Many women have trouble with weak pelvic floor muscles. The muscles under the uterus, bladder, and the large intestine are known as the pelvic floor muscles. Weakening of these muscles can happen for various reasons such as pregnancy, injuries to the pelvic region, or simply from lower body inactivity.
How to strengthen pelvic muscles?
Strengthening these muscles can be easily accomplished with a few easy yoga moves. Pelvic muscle exercises can help you regain strength and help avoid urine leakage and aid bowel movement control. Here are the top five yoga postures that you can fit into your daily schedule.
- Big toe pose or Padangusthasana
This posture strengthens the targeted muscles and also stretches your hamstrings.
Begin with your feet parallel, a gap not more than 8-9 inches. Stand straight in an erect posture.
Inhale deeply and raise your hands straight over your head.
Now start bending down towards your toes, slowly exhaling. Depending your flexibility, you may need to keep a gentle bend in your knees to reach your toes.
Try to touch or hold your big toe and hold the posture. Begin with a count to 10 and slowly work your way up to 30 seconds.
To exit Padangusthasana, lengthen your spine and return to your standing posture with an exhale.
Repeat this move 3 times.
- Bridge pose or Setu-Bandha Sarvangasana
The posture resembles a bridge and aids in blood circulation, muscular contraction, and control in the pelvic region.
Lie down on your back with your knees bent. With your feet flat on the floor, try to get your heels close to your sits bones. Your head, neck and shoulder should also be on the floor.
As you exhale, actively push your feet into the ground and lift your pelvis off the floor. When you feel stable, you can clasp your hands underneath your torso so that you are balancing on the tops of your shoulders.
Some of us tend to let our legs widen, try to keep your feet and thighs parallel while in bridge pose. Keep your buttocks firm, but don’t harden it. You want to use your pelvic floor muscles to stay in Setu-Bandha Sarvangasana.
After 30 seconds to a minute, release the pose by slowly rolling through each vertebra as you exhale. Repeat this posture 3 times.
- The Cat pose or Marjaryasana
Marjaryasana is extremely beneficial for those with a painful back, as well as weak pelvic muscles. The pose is beneficial for healing and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.
Come down on your knees and place your palms on the ground in table top position. Your back should be in a neutral spine position to start.
Inhale and arch your back upwards, engaging your abdominals like your pulling them against your spine. This posture should resemble the traditional Halloween kitty in full stretch, or some yogis think it resembles a hunchback.
A typical reverse posture is cow pose, or Bitilasana, which creates the cat/cow yoga sequence. With an inhale, allow your belly to drop towards the floor and let your gaze settle in front of you. Repeat 10 to 20 times!
- Seated forward bend or Pashchimottasana
Paschimottasana is a great pelvic floor exercise and can be helpful for those with polycystic ovary syndrome too. It strengthens and stretches your back and hamstrings simultaneously.
Sit with your back straight and legs stretched forward.
Inhale and raise your hands up straight.
Now, bend forward with a straight spine to grab your big toes, slowly exhaling.
Your goal should be to stretch your nose to touch your knee, but remember to only stretch as far as your flexibility allows.
After 1 to 3 minutes, let go of your toes and with a straight and extended spine, return to your original seated position. Repeat this exercise 3 times.
- Garland pose or Malasana
Malasana stretches your calves, thighs, and groin, while expanding your back and relieving lower back stiffness. This is one of my favorites when I’ve been sitting at my desk all day and feeling tight. Malasana will strengthen your inner thighs and lower butt muscles too.
Stand straight with your feet apart.
Squat down, breathing normally, all the way till the side of your buttocks touch your calves, but not the floor. While you are holding your balance, keep your heels on the floor.
Try keeping your back straight and head up. You can use your elbows to create resistance with your knees and lengthen your upper body. Look forward and breathe normally.
Hold this posture for 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat 4 times.
These 5 poses will not only help you strengthen weak pelvic muscles, but work your thighs, lower back, hamstrings, and more. Try to fit this yoga sequence into your daily regime to achieve the full benefits! If you’re new to yoga and want to learn more, check out these easy yoga stretches for beginners.
Valerie is a yoga instructor who received her yoga teacher training in India. She enjoys spreading the practice of yoga to her students, hiking in Colorado, and playing with her dog, Rita.