Yoga is a gentle and effective way to strengthen your pelvic floor, which we can all benefit from. Learn how yoga for pelvic floor helps strengthen these muscles and 10 great poses to try here.
How Does Yoga Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor?
Your pelvic floor can lose muscle tone and strength for a variety of reasons throughout your lifetime. The most common culprits tend to be pregnancy and childbirth, heavy sports, menopause and pelvic surgeries, not to mention natural ageing.
So, is yoga good for pelvic floor strength? The short answer is yes! Yoga works to combine breathing, stretching and strengthening exercises to bring mobility to the vital muscles in and around the pelvic floor.
Alexis at Flex Yoga Mcr has over 20 years of yoga experience and 500+ hours trained with Yoga Alliance. She says:
‘Yoga is great for strengthening the pelvic floor, with lots of postures requiring it to lift up, which in turn makes it stronger. It’s also really helpful during pregnancy, in the 4th trimester and beyond, where adapted poses can help you to soften as well as strengthen so you don't overwork the muscles.’
If you’re wondering whether or not you can do yoga while you’re on your period, the answer is yes. It can be really effective at reducing symptoms of PMS, and help to ease menstrual cramps too, so there is no need to abandon your practice just because you’re at the start of your cycle. In fact, our WUKA period leggings were made for yoga! With integrated Perform Seamless period pants, our leggings will absorb your flow without holding you back, so you can enjoy yoga (or any workout) without fear of leaks – or VPL!
Benefits of Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor
Your pelvic floor refers to layers of muscles and ligaments that support your bladder, bowel and uterus, and they need to be strong to support these organs. If your pelvic floor is weak, you might experience loss of bladder or bowel control when you laugh, cough or sneeze.
Yoga for your pelvic floor helps to maintain strength in these muscles, which is essential for bladder and bowel function, and for sexual pleasure during intercourse too.
Top 10 Yoga Positions To Strengthen Pelvic Floor
So, which yoga for pelvic floor should you try? There are some postures that are better than others to really give those muscles a good workout. Read on to find out which poses you should be doing.
Constructive Rest (Savasana Variation Bent Legs)
One of the most effective yoga poses for strengthening the pelvic floor, Constructive Rest (Savasana Variation) with bent legs is usually performed at the end of your practice, but you can do it anytime you like.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Your arms should be by your sides with palms facing up and your spine should be neutral, with a slight curve. Now breathe deeply and focus. This pose really helps to bring the blood flow to your pelvic floor.
This pose really helps you to build a connection to the muscles, so take your time and try to envision pulling the muscles in and up as you breathe.
Knees to Chest (Apanasana)
The knees to chest pose is another gentle yet effective yoga pose that helps you to relax. This one is fantastic for relieving any pain or discomfort in your lower back.
It can also relieve menstrual cramps and aid in the strengthening of the pelvic floor, by massaging the muscles and improving blood flow to the area.
Lie on your back with your legs just wider than hip width apart, then exhale and slowly draw your knees to your chest. Allow your entire body to soften down to the mat, keeping your shoulders soft and placing your hands on your knees. From here, you can inhale deeply, straightening your arms and moving your knees away from your chest. As you exhale, gently draw the knees back again.
Cat-Cow (Marjaryasana and Bitilasana)
Cat pose and cow pose are counter poses, which means that they complement each other perfectly, allowing you to prepare the spine for more back stretches throughout your practise. The cat-cow pose is also amazing for strengthening the core, improving posture and working the pelvic floor muscles.
Start in table-top position on your hands and knees with hands shoulder width apart. As you exhale, round your spine, drop your head and draw your lower belly in and up. Aim for the ceiling, focusing on pulling the pelvic floor in and up.
Then, on the inhale, release to neutral spine, before starting to arch your spine, lowering your belly, tilting your pelvis, lifting your chin and broadening your collarbones. Keep the core tight, to support the spine.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Warrior II is a standing pose that helps to improve posture and balance, whilst at the same time working and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and stretching the psoas, the main muscles that connect your torso and lower body.
