You might have heard when I announced it last week – I’m pregnant! It’s a very exciting time, and I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been learning and thinking about in the period between my miscarriage last November, attempting to get pregnant again, and these first 13 weeks of pregnancy.
No, this isn’t some random word association game. These practices and symptoms are all related.
Let’s start at the beginning: Kegals, or more accurately, kegal exercises. These exercises have almost mythic adoration in our culture. To perform a kegal exercise, people with a uterus contract their vagina and anal sphincter (the instruction is often to “feel like you’re picking a marble up off the floor with your vagina”). People with a penis create a movement that feels like lifting their penis up. The benefits of a kegal exercise? Better tone of the pelvic floor, which can prevent urinary and incontinence issues in later life. For women, the other major benefit of the kegal is toning the pelvic floor so it better returns to it’s natural shape after giving birth.
Kegal exercises are the most often recommended exercise for pregnant women (and they’re even encouraged to do “super kegals” – holding the contraction of the muscles for up to a minute!).
Kegals also show up under another name that you might be familiar with: mula bandha. In our yoga asana practice, there are three bandhas, or locks, that concentrate energy in specific areas. The lowest of the bandhas is “mula bandha” which is essentially doing and holding a Kegal.
This sounds great, right? Kegals are good for us, and more is better, so yogis should be in the best shape!
Not always the case. Big surprise, there’s such a thing as doing too many kegals, and it can result in major health issues. Let me explain.