Welcome to the accessible yoga Podcast where we explore how to make space for everyone in the yoga community.
Amber Karnes 14:45:04
This podcast is brought to you by the accessible yoga Association, a nonprofit organization focused on accessibility and equity in yoga.
Hi, I'm your host, Jivana Heyman, my pronouns are here in him, and I serve as the director of accessible yoga.
Amber Karnes 14:45:18
And I'm your co host, Amber Karnes, my pronouns are she and her, and I serve as president of the accessible yoga board of directors.
Hi, everyone. Welcome back. It's Jivana. And so excited to have a special guest here for the accessible yoga podcast. I have Shannon crow. Hi, Shannon.
Shannon Crow 14:45:37
Hi, Jivana. It's so great to be here. Thank you for having me.
I'm so excited to be interviewing you. You're interviewing me on your podcast, and I'm so great. So now it's my turn. All right, so I want to introduce you, let's see Shannon crow is the host of the connected yoga Teacher Podcast. And I would just say, you run the accessible yoga, I'm successful, oh my god. They're connected yoga teacher Facebook group, which is very similar to our accessible yoga community. And I love that connection that we share. But you basically focus also on pelvic health, and you're the founder of pelvic health professionals, is that right? That's right. And I would just say generally, that you're dedicated to helping yoga teachers find their way find their niche and focus on building community. And I just love that about your love the work that you do, connecting teachers with each other and supporting them. And it's very inspiring to me. So thank you for that. And thank you for being here.
Shannon Crow 14:46:41
Thank you, I feel like your work has really inspired me, I was just thinking back. Knowing that we were going to talk today, I was thinking back to when we met at the accessible yoga conference in Toronto way back. And I just appreciate how much I felt welcome and part of the community even though I was meeting all new people and I and I don't know, I don't know, all the details of like how you put that together. But I'm here for I'm here to learn. And I learned a lot from you from being part of your community. So thanks.
Thanks. Yeah, likewise, I learned a lot from you. And I, I think we both share that same passion, community building and connecting yoga teachers with each other and supporting them. So that's what I love about our friendship and the way that you know, you support me, like outside of this work, you know, just like on our side chats, you know, when challenges come up, and new ideas arise. So it's just, it's great to have you as a friend and appear. So. And thank you for being here. But let's talk more about your work. So I didn't that bio is pretty short. So can you tell us a little more about yourself and maybe introduce yourself?
Shannon Crow 14:47:59
Sure. Well, I, I live in Canada. I, I'm, I'm really starting to dive into like, I live on Odawa, Mississauga. And initially, initially, now back land. And I am trying to figure out what that means. Living here with all of my ancestors being not indigenous here in Canada. And I'm also trying to figure out things about yoga and how yoga was taken from a culture. So I'm trying to figure out a lot of things as a yoga teacher along the way. As well as like you said, I love to connect yoga teachers to each other or to information. And my specialty became over the years pelvic health. And I had three babies, I studied anatomy in college, I taught prenatal yoga, teach teacher trainings, I specialized in pre and postnatal and baby me yoga, and I feel like all along that journey, nobody was telling me much about my pelvis or my pelvic floor or the way the pelvis worked. And that's when I became really fascinated with it. Like, why aren't we talking about this? Why are we skipping over it and even you know, doctors, midwives, physios, gynecologist even tell me that they also felt like their education was lacking. And I think what those are the people who really spell specializing in pelvic health and the more I learned about pelvic health, the more I learned that it really ties in well with yoga in so many ways. So yeah,
I Well, I just wanted to say, I just going back to your first comment about how you're learning more about appropriation and yoga and also around the indigenous land that you live on. And I've just, I love that about you, though, just your openness to learning and to your what does it learning in public? You know, I think that's such an important quality. And in a leader, like you actually and I see you, I see that leadership in you in the work you do your your willingness to admit when you don't know something, or when you make a mistake, or when you're confused, and then kind of open yourself up to input from your community. And I love that. So thank you for that. But I do want to focus on the pelvic health piece today.
