If you’ve spent any amount of time exercising or even just reading women’s magazines, you’ve doubtlessly heard about how important it is to strengthen your ‘core’ – ie, your abs and low back. And there’s no doubt that strengthening your core is incredibly important for your posture and your overall health.
But we’d like to add on to this standard advice. Yes, strengthen your core. But strengthen your pelvic floor, too. Yoga is one of the best ways to do this—keep reading to discover why.
Why Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor?
You’re all on board for strengthening your core—who doesn’t want 6-pack abs, right? But if you’re not also strengthening your pelvic floor, it might be because you’re not even sure what your pelvic floor is, or why it matters.
So let’s start with the basics. Your pelvic floor comprises all the muscles and ligaments that work together to create a hammock between your pubic bone and tail bone. It supports your pelvic organs—namely, your bladder, reproductive organs and bowels. As such, these muscles maintain your bladder and bowel control, contribute to your sexual sensations, and support your baby during pregnancy. All pretty important, right?
And you read that right – your pelvic floor is really just layers of muscles that support all these critical organs and functions. And just like other muscles in your body, your pelvic floor muscles can get stronger or weaker, depending on how you use them.
And why do you want a strong pelvic floor? Because what you really don’t want is a weak one. Weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to any number of pelvic floor disorders, ranging from pelvic organ prolapse, where pelvic organs can literally drop into or out of your vagina or anus, to incontinence or painful sex.
The front line defenses that are often recommended to women with pelvic floor disorders are pelvic floor physical therapy, along with Kegel exercises. Women looking for more ways to improve their pelvic health may also want to consider yoga.
How Yoga Strengthens Your Pelvic Floor
We’re going to assume that you’re already aware of the health benefits of yoga, since these benefits are many and well-researched.
What you may not know is that recent research is confirming what many yoga practitioners and pelvic floor specialists already knew: yoga can strengthen your pelvic floor, too.
Specifically, a new 2022 study from the Journal of Healthcare Engineering found that yoga improves postpartum pelvic floor function, seeing a “very significant improvement on the physical indicators and mental health of the postpartum women.” 1
Similarly, a 2021 study found that regular practice of Mulabandha yoga therapy for 12 weeks “is a better means to reinforce the strength of pelvic floor muscles in women.” The study authors recommend women incorporate this yoga into their regular routines as a “preventive measure to refrain from pelvic floor dysfunctions.” 2
And another study in the Japan Journal of Nursing Science found that “Daily performance of pelvic muscle exercise was positively correlated with improved incontinence factor and with quality of life related to urinary tract symptoms.” 3
More Ways Yoga Can Support Your Pelvic Health
We’re big on self-care, because we’re big on women being proactive about their physical, mental, and emotional health. Not only do we all deserve this as humans. But the more we’re able to relax and tune into our needs, the better able our bodies will be to respond to pain and stress.
That’s why yoga is such a fantastic exercise for your pelvic health. Yes, it can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. But it can also help them relax, which is just as important, especially if you are suffering from certain painful pelvic floor dysfunction. For example, stretching your hips, groin, buttocks and lower back in a safe, guided way might help you relieve pelvic pain.
Ultimately, every part of our body is connected. That means the best way to support your pelvic floor is to support your whole body. And yoga is a great place to start.
If you’d like to talk to a specialist about your pelvic floor, including how to find the right resources to support your pelvic floor health, check out our Physician Finder. Otherwise, bust out your yoga mat, tap in, and bliss out. Namaste.