Pranayama and Pelvic Pain: How Breath can help

I couldn’t believe it when I discovered that Pranayama could have relieved my pelvic pain!

The other day I was seated at my desk replying to my emails and because I was seated for a while, I started to feel quite stiff in my whole body muscles. I could not breathe completely, I felt blocked… that’s exactly what happens when your diaphragm doesn’t want to collaborate.

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pranayama and pelvic floor

To understand better how to practice correct Pranayama, and so improve our breathing to relieve Pelvic Pain, it is important to understand the role of the Diaphragm.

Our diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle, located below the lungs. It contracts and flattens upon inhalation and relaxes and returns to its domelike shape, upon exhalation.

It moves in sync with our pelvic floor muscles. It stretches with every inhalation and contracts with every exhalation. Or at least this is what we are supposed to do.

Many of us, me included, are Reverse Breathers, which means that we don’t sync our diaphragm and pelvic floor movement, so they work opposite ways. Doing so it never manages to relax completely.

But no worries, with constant practice this breathing pattern can be easily restored!

If you think you have a pelvic floor dysfunction and suffer from cystitis, have a look at this article too:

Breathing and pelvic pain

So how does Pranayama influences our pelvic pain? First of all, if you don’t know what it is, let me explain it in a few words.

Pranayama is a Sanskrit word that refers to breathing exercises. But is much more than that! It means ‘breath extension’ or ‘breath control’. It balances our vital energy and general wellbeing.

When we are stressed, our breathing changes, it becomes rapid, and the oxygen increase with a drop of carbon dioxide which leads to muscle twitching, nausea, irritability, lightheadedness, confusion, anxiety, and last but not least, pelvic pain.

So breathing is really essential for all our body parts, but specifically the way we breathe.

Slowing down your breath will allow your whole body to relax and to be more present and live the moment. But if we don’t know how to breathe correctly, we miss the best part of our power…

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How do you breath?

Is very common among anxious people to breathe with their chest, preventing belly expansion, and so preventing pelvic floor relaxation. This often induces pelvic pain.

And so? How are we supposed to breathe?
The correct way is inhaling expanding our belly and exhaling shrinking it.

A great way to practice this is ‘Diaphragmatic Breathing’ which works exclusively with the belly. Then ‘Yogic Breathing’ which involves also ‘Chest’ and ‘Clavicular Breathing’.

A very effective way to start is in the Shavasana pose (Corpse Pose or Layin down pose ) and observe your breathing. In this pose, your belly will easily relax and you can let go of every muscle tension.

At every inhalation feel the belly expanding and the pelvic floor muscles relaxing and feel the difference when you exhale.

If you don’t, slightly engage the pelvic muscles and relax at the next inhalation. Place a hand over your belly button if you need it, it will help you to feel your belly expanding.

Mudras, to improve your breathing:

A great tool to enhance the quality of your breathing is using Mudras.

In Yoga, Mudras are spiritual gestures or poses. While some of them involve the entire body, most are performed with the hands and fingers, often during Pranayama practice.

These can work for many different objectives, as also improve your breath quality.

When your breathing pattern is not correct, which happens often in anxious people, Apana Mudra is a very important one to induce relaxation and change their approach toward life. It helps in seeing things from a different perspective, lifting our mood and self-perception.

Apana Mudra helps your Body to slow down the pace of your day and of your life, improving the downward movements of your body, toxins elimination, letting go of anxiety and stress, bringing better health to your diaphragm, and inducing belly breathing. By doing so you will bring better health to your pelvis.

If you feel stressed, you might be interested in this article about Pelvic pain:

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What does the science says?

Scientific researches have shown that Asanas ( yoga poses) along with the Pranayama techniques are more effective than practicing constantly together, with great results for primary dysmenorrhea.

It has also been demonstrated how the practice of yoga causes a reduction in pain intensity and improves the quality of life in patients with chronic pelvic pain.

If you want to read more about the benefits of pranayama especially to the Pelvic Floor have a look at these two articles:

So learning how to breathe right, expanding your belly with every inhalation, will improve your pelvic dysfunction and pain. It would be a huge life changer to implement in your yoga routine some Pranayama exercises, to feel the difference in your pelvis, and hopefully see some positive changes.

So breath it out, but slowly and with your belly!

If you want to start Yoga for Pelvic Pain, you can find my favorite props here:


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