Do you often have to excuse yourself and run to the bathroom embarrassingly quickly? Perhaps you’ve even leaked a little? Maybe the joke was that funny, or maybe it was your pelvic floor.
Whether you’ve had a kid or two or not, our modern lifestyles require a lot of sitting, so most of us lose pelvic floor stability over time. Not to mention, these muscles can easily become dehydrated because of the lack of blood flow to the area, causing tension to build up. Unfortunately, a weak pelvic floor can lead to serious health problems and discomfort later in life, including leaking and urinary incontinence, constipation, leg, hip, and knee pain, and more. Yikes!
Even if you’re not suffering from pelvic floor issues, it’s never a bad idea to keep things strong and sturdy in an area that tends to wear as the years go by. Pelvic floor exercises can also help to significantly improve existing issues, too. Luckily for us, yoga is the perfect exercise for the job because it’s low impact and can be done or free right from your own home — no fancy equipment or membership required!
Trying to figure out how exactly to do your kegels correctly can be a little tricky, so we’ve rounded up some yoga poses with full instructions that will help you engage and tighten your pelvic floor while also helping you stretch those key muscles. Our first couple of postures emphasize strengthening the pelvic floor, while the rest focus on relaxation and flexibility. Together, these postures will keep everything down there strong and healthy and help fight pain and prevent future problems from arising. Check them out below!
- Stand up tall with your chin parallel to the ground and your hands down at your side, palms facing front.
- Tuck your tailbone in slightly so that your lower back isn't curved, and draw your navel in towards your spine. If you can, activate your pelvic floor by contracting the muscle you'd normally use if you wanted to stop peeing mid-stream while drawing the belly up and in.
- Keep your shoulder blades rolled down your back so your spine is straight and your chest is open. Make sure you’re distributing your weight evenly between both feet.
- For an added benefit, take this pose against the wall and feel your back ribs press into the wall as you inhale, encouraging expansion in the diaphragm.
- Stay in this posture for five deep breaths, focusing on sending fresh oxygen and blood to the pelvis.
Downward Facing Dog
- Come into a push-up position with your feet hip-width apart (about two fists between your feet) and shoulders stacked directly over your wrists. Take a deep inhale to engage your core by pulling your navel up and in.
- On an exhale, lift your hips up and back, tilting the hips up toward the ceiling, pressing firmly into the hands and reaching the heels of the feet toward the floor, creating an upside down V-shape with your body.
- If your hamstrings are tight at first, pedal your feet one at a time and breathe space into the tight areas. Once you find stillness, stay in the pose for three to five to 10 breaths, creating length from head to tailbone with each inhale and drawing the hips a little higher on each exhale.
- From downward dog, bring your right foot forward to replace your right hand.
- Gently lower your left knee to the ground (if this is uncomfortable, roll up a towel or blanket to rest your knee on). Pressing firmly into the ball of your left foot, pull the inner thighs together to activate your pelvic floor. Imagine that you are tucking your tailbone underneath you slightly by drawing it down towards the ground.
- Inhale and draw your lower belly up and in to turn on your core, then lift your arms up over-head so your biceps frame your ears. Be sure to drop your shoulders away from your ears so you’re not creating tension in the neck and shoulder area!
- Continue to actively pull the thighs together while lifting the lower belly to extend the spine up longer. Stay in this posture for five to 10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
- Begin standing.
- Take your feet wider than hips width distance apart with the toes pointing out slightly to each side.
- Bend both knees and start to squat down, trying to remain as centered as possible by drawing the lower belly up and in to engage your core. Keep your hands in prayer position at your chest.
- As you lower down, press into the balls and the heels of your feet, and see if you can feel the arch of your foot lifting while you do so.
- Once you get down as far as you can go, begin pressing your elbows into your knees with your palms pressed together in front of your heart. If your heels come up, that’s OK. You can add a rolled up blanket or towel underneath them for extra support.
- Lift your sternum and chest up while pressing your tailbone down, making sure that you’re actively pressing the knees into the elbows. The resistance between knees and elbows is what really helps to open the hips in the posture. Continue to draw the lower belly up and in to give you more length in the spine. Remain here for five to 10 full breaths.
- Start in a tabletop position with your hips stacked above your knees and shoulders stacked above your wrists. The head and spine should form a straight line in neutral position.
- On a slow, deep inhale, push your belly down towards the ground, while curving your tailbone and neck up towards the ceiling, press down firmly into your hands and feet. This is your cat pose.
- On an exhale, press into your hands and feet as you curve the middle of your spine up towards the ceiling and tuck your chin and tailbone down and in towards each other. Draw the belly in and activate the pelvic floor by contracting those muscles again.
- Repeat this motion, moving with the breath for five to 10 slow breaths.
- Begin lying flat on your back. Draw your knees up and in towards you, placing your feet down so your knees are facing up and your heels are as close to your bottom as you can get them.
- On an inhale, lift your hips up toward the ceiling, pressing feet firmly into the bed.
- On your exhale, draw the belly in and lift your hip bones up a little higher and draw your shins forward.
- Stay in the pose for five to 10 breaths.
Reclined Bound Angle Pose
- Begin lying flat on your back.
- Bending the knees out to each side, bring the soles of the feet to meet each other and let your knees rest down, like you’re opening a book. If you feel tenderness in your groin here, put a pillow or bolster under each knee. Allow your lower spine to curve naturally.
- Bring your arms down alongside you with palms facing up. Rest here for five to 10 deep breaths, concentrating on the inner thigh and groin area. This should feel really yummy!
Legs Up the Wall
Practice this pose against a wall! If you like, you can practice an even more restorative version of this pose by using a pillow or yoga block underneath your pelvis.
- Sit up tall with your right side up against a wall. If you’re using a pillow or block, set it down against the wall and sit on top of it.
- Keeping your hips in contact with the wall, turn your body to the right slowly and bring your legs up onto the wall using your hands for support.
- Lower your torso down onto the floor and roll your shoulder blades back and down, ensuring that you’re keeping your spine nice and long and not crunching in the neck.
- Bring your arms out alongside you with your palms facing up. Stay here for five to 10 deep breaths, breathing consciously into lower belly and pelvis.
- Starting on all fours, take your knees out wide, bringing your big toes to touch behind you.
- Rest your bottom down onto your heels and bow your upper body forward and down.
- Either extend your arms out in front of you or along your sides.
- Rest your forehead on the ground and breathe deeply into the back body, pressing the hips down into the heels actively. Stay here for five to 10 deep breaths.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
And last but not least, our final resting posture, savasana, seals every yoga practice and fills us with ease and tranquility. In this pose, you will have time to process and heal from all the work you just did.
- Begin sitting up with your legs out in front of you. Use your hands to guide yourself down gently to lie flat on your back with your palms facing up, extending the legs down long in front of you and arms alongside the body.
- Keep the legs a bit wider than hip-width distance, and let the feet splay out to the sides comfortably.
- Close your eyes and relax deeply into the posture, taking full, deep, belly breaths. Thank yourself for the effort you put into your body and well-being today.
- Stay in the pose for five minutes, breathing intentionally.