#195 – Pelvic Floor Healing with Lisa Fitzpatrick

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Conversations present a myriad of opportunities, and the Happy Mama Movement Podcast is no exception. My conversation today lit an absolute fire in my belly and blew my mind to new possibilities and conversations I hadn’t yet thought about. Lisa Fitzpatrick is a registered physiotherapist and trains others in pelvic floor and hormone balancing. Listen as Amy and Lisa discuss:

  • History of yogic practices and how they can support feminine and motherhood with more awareness, alongside understanding benefits and purposes of yoga specifically for women and mothers.
  • History of women’s literacy and patriarchal hierarchies. Including, what has shifted today and what we can do about it.
  • The individual nature of our experiences and what that means for our bodies, including trauma, triggers and health conditions.
  • Hormonal fluctuation and how, as women, we cannot do linear very well.

To find out more about Lisa’s amazing work please visit www.lisafitzpatrick.com.au.

You can find a link to her self paced pelvic floor yoga teacher training https://lisafitzpatrick.com.au/online-pelvic-floor-workshop-ytt/

And a link to a freebie ‘A Complete Guide to the Pelvic Floor – 7 Keys to Awakening your Inner Goddess' e-book. https://lisafitzpatrick.com.au/freegift/

There needs to be a change in the way mothers are valued and seen in our society. We are here to spread the whispers of Matrescence together.

Find out more and receive your Matrescence map here https://amytkb.wpengine.com/matrescence/


Welcome to the Happy Mama Movement Podcast. I'm Amy Taylor-Kabbaz. I would like to start by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Aura nation on which this podcast is recorded as the traditional custodians of this land. And pay my respects to the elders past, present and emerging. And as this podcast is dedicated to the wisdom and knowledge of motherhood, I would like to acknowledge the mothers of this land, the elders, their wisdom, their knowing and my own elders and teachers.

Welcome back Mamas. The more I have dived into the world of motherhood studies and matresence over the years, the more I realise that the systems and structures around us are not built to support women and mothers. But I've always thought that the ancient technologies, of say, yoga is surely acknowledging us.

They're going to that yoga class that has saved my life so many times over the last decade and more knows the feminine body and knows who I am. I have found myself on that yoga mat and yet in the conversation, you're about to hear my mind has opened to the truth, to the real truth that, because of the history of women, even our yoga, even our beloved yoga is not aware of the divine, feminine and motherhood.

For example, how our pelvic floor is supported post-birth. How our hips are wider than a mans. How our cycle affects our strength in our body and what we really need. This conversation with Lisa Fitzpatrick gave me goosebumps. Lisa is a registered physiotherapist and runs two women's health, pelvic floor, physiotherapy clinics.

She also trains yoga teachers and physios on the pelvic floor and hormone balancing. And is a coach in a sacred women's business. When you hear this conversation, you will realise that we have so much work to do to ensure that women and mothers and all diversity, all people are supported in a way they need to be.

It's a pretty inspiring conversation. Enjoy.

Lisa welcome to the Happy Mama Movement Podcast. I'm so excited about our conversation.

Thank you so much for inviting me, Amy.

Let's start by exploring what it is you do, which from my perspective is this beautiful combination of physiotherapy, yoga, pelvic floor work, and a real focus on empowering women. So how did those all come together in your life?

Yeah, look quite magically in the sense that for so much of my life, I was stumbling around trying to work out why I was drawn to being a therapist first of all. And I have to say initially in my early decade of therapy, it was really tough to take the responsibility of being in a helping profession inside what I saw as being a very limited Western medical framework.

And so I was yearning to bring deep depth, spirituality, emotional and mental wellbeing into the practice of therapy. And I think that really is why yoga called to me. Um, and yeah, I feel like yoga is something that is, it's like a best friend that will tap you on the shoulder at times when life gets tricky.