Shannon Crow 14:50:40
I just want to say one thing, even is that I also do mess up and behind the scenes I have, like, I have not been as open to learning at different times. And yes, then I want to bring it on to the podcast on like, when I have that light bulb moment of like, oh, wow, I really shut down. And I didn't learn. So thank you for pointing out that I, I am learning in public, I do welcome feedback. And I'm also doing it in a really messy way at times. And I appreciate friends like you who are like, yes. And Shannon like, yes. And there's this perspective, or have you thought about it this way. So I think it takes a community of people who are willing to both like speak up and share something, but also to listen. So yeah, and it's messy,
it's messy, but I feel like you're willing to be in a mess. And that's how we're going to move forward. You know, like it's, it's only in learning and growing, that we will ever change and evolve as a younger community into something that truly embodies the yoga teachings. And I feel like that's the goal for me is like, to actually to teach and practice in a way that is respectful to this tradition. And I think to do that we have to be, yeah, willing to be in the mess like you are. So thank you. Yeah. So let's talk about the pelvic health piece. One thing that just occurred to me is, like you mentioned, medical professionals who don't have a lot of training around pelvic health. And I just wonder to how, like I see your pelvic health professionals is beyond yoga that you're inviting. It's kind of a multi multidisciplinary group that you invite medical people in and PTs and stuff. Is that intimidating for you? Because you're not a medical trained person is I mean, you studied anatomy. But is it intimidating as a yoga teacher? To lead a group like that?
Shannon Crow 14:52:34
Yes. And, and I don't have to be the expert. So what was happening behind the scenes years ago, when I started to specialize in pelvic health, which I just, I followed an interest and a passion. And then people started to notice that's how that happen, is along the way, I really thought for a while, should I become a pelvic health PT, because I really do see the benefits of like having that education. But then when I started working with PTS, I realized, oh, there's a real missing piece with all of the benefits of yoga. And I'd rather share that so I can continue to do that. But what I was also doing was hiring pelvic health experts from around the world for like one on one zoom calls with me, where I would ask so many questions, and then bring that to yoga teachers I was teaching but also to my one on one sessions that I was doing with people in the PT office. And and then I thought, why don't we do this on a bigger scale? So I don't have to be the expert. I think that's, that's the biggest thing. It's a community of pelvic health experts. I definitely learned from all of them. And we hire them. And then our members get to ask the questions, we organize the questions, we organize the guests, we write the notes we have, you know, we do all that stuff behind the scenes. So it takes the pressure off, and I still have times where I'm like, How can we how can we attract more pelvic health experts like how can we get those leading experts to think I want to join this community and so you know what I dip in and out of like, Oh, I I know so much about pelvic health to thinking oh my gosh, I know nothing like you know, we have a couple of calls coming up on endometriosis and I feel like I barely know enough about it. Yeah.
And I also have like, one burning question, not a question but like a comment about this, which is like as a man like I'm a cisgender man, which means I was born male and that's a gender I still identify with. You know, it's hard. It's hard for me to connects so much to pelvic health. I just feel like it. I don't know. I'm just curious about that, like the gender issue in pelvic health. And if you see that as part of the reason why, maybe there's less information around it, you know, because Because generally medicine focuses on male bodies. I just wanted to talk about that gender, the issue of gender in this field,
Shannon Crow 14:55:18
for sure. And any, it's interesting that you feel that way. And you're not alone in that, like, most people, if I say I teach yoga for pelvic health, they automatically assume that I'm working with cisgender female people who are pregnant or giving birth or, or having pelvic health issues. And that that's the weirdest, it's the weirdest thing that that's what we assume. And I, I want to say like, we all do that, because that's how we were raised. But every single human is walking around with a pelvis with a pelvic floor. I've I've had people tell me, Well, I don't, that doesn't pertain to me, because I'm a cisgender. Male. And so therefore, I don't have a pelvic floor. And I'm like, Yeah, you totally do. And isn't it amazing then that we don't know that we have a pelvic floor? Or we don't? We lots of people don't even know where it is?
Yeah, well, right. So that's what I'm wondering is like, how do you? I don't know, I'm just curious, like, what do you say, then you have a pelvic floor, you need to figure out where it is and connect with it.
Shannon Crow 14:56:31
When I do pelvic health workshops, the majority of the time it is, you know, if I look around the room, and I do a quick scan, I I really try and take my gendered language out of pelvic health now, because it doesn't actually matter. But if I look around, I'm, I might just assume, okay, most people in this room are cisgender females. Because of that, but I do want to say I think it's really important that we start to talk about pelvic health and take out the gendered language, which I started to do a few years ago. You know, even saying like, this is a female pelvis versus a male pelvis. I think that we miss, like, we know that biologically, we don't just get divided into two categories. And we know that, what does that have to do if you and I both have a pelvis, and we have a pelvic floor, our oriens might be in a different configuration, but overall pelvic health, you and I could benefit from the same information. And, and, and that's the biggest thing, like having that awareness. Having learning about pelvic health, the biggest thing that I hear from people in workshops is Oh, my gosh, I had no idea. Yeah. And and I think we skipped over the pelvis, because we were taught like, don't talk about your private areas. There's a lot of shame around the pelvis.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, and just, for me, I think there's part of that is the frustration I have with the kind of gender assumptions that happen in a lot of yoga spaces that people assume that yoga, that contemporary practice is mostly for women, and that that that's the audience. And so I'm in a lot of yoga spaces where people will like even yoga groups on Facebook, I've noticed recently where people start hosts like, Hey, ladies. Yeah. And I'm like, Are you? Are you kidding? I'm like, Are you joking with that? Like, when you're 22, you're writing on a public Facebook group with 1000s of people and you write Hey, ladies, like, What do you mean, there's so many problems with that, like, I don't even know where to start, but and I think it happens in yoga classes as well. And so I feel like, I have this kind of already, like, got frustration about that. And so it's like, I think it's important. I love what you're saying, I think it's important to just kind of dismantle this whole area, like this whole, like belief and yoga, having a gender and also pelvic health having a gender that seems so well, our own, all of our notions of gender are really messed up to just like, as a binary instead of, you know, as a spectrum. Yeah. Yeah. So anyway, thank you for letting me share that.
