“The root of the female body is the physical ground where a woman can begin to understand her own relationship with the wild feminine.” – Tami Lynn Kent
In the previous article in this series, we offered you a VIP guided tour of your magnificent vulva. Now we’re ready to go a step further, and invite you to join us in exploring the innermost power center of your body: the interior of your pelvic bowl.
The Pelvic Bowl
The bones of your pelvis form a gorgeous bowl shape, one which holds the cornucopia of your sexual and reproductive organs, your urinary and lower digestive organs, all of the vascular and lymphatic structures, the nerves that provide you with all of the sensation in the exquisitely sensitive tissues of your clitoris, and more. All of it is supported by the mighty hammock of muscles that make up your pelvic floor.
Tami Lynn Kent (the visionary founder of Holistic Pelvic care) calls the pelvic bowl and all it contains “the root.” It’s a fitting image: just as a plant receives the majority of its nourishment through its roots, an enormous portion of what we need to thrive can be accessed through touching, mapping and releasing the energy present in the root of our bodies.
Mapping the Unseen
To many of us, the interior of the pelvic bowl is a complete mystery. We don’t spend a lot of time with our attention there — unless there’s a sexual encounter unfolding or we’re experiencing discomfort or pain. But this root contains an extraordinary wealth of information, sensation, and full-bodied vitality — readily available to anyone who dares to access it.
What we are about to describe is decidedly different from self-pleasuring. In masturbation, we stimulate ourselves according to our particular tastes, in pursuit of arousal and orgasm. But during intravaginal massage, we bring the same kind of touch to our interior anatomy that we would bring to any muscle that wants our attention and touch — massaging your own sore neck isn’t super sexy, and massaging the interior of your vagina isn’t necessarily sexy, either.
We strongly recommend that internal mapping & massage you undertake be openly exploratory and free of any agenda. (For that matter, we make the same recommendation about masturbation too — but that’s for another article!)
Why is it a marvelous idea to understand & massage the inside of your vagina?
- Improving Muscle Tension / Weakness: Mapping & massage can help you identify pain or tension from muscles that are too-tight (hypertonic), and awareness actually kickstarts the process of unwinding that tension. The most common cause of pelvic complaints — from painful sex to prolapse — is that pelvic floor muscles are too tight and therefore unable to contract and release effectively. Just as a clenched fist cannot grasp, a too-tight pelvic floor may be unable to support the proper positioning and optimal function of the pelvic organs. What’s the next leading cause of pelvic complaints? Muscles that are too weak (hypotonic).
- Releasing Connective Tissue: Mapping & massage also help to release adhesions and congestion in pelvic connective tissues. A chronically-clenched pelvic floor often goes along with adhesions in the connective tissue, or fascia, which can cause fluid congestion in the pelvic tissues. Adhesions in the fascia often arise from chronic muscle tension, and can reinforce that same muscle tension in a feedback loop. The pelvic floor is designed to move a great deal, to contract powerfully and release completely, and when its mobility is limited by unconscious clenching, the layers of fascia can become fixed in a position that reinforces that lack of movement – and it can become so uncomfortable that we will unconsciously change our posture in order to avoid feeling it. This can lead to congestion in the natural blood and fluid flow through the tissues — think of the buildup of standing water that occurs behind a dam — and over time can become a site of chronic inflammation.
- Healing Injuries: The pelvis, like anywhere else on the body, can be a site of injury. Unlike anywhere else on the body, the pelvis, particularly the sexual and reproductive parts, is a place of such enormous cultural taboo that many healthcare providers will simply refuse to recognize problems as they arise or do anything useful to treat them. This means that when a body sustains a traumatic injury to the vulva or vagina, it can be a Sisyphean task to find a care provider who can or will help. This is horrifically common, for example, when it comes to injuries from birth or from sexual trauma. Internal self-massage can be an incredible tool for addressing and healing traumatic injuries of all kinds — a tool that we believe should be taught to women, by women, worldwide.
- Overcoming Shame & Frozen Feelings: Our bodies remember everything, especially events of particular emotional significance, and will hold onto emotions and energies until there’s a safe time and place for them to surface into consciousness. Because our sexual organs are all-too-often the site of intensity and conflict (and because many of us have had traumatic experiences focused on these specific parts of our bodies) giving ourselves internal massage can be a gentle, direct way to offer ourselves love and healing, integrating any parts of ourselves or our stories that we may have suppressed.
Preparation, Location and Supplies
To begin this inner mapping & massage, you will need a private, comfortable place – we prefer the bed, the bathtub, or the shower – and your lubrication of choice for fingers, vulva and vagina.
If you’re already a fan of Foria Awaken for sex and self-pleasure, you’ll likely find it useful here too. Awaken adds more than glide, though — it can also increase blood flow to the tissues, release muscle tension & discomfort, and provide soothing, anti-inflammatory effects to promote healing & renewal.
Surveying Your Domain
Before taking this journey, let’s get familiar with the territory. Please investigate these landmarks freely with your hands as we go!
It’s useful to know the bony landmarks that comprise the pelvic bowl. The bone at the front of your pelvis is called the pubic bone (it is actually two bones, with a pad of cartilage joining the two halves in the center), and the triangular bone at the back of your pelvis, at the base of your spine, is called the sacrum. At the very bottom of the sacrum is your tailbone, also called the coccyx. On either side, just where you would put your hands on your hips, is a bone called the ilium. And the bones that you sit on, commonly called sitzbones, are known as the ischium.
Once you’re ready — mentally and physically relaxed & warm — gently insert one finger into your vagina as you lay your other hand on the curve of your belly, so that you can feel each of the following landmarks both from the inside and from the outside of your body.
One easy way to discuss the interior landmarks of the vagina is to visualize a clock facing you.
- 12 o’clock: Pressing with a finger (gently now!) against the front wall of the vagina, toward your pubic bone, you may be able to feel your urethra.
- 6 o’clock: Pressing (also gently!) toward your sacrum and coccyx will touch the posterior wall of the vagina and, through that tissue, your rectum.
- 9 o’clock (left) & 3 o’clock (right): Pressing directly outward on the right side will bring you to three o’clock, and the same motion on the left side will bring you to nine o’clock.
Contract & Release: Developing Balance
Dividing up the pelvis into easy quadrants in this way will enable you to feel the balance of your pelvic floor engagement — your ability to both contract AND release the muscles of your pelvic floor in an even, symmetrical way, right/left and front/back. This is well worth knowing because significant imbalance in the pelvic floor is the underlying cause of a number of dysfunctions.
The way you can assess your pelvic balance is to press a finger into each quadrant of your pelvic floor muscles — squeezing as tightly as you can and then relaxing as much as you can around your finger. You will be able to feel (even though the position may be a bit awkward) the contraction and release of the pelvic floor in each position. An optimal squeeze will draw the pelvic floor inward AND upward, with an even engagement all the way around the pelvic bowl.
If you want to try this, find a fairly symmetrical position (this won’t work well if you have one leg up, for example.) You will want to press the edge of your finger into the walls of your vagina at approximately the 2 o’clock, 4:30, 7:30, and 10 o’clock positions — and squeeze and release.
Notice whether you feel that you are squeezing more powerfully in any given position than the others, or if they all feel more or less the same.
Just as importantly, pay attention to whether or not you can feel your internal muscles really relax. These two observations will be great information for you as you begin to explore internal massage.
In the next article in this series, we guide you deeper into the transformative world of vaginal bodywork.
Written by: Pamela Samuelson