Um, and to me, it's one of the best tools and technologies we can access for support for our nervous system, especially in this really harrowingly busy, overwhelming time. So yoga was something that I probably wouldn't have maybe chosen. I feel like it chose me. Um, and that naturally led me into a mentoring role, which led me to build my coaching practice, sacred women's business. And honestly, Amy, I was stumbling around wondering how on earth, all those three things could really relate. And then this amazing opportunity came up to buy a friend's pelvic floor physiotherapy business. Um, and at that time it was the perfect marriage of all of the things I'd done before.

Even though I had absolutely no idea what direction I was going in at the time that it came to me because COVID had completely annihilated my coaching business. And I was still feeling this call to serve women. And so I feel like, strangely with life, you know, a lot of it's divinely ordained, and we can try and force our will onto it.

But if someone had told me, when I graduated from physio, that I would still be a physio, 30 years later, I just would have laughed and never thought I would circle back in this way, but cannot really describe how fated it feels.

Wow. And the reason why I really wanted to bring your expertise and insights to the podcast into this beautiful community is because so much of what I have discovered in the decade or so that I've been exploring motherhood and how we support mothers better is that we really have a system that originally was designed and created by men. We have a medical system, we have a support system, we have a community structure that really is not putting the unique time and space of early motherhood at the forefront. And that looks like the way that we deal with, you know, births and pregnancies in hospital. It looks like the way we deal with motherhood in workplaces. And one of the beautiful Mama Rising students said to me, Amy, I've been working with this amazing woman who also talks about this in a yogic sense. That yoga practices haven't always taken into consideration the unique and important changes in this time of our life in a woman's body. And that led me to speak to you because this is what you do. So when we think about patriarchy, you know, what we're really saying is this era of time that is governed by a hierarchy system and men are at the highest of that hierarchy.

But when we look at yoga originally,

And I'm sure, you know, ancient technologies, this is not always the case. So what is your understanding of this?

I guess I'll speak to that in the sense of, um, women participating in discourse from the place of literacy. So the way I see this is that many women's voices have been suppressed by their lack of literacy. Uh, we do oral traditions well, and so do our indigenous, you know, um, communities around the world.

But oral tradition is not something that gets placed in a record like the Bible and like the Bhagavad Gita and like the other religious texts that we might access in this day and age. And so women having literacy is such an important shift for this current time that we're in. And so many women, including women in yoga circles are quite confronted by just how patriarchaly governed these bodies and these communities still are to this day. And I'm going to speak to that in terms of the sense with the feminine being othered. And othered means that those spaces also continue to have a lack of diversity, racially, a lack of cultural inclusion, a lack of inclusion for disability, um, discrimination, according to, you know, to, to skin color, it's a very whitewashed world, the yoga world, but especially in the way the Western culture has interpreted it.

But the shocking thing is, even going back into an Indian culture and seeing how very hierarchal the relationships are and how very repressed the women still are. It makes the realisation quite harrowing that we still have a massive way to go to insert that, that, that other voice into these discourses.

And it's risky because we're risking bastardization, you could call it that if you were looking at it from a very traditionalist point of view. We're risking this visibility as the, um, the healer, which I think is problematic for so many women, somewhere in ourselves, we know it's dangerous to speak up and out against the mainframe. Because the main frame or the, the framework that we've existed in, in, in our lifetimes is definitely one that operates very smoothly when everybody accepts their invisibility and is very compliant to it. And that to me I feel is unconscious, uh, privilege. So the unconscious privilege is very uncomfortable when it's provoked. You know, why would we want to change something when the powers that be a very content with this hierarchy that's been established. Because it's a hierarchy of order. And the feminine, it loves chaos, it loves cyclic natures, it loves mercurial lithium. It doesn't love those sorts of definitions and nor a lot of humans actually. So for, for the yoga part of this, I think, women are really understanding now how important it is to insert their voices. Plus we have the literacy to interpret the texts and to understand what's not being said and what has been actually, um, invisible until we make it visible.