The psoas muscles work to flex your hip joints and are used daily every time we walk, stand, dance run or jump: basically any upright movement. They are also responsible for stabilising the pelvic floor.
To do Warrior II, start in an upright position with your feet together and arms by your sides. Inhale and sweep your arms up overhead. As you exhale, separate your feet wide and bring your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor. Then shift your front leg so that the toes point forward, keeping your hips facing forward and your back foot facing forward.
Bring the weight into your front leg as you lower into a lunge, looking over the fingertips of your front hand. Breathe deeply, engage the core and keep the pelvic floor muscles tight.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana I)
This pose is amazing for stretching the backs and insides of the legs, opening the hips and stretching the spine. Wide-Legged Forward Fold also engages the pelvic floor muscles and again strengthens the psoas muscles.
Start with a wide-legged stance and as you inhale, bring your arms overhead and stretch up tall. On the exhale, reach forward as you fold the torso down towards the ground. With each inhale, reach forward and on the exhale, reach further down. Try to get your head closer to the ground with each exhale. A wonderful deep body stretch!
Wide-Legged Squat (Malasana)
Primarily a hip opener, the Wide-Legged Squat is great for releasing tension in the spine and pelvis, and wonderful for anyone who spends long periods of time sitting at a desk. This one really works closely with the pelvic floor, sending an increased blood flow to the area and helping to strengthen the uterus. This can help to reduce period cramps and eases anxiety and stress.
Start with your feet together and bring the hands to the chest in prayer position, then start to slowly bend the knees, coming down to a squat. Come down as low as you can, wiggling your shoulders in between your knees and use your elbows to push back agains the inner knees. Keep your hands at the chest in prayer position and your back straight, and breathe.
Reclining Cross Shin Position (Supta Sukasana)
Reclining Cross Shin Position will help to open up the hips and pelvis, strengthen the back and stretch the knees and ankles.
Find a comfortable cross-legged position on the floor, and place your hands on your knees, sliding the shoulder blades back and down. Try to focus on your spine growing long with each inhalation and as you exhale, root down through the hips. Stay there for as long as is comfortable.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Your yoga practise will likely begin with Mountain Pose, and lots of other postures will start here too. Stand tall with your feet together, pelvis in neutral position and crown lifted to the sky. Press your feet firmly into the ground, and bring your arms to your sides with the palms facing forward. Draw the pelvic floor in and up, engage the muscles and breathe.
Mountain Pose helps to prepare the body for other standing poses and will improve posture over time, whilst also strengthening the pelvic floor muscles.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Chair Pose requires you to actively engage your pelvic floor so its yet another great posture to try. This pose will help to balance the pelvis, providing stability and strength and will help you to gain an awareness of your pelvis in neutral position.
Start in Mountain Pose with your feet together and arms high. Then start to sit down and back, as if you’re sitting into a chair. Keep your arms by your ears and root down through your feet as you breathe. Engage your core and pelvic floor throughout the pose.
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
Another pose that opens the hips and releases tension in the pelvic floor, Happy Baby can help to relieve back pain and improve hip flexibility.
Start lying on your back and bend your knees, bringing them towards your belly. Hold on to the sides of your feet, and gently pull your legs down towards your armpits. From here, you can gently rock side to side, and breathe.
Yoga Pelvic Floor Exercises
The bottom line? Yoga for pelvic floor is great for everyone, and can compliment other traditional exercise too. See our top exercises to help keep your pelvic floor happy for more information.
Dr Gazala Aziz-Scott, specialist in integrative women’s health and biogenetical hormone balancing, agrees: ‘Yoga can be just as effective as pelvic floor exercises or kegels, as many of the postures strengthen all of the muscles involved in supporting the pelvic floor.’
Yoga not only works to bring strength and stabilisation to the pelvic floor muscles, but can have a calming effect too, helping to soothe the mind and improve sleep, especially beneficial if you often struggle to sleep with period pain.