When I read “Pelvic Exercises for Men, Too” by Roni Caryn Rabin in The New York Times this morning (July 14), I thought that yogis have been doing some pelvic floor exercises for centuries–and more than just Kegel. It is an essential part of every class I teach. The article refers to the book Male Pelvic Fitness by Dr. Andrew L. Siegel, a urologist.
It is clearly a neglected area of the body for the most part and the consequences of the weakening pelvic floor muscles can deeply affect the quality of life with aging or after child birth. Yoga distinguishes three areas and groups of muscles–urinary, perineum, and excretory/rectal. The urinary muscles are exercised by vajroli (men) and sahajoli (women) mudras. The perineum is the focus for moola bandha. Ashwini mudra tones and controls the rectal area. As noted in the column and comments, the Kegel/moola bandha is a difficult area to locate for men and it is not any easier for women. It is the area of the perineum. Moola Bandha by Swami Buddhananda Saraswati (first edition 1978) is an excellent book on these yoga exercises and it gives clear diagrams as well as specific instructions on locating the areas as well as the practices.
I have not read Dr. Siegel’s book. One clear difference though is that in raja yoga these practices were given for spiritual purposes to control sexual energy for abstinence. However, anyone can exercise that area for general health of the organs there as well as for incontinence.