Wow. I had so many goosebumps listening to that, the way that you described that. So in a practical sense, what has this meant for the way that we know yoga?


When so much of that feminine? Oral stories, the history, the understandings of how we would have interpreted this for a female body. What has that meant in terms of a class that you go along to, do you think.

Yes. Probably the, the biggest aspect of that, that I would see in a modern class would be, um, the adaptability to the individual needs of each person in the room. It takes a lot of skill for a teacher to understand that every person will present with their own unique characteristics, and story.

And thankfully, one thing that the yoga space is starting to awaken to in a very positive way is the trauma sensitive nature of a lot of people's stories and histories that they bring into a class. And so in previous years we might've felt very much like adjusting students, standing over students, touching students' bodies, dictating to students what they actually do with their bodies, that was traditionally how a class was taught. And now that we are understanding the diversity and the individual needs of students, which is, uh, which is a really, it's a motherly thing to do to mother us, our students, we're understanding just how triggering and traumatic it can be for someone to be touched without permission or consent. For someone to also be forcibly moved into positions that their bodies don't feel comfortable with. Um, a small point of practice might be the narrowness of the stance that we take with our feet when women have wider pelvises. Um, it may be that we've experienced birth trauma to the pelvic floor. And when we engage in a practice that was designed for a teenage boy's body, we're literally pushing that female body into potential prolapse, which is a very common, feminine health condition that does not get addressed in yoga classes.

And is often I feel exacerbated by some of the practices that were built for men's bodies. Um, yeah, there's a lot of nuances. But we are making progress. Yeah, we are, we are, there is an awareness.

It's mind blowing when you're describing all of that. It's mind blowing to me that I hadn't seen it like that before.

Mm mm.

I'm a massive yoga practitioner. It has got me through the hardest times in my life. And I know for sure that I wouldn't be who I am today without that yoga mat at the studio up the road over the last decade.


And yet it is a one size fit all approach isn't it. And that is when we look at what patriarchy means it is this assumption, like you said, that there is one way it's the same in our education system. There's one way to learn. There's one way to be successful. There's one way to be healthy. There's one way to be sexually alive.

You know, there's so much of that restriction that we're starting to wake up to. Aren't we Lisa?

I hope so. I really hope so. Sometimes I feel we slip backwards. Um, and yes, as far as the one size fits all goes, I guess what I notice more and more now in Australia is the fact that we walk into most studios and we see a very, um, sort of, uh, standardized, um, approach, not only in the studio offering, but also in the class itself.

So a lot of classes will actually be full of white privileged people still to this day, which I find confronting. And so I guess we have to ask ourselves where is our own unconscious bias and privilege coming into this space? And how can we open up inclusivity more and understand that, that there are people who feel very excluded when it's actually the paradoxical opposite of what true yoga philosophy would desire as an outcome, you know?

So what do you think yoga's role really is then?


You know, if, if you could redesign it and put it into the world with the way that you personally feel its role could be, what be?

Yes. Um, the thing that I feel is the most exciting, I guess, about what the modern world can receive as medicine from such an ancient technology is the art of inward reflection and self understanding. So when we look at that from the point of view of, even though, um, these technologies and yoga practices were developed for the purposes of spiritual awakening.

If we look at them from a Western scientific point of view and we purely look at them through that lens. We see a whole plethora of health benefits primarily to the nervous system, which people in the world today desperately are seeking relief from their stress, their anxieties, their suffering, their depression.

And so for that reason, the medicine in itself it hasn't been sullied by the frameworks that it's been operating in. Yeah. So, it is a case of us understanding the health benefits almost from the point of view of stripping away, uh, excuse me, for swearing, the bullshit, the labels. And I'm not just talking about the labels that we see as being very stereotypical, but also the literal labels, the Lululemons, and they, the yoga mats.. Um, we strip those things away and we see it for what it does for our nervous system. We see that actually, any person walking the earth can gain access to the medicine that this has.

And when we look at this for mothers. Mothers who can't get to a class and who only have five minutes and who actually can't afford to go for whatever reason, you know, then it becomes economically viable for, for people, because I think if we see it that it's, it's often been a luxury item, let's face it it's for someone who can afford to get their babysitter on board or have childcare support or a day off work or whatever, you know, that that might need.

But the truth is we can gain so much benefit from really short periods of time inside a practice. And that includes pelvic floor exercise, you know, even just our 10 pelvic floor exercises, which are basically have a yogic foundation in the sense that we're building a repetitious activity that actually brings the nervous system from fight or flight into rest and digest.

And then just a few simple repetitious movements can bring that change and shift for the better while still recovering our postpartum bodies. To me that some that's just priceless.

So let's talk for a moment specifically about the pelvic floor. It still blows my mind, how little we know about this going into birth. How little it's spoken about. And then on the other side, from my experience, what I can see, we're doing a little bit better in terms of looking at the pelvic floor post-traumatic birth.


However, I think it is something that all of us. Whether we had a beautiful, natural birth and we think, oh, I don't have any issues with my pelvic floor or not. It is, it is a part of the healing, isn't it? Of post-birth recovery.


What is the significance of the pelvic floor and how we honor it, heal it and strengthen it post-birth in your mind?

Yup. Yup. Um, the significance is really about a foundation of a steady ground within every woman. So the significance of us being centered and comfortable with our relationship with our own intimacy. So I'm going to just circle back to that idea, that patriarchal successes is an economic one. Matriarchal success is an intimate one.

So intimacy isn't generally measured in our financial systems, our legal systems, our educational, or our medical systems. But actually intimacy and comfortability with intimacy helps us to show up in the world and have an impact. Because when somebody has a comfortable relationship with intimacy, they have worked through their shameful shortcomings and imperfections.

And, we need so much more of that in this world for mothers, we need mothers to feel comfortable, to show up messy, to show up with, you know, all of their failings, and to feel comfortable with being intimate about their struggles, because that is what we have in common as women, isn't it? And we have these cycles of hormonal fluctuation.

We have a mercurial battle on our hands. We cannot do linear well. We just can't. And as I get closer to menopause, that's never been more apparent as well. Uh, squeezing ourselves into a framework of the linear is, um, it's torturous for most women, especially mothers. Yeah.

Yes. Very dangerous. Very dangerous for us to try and do. I have never heard the significance and then the importance of the pelvic floor and the intimate relationship we have with our bodies as a woman described so powerfully Lisa. That was phenomenal. So what, a mother's listening right now, she's just had all the goosebumps, like I have listening to this. How do we begin to build this relationship with ourself and where can we go to begin to gather the wisdom of the feminine and really use yoga in this way.

I think one beautiful development that has come about in the last 10 years is the shift in the physiotherapy world in particular, towards women's health and pelvic health and a good women's health physiotherapist will have the skills to assess pelvic floors well. Some of my patients will turn up being quite shocked that I will be doing an internal exam.

However, once that assessment has been done and somebody has received feedback about how well, you know, um, they're recovering, but also how tailored we can make this experience of actually recovery itself. Then there is a lot of empowerment to be said in that particular part of the healing journey.

But as far as the yoga experience goes, actually finding a good postnatal yoga class, where a teacher is sympathetic and understanding, and also knowledgeable about pelvic floor needs in that class, which actually isn't the easiest thing to find, to be honest. That would be an amazing possibility for a lot of women, whether it's an online experience or an in-person one. One thing I do have to say is that every woman is slightly different in her recovery process, depending on what her birth experience was, et cetera. And it's curious because often I find it's it's the women who have had empowering births that actually sometimes have created a paradoxical outcome for their pelvic floor. Now I'm going to sound really controversial there. And that is because when we, um, really rise into an experience of strong laboring as a woman, especially if we're coached into a strong labor experience. Our risk of prolapse actually increases.

And so it's often the women who have had reasonably good births that don't realise the impact that, that might've had on their pelvic floor. I've always been quite uh surprised by that. But what I feel happens with that particular journey is, it's a real journey of humility. So there's this sense that, you know, any part of us as a mother that, we all know there's comparisonitis that happens in mothers groups, and most mothers will come away from a lot of their social interactions feeling less than, or, oh my gosh, I shouldn't have said that.

Or that person's experience was so much better than mine or whatever that might be, but the pelvic floor levels the playing field enormously over the lifespan, you know, it's incredible how humbling it actually is. And especially for women as they also go through, um, the lifespan and get to perimenopause and menopause and they say I've never actually had to face any issues until now. And that is like the most humbling thing because they might've had the best natural vaginal deliveries. And here we are all working with these imperfections and nuances and none of us will ever have the perfect journey.

Wow. And that's what I meant when I said earlier, I think we're doing better around pelvic floor awareness if you've had a traumatic birth, but actually this is for all of us to be aware of. And it's just, again, when I think about matresence and these rites of passage that we go through as women, and there is such a leveler and humility in each of them because we all will go through them. Each and every one of them Lisa, I think this is the divine lesson of the feminine. It is surrender, it is cyclical, it is deaths and births, beginnings, and endings. This is just how we live. And the more, it makes me so excited because the more we keep hearing and learning about this, whether it's the way we are taught in a yoga class or how we are prepared for a birth, the more we're going to accept all the other parts of us that are going to change and we need to be intimate with it's a representation of so much, isn't it?

It really is. It's a very core and fundamental part of our ability to, uh, I'm going to sound a little bit woo woo here, but to truly understand ourselves in our true nature. Yeah. So it's that part of us that is unconditioned and is untouched by those systems that we've had to manage and deal with and be disadvantaged by, you know, so much as women.

I still feel we have a long way to go for equity. I still see this shocking disparity in women's health research as well. So as far as research goes, it's the cyclic nature of women's hormones that screw up the double blind controlled study groups, which are traditionally then selected to be men because there are less variables that might sully the data.

And so women's bodies are still incredibly understudied in these areas of hormonal health and pelvic floor wellbeing. But we are making some great progress there. I think we also probably lack, um, menstrual policies and menopausal policies in our workplaces. So maybe that's a discussion for another time, but this is also about inserting the literacy of women into these spaces.

Let's not forget this is only been such a recent thing that we have had the literacy to put these things into words, and then put those words onto paper. Right.

Oh, you make me all activated. When I'm speaking to you like, oh, let's get out there and do this work. How phenomenal, what a beautiful and empowering conversation Lisa, I could talk to you for hours. Um, please come back on the podcast again in the future. And talk to us more about this.

Thank you.

A really, really important discussion.

Thank you so much for your time.

Thanks for your work. And for opening up the opportunity to have these juicy conversations that we don't get to have every day, but we wish we could have more of.

Absolutely so juicy. Thank you so much.

My pleasure.

I don't know about you, but that conversation there's a fire in my belly again. To think about the literacy we now have as women to think about how recent that is and the change that's going to come from it. And also think about how me, myself, in all the work I do can ensure that we are reaching the corners of the globe and our community and welcoming everybody, making sure that there's diversity and inclusion in everything we do. And speaking up, telling our stories, using our literacy, our privilege, our knowledge now to make sure that the feminine is heard in all places, whether that's in the boardroom or in a yoga studio. You can learn more about Lisa Fitzpatrick's work on her website, lisafitzpatrick.com.au.

She also has a 30 hour yoga teacher training on pelvic floor and hormone balancing, which if you're in this line of work, I think is a must. The details are in the show notes. Thank you for being here. For these conversations for this moment in time, we were beginning to change so much. How exciting until next week, satnam.

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I'm Amy.

I'm a matrescence activist - here to revolutionise the way you feel about yourself as a mama, and transform the way the world values and supports all mothers, everywhere.

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