Yoga and Pelvic Health

10Incontinence is something we don’t like to talk about, and when we do, it is likely in a hushed tone, with accompanying giggles.  Does that mean that incontinence is a joke? Well, hardly!  Incontinence can lead to embarrassment and missed opportunities to work on physical health because we are afraid of what might happen if we run, or jump, or hop, or dance, or do any variety of physical movements.

There are three types of incontinence:

  1. Stress incontinence which is when you leak during a laugh, jump, orgasm, sneeze or cough.
  2. Urge incontinence is when the need to urinate is immediate.  For example, the moment you get up from the dinner table..
  3. Mixed incontinence is a combination of both of the above types of incontinence.

Sometimes referred to as the “core 4”: the pelvic floor, diaphragm, multifidus and transversus abdominis are responsible for maintaining continence.

Pelvic floor muscles support the pelvic organs: bladder, bowel, and uterus.  The diaphragm has respiratory functions, but also, it increases abdominal pressure to help the body release waste: urine, and feces. The multifidus is a deep muscle located along the back of the spine very close to the midline.  Together with the transversus abdominis and pelvic floor muscles, the multifidus works to stabilize the low back and pelvis, raising intra-abdominal pressure.

Various yoga tools can help to strengthen those core muscles that are responsible for maintaining continence.

Restorative Yoga

Pelvic floor muscles can become ‘hypertonic’ or too tight.  Restorative yoga can help to relax pelvic floor muscles, allowing them to activate when needed, but also letting them relax and release when appropriate.  Muscles that are too tight cannot operate optimally.

Pranayama, Meditation, and Gentle Yoga

All of the above help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, or the ‘relax and digest’ response. Someone who is dealing with urge incontinence can use these yoga tools to tap into their relaxation response.

Alignment and Posture

Having good alignment, which results in good posture, has a positive effect on how the core muscles function.  Alignment is a major topic of importance and discussion when holding and moving through yoga poses.

Strengthening

During yoga practice the core 4 muscles can be activated and strengthened. Simply sitting in Easy Pose or Sukhasana can be an opportunity to engage and activate those muscles.

Awareness

Yoga invites us to bring awareness to our practice and to our life. Incontinence sends the message that something in the body’s system is not functioning optimally. Yoga provides the opportunity to listen to that message and respond.

Published by MSH Yoga

I am a wife, a mother of 3 wonderful, amazing adults, a grandmother, an Early Childhood Educator, and a certified yoga instructor (YTT 200 hrs). I teach Vinyassa style Hatha deep stretch, detox, and power flow classes at Birth Yoga Studio in Streetsville Ontario, and with Results Fitness Lifestyle In Mississauga. I completed my YTT 200 in December 2018. I am also a certified Y12SR, Yoga for 12 Step Recovery, group leader (August 2018), and a certified instructor of yoga for seniors, Relax into Yoga (March 2019), and Teaching Yoga to Seniors (October 2019). I facilitate Thai Yoga Stretch, and teach yoga to private clientelle. Practicing yoga is a passion, and supporting others to learn about this life changing practice is my goal. I practice meditation and mindfulness. I believe there is so much we can learn from being in tune with our body, our mind and our spirit, but that is a difficult path to find, and then, to actually follow. When we do, we facilitate the union of those 3 entities. Then we can begin to discover who we really are, and come to accept our precious self.

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