If your sightseeing trips or excursions to the mall consist mainly of you scouting out the nearest restroom, you might want to consider practicing yoga exercises to strengthen your bladder. A consistent practice of yoga poses that are dedicated to developing the muscles of the pelvic floor -- which are nestled between your sitting bones, pubic bone and tailbone -- will help you control the urge to tinkle when it’s least convenient.
The 16 muscles in your pelvic floor can either become hypotonic, or over-stretched, or hypertonic, which means they’re too tight. Both conditions can compromise the efficiency of your bladder. Yoga therapist Bill Gallagher suggests a breathing exercise that will not only bring your awareness to the muscles of your pelvic floor, but with practice will help you learn how to both strengthen and relax them. Either sit or stand and inhale deeply. You should be able to feel your diaphragm pushing the pelvic floor down. As you exhale, the pelvic floor rises along with the diaphragm. As you become proficient at recognizing the subtle up and down movements of your pelvic floor, start extending your exhalations and inhalations and actively lifting up and pushing the pelvic floor down respectively.
Reclined Wide-Legged Pose Variation
Take what you’ve learned in the breathing exercise, which is isolating the pelvic floor, and practice further strengthening movements for the bladder. Lie on the floor next to a wall. Swing your legs up the wall and scoot around until your buttocks are flush with the wall. Place your hands on your lower belly. Spread your legs as you inhale and relax the large transversus abdominus muscle in your lower belly along with the pelvic floor. On an exhale, close your legs while contracting your lower abdominal muscle and lifting the pelvic floor. At the end of the exhale, squeeze your knees together. Repeat eight more times.
The shoemakers or cobblers of India adopt this pose while working and have been found to be practically free of urinary tract disorders. The kidneys, bladder and prostate will benefit from the increased circulation while practicing cobbler’s pose. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your knees and splay your legs open in order to bring the soles of your feet together. The outer sides of your feet will lie on the floor and the outsides of your legs will lower as far as they can toward the floor. Wrap the first and third finger of each of your hands around your big toes. Pull your feet as close in to your perineum as possible. Sit with a straight back in cobbler’s pose for one to three minutes. Practice this pose on a daily basis for a stronger and healthier bladder.
Modified Lotus Pose
It is not recommended for anyone except the most experienced yogi to perform the full lotus pose, but this variation has the same benefits of stimulating your bladder. Sit on a rug or yoga mat with your feet out-stretched in front of you. Bend your right knee and lay the outside of your right leg and foot on the floor. Insert your right foot underneath your left thigh. Bend your left knee, turn the leg so the outside is facing down toward the floor and use your hands to place your left foot atop your right thigh. Straighten your back as you sit in this modified lotus pose for one to five minutes. Repeat on the other side.
- Yoga Journal: The Ground Floor
- The Illustrated Light on Yoga; B.K.S. Iyengar
Linda Kaban is a certified yoga teacher and professional life coach who specializes in helping people achieve their fitness goals. With a bachelor's degree in the humanities, Kaban has been writing since 1998 and has been published in YOGALife magazine along with other healthy living publications.