In this insightful free download, renowned yoga teacher Judith Hanson Lasater discusses the vital role of the core muscles, with a special emphasis on pelvic health. She provides yoga teachers and practitioners with expert guidance on using the abdominals correctly in yoga practice to avoid putting excessive pressure on the pelvic floor.
Lasater explains that while we often focus on the abs for sculpting washboard stomachs, the number one job of the abdominals is actually to stabilize the spine, pelvis, and trunk. The abs assist with forced exhale, rotation and support for the abdominal wall—but central stabilization is the priority.
Through simple exercises, Judith demonstrates how the abs engage in stabilizing anytime we lift a leg, climb stairs, or lift the head. By feeling the contraction of the transverse abdominals in postures like Plank and Bird Dog Pose, we learn to strengthen through stabilization. Judith notes that this constitutes healthy and balanced core strengthening instead of focusing on isolated crunches.
Judith also cautions that exaggerated breath work practice can be counterproductive to the health of the pelvic floor. This includes traditional breathwork practices like Kapalabhati and Bhastrika, which can create too much intra-abdominal pressure by overusing the rectus abdominis. This can bulge the abdominal wall and push down on the pelvic floor. Instead, she suggests an exercise that creates a ‘scooping’ action that concaves the belly and lifts the pelvic floor.
Rather than blanket prescriptions for bandhas and core engagement, Judith notes, it’s important to tune into what feels appropriate for each student’s body. She notes that many women experience pelvic health issues that may correlate with improper use of abdominal muscles and excessive pelvic floor tightening versus lift.
By learning to integrate the core’s stabilization function into yoga poses while avoiding overwork that compromises pelvic support structures, students can optimize the safety, effectiveness, and balance of their practice.
This talk offers practical wisdom for fostering long-term health, functionality, and well-being through conscious and compassionate use of the core muscles. Teachers and practitioners alike will gain insight into reducing strain while harnessing strength from the inside out.
Also check out Judith’s course: Journey to Center: A Yoga Guide to Unlock the Full Potential of Your Core.