As you age, you may have noticed that urinary incontinence is a problem, particularly if you’re a woman. Incontinence occurs within the muscles of the urethra because they become weaker and loosen, usually after menopause.
As many as 25 million Americans suffer from temporary to long-term incontinence. It can occur over some time, happening gradually. Some treatments for incontinence include lifestyle changes, exercise, medication, and even surgery.
So, what can you do to help combat urinary incontinence? Read on to learn about the causes and how yoga asanas can help provide long-term benefits and relief from incontinence in women.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence?
Older women are more susceptible to urinary incontinence because aging weakens the pelvic floor muscles that control the bladder. It is possible for younger adults to experience this due to injury or illness. For example, there is a correlation between multiple sclerosis and incontinence, as many people suffering from MS also experience urinary incontinence.
Your pelvic organs weakening is the primary cause of incontinence. Your muscles located there lose their tone, and it contributes to not being able to control your bladder properly.
However, with more flexibility and control of those muscles, you can work to strengthen the pelvic floor. Relaxing those muscles and conserving the strength within can reduce or even eliminate the effects of urinary incontinence.
How Does Yoga Help With Incontinence?
Yoga helps to decrease urinary incontinence in women. How is this possible? With yoga, in particular, the poses we will examine are specifically geared toward strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. When you work these muscles, even if it’s just for minutes a day, you will notice a noticeable change in maintaining your urine flow better.
It’s important to note that how effective these yoga poses are at reducing incontinence symptoms can also depend on the type of incontinence you’re experiencing. The most common type of incontinence for women is stress incontinence, which these yoga poses are most helpful in controlling. It is when urine leaks during exerted pressure on the bladder, like when you sneeze, cough, laugh or lift something heavy.
Other types of incontinence include:
- Urge Incontinence – usually referred to as overactive bladder, when you feel the urge to go even when your bladder isn’t full.
- Overflow incontinence – if you don’t empty the bladder fully, you may experience urine leakage even if you don’t feel the urge to go.
- Functional incontinence – other illnesses or disabilities prevent you from staying dry, even though your urinary tract is functioning correctly.
Yoga Poses for Incontinence
The more important yoga poses to concentrate on that help improve your pelvic floor muscle function include the following (with picture examples):
- Utkatasana (chair pose) – as you exhale, bend the knees and put your hips back, leaning slightly forward at an angle. Press your feet down and reach forward and up with your fingers. Hold for 3-5 breaths.
- Trikonasana (triangle pose) – in warrior pose, you lean forward with your hip tucked and lower your right hand down onto the shin or ankle. Stack your shoulders, open up your chest, reach your left fingertips toward the ceiling, and turn your head to gaze upward. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
- Malasana (squat pose) – stand up tall in Tadasana (mountain pose), keeping the legs shoulder width apart. Carefully and slowly squat down while keeping your back and shoulders straight. Bring your hands together, and put the elbows on the insides of the knees, holding in a squat position for 3-5 breaths.
- Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose) – in a seated position keeping the back and neck straight, fold your knees and bring your feet together, holding them in place with your hands. It’s a hip opening pose to strengthen the pelvic floor and the hip flexors. Hold 3-5 breaths.
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose) – laying flat on your back, putting your feet together, and bringing your knees up. Keep your shoulders on the ground, push your pelvis and hips off the floor, and bind your hands together underneath. Move your feet as close to your buttocks as possible. Hold 3-5 breaths.
- Virabhadrasana II (warrior two pose) – standing on your mat, bend your front knee to create a hip stretch with your arms extended straight across either side. Angle your head to gaze straightforward from your front hand, keeping the back leg straight and the front one bent as close to a 90-degree angle as possible. Hold 3-5 breaths.
An effective way yoga helps with urinary incontinence is by improving your posture. One of the reasons women end up with stress incontinence is due to the pressure that is applied to the bladder. If you prevent the pressure by keeping yourself more upright and stop slouching, you effectively release the pressure on the bladder while also improving your pelvic floor muscles.
Yoga Provides Long Term Benefits
Yoga provides many benefits to those aging beyond assistance with urinary incontinence. You can be more flexible and improve your overall general health and wellness. Consider that you will be more active, so you’ll burn calories, as well as meditation and connection with breathing to help create calm and improve your mental health.
Using yoga correctly can go to great lengths and improve your bladder control. If you have a pelvic floor disorder, you may still need some assistance with medication or other treatment for incontinence. But yoga is a proven holistic and mindful practice that will ensure you reduce your symptoms and have a healthy outlook on life. Other more cosmetic treatments which are good for your skin, and your mind is normatec recovery. If you are currently dealing with any physical pain, this therapy can be of help.