As a yoga practitioner and teacher, I specialize in the use of yoga for many issues but specifically for pelvic floor problems. After suffering from hypertonic pelvic syndrome, I found relief from my symptoms by a careful application of Iyengar-style/influenced yoga and breath work and since then I have continued to refine and develop the application of yoga for the pelvic floor for myself and others. To this end, for the past twelve years, I have taught women of all ages to practice yoga to alleviate pelvic floor conditions, including urinary incontinence and pelvic pain, through a combination of small group teaching, public workshops, and national conferences.
A few times a year I teach a twenty hour teacher training for therapeutic application of yoga and pranayama to help alleviate symptoms for pelvic floor issues. There is an optional certification process available after the training. I am currently the director of the Piedmont Yoga 200 Hour Teacher Training program and part of the core faculty for their 300 Hour program.
I have over 3500 hours of yoga study and 20 years of yoga teaching. Unlike the western medical academy, there does not exist an analogous institution of higher learning in yoga. Instead there exist various schools of yoga and students who learn through close apprenticeship with a teacher. The school that I am most closely affiliated with, Iyengar, is known for its focus on anatomy including proper alignment of the body, precision of asanas, sensitivity to injury, and keen attention to asana sequencing. I have studied intensively with top-tier teachers in the Iyengar school: Manouso Manos, Ramanand Patel, Tony Briggs, Patricia Walden, and others.
Each year I give presentations to hundreds of women on anatomy, physiology, posture, proper breathing techniques, and asanas (poses). As a result many women have reported significant alleviation of symptoms including a decrease in pelvic floor issues thus lessening or eliminating the need for surgery and/or medication.
“In my workshop I’m really truly introducing a lot of women to their pelvises whether they have a problem, don’t have a problem, whether they think they’re too loose in their pelvic floor or too tight in their pelvic floor. You need to know what’s there, you know, you need to know how to move it. You need to know how to stretch it and strengthen it.”
The Forgotten Intimacy: Pelvic Floor Awareness
Yoga for the Pelvic Floor: A workshop for women
From puberty to adolescence, menstrual to menopause, pelvic floor health matters. In yoga practice, sometimes we are encouraged to hold and tightening it, for a support. But, what if the muscles in this area already hypertonic? Proper strengthening and stabilizing of the pelvic floor helps to create the correct foundation of each movement in the body. This is the true meaning of "core work." Whether you experience any of these conditions, or are just plain curious about this region of the body, this workshop is for you:
- pelvic pain
- lower back, hip or groin problems
- discomfort during sex or while using tampons
- skin irritation
- leak when laughing or sneezing
- have to go the bathroom too often
- prolapsed organs
- pregnancy and birth
In this workshop we will locate, assess, soften, stretch, strengthen and exercise the muscle groups of the pelvic floor, discuss mula bandha, abdominal health and how to utilize the pelvic floor in asana. The first day of the workshop will begin with anatomy, lecture and discussion, followed by subtle experiential movements to awaken your understanding of this often ignored area. A series of specific exercises and asanas for the pelvic floor will follow. We will look at therapeutic application of postures and breathing for different conditions. Bring your friends, sisters, mothers and daughters. Although helpful, no yoga experience is required. This workshop qualifies for continuing education credits with Yoga Alliance. Morning sessions are anatomy lectures and afternoon sessions are practice based.
Sorry, gentlemen: this workshop is for women only.
09:30-12:00 morning session
13:00-15:30 afternoon session
10 hours of CEU credits for Yoga Alliance.
In the Pelvic Floor Alliance: The Road to Recovery
The female pelvis and the pelvic muscles are an under appreciated region of the anatomy. Important not only for sexuality, the pelvic muscles are crucial for optimal functioning of the body. In this 3-day intensive, based on years of ongoing self exploration and practice, Leslie will guide us to have a closer look and deeper understanding on this subtle, yet inseparable connections.
09:30-12:00 Yoga for Cranky Hips
This alignment-based class is a slow, methodical and safe way of working the legs to create space in and around the hip sockets. Leslie addresses how to use yoga poses and yoga props to increase space, flexibility and strength in the hips. You will find familiar yoga poses using props and done with a focus on the relationship between the legs and pelvis. This way of practicing can help alleviate aches and pains in and around the head of the femur.