Shannon Crow 14:59:25
It's so true. I we've also had posts like that in the connected yoga teacher group, where it's like, Hey, ladies, and we write to that poster saying, like, hey, just so you know, we are like, we have all various genders in our in our Facebook group. So this excludes some people and we want it to be inclusive, like we write a nice note back. So yeah, and if people are listening to this, and they're thinking, well, there are just two genders. You know what? Learn some More like, this is where I was learning. And thinking, oh my gosh, I had no idea about gender. No idea really compared to the information that's out there now. And and so we dug in inside of pelvic health professionals, you know, we did a transgender competency training, but that, that exploded into way more learning. If you think about it, just think for a moment how our pelvis is, and I, like, you know, do this visualization your, your pelvic floor, makes like a diamond shape. So at the very front, it attaches to your pubic bone. And at the very back, it attaches to your tailbone. And at the sides, it attaches to your sits bones or your ischial tuberosities. And it's doing a lot of things like the pelvic floor is doing a ton of things, but one thing we do know is that it supports your organs. And most people have a bladder and a rectum. Not all people, and some people have a uterus. And then and some people have like that organ. That is the uterus, if you imagine if you just turned it inside out, not for uterus owners, but for penis owners. It's like that's the sexual organ, but it's just shaped in a different way. It's it's really gender does not come into it. Unless your specialty is like we just had someone come in to pelvic health professionals and talk about gender affirming surgery. So then there are there are a lot of things that go along with that, that that might be more specific to gender, but really, you know, what would it be like, if all yoga teachers looked at Can I take my gendered language out of my yoga classes? I think that's a huge gift, because we can't assume people's gender just by looking at them.
No. And we shouldn't I mean, it's offensive to do so. And actually, it's, it creates, basically, it creates an exclusive community. When you do that, you basically are telling people that they're not welcome, if you do that. So I just think it's actually incredibly damaging and hurtful. And so even if, even if you do it, like unconsciously, you think, Oh, I didn't mean anything by it, it doesn't matter, you know, you need to actually, we need to be more conscious with our words, especially if you're in a position of teacher or any kind of authority. And I, you know, I make mistakes, too, but I think I need to, I'm happy to hear back about those mistakes. And I do get to hear back about them all the time. You know, like, when you have a podcast or like, teach publicly, you know, people are always happy to tell you what you're doing wrong, but I'm just saying, I totally want to echo what you said about yoga teachers not using gendered language. And you can't tell by looking at people what gender there are. And also, there's so many variations there. I like that what you were saying about the anatomy, like, there's intersex people and Trans people, like there's just so many variations.
Shannon Crow 15:03:15
Yeah, there's people who have to uteruses, right? That like, it's, it's really no one's business at all, what what your anatomy is like, unless you decide to share with them. But as yoga teachers, it is very much our business to to know, how does the bladder work? How does the rectum work? How does the pelvic floor work, especially, like you said, we could be causing harm. And that's, I mean, we can be causing harm with our gendered language. We can also be causing harm when we say, make sure you do your key goals on the way home or make sure to, and I hear I hear harmful cues happen in movement classes and yoga classes. And it's a pet peeve of mine.
