A Crack in the Mask: The Felt Sense Method, A Humanistic Approach for Managing Incontinence

Written by Jaki Nett, M.A. St. Helena, CA: Neuter Bird Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0615352-206. 212 pages. $46.95.

Reviewed by Vickie Aldridge

Don't let the subject matter of this book turn you away from it. If it weren't for the word incontinence mentioned on the front of this book, at first glance, one might think this is yet another book of yoga asanas. However, for those of us who teach yoga, whether male or female, and who have students with bladder incontinence, vaginal flatulence, or vaginismus (uncontrolled tightening of the vaginal muscles), this is a book you will want to know about and refer students to for help with this sensitive personal issue. Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar writes in the foreword that the mudras and bandhas happen naturally if the posture is correct and that the practice in this book, regardless of whether you are familiar with yoga, will help in making one sensitive to "feeling their inner body as well as their outer body."

As Iyengar Yoga practitioners, we are taught the importance of balancing the pelvis and strengthening the pelvic floor, but for those suffering from an overactive bladder, more is needed. An estimated 19 million people in America suffer from this unmentionable epidemic that can bring shame, fear, and embarrassment.

Read in this book Jaki Nett's personal quest as she imparts her wisdom in three steps: psychological awareness, anatomical understanding, and physical practice teaching herself to contract the muscles of the pelvic floor in the right place as she dispels the myths about Kegel exercises. This is not just a story of incontinence, but an empowering woman's story, heartfelt and engaging, that has made Jaki Nett one of my heroes. The struggles and insights of her life are interwoven in the pages to help the reader's mind relax from the technical information and connect at a personal level. Readers will find her life fascinating as she tells us of her African ancestors who were slaves, her mother's vision that education is the key to their future, and even her long stint as a Playboy Bunny.

Jaki leads the reader and practitioner on a journey of self-discovery that can bring one to an emotionally self-accepting place so healing can begin. She calls it a process of turning the darkness into light "as we practice deep and honest introspection." She includes anatomy as a tangible way to bring understanding, which she states is essential to strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. She gives clear instructions and guidelines to bring awareness and strength to the pelvic floor for those who have never practiced yoga, stressing that the most important factor is correct postural alignment.

The asanas she suggests are secondary to learning how to contract the pelvic floor muscles to control bladder incontinence using The Felt Sense Method. She uses these asanas as a practice for the pelvic floor, building from the foundation. It's not the pose, but the "correct postural placement and muscular action or non-action within each pose that allows conscious strength to return to the pelvic floor muscles."

This book will entertain you at times, as well as inspire you and give you hope. I recommend it to anyone who would like to find relief, as well as to teachers who would like to know more about how to assist students. I hope, as Jaki does, that this book will bring awareness and that her Felt Sense Method will be practiced and will give many the independence and control they have longed for.

This book can be ordered through Jaki Nett's website, www.iynv.com. Click on the book cover and follow the link "To Order the Book."

Vickie Aldridge is a certified Junior Intermediate I Iyengar Yoga instructor. She lives with her husband, Jerry, also a certified Iyengar Yoga instructor, in Boise, Idaho. They own the Boise Yoga Center and also teach yoga for Boise State University and the College of Western Idaho.