Yoga for leakage: 5 exercises to strengthen pelvic floor, control bladder leaks
Experience a leakage when you cough or jump? Often, it is a sign that your pelvic muscles need toning and for the uninitiated, pelvic floor muscles are the most undervalued muscles that stretch from the pubic bone at the front to the tailbone at the back. They act as part of a 'hammock' which includes ligaments and fascia that support the bladder and bowel within the pelvis and the spine.
Shaped like a basin, the pelvic floor holds all of our pelvic organs like uterus, vagina, bowel and bladder in place. Though the pelvic floor supports the bladder to provide control when we urinate, reasons like pregnancy and childbirth or heavy sport and exercise regimes, menopause, natural ageing or pelvic and prostate surgeries may cause the pelvic floor to lose control over the bladder owing to the lose in its muscle tone.
This may result in not just incontinence, pain and prolapse but also eroding self-confidence, exercise and sex life. Pelvic floor weakness affects both women and men since squeezing the muscles that stop the flow of urine could lead to tightening of the wrong muscles and result in urinary incontinence, pain during sex or pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
Fortunately, there are certain Yoga postures that not only improve mindfulness, relaxation and balance but also provide a great support to our pelvic floor. According to a 2018 Cochrane review, among the most effective treatment method for incontinence is doing pelvic floor workouts on a regular basis.
Check out these 5 Yoga asanas to provide you control over bladder leaks and create strong pelvic floor muscles for stronger core strength in the abs, better posture and to improve your sex life.
1. Tadasana or Mountain Pose
Method: Stand solid on the ground with a small gap between your feet and while deeply breathing (inhale), raise your both arms upward by interlocking your fingers. Now, stand on your toes by raising your heels simultaneously and notice the pressure of stretching from toes to fingers.
Hold onto this position as long as you can with slow and deep breathing. Then, release and come to the original position with deep breathing (exhale) and repeat the same pose as per your convenience after relaxing for a while.
Benefits: Tadasana is a deep breathing exercise that provides strength and expansion to the lungs, may increase height, develops and activates the nerves of the entire body and gives strength to the vertebral column and heart. It is also good for regulating the menstrual cycle in women, cures problems related to indigestion in all practitioners, strengthens the arms and legs, helps to remove lethargy from the body and reduces the problem of flat feet.
2. Virabhadrasana II or the Warrior Pose 2
Method: Stand up with legs 4 to 5 feet apart. Place your right foot at 90 degrees angle with the toes pointing out while keeping your left foot at 45 degrees angle. Bring your hands at shoulder level and keep them parallel to ground.
Bend your right knee and look towards your right hand. Keep your hip-square and right thigh parallel to the ground. Hold onto the pose for 10 to 15 seconds, then release the posture.
Benefits: Virabhadrasana II or the Warrior Pose 2 energies tired limbs and opens up your chest and lungs apart from stretching your hips, groins and shoulders and improving stability and balance. It also stimulates your abdominal organs.
3. Utkatasana or Chair Pose
Method: Stand straight with your feet together and arms by your side. Take a deep breath and raise your arms straight up, then fold them in a namaskar mudra before your chest.
Exhale and bend your knees as if seated on a chair. Straighten your back and push your tailbone to the ground to get into the final position.
Try to stay in this pose for 15-20 seconds before releasing the posture. While inhaling, come back to the first position.
Benefits: Utkatasana or the chair pose of Yoga is known to be therapeutic for flat feet as it stretches the Achilles tendons and shins, strengthens hip flexors, calves and the back. It also stimulates the heart and abdominal organs. It works on the shoulders and helps rectify tension and poor posture.
4. Prasarita Padottanasana or Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Method: Keep a parallel distance of about 3 to 4 feet between your legs and place your hands on your hips. With your legs and spine intensely stretched, inhale, lift your chest up tall through your whole torso and fold slowly over your legs.
Begin to stretch your torso forward by placing your hands flat on the floor and keeping them shoulder-width apart. Fold deeper, bringing your head toward the floor.
Benefits: This wide-legged standing forward bend is a good warm-up for other wide-stance standing poses as it stretches the backs of the legs and the inner groins. It calms the brain and eases fatigue while improving circulation of blood and toning the abdominal organs.
5. Setubhandhasana/Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or the Bridge pose
Method: Lie down on your back with legs straight on the floor, palms beside your thighs. Bend both your knees while keeping the legs and hips apart and bring the heels closer to the hips.
Inhale and lift your stomach and chest up by taking your hips off the floor. Give support to your lower back with your hands. Now straighten your legs with your toes pointing in the front. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds and release.
Benefits: This variation also known as the Bridge pose stretches the chest, neck and spine. It not only strengthens the back, buttock and hamstrings but also increases blood circulation, alleviates stress and calms the brain.