And I have a question for you around, like around trauma informed teaching and anatomy, anatomical terms, so like, I, I think it's always there's always like a paradox in these things to me, like there's always like an edge there. And I feel like on the one hand, being neutral and talking about anatomy, is educating people around things around their anatomy is really useful as a yoga teacher, but the same time some terms are triggering to people. And, you know, I think I personally just avoid part of why I avoid some language around like sexual organs and stuff like that is that it can be triggering to people who have well for any reason,
Shannon Crow 15:04:49
right? 100% Yes. And and, you know, I have to say A that I come from this probably bias place of teaching one on one. So I go with that one person and what language they use? You know, if someone started to ask me questions, and it had a more anatomical language to it, I would echo that back to that person. And you get to know people but in a group class, that's a very good point, you know, is it is it serving, and I, I teach more yoga teachers around anatomy and pelvic health, so I would definitely use anatomical terms. But even like any of it, any of the language that we're going to use with yoga students, it has to be a conversation, you know. For example, you introduced me to Jacoby Ballard. And we did an interview about Trans pregnancy. And pregnancy was one word that Jacoby said, I, this isn't I don't like this word, like, I want it to be something else. And so I think the language we have to we have to consider the person that we're working with, or if we have a group establish those, like, kind of, you know, a group group communication rules or outline or something, or
I think we have to be more more general and more careful in groups like I think we can, it's different one on one with a chance to get feedback directly from somebody. I agree. That's a really good point. But yeah, public classes, I do think have a different set of rules. And generally, we have to be a lot more cautious with our language and err on err on the side I think of being careful.
Garrett Jurss 15:06:56
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Anyway, so but but maybe we need to be more specific here. Like what could you talk about some specific things that yoga teachers could be saying and helping yoga students understand about pelvic health within the context of a yoga class?
Shannon Crow 15:08:34
Yeah, well, first of all, all yoga teachers, anyone holding space and creating that space where people get to know their themselves better, is helping with like, overall our health and well being as a human, especially our pelvic health. That's what I started to realize, okay, when we have movement, and breath, and we really build that awareness. These are all things that can really help someone who's dealing with pelvic health issues or help to prevent pelvic health issues. So I just want to say that first that that's where I started to see this tie in. And then also, a lot of our yoga students are dealing with pelvic health issues, and they're not talking about it. So they might be peeing their pants, they might be like 50% of people who give birth, have some degree of pelvic organ prolapse. That's, that's really high. You know, if we have we have a class of postnatal people, you know, 50% of them there are dealing with some degree of pelvic organ prolapse and we as yoga teachers, we need to know. We need to know what that is. And we need to know what to cue people to look for. If they are doing Dealing with pelvic organ prolapse, like I had one student come to me and say, you know, I was doing both pose and I could really feel the pressure and my pelvic floor pushing down. And I feel like it's not good. I feel, you know, what are some alternatives? And this wasn't in one of my classes. This was in another yoga class. But yeah, we need to know like, for example, for that one, I kind of go on four principles. One, do you like doing the pose? Because I don't love boat pose at all. So wouldn't be my choice of like, here's how I want to build strength. Or I might, I might change Boat Pose, from what? From what someone's doing. So that's the first one is like, do I like it? Am I able to continuously breathe in this pose? And this is if you're dealing with pelvic organ prolapse, or diastasis, recti die? I know, I'm kind of throwing things out here. But these are, those are two of them. And then we look for along the linea. Alba. Is their domain? Like, is that line along the belly button? Is it sticking out? Or is it going in? And the last one, do we feel like a downward pressure on the pelvic floor? Or like kind of that? Are we bearing down too much on that pelvic floor? And those are? Those are four easy things check in when you're doing movement of any kind? And on a personal sorry, you're gonna say so I'm
gonna ask you something, just, yeah. You said okay, 50% of people have some kind of prolapse. Is that right? Is that after if they have given birth if they given birth? So I would just say like, it's interesting to me, when you hear about a number like that, because I, one of the things that I'm, I've struggled with, personally, is that when I'm teaching accessible yoga, and I'm trying to train teachers, around contraindications, you know, like something not to do, I feel like there's this push back in the community around, you know, like, what is it called, you know, like, negative connotations, or like creating a no SIBO effect, you know, no SIBO effect or like, how the idea is, if you put this like negative idea into someone's mind, they might actually start to have that negative experience. And so there's some, there's some reaction, I think it's kind of reactionary. Things happening in the community that I see around, like, don't be negative about it, like all bodies can move, for example, like, in my world, it's more like, spinal flexion. You know, like, forward bending, and how there's kind of a, there were some cautions that came out around forward bending, and then there was this push back and saying, like, all spinal movement is good, and we shouldn't be afraid. And we shouldn't scare our students about these things. But I feel like they're kind of like what you just said, 50% of people who've given birth have some kind of prolapse, that's huge. And that means like, a large portion of your students have had that. And I would say same around spinal flexion. Like, for me, there's figures that state that 50% of seniors have some kind of a back concern or pain. Like half like half of seniors have some back issue. Yeah. And a larger number, a larger percentage have osteoporosis. So it's like, you know, to say that flexion is fine and safe, and we shouldn't be afraid of it isn't true, actually. Because it might be true if you're a young, thin, flexible person. But if you're like teaching a class where you have like regular people in there, especially older people, or in your case, people who have given birth it feels fair to make those kind of to share those concerns. Don't I'm saying to be conscious and teach with those contraindications in mind. Do you know what I'm getting at?
