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What are the benefits of yoga for incontinence?

Two women doing yoga in a park

The benefits of yoga are obvious – most people know that the ancient practice is very popular today as it increases flexibility, reduces stress levels, and can improve both your physical strength as well as your mental wellbeing. What is less well known however, is that yoga is also a great way to strengthen your pelvic floor!

This is because yoga may help improve general body alignment, flexibility, strength, control and awareness, all of which are thought to assist in strengthening the pelvic floor muscles.1 Yoga is a useful tool in toning your core, pelvic floor and even your perineum (the area of tissue between the vagina/scrotum and anus), which in turn can work wonders for those who suffer from incontinence.

If you’ve read our guide to the bladder, you’ll know that you do not want your bladder muscles to be too tense. There is a fine balance to be struck, so the trick is to strengthen while softening them. This may sound counterintuitive, but in order to have a strong bladder, you need muscles that can support it and work with it.

So, in addition to doing pelvic floor exercises, there are several different types of yoga poses you can do to not only strengthen your pelvic floor but soften it as well. Before starting yoga, it is important to talk to your doctor to make sure this is the right type of exercise for you. You may also have to make modifications when you first begin in order to gain more flexibility.


What types of incontinence can yoga help?

Whether you experience either the most common forms of the unexpected leak – stress or urge incontinence – you don’t need to feel like control is out of your grasp. Stress incontinence is characterised by a small amount of urine leaking out after internal pressure quickly builds, such as when you sneeze, cough, laugh, or lift a heavy weight. Urge incontinence happens when the body signals its immediate need to release urine without the usual build-up warning.

One of the best ways to help alleviate both of these types of incontinence is to improve the voluntary control of your urinary sphincter. You can accomplish this by increasing your conscious awareness in this area of your body through yoga either as an alternative to pelvic floor muscle training, or to supplement it.

Read on to find out what simple yoga poses may help with your symptoms of incontinence. You can try these simple moves at home, at the gym or even outside! Make sure to relax the pelvic floor every time you inhale, as well as contracting it every time you exhale.


Yoga poses for incontinence

Child’s pose (Balasana)

• Kneel with your knees mat-width apart and toes touching.

• Walk your hands forward and with your lower torso between thighs, resting both your forehead and nose on the mat.

• Extend your arms and press your palms into the mat with hips toward your heels.

• Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Hold for 1 minute.

Why it works: To be strong, your pelvic floor also needs to be flexible. This pose opens up your lower back, allowing your pelvic floor to expand and stretch each time you inhale.

Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani)

• Sit on the floor with the side of your body grazing the wall.

• Swing your legs up against the wall and slowly lower your back with your head to the floor, keeping your legs straight.

• Allow your hands to fall out to the side, with your palms facing up.

• Close your eyes and breathe deeply, relaxing into the pose. Hold for 1 minute.

Why it works: The change in gravity puts a little pressure on your diaphragm, allowing you to breathe more deeply and fully relax the pelvic muscles without any fear of leakage.

Reclined bound angle (Supta Badha Konasana)

• Lie on the mat with your knees bent and feet flat on floor.

• Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to fall out to the side.

• Rest your arms by their sides with your palms facing up.

• Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Hold for 1 minute.

Why it works: Your inner thighs help to stabilise your pelvic floor. When they’re flexible, you’re able to activate your pelvic muscles more deeply.

Squat pose (Malasana)

• Stand with your feet about mat-width apart, with toes off the mat but heels on it.

• Bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat position.

• Separate your thighs slightly wider than your torso and press your elbows against your inner thighs, bringing your palms together in front of your chest.

• Lengthen your spine, moving your tailbone towards the floor and lift the crown of your head towards the ceiling.

• Breathe deeply. Hold for 1 minute.

Why it works: This pose lengthens the pelvic floor, allowing it to contract more forcefully.

Yoga can be a great way to physically strengthen your muscles while also improving your mind and lifting your spirits, which can all have a positive impact on managing incontinence.

For some people, incontinence symptoms become worse when they are stressed, as we explain in our article all about incontinence and mental health. Yoga can address mental health and quality of life issues, through the potential effects on depression, stress, and anxiety, and help patients better manage their medical condition.

If you’re worried about leaking while practising yoga, you can always trust TENA products to offer the discreet support you need.