A woman’s pelvic floor muscles stretch from the base of her spine to her pubic bones. Inside her abdomen, these muscles support her bowel, bladder, and uterus. The pelvic floor muscles can become stretched and weakened by pregnancy, childbirth and age. Over time, weak pelvic floor muscles may lead to incontinence, or difficulty maintaining control of bowel and bladder movements. Further, a weak pelvic floor can cause pain in the lower back and pelvic area. Yoga poses, or asanas, increase circulation and stamina, which can help to strengthen the pelvic floor.
Root locks, or mula bandhas, should be the basis of any yoga pose in which you would like to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. Root locks can be incorporated into almost any yoga pose. To engage in root locks, you gently uplift your pelvic floor muscles by imagining that you are trying to stop the flow of urine and a bowel movement at the same time. While doing so, draw your tailbone downward. You will want to try not to contract your buttocks muscles, but instead engage your abdominal muscles. Regular practice of root locks can align your posture, strengthen your core muscles, and help to improve pelvic endurance.
There are several reclining yoga poses that can help to strengthen your pelvic floor. These include child’s poses, fish pose, spinal twists, cobra pose and lotus pose. While engaging in any of these poses, you will want to gently squeeze the pelvic floor muscles while stabilizing your lower back. Then inhale and exhale slowly for a few breaths, bringing awareness to your inner strength.
Standing poses that incorporate pelvic floor strengthening include poses such as downward facing dog, triangle pose, squatting pose, horse pose, and tree pose. Keep in mind that the resiliency of the pelvic muscles may be affected by the pull of gravity. Caution should be used with standing poses because there is a chance that sudden movements could cause or aggravate slipping of the uterus, or a prolapsed uterus. Talk to your doctor to find out whether standing yoga poses are right for you.
Inversions, such as shoulder stand, head stand or hand stand are the best poses to practice if you are looking to utilize gravity to your advantage. When held in proper alignment, inversions can help the pelvic organs to realign back to their proper places. Inversions also improve blood circulation throughout the body as blood flow is directed toward the heart and brain. This increases concentration, mental alertness, and awareness. If you are not prepared to do the full expression of inversion poses, you can use a wall for support.