Shannon Crow 15:13:57
Yes, I, this is so good. And I think that you're like, I definitely see how language could can build fear. Like I worked with one person who had pelvic organ prolapse and their gynecologist told them, whatever you do, don't lift your head up when you're trying to get up out of bed. And I think that is just fear based unnecessary language that isn't helpful like it's very hard to get out of bed without lifting your head off the bed. And, and what would be more helpful is to kind of have this checklist of like, okay, are these things happening? That's why I like it. Like do I like this movement? Well, I like to get out of bed. So can I breathe while I'm doing this? Because we can effort on the exhale and make a big difference. Is there any domain or imagination at that? linea alba and then do I feel a bearing down pressure on the pelvic floor and and then you would know, okay, if I do if I have some of these things, I'm gonna go see a pelvic health PT because they specialize in this just like our dentist specializes in, in dental work. So I I'm all for Let's Move, let's not be afraid to move and let's figure out what's going on so that, you know you're not just coming into boat pose with a pelvic organ prolapse and really, like possibly making it worse that I don't want to. I don't want to be making something worse. And I'll use myself as an example. So I used to work in yoga teacher trainings, and I was the demo person for so many poses. So if anyone's ever been that demo person, and I'm going to say more traditional or more westernized yoga, teacher training, I don't know what I'm going to call it. You might be holding plank pose for a really long time in the center of a room, or something like that. And what I didn't know is that at the time, I had diastasis, recti die after having three babies, which is what can you define that? Yeah, it's really interesting. You asked like, how would I define it? So there's, there was a change in the tissue at my linea. Alba. So it's normal in pregnancy for that tissue to change that allows our body to stretch and, you know, make room for baby. But I was having, I was having low back pain. So I didn't even associate it with diastasis recti. I didn't even know what that was. And it was when I went to see a pelvic health PT and was diagnosed with it. And then I went online and I googled it and I got like, this big list of don't do this pose, this pose will make it worse. Never do crunches never do planks, you know, all of this information. And also then it was like don't do table pose. I'm thinking what, or do pit table pose because that'll fix it. And I ended up being very confused. It took a lot of years of like digging through information and connecting with pelvic health experts. New studies came out about diastasis recti dye studies with experts who specifically work with this, we did a podcast episode on it with Dr. Sinead before. And, and a lot of it was like, Yeah, you can still move. But here are the things to look for, you know, here. That's what I needed. I didn't, I did need to back off on doing those plank poses for a while and figure out how to come back to those if I wanted to, you know how to continuous breath, building up to it, checking, like for that pressure at the linea alba or down on the pelvic floor. So yeah.
Okay, that's helpful. I mean, I think, I think what you're describing is like, the perfect, like result of that, which is that you might hear an instruction that either feels like, Wait, this might apply to me, or someone tells you like a contraindication. You think, oh, wait, so should I not be doing something but your personal experience might feel different. And then you have to like, kind of like, work it out in your own practice and come to some understanding. But I think that's, we can help students to avoid some of that by just being clear in our language, we could say things like, you know, if you have organ prolapse, this could be challenging, right? Is that what you would say? Like, I would say, with spinal flexion, like, if you have any back pain, be really cautious with spinal flexion, you know, be conscious about that.
Shannon Crow 15:18:52
I'm in a really unique place, because I talk about pelvic health all the time. So I feel like I, we go through this, like, here's what's happening with your breath. Here's what you know, here's how the pelvic floor is naturally moving. And when we have this information, and when we offer that to students, they can then make so many decisions. And this is reminding me you and Amber did an amazing podcast. I forget which episode it was, but it was like May the last one that you did on community. And I listened to it this week. And I was thinking yes, yes. Like this idea that we are not the expert in this person's body just because we learn more about public health, the more we take that information, we pass it over to our students and then that really empowers them to make those decisions and you know, build their healthcare team and, and also really listen to their own body and figure out okay, what's happening here with me? Because that area gets skipped over so much. So I just want to say that this is one of those spots where I feel like pelvic health and learning about pelvic health or anything like you saying, learning about the spine, it can be scary for yoga teachers, because they think that they have to, like, know everything. But if we know enough to, to really understand how the body works, and how humans work and the nervous system and all of the other complex things, then we can share that with our yoga students and they have that information, then they can, you know, then they can go to any yoga class and change, oppose and do something different or,
yeah, exactly. And I do think that we forget sometimes that if you're calling yourself a teacher, then your job is to educate. And that doesn't always mean simply giving someone instructions of how to move the body in a pose. But it could be taking a moment to give like a little side, you know, not to be like a work, it could workshop a pose, you could just give like a little tidbit of detailed information, background information. In the middle of something else you don't I'm saying like, you can add a lot of information in a yoga class that's beyond just move your body like this.
