Yoga is for everyone!
Many beginners tell me how they feel disconnected from certain parts of their body - usually it is the areas that are in poor alignment or have a lot of tension. When we begin to re-connect to those areas, at first all we can do is a simple "on" or "off" command. For example, the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor has 16 muscles, but it is best to think of them as one, since they work in concert. It is helpful to visualize the muscles of the pelvic floor as a hammock, anchored to the four corners of the pelvis - the sitting bones on the right and the left, the tailbone in the back and the pubic bone in the front. The hammock of the pelvic floor muscles hangs between these four attachment points.
The pelvic floor plays an important role in supporting our internal organs. But did you know that pelvic floor also has an intimate relationship with the breath? When the diaphragm moves as you breathe, so does the pelvic floor - down on the inhale, and up on the exhale.
When we are in neutral pelvis, the pelvic floor muscles have the most natural tone, the diaphragm is engaged in the most efficient way, and taking deep breaths in neutral pelvis would help you feel this relationship the most. Once you feel the downward movement of the pelvic floor on the inhale and the upward lifting on the exhale, you will begin to connect to an area in your body which is often "off the radar" because our posture is poor and this relationship becomes dysfunctional.
When your pelvic floor muscles come into the view of your inner eye, begin to watch them, and gradually accentuate the natural processes at the end of the inhale by relaxing, and at the end of the exhale by engaging these muscles. Over time you will re-connect to your pelvic floor and begin to wonder how was it possible not to notice this. Your pelvic floor will then become available to you and you will feel more in control - you will be able to consciously lift, gradually deepening the engagement. Instead of simply turning these muscles "on" or "off", learn to pull up in little increments at a time. This will allow you to use the pelvic floor more efficiently and help you do it correctly (sometimes people just squeeze the sphincters and think they are doing Kegels properly, but that is not the case).
Our pelvic floor is closely connected with the transverse abdominis, the deepest layer of our core muscles. When the pelvic floor is engaged, it is also easier to engage the transverse and pull it in and across, hip point to hip point. When both the pelvic floor and the transverse abdominis are engaged, they create a wonderful sense of balance in standing poses, as well as a sense of lightness and ease when doing some challenging abdominal work. However, aggressively pulling these muscles in will only fatigue you faster, and a wise Yogi wants to use only the physical energy that is necessary to perform a task, and spend the rest of the energy on observing the experience and learning from it.
Learning to lift the pelvic floor slowly and steadily, in small increments, and putting only as much effort into it as is appropriate for the task will allow you to stay more connected to the breath. This will improve your ability to control the engagement there as if it was on a "dimmer switch" - you need a little more light/power, you turn it up, you need a little less, you turn it down. It is a much more holistic way of engaging the pelvic floor that teaches us nuance of sensations and control.
Happy Kegels, everyone!