Pain in the hips can have many causes. But whatever the root cause, most people are sitting in chairs or cars more than ever before. Sitting with the legs at a 90 degree angle from your torso decreases the amount of space in the front of the hip sockets, brings the femurs forward in the hip socket and restricts blood flow to the pelvis. We come to yoga to undo some of our postural bad habits. However, we can actually exacerbate hip pain if we are doing our poses without mindfulness. The approach in this class is to encourage the femurs to be deeper towards the back of their sockets, and to practice the poses with a new spotlight on the hip joint.
13:00-15:30 Yoga for Cranky Knees
Those of us that have struggled with knee pain know that the knee joint can be less than excellent. If you struggle with knee pain the stats show that you are not alone: One in five men and one in four women experience knee pain daily, and women are up to eight times more likely to suffer knee injuries than men.
The key to avoiding knee problems is keeping the whole body aligned. That's where yoga comes in. Come join Leslie in this alignment based therapeutic approach to different types of knee pain.
09:30-12:00 13:00-15:30 Aging Gracefully with Yoga part 1 & part 2
In a racially, ethnically and geographically diverse group of women with frequent hot flashes or night sweats — the largest study to date found that the symptoms associated with menopause can last up to fourteen years after a woman's last period. Menopause means fluctuating hormones, which can make sleep more difficult, belly fat harder to combat, feelings of irritability can increase, and desire for sex sometimes diminishes. But yoga and pranayama can help. In one study, yoga practice cut hot flashes by 31%, and other research has found that regularly doing yoga improved libido, mood, insomnia and craving control. This program builds on Leslie's experience with the pelvic floor, having her own menopausal symptoms and working one on one with women going through the "change".
Come explore the possibilities. We will discuss the anatomy and physiology of this transitional time for women. Followed by a few different yoga practices that can be used for the most common symptoms of menopause and aging. This class is appropriate for all women in all stages of their life; whether you are in or post menopause, teaching to or in the company of women in menopause or anticipating aging yourself.
Here is the NY Times article about the study: goo.gl/t2NUL9
Here’s the actual study: goo.gl/LYA256
09:30-12:00 Smart Ass, Dumb Ass: Finding and Strengthening the Gluteus Muscles
Do you tightly grip your butt muscles with all of your might in yoga poses or is there a “lazy ass” you may not be aware of? The gluteal group of muscles consists of 3 muscles: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus. “Gluteus” is Greek for rump. How the rump works in yoga poses can effect change in the hips socket, where the sacrum sits, how the legs work, and how you experience the pose. This program was so well received at the Yoga Journal conference that they wrote an article inspired by it in the March 2015 issue. Leslie developed it as an extension of her work with the pelvic floor and noticing how many yogis/yoginis are not using their buttocks muscles properly. This program will give you a deeper understanding of the anatomy used in standing poses and hip opening poses. As a result you will experience familiar poses in an unfamiliar way.
2015 March Yoga Journal article: goo.gl/G1mNXp
12.5 hours of CEU credits for Yoga Alliance.
Recently, I took a (women only) Yoga Workshop called “The Female Pelvic Floor.” It completely opened my eyes and created a new awareness of this part of my body, and it was fascinating! In addition to having a lot of fun and laughing a lot, we learned about the anatomy, function, and specific pelvic exercises. I recommend Leslie Howard’s workshop — she is a major goddess! She’s funny, of course super knowledgeable and upset that women don’t talk about their pelvic floors.” – Corey P.
I took your pelvic floor workshop recently… I did my “homework” and found a suspicious spot. I have since seen my dermatologist, and see a surgeon for a biopsy this week. It is possibly melanoma, but appears to be early if that’s what it is. I want to thank you for encouraging us to do this exam. I don’t look down-there, and don’t know when it would have been found if I hadn’t taken your workshop. So thank you, and continue pushing us to LOOK.” – C.
The magic of yoga has had me feeling divine… and my body feels uncharacteristically balanced. This is coming from a guy who hits a volleyball with his right hand, swings a tennis racket with his right hand, kicks a soccer ball mostly with his right foot, and who tempers a post-surgery right knee. The “magic” of yoga has my right knee suddenly smiling and in balance with the rest of my body. I had a game the following night and I couldn’t believe how my body felt. None of my joints were moaning and my body was so good to go…” – Paul G.