Shannon Crow 15:21:09
Yeah, yeah. Like, I get really fascinated. And I geek out about science stuff. So the bladder fascinates me. Like when we get a draft of cold air on the back of our calf muscles, there's actually a nerve there that that communicates with the bladder. And that's why sometimes we'll get a draft of cold air and think, I think I have to pee. And I think it's fascinating, because sometimes that might happen when we get home from a long car ride, and we go to put the keys in the door. And we're like, oh, my gosh, I have to go V right now, like those are, those are different things in the body. And when we understand why it's happening, because the answer is not just to Kegel and strengthen your pelvic floor, just so you know. Well, we understand that, then it can make a huge difference.
Yeah, let's talk about that. Because I know you have kind of a thing about that this focus on that we always talked about engaging, and engage the core, engage the pelvic floor. And I know that's been a frustration for you.
Shannon Crow 15:22:15
So I would just ask for anyone who is cueing that if you do say to your yoga classes, engage your pelvic floor or engage your core. What are you hoping first of all, like, what is your intention of saying that I hear I hear it lots in the yoga world Pilates, other movement classes?
Well, I actually think it goes back to my comment about spinal flexion. I just be honest, I think the way the only reason I would bring it up in a class is if I had students who have back issues. And I think that the idea is, and it's not true, either. There's this kind of belief that we have that if you have a back problem that you just need to strengthen your abdominal muscles. And, you know, I mean, for some people that might actually help but for many people, that's not the answer. There might be other things they need to do some people though that true. So it's become like a general, just like a lot of things in the yoga that we say they become generalized. Yeah. And
Shannon Crow 15:23:15
so then what do you think? Let's do let's just take like, a student who's maybe been coming to class for about a month, so they're not brand new to yoga? And the teacher says to them, engage your core. What do you think that student is doing in that moment?
I mean, I think they're tightening all the muscles, I can think of a middle, in the middle of their body in their abdomen, and
Shannon Crow 15:23:41
yeah, yeah. And going on engage the pelvic floor, the most common thing that I see is like people squeeze their butt. And, and, okay, so we know a couple of things. We know one that the pelvic floor in general, holds a lot of tension when we're stressed. Now we know especially now, we've just lived through a pandemic, you know, life is busy and stressful. The majority of people are probably I'm gonna take an educated guess like walking around with more often than not a pelvic floor that is holding tension. I can feel this in myself. If I'm like, standing doing the dishes or something. I'm like, Oh, look at me, engaging my pelvic floor when I'm just, you know, maybe thinking of something stressful. We've done scientific studies that show that the pelvic floor is the first thing to engage. So they did a series with a series of tests where they put electrodes on people's muscles and showed them graphic like stressful images. And the pelvic floor was the first one to fire and engage. And so yeah, it's important that the pelvic floor is be able to engage and that it's strong. But it's also so important that it lengthens and relaxes that, that's how it works at its best. And so if we knew, Okay, let's say over half of our classes already holding a pelvic floor that's holding a lot of tension, I would we queue more of that, like, that'd be like, if your shoulders were holding tons of tension, then you're like, alright, let's everyone tighten your shoulders and hold your shoulders. We've gotten things mixed up, we think that a weak pelvic floor is one that is, needs to be like holding tension all the time. But that's not how muscles work. So I think that's one thing also 98% of low back pain is connected in some way to pelvic floor tension. So we don't know which came first pelvic floor tension or low back pain. And so we can really aggravate things when we start just. And the cool thing is, we can engage the core without saying those words. If you stand, and you just slowly tip forward without moving your feet, and tip back, and maybe you want to hold on to something to do it, that's fine. Your quote unquote, core, which I want to talk about that in a moment, will engage like it will engage so So you, as someone who might be directing movement, and a yoga class and breath, you are doing all kinds of things with the core, you don't have to say, engage your core, engage your pelvic floor. And we, I think we need to take those cues out until we really understand it. And we also probably our student has gone to see a pelvic floor PT to assess does the pelvis, is the pelvic floor holding too much tension? Or is it like what is it really need? It can be very complicated. It's not our it's not within our scope of practice, I don't think as a yoga teacher to be to be giving that as regular homework we can we can talk about awareness of the pelvic floor from some engagement cues. But yeah, I think we're dipping out of what yoga is and into something else. But that
was interesting. I wasn't like the connection talked about we connect weakness, to not be engaged when it could be relaxed, like I think, let me just say, in general, I think we don't have much of a connection to what relaxation feels like. And it feels like weakness, or it feels like yeah, like not being engaged in some way. But I want to I want to connect it to the breath. I heard you mentioned the breath a few times. And I feel like I know there's a connection between the diaphragm and pelvic floor, the diaphragm muscle, and I was just thinking about the comment you made about pelvic health and lower back, or did you say lower back pain, lower back issues.
