There are so many reasons to love yoga.
But so many women hear the word “yoga” and picture having to twist into a pretzel or stretch their leg above their ear.
I’m here to tell you that for most people, that’s not what yoga’s about at all.
Yoga is a gentle and relaxing muscle-building exercise regimen.
But it’s also more than that.
- It can be a spiritual practice if you want it to be.
- It’s an amazing way to learn how to focus on sensation and really become grounded and present in your body.
- And it can also be a fantastic means of improving the strength of your pelvic floor, finding more satisfaction in your sex life, (1) and helping to curb urinary incontinence (that unfortunate experience that plagues one-third of all women — peeing your pants when you laugh, sneeze, jump, or cough).
Yoga For The Pelvic Floor
So in much the same way yoga can help tone your back or arm muscles, it can help your pelvic floor muscles. Which is great news, because keeping these muscles strong and supple is one of the best ways to prevent prolapse, end leaking, and put an end to pelvic pain.
Focusing on the breath is a huge part of effective yoga practice, and proper breathing engages the pelvic floor. Furthermore, many yoga poses are pelvic centric. Many yoga exercises center around keeping your core strong and they provide a well-rounded approach to strength training that doesn’t simply focus on contracting your muscles. Yoga helps to elongate and soften the pelvic floor, in addition to tightening, as we do with Kegel exercises. It’s a wonderful compliment to any pelvic floor therapy — especially if you spend a lot of time sitting.
Preliminary studies have actually suggested that yoga is a safe and feasible way to improve urinary incontinence in women. (2,3) The emphasis here is on safe and feasible — because many of the incontinence remedies that are suggested to women are neither. Looking at you, pessaries, vaginal mesh, surgery, painkillers, and injections…
And more than just pelvic health, yoga has also shown to be effective at lowering heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety. (4,5) It’s also been studied as a way to reduce inflammation and improve sleep quality. (6-10)
Be Careful — The Wrong Exercises Will Do More Harm Than Good
Yoga is without a doubt, one of the best ways to exercise your entire body, including your pelvic floor. And it’s a great mental workout, too.
But it’s not something you can learn to do on your own. You really need to have someone teach you the right techniques and proper form. Plus, many traditional yoga poses can overwork the pelvic floor muscles, and cause more harm than good.
You see, the pelvic floor muscles need to be stretched, strengthened, and stabilized. And while many yoga moves are ideal for this process, some can serve to work against your goals.
Any of the belly lock poses, boat poses, and even some plank poses can damage your pelvic floor if it’s already compromised.
My Top Two Yoga Pose For Pelvic Power and Back Pain Relief
There’s a little known truth about traditional yoga: women are encouraged to grip their pelvic floor muscles with the Mula Bandha. This over-gripping in Yoga weakens women’s pelvic floor muscles and putting them at risk for pain, pressure, leaking, and weak orgasms. I’ve personally come out of a Yoga class in a flare and have many of my patients.
The truth is that all women desire to have strong pelvic floors, but before women can strengthen their pelvic floor muscles, they must relax and keep them flexible. This is where yoga comes into play. We live in a culture where we grip our abdominals, vaginas, and butt muscles. This tendency to over-grip keeps women weak in their pelvis because the muscles are over tensed and weak. The Child’s and Mountain Pose are my go-to yoga exercises for all women who want to balance and have strong pelvic floor muscles.
WHAT TO DO:
- Get on your hands and knees and then bring your body into the child’s pose as in the above photo.
- Bring one hand onto each sit bone (not shown) and keep contact with the bones as you perform as focus on relaxing your pelvic floor muscles (or keep your arms outstretched as in the photo).
- If your sit bones do not touch your heels, place a pillow under your gluteal muscles and feet.
- Now imagine as you breathe in for a count of five seconds that your sit bones are moving away from each other. Simultaneously feel your pelvic muscles release and relax.
- Make sure your in-breath lasts at least five seconds, and then perform for five more breaths.
Mountain Pose – Tadasana
What to Do:
- Stand with the inner edge of your big toes touching. If you have difficulty balancing, widen your stance a few inches. Distribute your body weight on the 4 corners of your feet.
- Let arms drape beside the body naturally. Relax eyes, tongue, facial muscles, and PFMs.
- Engage and lift your quadriceps ( front of thighs) muscles without locking the knees; simultaneously engage your transverse abdominal muscle ( inner core muscle) by gently contracting your abdominal muscles and bringing your belly button gently towards your spine and up to the heart. Hold it.
- Now focus on relaxing your pelvic floor muscles and your body is erect and in excellent posture.
- Keep chin parallel to the floor, lengthen the neck, and left shoulder blades drape down back while the crown of the head reaches toward the ceiling.
- Avoid sending your chest and ribs out and forward.
- The pose shows how you should carry your body—very upright and straight without having to grip your vaginal muscles. Mountain Pose also improves posture and relieves back pain.
Would You Like To Go Deeper? Finding The Right Yoga Routine
I know that many local yoga studios aren’t familiar with pelvic floor therapy, and this is keeping an important healing tool from many women.
This program incorporates every drop of knowledge I’ve gained in my 20 years as a pelvic healer.
I formulated each and every move with your pelvic floor in mind. Each pose is modified to reduce stress on the pelvic floor muscles and lower back.
It’s completely adaptable to your specific skill level and can be completed either sitting or standing.
What’s more, this series of exercises can be performed in a small space, and you don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment to start reaping the benefits.
Plus, it costs less than a fast food dinner for the family and is way more affordable than a membership at your yoga studio.
If you’ve been suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction of any sort, and you haven’t given yoga a proper try, now is the time.
- “Yoga in Female Sexual Functions – The Journal of Sexual ….” https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(15)32914-3/abstract.
- “A Group-Based Yoga Therapy Intervention for Urinary … – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4310548/.
- “PD32-01 A RANDOMIZED TRIAL OF A GROUP-BASED ….” 1 Apr. 2018, https://www.auajournals.org/doi/full/10.1016/j.juro.2018.02.1544.
- “Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability … – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/
- “The Effect of Yoga on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Women.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5843960/.
- “Effect of Yoga Practice on Levels of Inflammatory Markers ….” 1 Jun. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4525504/.
- “Yoga reduces inflammatory signaling in fatigued … – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24703167/.
- “Influence of Yoga and Ayurveda on self-rated sleep … – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15937373/.
- “Psychological adjustment and sleep quality in a randomized ….” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15139072/.
- “Effects of Hatha yoga and Omkar meditation on … – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15165407/.