Yoga can be a great workout. It decreases stress and strengthens your whole body without putting too much pressure on your bladder. But did you know that certain yoga poses can actually reduce your symptoms of urinary incontinence? According to a new study published by Alison Huang at UCSF School of Medicine, a specialized yoga routine targeted at pelvic muscle health can help to reduce frequency of incontinence in women by up to 70%. This is supported by professionals at the American Yoga Association, who also recommend yoga as a source of relief for those living with UI.
To find out the routine that is best for you, it is recommended that you consult with a physical trainer or yoga professional. But to get you started, we outlined the basics.
Do not try any of these if you are currently experiencing headaches, low blood pressure, or insomnia. Only do things that feel comfortable and if you have any medical concerns, make sure you talk with your doctor before starting yoga or any other new exercise routine.
The following three poses are recommended by Alison Huang as most helpful for pelvic muscle health.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
1. Start in mountain pose – stand with your feet hip distance apart (or for more of a challenge with your feet together).
2. Inhale and bring your arms overhead, stretching them out toward the ceiling.
3. As you exhale lower your body down until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
4. Keep your arms long overhead and extend from your hips to your fingertips.
5. Shift your weight onto the heels of your feet.
6. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
7. To come out of chair pose, simply return to a standing position and lower your hands down to come back into mountain pose.
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
1. Start in mountain – standing with your feet shoulder width apart.
2. Begin by stepping your feet away from each other until they are comfortably wide apart (this should not cause pain).
3. Turn your right foot out by 90 degrees and your left by 15. Make sure your right heel and the arch of your left foot are aligned.
4. Inhale and as you exhale bend your body down to the right, bringing your left arm into the air and your right hand down your leg, making sure to keep your waist straight.
5. To ensure that you aren’t twisting your waist, keep your feet, hips, torso and arms in line with each other.
6. Hold for 15-30 seconds again, stopping if anything becomes uncomfortable.
7. To come out of this pose, inhale and come back up straight and then work your feet back in until you are standing again.
8. Repeat on both sides.
Squat Pose (Malasana)
1. Start in mountain pose standing with your feet hip width apart.
2. Squat as low as you can and inch your feet as close together as possible. Try to keep your heels on the floor, if you can.
3. Widen your knees out to the sides.
4. Lean your torso forward in between your thighs and press your hands together, fitting your elbows into your knees.
5. Hold for 30-60 seconds, releasing tension with each exhale.
6. To come out, inhale as you push back up to mountain pose.
A regular yoga routine can do more than just reduce your UI symptoms. A lot of people practice yoga for the mental and physical fitness benefits that it provides.Want to make the routine more challenging?
Try doing kegels while practicing certain yoga poses (try relaxing as you inhale and contracting as you exhale). Doing your kegels in different positions can strengthen different muscles leading to overall better pelvic strength.
Doing yoga at home? Try using a yoga app or finding videos online. Some apps even let you customize your routines, so you can add in some extra pelvic strength poses and cut out any poses that put pressure on your bladder.