Yoga is a great workout for many people, and it is especially beneficial to women’s health. Specifically, yoga can help combat the symptoms of urinary incontinence. Incontinence impacts women more often than men; on average, 40% of women over 65 experience incontinence (Source: Women’s Health).
Because yoga can target specific muscle groups and be a full body workout, it is excellent for improving women’s health. Yoga for incontinence can help target and strengthen your pelvic muscles. As a result, incontinence can become less severe over time.
Yoga is a simple way to diminish many of the troublesome aspects of incontinence. In this post, you will find nine yoga poses and exercises for incontinence and much more.
Yoga Poses and Exercises for Incontinence:
- Reclined Cobbler’s Pose
- Child’s Pose
- Happy Baby Pose
- Triangle Pose
- Wide-Legged Squat
- Chair Pose
- Warrior II Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Mountain Pose
Dealing with Incontinence? Try Reclined Cobbler’s Pose
This is a common yoga pose that allows you to turn on your lower body and pelvic floor muscles. It is an easy pose that suits all ranges of abilities. Remember, yoga for incontinence is all about the breathwork. Sitting in different poses challenges your mind and body to adjust. These adjustments are when the real work begins, and you will begin to notice changes.
The following steps are a guide to help you find your way to reclined cobbler’s pose:
- Start by lying on your back with your feet planted on the ground in line with your hips.
- Take a few breaths here. Notice how being reclined changes how your pelvic floor feels.
- After 2 to 3 breaths, place the soles of your feet together, so your knees are bent and outstretched away from your body.
- Hold this new position for a few minutes. Remember that it takes time to get comfortable in these poses, so you might feel some discomfort at first.
The following tips will help you combat any discomfort you may be feeling in reclined cobbler’s pose:
- Shift your feet – Moving your feet closer to your pelvis or farther away may reduce any discomfort
- Press your lower back into the ground – This reduces strain on your back muscles so that you can focus on your pelvic floor
- Try a bolster – A bolster is a large yoga pillow that can be placed under your back, creating a gentle angle
- Try some yoga blocks – Place a block under each thigh close to the knee to reduce strain
- Your hips may be too tight – If the above options don’t work, try keeping your legs how they are and rise to a seated position and shift your feet as needed, then return to your breathing
Reclined cobbler’s pose is a really simple exercise to strengthen your pelvic floor. It is a gentle pose that allows for modifications if needed.
Need a Quick Fix? Move into Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is one of the most loved poses among the yoga community because it is considered by many to be a resting pose. Even though it’s resting, it is still an active pose; you should be engaging your muscles and continuing to breathe. For this pose, you want to relax into it and then focus on breathing into your pelvis.
Since we are focusing on low impact poses in this post, the following steps are for finding child’s pose from tabletop position:
- From tabletop position, which has your hands planted under your shoulders and knees planted under your hips (i.e., you look like a table), shift your knees to the edges of your yoga mat.
- Bring your chest to the mat and extend your arms out in front of you toward the top of the mat.
- Place your forehead on the floor or use a block to bring the floor up to you.
- Now, feel how your breathing has changed. Did your breaths shorten or quicken?
- Take deep breaths by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- Remember to focus on how your pelvic floor feels once you have slowed your breathing.
- Hold this pose for 2 to 5 minutes.
Some people prefer to keep their knees close together during child’s pose. It is encouraged to try this variation of child’s pose at some point as well. Observe how you feel different and how your body is responding to the slight shift.
Put a Smile on Your Face and Attempt Happy Baby Pose
Happy baby pose is another quite relaxing pose. However, this pose can be a little more on the challenging side if you have tight hips or are not very flexible. If either of these is the case, there are some modifications below that provide similar body sensations without the added strain or stress.
Happy baby pose can easily be achieved by following these nine steps:
- For a short warm-up, begin lying down face up with your legs outstretched and your arms by your sides.
- Take a few breaths here, then bring your legs up to your chest and wrap your arms around your shins or knees. Hold for two breath cycles.
- While still holding your legs into your chest, begin to rock back and forth and side to side. Allow your mind to relax and just feel how your body feels.
- Take time to notice how the rocking massages the spine.
- Then come back to stillness and bring your feet up toward the sky.
- In this position, you should be able to grab the outer or inner edges of your feet, your big toes, or your ankles.
- Your knees should fall to either side of your chest.
- Take a few breaths and focus on relaxing and contracting the pelvic floor.
- Hold this pose for 2 to 5 minutes.
If you are not flexible enough or have tight hips, you can try:
- Following steps 1 through 5 and holding this pose for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Once you reach step 7, extend your legs out in a “V” shape and hold for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Position a bolster under your spine once you reach step 5, continue with the last few steps.
Happy baby pose is a more difficult pose than the two poses covered before. However, this is one of three poses that may be on the more challenging side discussed in this post.
Looking for a Standing Position? Triangle Pose Is the Answer
Triangle pose is a simple yoga pose that allows for a nice hamstring stretch and turns on the core. This pose is usually moved into via a sequence of other movements. However, for simplicity, triangle pose will be described starting from a standing position.
Starting from mountain pose, which is a little unconventional, the following steps will get you to triangle pose:
- Stand tall with your arms by your sides.
- Close your eyes and inhale and exhale for two breath cycles.
- Then, flutter your eyes open.
- With your left foot firmly planted, send your right foot back about 2 or 3 feet. The distance between your front and back legs should be wide, but not to the point of discomfort or strain.
- Rotate your right foot toward the right side of the room. Your left foot should stay pointing toward the top of your mat.
- Your pelvis should be facing the right side of the room.
- Send your arms out long and take a few deep breaths here. Notice how your pelvic floor raises and lowers.
- From the hips, bend or hinge forward. Remember to keep your core active. Your left hand can come to the inner shin or the ground. You may want to use a block to add space.
