The Pelvic Floor is a key stabilizing component of the pelvis. The muscles of the pelvic floor include: muscles that surround the pubic bone (pubic symphysis), the tailbone (called the coccyx), and the sitting bones (ischial tuberosities).
Typically, focus is given to the abdominal area and exercises addressing the pelvic floor are overlooked. What comes to mind when you think of the pelvic floor? Does Dr. Kegel ring a bell? In Pilates, most commonly the pelvic floor engagement is first taught lying down and an internal action occurs. The lifting of the pelvic floor is not seen by others, but is an experience within your own body. Imagery is the key to understanding this concept. I am going to give you one of my favorite dramatic imaginary from the book “Taking Root to Fly” by Irene Dowd.
“One of these involves visualizing my pelvis from the inside. It is a funnel of bone with a diamond-shaped base….I think of this diamond shape expanding and sinking, glowing like an incandescent light. As this basin of light becomes more and more brilliant, millions of rays of light shoot straight up from it through the front of my spine into my skull, into my brain, and out through the top of my head. The rays beam through my trunk, through all my abdominal organs, my diaphragm, my chest, through my heart and lungs, through my neck and all of my larynx, pharynx, and vocal apparatus to the root of my tongue, my mouth, my sinuses and nose, my eye sockets, and all the spaces of my face. The light of my pelvis, like and oil lamp, illuminates my entire body and the space around me. I think of each beam of light as a thread moving straight as an arrow shot sunward. All the light threads move together but each is distinctly separate and so silky that is can sway without breaking.”
“Sometimes I imagine instead of light, there is a lake in the bed of my pelvic floor. Beneath the lake is a fissure in the earth through which volcanic fire erupts. Metting the water in the lake, the fire creates steam that sends a geyser out of the once mirror-calm surface of the lake, out through the center of my torso, and up through the top of my head, leaving a sunlit veil of spray all around my body…
Be it light, fire, or water that surges up the central axis, the flow, sparks, or foam that generates can unfold the core out, expanding the body boundaries in all directions. Eddies from the fountain makes bubbles, air spaces between the bones where each vertebra articulate with the next one. Little streams slip between the layers of muscles and connective tissue giving each muscles cell breathing room. Dew soaks into the skin and expands it into air’s caress. This expansion outward prevents the tall column of spine from collapsing back into itself.”
Now why I am giving you all this imagery? The answer is this—when the pelvic floor is engaged it will be an internal experience. Meaning one must take appropriate means to connect to oneself; hence the imagery.
In Gyrotonic the pelvic floor is called the “seed center”. This is known as the center of gravity within the body and located in the center of the bowl of the pelvic, but as reflected in the above imagery, the concept goes beyond the location.
Now to the original question asked:
"activating the pelvic floor with out going into the glutes and hamstring."
From what I have explained so far we know that pelvic floor engagement is not something we externally see—so it is time to turn off all other muscle engagements and focus first and foremost on solely engaging the pelvic floor.
I recommend the following steps:
- isometric contraction—Kegel exercises (position where your body is relaxed)
- engage the pelvic floor then the powerhouse
- engage the pelvic floor, then the powerhouse, and then the movement
So in reality the activation of the pelvic floor has no true relationship to the glutes and hamstrings. I understand the issue and can truly admit that for the longest of time I could not turn off my gluts or hamstrings, but it took a deeper connection and understanding of my own body to let go. The connection takes time and practice.
Here is another reference I found that might help the male population understand.
“Can men do pelvic floor exercises too? Absolutely! Fellas imagine getting up at 6am to go for your beach swim in your speedos and as you enter the water, it is a little fresh. You bravely continue to immerse yourself into the water as it rises to your knees. You see the next set of waves approaching but you are not quite ready to get cold and wet so just before that wave hits your thighs you suck in. That action is a pelvic floor lift. Correct pelvic floor activation for men is just as important as it is for women, particularly for conditions like lower back pain, osteitis pubis or pelvic instability and dysfunction.” By Alyse Co-cliff
A strong pelvic floor is the most important aspect for creating a solid base for the body. This concept takes time and patience, but once you find, engage, and stabilize the pelvic floor you are able to carry this wonderful base of support with you when you walk, sit, run, jump, and so much more.
Find the deep Pelvic floor—promise me--- it is worth the effort!!!