Author : Sharon Davies
Source : Gladiator, UK
Pelvic floor exercise has been an important aspect of overall fitness in many of these cultures for centuries and to this day is still an essential part of life. The pelvic floor is one of the most important — but one of the most neglected — muscle groups of the body and plays a major role in childbirth and sexual response, in additional to supporting the bladder, womb and bowel.
Pelvic floor exercise has been mentioned in a range of ancient Indian texts including the Kama Sutra and the Ananga Ranga. Each of these shows the role pelvic floor exercise can play in enhancing the sexual fulfillment of both a woman and her partner.
In present day India, a selection of these texts are still used for the day-to-day instruction of followers of Tantra — a Hindu cult based on cosmic sexuality. Although the rituals are kept secret and the teaching of them is kept to Tantric guides, the sexual technique is based on a form of contraction of the pelvic floor muscles called Yoni-Mudra. This is said to ‘concentrate and radiate the energies up the spine to the brain to attain a mystical sense of bliss.
In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the practice of pelvic floor exercise traditionally passed on as early as puberty from mother to daughter. This is done because of the effects it has on sexual response, the benefits it has in terms of recuperation following childbirth and the minimisation of the likehood of stress incontinence in later life. In fact, a new mother can only resume sex when she is able to contract her vagina tightly around the fingers of the village midwife.
In many African cultures, squatting is the favourite posture for resting, conversing and eating. By squatting, a woman uses her pelvic floor muscles extensively — urinating whilst squatting is a natural exercise for the pelvic floor muscles and starting and stopping the flow demands control. In such cultures, there is a lower degree of stress incontinence than in, for example, the United Kingdom.
A study carried out with tribe in Borneo noted that pelvic floor exercise was taught to female teenagers in preparation for marriage. The incidence of urinary incontinence in tribe females was one in one-hundred, whereas in the western world the incidence was one in four.
In current day Brazil, the practice of pelvic floor exercise is known as pampoar and a thriving organization — the Clube des Pampoaristas — provides training sessions and extended courses on the subjects. Material on pampoar was published by the English writer Sir Richard Burton in the last century. There is a Brazilian magazine called Ginastica Sexual, devoted to this form of exercise.
The French government has recognised the importance of pelvic exercise — even to the extent of financing the private sector. The government provides each new mother with a set of vouchers enabling her to obtain either public or private treatment for re-education of the pelvic floor muscles following childbirth.