- Feel free to direct your gaze out to the right or toward the sky.
- Hold this pose for 2 to 5 minutes. During this time, focus on your deep breathing and consider how your pelvic floor works differently in this position.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Looking for a Challenge? Try Wide-Legged Squat
The wide-legged squat is a more challenging pose to hold for long periods. It activates muscle groups that are not often used. For this reason, from a wide-legged squat, you will move into a yogi squat, which is a little less taxing.
This pose is again on the more advanced range of yoga poses. Remember, if you are just beginning your yoga journey, do not feel discouraged if you can’t hold this pose for longer than 30 seconds to 1 minute.
The wide-legged squat is easy to move into using the following steps:
- Start with your feet planted wider than your hips and your toes at a 45-degree angle.
- Sit low into the squat, so your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
- Take slow controlled breaths. Notice how your pelvic floor turns while holding this pose.
- Aim to hold this squatting position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. But if you can no longer breathe calmly, move onto the next step.
- Now, lower your pelvic floor slowly toward the mat. This can be challenging. It can be easy to lose your balance as you transition to the yogi squat. So, laugh about it and move into a yogi squat.
- Bring your palms in prayer to your heart center and breathe.
- Again, notice how these breaths are different than when in the wide-legged squat.
- Hold for 2 to 5 minutes. Feel free to close your eyes during this time.
Yoga for Incontinence: Use Chair Pose
Chair pose is another great stance used for women’s health yoga to turn on the pelvic floor muscles. It can also be a bit challenging to hold for long periods because it engages your quadriceps and hamstrings, too.
Follow these five simple steps to find your way to chair pose:
- For this variation, stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Most chair poses have feet together, but to hold it for a longer time and really engage the pelvic floor, do it with your feet apart.
- Take two breaths with your arms down by your sides.
- On an exhale, sink back as if you were sitting onto a chair. Sit back as far as possible without losing your balance.
- Place your hands, palms together, at your heart center, or extend them above your head, so your biceps hug toward your ears.
- Hold this pose for 2 to 5 minutes. Notice during this time how your breathing feels and the impact it has on your pelvic floor muscles. Don’t forget to engage your pelvic floor muscles while you are in the pose. Contracting and relaxing the muscles while in this pose will further strengthen them.
Take a Step Back to Stretch Your Muscles with Warrior II Pose
Warrior II is a standing yoga pose that is of moderate difficulty. It is one of the more iconic yoga poses, and it is great for incontinence. This pose allows the pelvic floor muscles to stretch, which is important to muscle health longevity. Warrior II is a standard among many yoga practices and can easily be added to your practice if you have not included it in the past.
Moving into warrior II only takes six steps; use the below points to guide you into the pose:
- Stand at the top of your yoga mat and send your left leg to the back of your mat. Your foot should land in the middle of the back half of your mat.
- Point your left foot so that it is parallel to the back edge of your mat. Point your front foot toward the top of the mat.
- Now, sink into the pose. Your front leg should be bent to a 90-degree angle, while your back leg is extended outward.
- Send your arms out long, one toward the front of the mat, and one toward the back of the mat. You should feel comfortable; if your arms begin to get tired, drop them from time to time and return to the position when ready.
- Tighten your core to improve your balance and steady yourself in the pose.
- Take deep breaths and notice the changes this position brings to the pelvic floor. You should feel some gentle stretching in the groin. Hold for 2 to 6 minutes.
(Source: Yoga Poses)
What Essential Oils Are Good for Urinary Incontinence?
Essential oils have been touted as a wonderful tool to use alongside other medical treatments and advice. Essential oils are not a cure-all; however, they may provide some comfort and relief when used topically and in moderation.
There are a few essential oils on the market that have been used to reduce incontinence:
- Ylang-ylang oil has been scientifically proven to relax the bladder.
- Lavender oil is known for its relaxing and soothing properties; this oil is best inhaled.
- Clary sage oil has been shown to relax women experiencing incontinence.
- Pumpkin seed oil may have positive enzymatic and hormonal impacts on the bladder.
- Cypress, Geranium, and Juniper oils have also been used to support the urinary tract.
Always make sure to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen or using a natural remedy. It is important to check in with your body, as well. As you start new fitness regimens and routines, keep track of how you feel. If you notice any changes, contact your doctor right away.
How Does Yoga Help with Incontinence?
Yoga has a long list of health benefits; one of them is that it can strengthen muscle groups that are not activated regularly. Women’s health yoga for incontinence allows for increases in bladder control and other issues that develop due to incontinence.
The following points are reasons to consider yoga for incontinence:
- Scientifically proven to reduce incontinence episodes per day by up to 66%
- Helps reduce stress and anxiety
- Strengthens other parts of your body
- Keeps your mind sharp
- Improves balance
The following are a couple of poses you may consider to help you strengthen your pelvic floor that are not detailed in this post:
- Bridge Pose – A floor pose that elevates your hips and activates your glutes and hamstrings, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.
- Mountain Pose – A standing pose that focuses on relaxation and balance. Active tightening and releasing of your muscle groups while in this pose creates a dynamic exercise.
Yoga for incontinence goes beyond what a Kegel can do because it can bring the body into a completely relaxed state. The key to yoga is control. The movements must be controlled via a series of contractions and relaxations.
Yoga for incontinence has some major women’s health benefits, and there are many flows available to help relieve incontinence. From happy baby pose to child’s pose, there are so many poses that activate the pelvic floor and allow for muscle strengthening.
In addition to yoga for incontinence, some essential oils are available to alleviate some of the stressors that come along with incontinence. However, you will see the best results by pairing yoga and essential oils. Do not forget that your body may take time to adjust to these new movements. Stick with it, and you are bound to see results!