Shannon Crow 15:28:04
There was a study that yeah, saying like 98% of people who had low back pain also had pelvic floor tension.
Because I feel like also the diaphragm muscle goes connects inserts in the lower back in the lumbar spine, I think there's a lot of connection there as well between the breath and the lower back. We breathe, but I wondered about the connection between the breath and pelvic health, if you could talk about that.
Shannon Crow 15:28:28
So the diaphragm and the pelvic floor, if you can remember that they're best friends, they love to move together. So they move down together on the inhale and they gently on their own, without you needing to do anything, move up together on the exhale. So take something for like, if you want to play around with this, I love to bring something into practice, do this in Bridge Pose. So a lot of yoga teachers will cue bridge pose, lifting on the inhale. There's nothing wrong with that you can put your breath wherever you want to. But try it for a moment to lift on the exhale. Because the pelvic floor is naturally moving up, then on that exhale up towards the head. And it might really change how that feels. So there's all kinds of way that the diaphragm is working one, it is definitely part of the core. I also want to say geven I'm so glad that you brought up the diaphragm. I get very excited about this because I bet you've never been to a yoga class where someone is saying to you Jivana Engage your diaphragm. It's time to strengthen your diaphragm. And it's a dome just like the pelvic floor. So why the heck are we putting so much emphasis on the pelvic floor and we're not on the diaphragm they behave in a very similar way. But we we Like society puts so much messaging on the pelvic floor. There's a whole like, you know, you, you better have a tight pelvic floor, oh, that's going to be better for your partner like, sexually this is going to be more pleasurable for everyone. Well guess what it? It might not be, it might be very painful if our pelvic floor is holding too much tension. So you have some pretty warped ideas about it. And I hope that I hope that we get away from that.
Yeah, that's so interesting. I do think there's a lack of understanding of the diaphragm. But I'd say the same about the pelvic floor. It seems like you know, even when I trained teachers, I like to teach about the way the diaphragm works when we're breathing because I really don't think people know, I just think I think we need more clear training for yoga teachers on anatomy, and it's it's complex, you know, it's, it's a lot, but I say like, it would just make us all better yoga teachers. Yes, for
Shannon Crow 15:30:59
sure. I like to cue, ribcage breath, instead of breath or belly breathing. And I, I did a podcast on that I'm happy to share it. Because it's one of those moments where I used to queue belly breathing. That's what I learned. And then it was like, oh, I need to throw this all out the window here for a minute, on a lot of things and then relearn it.
Yeah, I mean, I just tried it. I try to explain how that diaphragm moves just so that you can understand where it's moving. And why the word the ribcage moving? Why would the abdomen be moving or not? Yeah, that's important to understand. Anyway, this has all been very helpful. Is there anything else you wanted to share about pelvic health and yoga, I don't know if we've covered it. Enough.
Shannon Crow 15:31:45
Here. I mean, I touched on scope of practice, I think this is really important. I struggled with this at first, when I started to specialize. You know, and I turned to the eight limbs. That's what I use as my scope of practice. That's my scope of practice. And I learned from working with PTS that I could really be part of that healthcare team. And then I know where my scope of practice is. And I know when I'm referring someone to pelvic health PT, which is like all the time, even in conversation just with friends. So I would say if make sure you connect with if you decide, okay, I want to focus more on pelvic health, and I want to learn more, find the experts in your area, or find the experts online that you can refer people to like, you had mentioned trauma. Anytime I'm working with someone and they have, and they're dealing with trauma. I know the psychotherapist in my area who specializes in trauma. That's who I'm going to refer to so yeah, I think and continue to learn, like follow your curiosity there. Or maybe it's something else, maybe you're like, really into learning all about how the feet work, or that's, that's, that's what's driven me to do this I, I, I could endlessly talk to people about their job.
Well, I mean, I love what you said about working on a team. I mean, scope of practice is a really great topic, I think, for yoga teachers to reflect on to understand what our scope is, and and it's a little confusing, I think, depending on your particular training. But I love that, you know, once you have a passion and you've done an additional study in an area, it does slightly expand your scope of practice, generally what it does, it makes you realize how little you know, yes. And then you realize that you and hopefully connects you to other professionals in the area, and you can refer to them. And I think that's the key about scope of practice is not just knowing your own limitations, but also be able to refer people out. And so I love that comment.
