This post was reviewed by our Director of Clinical Excellence and Oversight.
Practicing yoga has been widely recognized to have a number of health benefits, and if you’re a woman with incontinence, there’s another benefit you should know about: Yoga could help reduce the frequency of incontinence symptoms.
Research has shown that performing certain yoga poses can help improve muscle strength in the pelvic floor, which could reduce bladder leaks. In fact, women with stress incontinence who practiced yoga reported an 85% reduction in the number of incidents they experienced per day.
How Yoga Helps Reduce Incontinence Symptoms
Yoga helps reduce incontinence symptoms by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles help control the flow of urine. When these muscles weaken, it becomes difficult for them to contain urine. Certain yoga poses can help these muscles regain strength, which in turn helps them to better maintain urine flow and resist excessive force put on the bladder.
Note: How effective yoga is at reducing your symptoms depends on the type of incontinence you’re experiencing. Stress incontinence, for example, will have a higher success rate than other incontinence types.
Yoga Poses for Reducing Incontinence
There are 8 poses that, when combined with proper instruction, can help strengthen pelvic floor muscles:
Utkatasana – Chair Pose
Chair pose begins with feet that are parallel to the hips, bent knees behind the toes, and arms extended over the head that are in line with the upper torso. Ideally, the thighs are parallel to the floor.
Trikonasana – Triangle Pose
Triangle pose is a pose in which your legs create a triangle with the floor. The feet are positioned wider than the shoulders (about 3 feet apart), with the front foot turned perpendicular to the other, aligned at the center. The upper torso is bent towards the front foot with hands extended perpendicular to the floor.
Malasana – Squat Pose
The squat pose begins with the feet positioned shoulder-width and flat on the floor. The knees are bent as far as possible while keeping the upper torso straight and perpendicular to the floor. The upper torso and head should be relaxed
Tadasana – Mountain Pose
Mountain pose is a simple standing pose that elongates and stretches the body. It starts with the feet together pointing forward. The body, shoulders, and head are all lifted so that that body is straight with no slouch. The hands are open with palms facing the front.
Viparita Karani Variation – Legs Up the Wall Pose
Viparita Karani imitates the position of laying against a wall, but without the wall. It’s characterized by shoulders on the floor with the hands behind the hips. The legs are straight and pointed in the air. The back is arched and the chin is very slightly tucked towards the chest.
Salamba Set Bandhasana – Supported Bridge Pose
Bridge pose begins with the shoulders on the floor. The hands are joined together underneath the hips for extra support. The body is arched towards the sky with feet flat on the floor.
Supta Buddha Konasana – Reclined Cobbler’s Pose
The reclined cobbler’s pose is a flat pose that begins by laying flat with the shoulders, back, and hips on the floor. The arms are extend at 45 degrees with the palms facing up. The feet are pressed together with the knees pointing outward.
Savasana – Corpse Pose
Savasan begins by flat on the back. The feet are shoulder-width apart with the toes pointing to the sky. The hands are extend at 45 degrees with the palms open and facing up.
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