Pulling up Your Undercarriage.

The perineum.
Between the thighs, approximately midway between the genitals and the anus, is the midpoint of the muscles that can be used to help solve a wide variety of health issues.
This is the centre of your pelvic floor, and is important in helping prostate and incontinence problems, as well as problems with some types of hernia and prolapse, and even haemorrhoids.

Feeling it.
If you are unsure where it is, it’s the same muscle you use when trying to stop urination in mid-flow, as well as the one that women practise using both pre- and then postnatally to help the recovery of the pelvic floor.

Anatomical location
The muscle is connected from the front of the pelvis (symphysis pubis) to the tip of the spine and sacrum, and sideways to the lower outside borders of the pelvis (see diagram) – the sitting bones. This is a little basic, but is good enough for our purposes.

The pelvic floor’s function.
It’s function is to hold the bowel, digestive, and reproductive organs in position (intestines, womb, uterus, bladder).  Without it, gravity would allow those organs to drop between the thighs.   It’s the bottom of the shopping bag, and needs to be strong.  It’s important in controlling the bladder and bowels, as well as helping with sexual function and fertility.  It is also important in the relationship between the spine and the pelvis, and when used correctly, can help with back & pelvic pain.  There is also a relationship between correct pelvic floor use and breathing.

We’re all getting older, and incontinence can be a problem for both men and women.   Having good pelvic floor muscle tone can stop that problem by helping with sphincter control, but you have to practise.

But you can also damage the pelvic floor….
Pregnancy and childbirth for women
Straining on the toilet
Chronic coughing
Heavy lifting
High impact exercise

A couple of points:
Don’t pull up the undercarriage without breathing, preferably abdominally.
Avoid gripping the gluteal muscles (muscles in the buttocks).

How does this relate to Tai Chi & Qigong?
This group of muscles is constantly used when doing both tai chi & qigong, and closely connected to the pelvic tilt (see previous blog).   When you tilt your pelvis, you simultaneously need to lift the pelvic floor.
James Drewe teaches Taijiquan and qigong in both London and in Kent. Details of weekly classes can be found on the website, and there are classes for 2-person Taijiquan one Saturday a month.

Email: taijiandqigong@gmail.com
Phone: 07836-710281 or 020-8883 3308


4 thoughts on “Pulling up Your Undercarriage.

  1. th3gr33nman

    So many similarities, James!

    In Yoga, engaging this perineal nest of muscles is called Mula Bandha – Base Lock.

    We locate it where two lines – between the pubis & the tailbone, and across the two sit-bones – cross each other.

    Or, as my Tibetan Buddhist meditation teacher delicately described it: “Between the front and the rear ‘gateways’.”!

    The practical benefits are exactly the same as you describe – I like the ‘shopping bag’ simile!

    It is also said the prevent the escape of ‘Apana’.

    Apana is the energy that, Yoga explains, controls the functions of the lower body, e.g. elimination and reproduction.

    There are a couple of ways that we are taught to engage the ‘undercariage’:

    Firstly, just to isolate and feel contraction in that area, we sit on a hard floor or kneel in Cat Face Up.

    The we try to contract the buttock muscles strongly.

    Because the floor or the pelvic tilt prevents the buttocks moving, the effort can be felt just in front of the anus.

    We familiarise ourselves with the sensation by doing it a few times.

    Then, we stand and move to the second technique.

    This involves contracting the front and the rear ‘gateways’ – the urethra and the anus – simultaneously.

    We do this as slowly and strongly as possible – as if stopping waste escaping from those exits.

    Then, just as slowly we release both of them, fully.

    Just before full release occurs, the clenched contraction of the perineal muscles – between urethra and anus – can be felt and released, .

    Once again, we repeat the technique several times to isolate and become familiar with the pelvic floor muscles.

    Eventually, that familiarity allows us to isolate and engage the perineun without contracting the ‘gateways’.

    And that is Mula Bandha – Yoga’s way of strengthening the pelvic floor.

    In the meantime, engaging both sphincters – strongly and together – is sure to “pull up the undercarriage” too!



  2. Pia Huber

    Dear James,

    Well put together with nice illustrations. Very useful. Thanks


    On Wed, 9 Jan 2019, 11:29 Taiji & Qigong (classes with James Drewe) Taiji.co.uk – James Drewe Taiji & Qigong posted: “The perineum. Between > the thighs, approximately midway between the genitals and the anus, is the > midpoint of the muscles that can be used to help solve a wide variety of > health issues. This is the centre of your pelvic floor, and is important in > helping” >


  3. James

    Great post! Thank you.

    You mentioned there is a previous post which explains how/when the pelvic floor is tucked versus lengthened but I couldn’t find it. Can you link it within the following statement, “see previous blog”, or explain here what the coordination of inhale/exhale tuck/lengthen is supposed to be.

    Thank you so much!



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