotation. You're gonna exhale, thread the belly button into the spine, and you're gonna tuck the pelvis. And you're gonna allow that left or that right knee rather, to come up towards your body, so you're gonna be here. Then you're gonna press it down and reach forward.

Exhale, it comes from, think of the pubic bone scooping down into the earth and drawing forward, and that draws your knee up. And then reach that energy out and down. And I want you to feel that arc coming back here. If you wanna use your hand, you can. Scoop to come up.

In fact, why don't we do that? So, go ahead and use your hand to scoop. Reach your fingers out and let your pelvis and your body kind of emulate that vibe, and that motion that you're doing with your arm. Scoop and drawing up. And then release and going out.

Two more, exhale. And release and go out one more time. Exhale. Now, this time, you're gonna hold it. You wanna release your right foot a little bit.

So, I want you to bring it in front so it's resting on top of your left shin. So you're here and now I want you to bring that leg out, and I want you to open. And I want you to really stretch here. So this leg is externally rotated, your foot is flexed, and you're using your arm to kind of pull that leg back. So, you're rotating your femur or your thighbone even more.

You're feeling that beautiful stretch in the adductor. Just stretch as far as you feeling comfortable here, and sitting up nice and straight. Now, you're gonna take that right arm and that right leg, and you're gonna draw it in, and you're gonna come back into the tuck. You're gonna release it out and press. You can arch your body forward.

You can tip your pelvis back, so you're sticking your bottom out a little bit. And then you're gonna draw in, and bring it all the way in. And stretch. I know you might feel this in your hip flexor, and that's okay. Just try to initiate the movement from your pelvis and from your abdominals.

Draw it one more time, we're just gonna do four. Reaching forward and draw in. Tuck that foot back in and sitting up, up, up, up, up, and come back to center. So, you're gonna feel that warmth in that right hip. I want you to switch your legs, so that your left foot is tucked underneath.

Just however you feel comfortable, and we'll do the other side. So, we're gonna rotate the body to the left, so you're mirroring me. And we're gonna just scoop in, all the way scoop, and then reach out and arc. And from the abdominals. So, you can see I have this initiation of my abdominals, my pubic bone comes forward.

Then I allow the energy to pull back, so I'm rocking back onto my pelvis. Bringing that knee up and then I reach out, and I expand and I look forward. So, really pull that energy out. Then exhale. And inhale.

And just feel that move and that flow in your body, exhale. You're by yourself most likely, where your movings, you can get as flowy, and as dramatic with your arm as you want. This is for you. And reaching out. One more time, exhale.

So, hold here. Release that leg and you're gonna reach forward. Now, take your arm, press back. The leg is externally rotated, and you wanna feel that nice stretch. Now, use your arm to help elevate your chest here.

Good, you're gonna release it and exhale. And reach out. Exhale. And reach out. Again, exhale.

And reach out. One more time, exhale, draw in. And reach out, hold that position. Feel that length. Good, and reach the leg in.

Come back up on the rotation first. And then come back to center. So, now, I'm gonna turn to the side, so you can see me this way. And we're gonna have our legs out in front of us, and we're gonna be perched right on top of our sitz bones. So, in this position, I want your legs to be, your feet to be a little bit wider than your hip joint.

And even if you're not pregnant or you're early pregnant, and you don't have a belly to work around here, I still want that width. And the reason I want that width is I want you to feel the expansion of the sitz bones, the ischial tuberosities that you're sitting on top of here. So, in this position, we're gonna do a little bit of a walking series. So, it's a little bit awkward. If you're on a mat on the ground, it might bunch up underneath you.

So, you might want to adjust that a little bit, or maybe come off onto the floor in front, or the carpet in front or the rug in front, wherever your space allows you to do. So, you're gonna take the leg that's closest to the screen, and you're gonna reach it forward. So, we have this rotation here. We have this body rotation here, so we're rotating our pelvis here. In this position, we're gonna hold this.

We're gonna tuck the pelvis and rock back, and rock forward. Exhale, rock back. Rock forward, so, notice how I let my spine move. Notice how I'm kind of really allowing my pelvis to move in its full range of motion here. Exhale, narrowing the bottom of the pelvis.

And inhale, expanding it. Last one, exhale. And expand. Now, from here, bring the leg back, other leg forward, so you feel that rotation. And you can see how I'm sitting here.

I'm in this kind of skiwadgled (laughs) rotation here, but I don't feel any discomfort across my lower back, my sacrum or my glutes because I'm really feeling that twist of the spine and my pelvis is responding to that. So, in that rotation, I'm gonna tuck back, come underneath and then reach forward. Now here, I'm thinking of flipping my ischial tuberosities, my sitz bones back, my tailbone back, almost like I had a tail, it flips back. And exhale. And inhale.

Exhale. And inhale. One more time, exhale. And inhale and bring it back. Other leg forward toward the screen, pump in and three.

And reach. So, you might feel a little bit of a light pop over your sitz bones. If you have a little bit of tenderness in your tailbone, just roll back as far as you can that you feel confident and comfortable. And reach and back. Other leg forward, boom, three.

And reach and... So, this is gonna warm up your pelvis beautifully, I promise you. It's subtle but it's there. And reach and bring it back, toward me, that's two. And reach, exhale.

And reach and bring it back. Leg away from the screen, boom, and two. And reach and... And reach and bring it back, one. Forward, tuck.

Forward, leg back. Other leg, leg forward and tuck. Reach forward, leg back. Do it again. Leg forward, pelvis back, pelvis forward, leg back.

Other leg, reach forward, good. Getting that rhythm down. Bringing it back, last set. And forward, rock back. Rock forward, leg back.

Last one, forward, rock back. Rock forward, leg back. Now, adjust yourself here, so you're on top of your sitz bones again. Once you're adjusted, bring your hands behind your thighs. And I'm hoping you're with me, but you feel like you can get a little bit taller the way you're sitting here.

You're feeling like you can get a little bit more lifted. You feel almost like your pelvis is starting to release a bit, especially the back part of that pelvis. So, holding that there. Feeling that expansion. Now, you're gonna take your arms in front of you.

You're gonna reach the arms back, and you're gonna place them down on the mat behind you. Fingertips are facing out to the sides. So, we're gonna continue with that but this time, we can push into the arc of our back, and into the anterior tilt of our pelvis a little bit more. So we're gonna thread the belly button in, and we're going to bend the elbows. We're gonna come into this beautiful tucked position here.

Then we're gonna push with the arms, and then reach back. Now, the image I want you to use here is that your pelvis is a bowl, so just hang with me for a second, and you have water filled up to the brim. And you wanna move so dramatically that that water splashes on you as you tuck your pelvis back, and then the water pours forward as you bring the body forward. I wanna get that beautiful gooeyness of your pelvis here. So here, the water pours out.

You use the energy to draw the pelvis underneath you and boom, splashes up. And inhale. And exhale. Inhale, now, you're gonna add your feet. You're gonna flex your feet, drive your heels down.

Inhale, feet down, feet up. Inhale, getting a little arm work. Exhale, remember, you think of that bowl of water. Water pouring out. And then pouring back, three more.

Reach, inhale and exhale. Reach, inhale and exhale. Last one, reach and exhale. Now, hold it here. Now, I want you to come down onto your elbows.

So, I'm still in the posterior tilt. I'm on my elbows here, make sure you feel in a nice comfortable position. Keeping your legs open here. You're gonna rotate toward the camera. Now, my back arm extends a little bit, so I can really feel that twist.

I won't fall off my mat, I promise. And then come back. And rotate away from the camera and back. Now, when you come back through the center, I want you to feel like you're tucking your pelvis. So, you're gonna almost feel your lower back rolling across your mat and then expand.

So, I'm reaching my chest forward. I'm extending my elbow. I feel the straightness here and then I come back. Expand and then reach back. Expand and tuck as you come back to center.

Let's go another set, reach and draw in. Last one, reach and draw. Hold it here, now bring your legs together, so your feet are together. You still have that posterior tilt of your pelvis. And you're going to open your right leg.

Or not your right leg, I'm sorry, the leg that's closest to the screen. And center. Open and center. This is just real simple, rotating the leg. Other leg, inhale and exhale.

Now, when you exhale, I want you to engage more abdominals. We're keeping the pelvis stable here. Last one. Good, now, the leg closest toward me, you're gonna open but as you do it, you're gonna press your hips out. So, it gives you a big stretch through your shoulders, and that's exactly what I want so you feel that upper body.

And I'm using my glutes to press my hips up. And then I'm gonna draw into the posterior tilt as I come back to center. So, I'm getting a rotational element of my pelvis, and also going from the neutral or the anterior to the posterior. So, inhale. And exhale.

Inhale and exhale. Inhale, push those hips up. And exhale, draw, you'll feel oblique work. Last one, inhale. Stay with me, I know it might be a little bit tough on your shoulders but stay with me.

Away from the screen and exhale. I'm slipping a little bit here. So, we're in a posterior tilt here. So, we're going to rotate, push those hips up and exhale. Inhale, hips come up.

Now, they don't come very high off your mat. It's a small movement but it's really effective. Last two. And exhale, one more. And inhale, reach those hips up and exhale.

Hold it here. Now, push yourself up and come back onto your hands here. So, we'll take some of the pressure off those shoulders here. You're gonna hold this position here. You're gonna lift your heels up.

We're gonna do the same thing in a little bit of a higher position. So, a little bit more work on the shoulders. So, you're gonna rotate toward me. You're gonna press those hips up. So, feel that stretch.

Now, I'm gonna initiate from the pelvic floor, from the abdominals. I'm gonna pull the body down, and then rotate the leg back in. We're gonna alternate sides this time. So, away from me, press up, inhale. And exhale, draw back to center.

Toward me, inhale. And exhale, come back to center. Again, away from me, inhale. And exhale, come back to center. And toward me, inhale.

And exhale, draw it back in. One more time away from me, inhale. And exhale, come back in. Reach back up, open those legs. Release that work off the shoulders.

Feel how you can sit up even straighter here. Feel that beautiful expansion. And that's gonna end that series. So, I hope that you're feeling good. I'm gonna keep talking to you, I'm just gonna grab a little swig of water here.

I want you to think about, when you're doing your pelvic floor work, whenever I say contracting to draw in, I want you to think of the bottom part of your pelvis. So, you have your pubic bone. You have your tailbone, your coccyx. And you have your two sitz bones, which is your ischial tuberosities. And essentially they make a diamond shape.

If you were to look from the bottom up to your pelvis, it makes a diamond shape. So, what I want you to think about as we continue this class, our pelvis is a little bit warm now, our hips are a little bit warm, and we feel that abdominal connection, we feel that pelvic floor connection. Now, I want you to think we have that diamond shape, and when I ask you to pull back in or to contract back in, or to narrow or anything to that effect, whatever word that I use for you, I want you to think of that diamond coming closer together and closing. I want you to think that you feel the contraction internally before you see movement externally. And What I mean by that is you feel that contraction, you can't see your pelvic bones move initially in that sense, but you can feel them and then your spine, and the rest of your pelvis move with it.

And we know that we have that patterning. So, we wanna get that pelvic floor, then it marries in with the deep abdominals, and then some of the other abdominals, the more external abdominals and then the other muscles that are complimenting the movement or that are moving synergistically that are creating the movement. The same thing when we release. We're gonna talk about in this next series, we're gonna talk about releasing the pelvis, and the pelvic floor in the same sort of pattern. So, notice how when we were doing those movements, we were going from kind of the sense of stretching or lengthening to a passive position to a contracting position.

And we kind of move through these patterns as we move. So, I'll try to be a little bit more verbal about it as we go into this next sequence. So, I want you to come onto your knees. If you have any discomfort in your knees, and you need to put a little cushion or a pillow, you can certainly try it. We are gonna be moving so it may fall out.

But I just want you to make sure that you're as comfortable as you can be. So, I want your knees to be open about shoulder width. And you're sitting on top of your heels with your bottom. So, I'll actually face this way before we get into more of the other part of the sequence. So, here, your sitz bones are basically on top of your heels and it's a really great tactile feedback for you.

So again, we'll start this series with a little bit of movement. We're gonna inhale, reach forward. So, you can bend your elbows. And I want you to feel that stretch of the pelvic floor. So, that diamond is really expanded right now.

Now, when you come forward, I want you to feel like your tailbone and your pubic bone are coming together. Then your two sitz bones are coming together. And then your abdominals join in to really flex your spine underneath you. And you'll feel a stretch through your quads here. And then when you release it, you wanna start with the abdominals, then let the tailbone and the pubic bone reach away from each other and feel that stretch.

Feel that arc in your back. Feel that lift through your chest. So again, tailbone and pubic bone coming together. Two sitz bones narrowing in, so stop here. You should feel like that diamond underneath you, where your pelvis is, is contracted and starting to pull together.

You'll start to feel how the abdominals are coming in as well, and they're marrying in with that movement. Now, continue that narrowing until you're all the way back here and then release it. Almost think of taffy. Think of the two bones pulling away from each other, and the muscles responding to that. The two sitz bones widening to the sides of the room as you reach out.

How does that feel, does that feel good? I'll give you a thumbs up. Hopefully, you're giving me a thumbs up back. And exhale, coming in. So, try to keep that pattern, and we'll move a little bit faster.

And reach forward. Exhale. Now, we're gonna add a little bit. We're gonna build onto the sequence. And we're gonna add a little bit more flow here, but I really want you to get that connection first.

And reach, one more time, exhale. Now, arms are gonna come up. You're gonna exhale, draw the pelvis underneath you. As you reach forward, you're gonna tip, tip, tip, tip, until your hands come onto the mat. So notice how I'm still in a arc of my pelvis here.

I'm letting my abdominal stretch here, and I'm feeling that arc. My feet are still together. Notice that position, I have a little bit of a upper back extension. So, you wanna feel that. It's okay to stretch your abdominals here.

It's okay to stretch your pelvic floor here. Now from here, I want you to contract, contract, contract, contract, contract, contract, contract, contract, contract, until your hands come up and then reach back. And we're gonna come forward. Pelvis leads, pelvis leads. It's like you're reaching for somebody, you're reaching for somebody, you're reaching for somebody and you come forward.

Then you contract, lead with the pelvis, lead with the pelvis. I don't want you to sit until your fingertips have to come off here. Then you have full control in your torso. You're challenging that control and reach back. Pelvis reach forward.

Reaching forward, reaching forward, reaching forward. Feeling that stretch, feeling that stretch, feeling it and tipping onto your hands. Coming forward, lifting your face up a little bit, so you have that little bit of a arc. Then notice how I initiate from my pelvis. From my pelvis, I'm starting to hinge back, but I wanna challenge my work here.

So let's hold here for a second. So, you wanna feel again, that diamond underneath you is very narrow and contracted. Your fingertips are just off your mat. Feel that beautiful contraction there and then reach back. Let's do one more like that.

Tipping from your pelvis, you're coming up and over. Feeling that stretch. Feeling the stretch all the way and reach. And then contracting in. Contracting and feeling that contraction, feeling that control, finding it there.

Coming all the way back. Now, from here, you're gonna rotate toward me, and you're gonna reach up. Oh, now, that feels nice. And that is like picture worthy. Really nice.

So, feel that. Then you're gonna come back into the contraction. So, I'm back on my hand. I feel that contraction and I feel that rotation, then I'm gonna come back to center. I'm gonna open away from the screen and I'm gonna lift up.

And contract and then use your rotation to come back to center. And rotate and lift up, feel that stretch. Now, you have your back is arched here. You have that beautiful lengthening of your pelvis. And then come back through the contraction and rotate.

And away from your screen and press up. Reaching up, feel that gorgeous stretch. And then come back to the contraction, hold it here. Reaching forward, reaching forward, reaching forward. Striving, reaching, hands come to here.

We're in that arc here. So, we're gonna keep going on with our series here. We're in that arc here, now we're gonna neutralize it. So, I'm gonna draw my abdominals in. I'm gonna press energy through my arms.

I'm gonna feel the scapula nice and wide, but my feet are still together. From here, you're gonna rotate. You're gonna lift your feet up. You're gonna rotate your legs inward so your feet come apart, and you're gonna tuck the pelvis here. And then you're gonna come back to neutral.

I just want you to try to stop at neutral. We're not gonna go into an arc so just stop at neutral. Exhale, rotate. And reach. Now, when you're in neutral, I want you to feel like your sitz bone is reaching directly behind you.

If you had a arrow, or a laser shining off of your tailbone, it would be boom, straight to the wall behind you. And that same laser would be boom, straight out from the crown of your head. Now, from here, it's the same thing. I'm gonna initiate by drawing my tailbone and my pubic bone together as my pelvis starts to go underneath, as I rotate my legs internally. So, I have this beautiful curve here.

Then I'm gonna initiate from my tailbone, and reach back to neutral. So, it's a small movement, but it's a movement nonetheless and it feels really good. And reaching back. Last one, exhale. And reaching back.

Now, from here, you're gonna do just the right leg, and you're gonna look at your right foot. So, now, we're getting not only the tuck of the pelvis, we're getting a little bit of a lateral tilt. And what I mean by that is your... I'm sorry, I said your right leg. Your leg that's closest to the screen.

Your pelvis and your ribcage, that space should be shortened there, so you're looking at your foot. And then release back to neutral. Exhale, pelvis comes underneath you. Lateral tilt to the pelvis, so it's kind of scrunching your side there, if you wanna think of it in layman terms. And reach, two more, exhale.

And reach, one more time, exhale. Now, away from the screen, exhale. So, you're really pulling that hip up to the ribcage, tucking your pelvis slightly and then everything needs to come and release back to center. It's very important that when you come back to center, everything is released here. That L tailbone energy is reaching out, you have nice strong connection with your shoulders.

You're really feeling powerful there, but you're neutralizing your weight, so both sides of the waist are equally as long here. Now, rotate that leg away from the screen. Pelvis comes underneath. But also, pelvis tilts up toward the ribcage. Looking back at your foot and then reaching out.

Lengthening as you reach out. How far can you lengthen here without arching your back? Exhale. And inhale. One more time.

And inhale, holding that. Adjust yourself if you need to. Let's give our wrists a little bit of a break, and we're gonna come back. And we're gonna do a sequence here. So, you're gonna feel your thighs here in this sequence.

You're going to reach back here. You're gonna allow your pelvis to initiate as you drag your fingertips off your mat. So, this is phase one. We're gonna come up to the press here. So, we have the hips reaching forward.

We're extending the front of the hips. We're contracting the glutes. The pelvic floor is very narrow and very contracted here. And you're almost tipping back just a little. You can see how I'm arching, I'm not a perfect straight line.

I want that lift of your body here. I want that arc of your body. Now, from here, you're gonna dive down. Dive down, tuck your pelvis. And then you're gonna reach out to here.

So, my hips are slightly up off my heels. Now, I'm gonna allow the pelvis to really expand and reach here. So, I'm gonna draw in. So, we've already worked on this a little bit. I find the balance.

I roll through the body as my hips extend, and I continue that energy line all the way up. And then from here, the energy of my head is gonna go up and over and I automatically feel that beautiful abdominal connection. And I dive down like I'm diving into a pool. And then here, notice here, I really let the pelvis flip out there. (gasps) Does that feel so good?

I want you to be dramatic. Nobody is watching is you. You are by yourself. I want you to be as gooey and as dramatic in your pelvis as you possibly can. I'll try and then let's do it together, okay?

So, you're gonna draw in. Think of yourself in this beautiful flow. Reach up, feel that expansion. You can even reach your arms forward, feel that. And then energy goes up and over.

Diving down and then reach the pelvis out. Again, initiate pelvic floor, abdominals. Find your balance. Then use the energy of your legs to reach up. Pull your fingertips out, palms facing up toward the ceiling.

Feel that expansion. And then diving down. Pelvis is contracted here. Now, feel the roll of the pelvis as you come out, so it's really turning like a wheel. Let's do it again, up.

And lifting up, palms face up toward the ceiling. Feel that expansion, feel that reach and dive. And pelvis reach, hold it here. Hold it here. Feel that really beautiful stretch of the pelvis there.

Good, now, from here, you're gonna walk your hands a little bit over away from the screen. And I want you to lift that leg. And now, this is not as pretty. It's a little bit like a dog on a fire hydrant. But I want you to transfer your weight over away from the screen, so the leg closest to the screen comes up.

And I want you to feel that rotation of your pelvis. Now, you're gonna bring it down, and you're gonna sweep it in so you're here. So, you're balancing still on the leg that's away from the screen. The other knee is coming in so it's released, it's not on your mat. Then you're gonna reach, put the foot down.

And rotate up. And sweep it in and draw the knee up. So, that knee is coming up to that opposite elbow. And reach, feel the rotation. Now, I don't feel safe enough to find my balance here at 32 weeks pregnant because I feel like I might topple over.

So, I'm just really rotating that leg and that side of the pelvis as much as I can without releasing that arm. Then I come in and I rotate the pelvis this way, and I feel that contraction. It's subtle in the pelvic floor. And reaching up. Rotate that pelvis.

Now, put your toes so they're down here. And you're gonna hinge back. (blows out) I'm getting my breath up here. So, we're gonna hinge back here. So, feel kind of like a spider in this position.

So, you're really stretching out that pelvis. Feel that beautiful stretch of the bones with that beautiful stretch of that leg, feel that. And then reach up and draw it in. Inhale, foot comes down, stretch. You feel the stretch through the inner thighs.

Exhale, reach or transfer the weight onto the hands and in. And reach and now we can get a little bit of a flow. I feel kind of like a dancer here. I just kind of really feel that intensity and that beauty through here and reach in. And pivot back.

And reach in. One more time, pivot back. Now, find this position. Find where you feel comfortable so you can release that arm. And then stretch up, stretch up.

Feel that beautiful connection there. Feel that stretch. And then come from the abdomen, come back to the center, and find your neutral. Now, I'm gonna switch myself around so that you can see me, so I'm not going away from the camera here. So, we started in that neutral position.

We walked the away from the screen. And we rotate. Rotate, rotate, rotate, rotate that leg up, and rotate the pelvis as much as you can. Then you're gonna feel the obliques. You're gonna draw the leg in.

And you're gonna draw it to the opposite elbow. Foot comes down lightly and you rotate. Looking back behind you, feeling that expansion of the pelvis, then exhale. Coming in and rotate. Feeling that open.

Give me a little smile, although I can't see you. Smile, hi and then come in. I can feel that you're there with me. Rotate, rotate, rotate, rotate and then twist and come in. Feel that pelvic floor connection.

You have that little bit of that tuck of the pelvis. Last one, reaching. Using your breath, narrowing that pelvis. And then feeling the foot come down and reaching away. So, let's just sit into this for a moment.

Feel the stretch, you wanna keep that leg externally rotated. Feel that hip connect. From here, now, lift your eyes up, so if we were to snap a photo of you, you would just feel really present. You would have that energy radiating through your body. Now, you're gonna reach forward and pull it in.

And hinge, feel that stretch. Now, in this position, feel like your two sitz bones are really wide. Feel like your back is extended as much as you can. Feel that beautiful stretch and rotate your legs even more, so you feel a little bit of length through the adductors or the inner thighs. Transfer that weight and pull in.

And reach. And exhale. And reach, expand the pelvis, expand it, expand it, expand it, open it. And then contract and come in. Again, reaching, opening that pelvis.

And then contracting, come in. Last time, adjust yourself where you need to. And feel the stretch. Straighten your bottom elbow. Lengthen that energy out.

Feel that stretch. Rest into that stretch. Acknowledge that stretch. Now, with a very subtle contraction, coming back to neutral. Sit back on your heels.

Does that feel so good? I hope you guys are feeling awesome. I'm so excited, it's so fun to explore all this. Now, we're gonna do a little bit of movement here. We're gonna be on our knees here for a little bit longer.

I want you to bring your knees together. Shake it out if you need to. Actually, I'm kidding, bring your knees a little bit apart. So, this time, you're gonna have to lift your energy up of your body, and you're gonna reach your left leg out so you're mirroring me. So, you're gonna reach to this side.

And then you're gonna walk it back in. And we're gonna do the other side. So, reach open and in. Now, it may not be as smooth as you want it to. It might feel a little bit funky monkey.

But just kinda keep with your flow here and keep with me. So, open left leg and draw it in. So, what I like about this exercise is number one, every time you move your leg, you kinda have to lift your body up, right? When you do that, you should feel that energy of lifting through the pelvic floor, then it expands as you sit. You lift the energy up through the pelvic floor, and it expands as you sit.

Next class, we're gonna be doing this a lot with some squatting and more exercises that are a little bit more intense on the legs. But for now, you're gonna feel this, woop and open. Woop and open, yeah? Can you do that? So, let's go to your right.

So, contract and release. You can even do it with your hands. And contract and release. Contract, release. Contract, release, contract, release.

Let's go a few more, release. You'll start to feel it in your thighs, release. Contract, release, contract, release. Again, contract, release. Contract, release, okay?

So, this time, you're gonna hold it here. So, you're gonna hold this position. Now, we're gonna be lunging the weight forward and back. You're gonna reach forward, and you're gonna draw your leg up here. So, kind of a fun position here so you're gonna reach here.

So, my leg is rotated inward, so my knee is pointing straight down to the floor. My foot is straight up to the mat. I'm gonna rotate that leg back out, transfer the weight to here. And come back, we'll try it again. So, open, so contract and open.

Shifting my weight and rotate that leg inward. So, bend your knee so it's a 90 degree angle and feel that. Now, as you rotate, challenge your control here as you come down. Then lift, relax. Lift, relax.

Reach forward, find it here. Now, notice how my leg goes, so I'm letting my pelvis rotate. I find that challenge here as I come down. If you clunk down, don't worry about it. Just keep trying to find your control.

Then I lift, relax. Lift, relax. Gain that energy and boop. Rotate that leg inward, bring it up. Control down.

Lift, relax. Lift, relax. Reach up, find that position there, hold it. Rotate at the hip first. Find it, down.

Lift, relax. When you relax, my friends, feel the sitz bones widening. Literally feel that expansion of your pelvis every time you come down. Lift, relax. Pitch the weight forward, hold it.

Rotate, everything's contracted, it expands. It lifts, it expands, one more set. Lift, expand and rotate, hold it there. Twist, expand and lift. Expand, keep going.

So, lift, expand. Sorry for that little interruption. I'll actually do it with you, so we're here. So, we lift, last one, expand. And rotate, find it there.

Twist the leg, find the balance. Woops, I didn't do a very good job of that. Let's do it together again. Find the rotation. Feel the balance, feel that contraction.

Expand, lift, expand. So, if your knees are okay, stay here with me. And hips side to side. How you feeling? We're almost done here.

We're getting to the end of our class. So, stop to your left, and allow your hips to sit down. And I want you to stretch over. Stretch over. Feel that stretch here.

Now, what we're gonna do is you're gonna contract, and you're gonna come into a little ball here. And you're gonna pull your knee in, so it should be your right knee. Pull it into your chest. And you're gonna contract that belly. You're gonna feel more of a stretch here on that left side.

And then stretch up and open that chest. Contracting, pulling in. Now, feeling that narrowness of the pelvis. Here with 32 week belly for myself, of course I feel a little, a little squished here. But I still love the way that that feels.

Trying to relax my glutes. Feel that inner contraction here. Feel that stretch along my spine. And then I reach up, one more time. Draw it in.

And reach. From here, come over to the other side. Feel that reach. Feel that stretch. Adjust yourself where you feel most comfortable.

And I'm not just going to contract here. My energy goes up and over and in. So, I'm making this beautiful circular motion. I draw in, I feel that closing of the pelvis. I feel that posterior tilt to the pelvis.

I'm trying not to over contract my glutes. And as I reach forward, I feel that beautiful tilt in my pelvis here with that stretch on my other side. So, the energy goes up and over as I draw in with an exhale. And then inhale, reach up. Exhale.

Drawing that knee in toward my forehead. Using my hand, my arm gently to draw it up. Feeling that stretch. And reach. One more time.

And reach. And coming up. Hands are gonna be together here. Knees a little bit wider. And again, shift side to side.

Now, at the beginning of class, we were sitting on our bottom, and we were doing gentle circles. This sort of action is very advantageous as well. It's very helpful to do the side to side motion as well. Now, I'm not actively going engage, or contract, release, contract, release. I'm just allowing that natural sort of rhythm of my pelvic floor.

Allowing the natural, almost pull of my sitz bones on my heels kinda getting that natural stretch to the pelvic floor. Now, instead of going side to side, I want you to take your left hip and rotate it backward. So, we're going forward here, rotate. So, from the side, it looks like I'm drawing my hip back. Rotate, rotate, and you'll feel like your thigh naturally wants to roll in, and that's what I want here.

So, these very subtle movements are really what you can do on a daily basis, either as a part of your warmup for another workout that you're gonna do, or a part of a cool down for another workout you're gonna do. We can start to feel that beautiful rhythm through the pelvic floor. And keeping that there. Now, coming back to center. I want you to sit on your bottom.

Start to go into our cool down here. Sitting with your spine nice and straight. Now, take notice how you feel. All of us are gonna feel slightly different. The overall feelings are again, warmth.

You wanna feel, warmth is such a word that I use often as my body moves and it warms up. Warmth, what other words can you use? I know you can't necessarily tell me, but say them out loud if you want to. Free, released. I'm gonna say lubricated in the sense that your joints feel nice and supple.

What words can you think of here, and associate them with how you feel? Does your spine feel like it's longer, like there's more space between it? And as you do that, and you kinda meditate for a moment, I want you do your circles. So, my goal in this class was to take you through a wider range of movements. Kind of having fun with our movement vocabulary as I call it.

And moving our pelvis in a lot of different ways that felt really colorful and very dynamic. Go the other direction, circle in the other direction, Use your breath. So, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Our bodies are the same, right? We have the same bones, we have the same muscles in the same spots and things like that, but.

And you feel like there's only so much movement we can do. But it doesn't take that much to explore movement in a really dynamic way. Come back to center. To really feel all those little differences, and what happens if we rotate this this way, or rotate this way? Or what happens if we push our weight this way, or we move this this way?

So, I wanna encourage you to just expand that exploration in your movement. And just to, that brings these other nuances and these subtle differences in the way that our muscles move those bones and the way that they react. And we have Pilates as our foundation because Pilates is fantastic. But Joseph Pilates was a creative. He was a man far ahead of his time as it pertains to movement.

And he definitely, I believe in my heart and soul that he definitely would welcome a lot of movement exploration within himself, and hopefully within his students as well. So, use those tenants of Pilates, those principles of Pilates as something to practice, but also something as a launching pad for us to explore movement in a whole different way. So, I hope that you feel fantastic in your pelvic floor. I hope that you understood the concepts of lengthening to neutralize, to contract. We're gonna continue to build upon this theme.

In our next class, we're gonna be doing a lot more standing exercises. And I hope to see you there. I hope that you'll join me. Thank you so much. Have a great day, bye.


Shelley M
2 people like this.
Excellent prenatal class! This is so needed and so few people know these kinds of pre-natal principles. Thank you so much - this was outstanding!
Thank you for this class. I love your clarity and joy.!!  I am an older mum and find  seated cross legged quite difficult ....any suggestions???  Good luck with the new baby 
Lina S
1 person likes this.
Great class Leah! You explain so well. I'm not pregnant. I did the class to satisfy my curiosity. It was a nice exploration. I found some of your moves and exercices could be used in some regular Pilates classes to raise awareness about the pelvic floor. Thank you!
This class was everything my preggy body needed! Especially all the mobility in the pelvis and feet!! Loved it! 
Jennifer Dene
Thank you Leah! This series has been such a wonderful combination of physical exploration + thoughtful explanation for the prenatal body. I'm also 32 weeks, 2nd baby, and love going deeper into the wide range of movements that are safe and beneficial for us mamas. Love all your classes on PA and the care you put into creating an exciting new series with each pregnancy. Best of luck with your next adventure!!
Thank you Leah,
I am 43yo and having two pregnancies later in my life has weakened my pelvic floor muscles so I have to work extra hard to keep the incontinence at bay.
I love your cueing, in depth explanation that helps to thoroughly understand our bodies and the way our muscles work in this particular area. 
Love your work!
Myla P
Hi Leah - are your pelvic floor classes appropriate for clients with diastisis recti?
Imogen M
Thanks Leah. Great explanations of the pelvic floor etc! I've got to say I found this class quite hard on my back and didn't always feel stable completing some of the more elaborate moves with lots of lifts and twists (second trimester, second pregnancy, recently back at pilates after a break ). 
Shelley M Yay, Shelley! I am so happy that you enjoyed the class, and I couldn't agree more about the importance of sound pelvic floor education and dynamic exercises. Thank you for taking the time to let me know your feedback. 
Sharon C Hi Sharon, my apologies for the delayed response. If sitting crossed legged is difficult, I would first suggest that you sit on a pillow or cushion so that your bottom is elevated and then extend your knees slightly so that the angle and hinge at the knee joint is more forgiving, this should help the position be much more comfortable.
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