Improving Pelvic Floor Control and Ease (Patrons)

Mostly back-lying, framed by chair-seated. Begins with identifying the four skeletal landmarks of the diamond-shaped pelvic floor. Discover more pelvic floor awareness, control, and ease by learning how contractions of the anus, urethra, and other parts of pelvic floor are connected to movements of the pelvis, spine, and legs. May be very helpful if you have concerns about continence, digestion and elimination, or sexual function, and also typically benefits breath, balance, and walking.


Before you begin read this for practical tips and your responsibilities, and check out Comfort & Configuration below.

Recorded live in a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class, this lesson is copyright Nick Strauss-Klein, for personal use only.

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Tip 4 – Padding

Study tip: Comfort first! Carpeted floors usually work well, but it’s great to have an extra mat or blanket nearby in case you need a softer surface in some configurations.

Tip 5 – Discomfort

Study tip: If a configuration or movement causes any increase in discomfort, or you feel you just don’t want to do it, don’t! Make it smaller and slower, adapt it, or rest and imagine.

Tip 3 – Head Support

Study tip: It helps to have a large bath towel nearby when you start a lesson. You can fold it differently for comfortable head support in any configuration.

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Tip – Complete the Movement

Study tip: Complete one movement before beginning the next. You’ll improve faster if there’s enough time between movements that you feel fully at rest.

Tip – Technical Difficulties

Tech tip: If you have any trouble with the audio player, reboot your browser. That solves most issues. If not, please contact Nick.

Tip – Pause the recording

Study tip: If you’re really enjoying a movement and want to explore longer, or you just need a break for a while, pause the recording!

Tip – Rewinding

Study tip: Many instructions are repeated. If you get a little lost, rest and listen. You’ll often find your way. If you need it, use the 10 seconds back button.

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This lesson can be used to introduce pelvic floor study, but its companion, Two Sitbones, Two Sides of the Pelvic Floor (31 min, Patrons) may be the better one to start with.

You’ll need a firm, level, non-rolling chair. For the end of the lesson you’ll also need a towel or two nearby. You’ll be rolling or folding it up to sit on in a peculiar way, so a few different sizes may be helpful to figure out what’s comfortable.

Many movements of this lesson include something that resembles a Kegel exercise. In Feldenkrais our movements are far gentler and slower than how Kegels are usually taught.

Think LESSS is more: Light, Easy, Soft, Slow, Smooth movements of your pelvic floor give your brain sensory data it can learn and improve with, so you can refine your control. In addition to raising your sensitivity, doing continually LESSS will also help you avoid getting tired, since you’ll be doing this movement a lot.

It’s common to need to pause and take a bathroom break in this lesson.

Many people find sensing and moving the pelvic floor very emotional. In the after-class discussion when this lesson was recorded students talked about the wisdom of just being present for those feelings. Again, take breaks as needed.

Check the Curiosities tab to learn more about what healthy pelvic floor function is connected to, and to learn how to break this lesson up into smaller sections to review it.

The pubic symphysis (or pubic bone, or pubis) is the place where the left and right pelvis bones, called the iliums, meet. I misspoke when I said it’s where the iliac crests meet. “Crests” describes the upper, outer part of the iliums, commonly thought of as the “hands on your hips” place.

I’m talking about the same bones, but it’s their lower, medial aspects that meet to form the pubic symphysis.

Timestamps are below, for reviewing sections of this lesson.

After doing this lesson you may begin to notice in your regular life that your pelvic floor is often more contracted than you find necessary or desirable. Noticing these moments is normal and useful: it’s a necessary step toward reducing excess effort and learning better function of the pelvic floor in all your activities.

When you do notice unnecessary pelvic floor tension, don’t immediately let it go. Instead take a moment to sense it, and then experiment with gradually relaxing the tension, while noticing changes throughout yourself.

In addition to being related to issues of continence, digestion and elimination, and sexual function, pelvic floor muscle tone is connected to all other human function. Ideally it is dynamically changing moment to moment as we breathe, balance, and walk, adapting to everything we do!

Often when we think our pelvic floor is “weak” it actually just lacks variability in muscle tone. If we’re always holding it at a 9 out of 10, then there’s not much room to tighten it more when we need to! And “strength training” (like traditional Kegels) is usually not very fruitful because brute force doesn’t get applied accurately or efficiently if we can’t sense and feel the details because things are always tight.

So one intention in this lesson is learn to sense and use the minimum necessary tone for the moment. We’re more interested in lowering the bottom of your pelvic floor tone variability than raising the top.

This actually gives us a faster, stronger, and more thorough ability to increase pelvic floor tone precisely as needed, where needed, and only when needed.

After going through the whole lesson at least once, it can be reviewed in shorter segments.

Timestamps (approximate):

0:00 – Intro and pelvic floor skeletal anatomy lesson

3:00 Scan and movements in the sagittal plane (back/front of pelvic floor).

35:00 – Scan and movements in the frontal plane (two sides of pelvic floor)

48:00 – Chair-seated frontal plane exploration, and then all planes (circling on sitbones).

Here’s a brief reminder about the final movements of the first section, to guide improvisation or review after you’ve done the whole lesson. This doesn’t include some of the differentiation steps that may be most important for your learning, but it’s still a useful brief review.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, breathing easily. Gently and gradually draw up your pelvic floor as you tip your pelvis back, pubic bone coming closer to chin, lumbar flattening, abdomen shortening, ribs coming closer to pubic bone, tips of shoulders perhaps lifting, neck arching, head/eyes nodding upward a little. Relax all of that gradually, wait a breath or two, and repeat, perhaps experimenting with gathering up the whole pelvic floor, the front, or the back. Can be done in a chair, but the movement of the head is different (chin and pubic bone come toward each other as you roll back on sitbones to “slump” and look down).
  2. Same position, opposite kind of movement. Think of spilling out your pelvic floor, relaxing the sphincters as you tip your pelvis forward, pubic bone away from chin, lumbar and waist lift a little, belly lengthens and pushes forward, ribs move away from pubic bone, neck flattens, head and eyes look down a little. Relax all of that gradually, wait a breath or two, and repeat. Can also be done in a chair, but the head will nod up instead of down.
  3. Gently, slowly alternate.

NOTE: Short descriptions of movements and body parts like this aren’t a Feldenkrais lesson on their own. Your ability to learn and benefit from them relies entirely on your playful curiosity, the slow, smooth and easy quality of your movements, and the clarity of your attention and rests.

This lesson is found in Patrons Monthly, our collection of lessons exclusively for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors.

It was recorded in a FP Weekly Zoom class on May 17, 2022, then edited to improve flow, clarity, and audio quality.

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  1. Gertrude Schmidt on March 21, 2023 at 4:11 am

    I do this lesson very carefully – with movements just between thinking and action – so I get a lot out of it without fatigue.
    This morning walking around – enjoying my relaxed feet touching the ground – thinking how this diamond shaped pelvic floor influences my breathing and connects my whole body – I found myself singing the lines of the song
    ‘Love Is All Around’ by Wet Wet Wet
    I feel it in my fingers
    I feel it in my toes
    Love that’s all around me
    And so the feeling grows

    Thanks Nick for your wonderful Feldenkrais project

  2. joan davis on March 27, 2023 at 1:15 am

    More of the pelvic floor work please! It’s so intimately connected to my feelings of well being and confidence in the world. Thank you

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on March 27, 2023 at 8:32 am

      Wonderful! I’m planning more. Something small soon I’m pretty sure, then more to come in the next months.

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