By Abbey Doyle Evansville Courier & Press, Ind.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is often hard for women to understand, said Zoe Sipes, owner of Bliss Yoga, which is offering an upcoming series of yoga classes focusing on pelvic health.
Symptoms can include urinary incontinence or stress incontinence, organ prolapse, painful sex, diminished libido, low back or sacroiliac joint pain, poor digestion and painful urination.
"Maybe you've gotten used to peeing a bit when you sneeze or the catch in your gait or holding your lower back when you sit down," Sipes said. " Perhaps you've chalked it up to getting older, or you didn't think there was anything to be done. But yoga practice can help."
Bliss Yoga is offering the class -- Yoga for Women: Pelvic Balance -- from 6:15-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays beginning July 8 and running through July 29. Sipes will also offer two 60-minute private yoga sessions -- an intake session where she can assess the woman's pelvic balance and provide her with a tailored yoga homework course and a second class to refine the skills already learned.
"Yoga is an integrative approach to healing the body, mind and soul through gentle, mindful movement, breathing, relaxation and meditation," Sipes said. "It is uniquely suited to healing complex mind-body issues like pelvic imbalance and chronic pain."
The cause of the pelvic floor issues could be a number of things -- a result of abuse or trauma, pregnancy, childbirth or surgery, she said.
"When the pelvis and pelvic floor are out balance, the whole body is affected," Sipes said. "The pelvic floor is a web of muscle and connective tissue that creates a base for the torso and spine. It can be hypertonic (too tight), hypotonic (too relaxed), or a mixture of both in different muscles. The resulting imbalance effects our breath, posture and even organ function."
Sipes said the class will be gentle, and she will have modifications prepared for those who need them. Much of the instruction focuses on breath work and students don't need to have any background in yoga.
Students also receive a book with detailed information about how the pelvis and pelvic floor work, along with images of yoga postures and descriptions of breathing techniques to give students a better understanding of the effect yoga practice has.
They will receiving a CD that includes an audio practice of yoga movements, breathing and relaxation with Sipes to enrich your home practice.
There is a place for physical therapy with pelvic floor collapse but these yoga classes will give the students a chance to know what the motions feel like along with learning the importance of breath, Sipes said.
"I'm hoping those who attend feel empowered like they can do anything," Sipes said. "I'm hoping they feel like they have the tools to relieve their symptoms if not heal completely and little by little I hope they feel better."
There are a limited number of spots in the small class, but Sipes said she would open a second class if the interest was great enough. She said she would also be more than happy to do private sessions focusing on pelvic health as well. Call 812-250-942 or visit blissyogaevansville.com/pelvic-balance.
For everyone, Sipes said, there is a set of experiences and habits that have "brought us to our current state. Yoga's function is to create new experiences and better habits which will influence and improve our state."
"When the pelvis and pelvic floor are out balance, the whole body is affected," she said. "The pelvis is our root, and our roots need to be healthy for us to flourish. In addition to being the root of our physical body, the pelvic region can be deeply woven with the root of various emotions, sexuality, trauma, misconception and identity. Balancing this area requires attention and a healing practice for all these aspects of our experience."