Shannon Crow 15:33:53
For sure. The last question I would like leave you with and leave your listeners with is, you know, what the heck is the core anyway? Because that's one thing that when you just said like, the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know? Yeah, I used to be like, the core is the diaphragm and the pelvic floor and the multifidus and the transversus abdominus. And that's the core for Well, wait a second, what about the psoas? What about? What about the glutes? What about? And so keep questioning the things that you read online or learn when it has to do with the core or the pelvis or the body in any way? Man, yeah, it's gonna be uncomfortable, just like
and I think continue to get training. I mean, I was, I interviewed Robin Rothenberg a few months ago about yoga and COVID for this podcast, and people can go back and listen to that episode if they're interested in but she had a really interesting folk Guess in her work, which is that regarding the breath, I mean, she's really she's really focused on on how we breathe and how that how yoga can support our breath. And that's where she, that's how she connects with COVID supporting people with their breathing. But she says that we were too focused on more is better, you know that general yoga and yoga has focused on that in, in so many ways I like more, more advanced poses more calisthenic poses or gymnastic poses is better, more advanced, when actually, less is more. And I always say that like, for me, I always say more subtle is more advanced and yoga. So I loved her focus on subtlety in the breath. And that less is more. And that and with pranayama. In particular, we're not trying to make the breath bigger. We're actually trying to get quieter. And I just wonder about that connection with pelvic health to that seems like you you're going in the same direction about this relaxed movement, subtle, subtle awareness. Is that true?
Shannon Crow 15:35:53
Yeah, that is, now you're describing my class. So someone else might teach yoga for pelvic health in a different way. I feel like my classes definitely, we spend time really moving in small ways. I'm really noticing really getting curious, like, Oh, this is interesting. I'm like this side of things. And what about this side? Or how's this feeling? Edit, it is really subtle. And I do think less can be more for sure. You know, it's interesting. Being at the conference in Toronto, that you're doing the accessible yoga conference, Shelly Prosko was teaching and she did a movement, it was all about pain, science and yoga. And that definitely also ties into pelvic health. And anyway, and Shelley is a pelvic health expert, but I often turn to she led us through a practice that was like, cat cow and breath in various ways. And it was, you know, you might think, Well, I've done cat cow, seated cat cow. Yeah, let's, whatever. I've done this. But she did it in such a mindful, subtle way, that it allowed everyone in that room to really drop in. And you could tell like, that's, that was my experience of it, for sure. And I think you're right, sometimes we think, Oh, more is better. But no, a whole day full of yoga is probably like a vinyasa flow all day class. Probably not. Not better than, you know, five minutes of being really mindful and dropping in.
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. Oh, that message. I just, I appreciate you and your work. Thanks for sharing with us. And then with me, for being here. Hi.
Shannon Crow 15:37:44
You're so welcome. Thank you for for your podcast, the work that you do. Also, just really for, for meeting people where they're at, like I feel, you just have this gift of, of bringing comfort, and like everyone's welcome. And I realized that's what accessible yoga is. But also, it's just part of your personality and the way you the way you hold community. So thank you.
I appreciate that. Thanks so much. I mean, Thanks, Shannon. Thank you for all of that. Thanks for being here. And also, we'll put some links for your so that people can find you in the show notes. But do you have anything in particular? I mean, people can? Well, of course, listen to your podcast that can join your Facebook group that can join pelvic health professionals, right? Is there anything else that could do with you,
Shannon Crow 15:38:36
if you want, and you can tell me if you want to do this, I can give you a special code just for your listeners so that they can get a month free, and they can check it out. And they can get access to all of all of this stuff in there. So I'll get that code to you.
Okay, yeah, yeah, that'd be great. I'll put that in the show notes. So there'll be a code is that for pelvic health professional, pelvic health professionals. That's what we're talking about.
Shannon Crow 15:39:00
Yeah. And they can jump in there and learn from like, we have all of the replays in there from all of our pelvic health expert calls. And there's a lot in there and they can they can hang out and check it out for the full month.
Awesome. Okay. Thank you. That's great. That's a great gift for our community. And so has this whole talk has been a gift. So I appreciate that. Thanks for all you shared, and for all that you do. Thanks for being here. Thank you. Jivana. Okay, bye. Bye. Thanks for joining us for the accessible yoga podcast. We're so grateful to be in community with you.
Amber Karnes 15:39:40
Please check out our website accessible yoga.org. To find out more about our upcoming programs, including our annual accessible yoga conference. At our website. You can also learn more about how to become an accessible yoga ambassador and support the work that we're doing in the world.
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Amber Karnes 15:39:59
You can also submit a question or suggest a topic or potential guests you'd like us to interview at accessible yoga.org See you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai