The pelvic floor consists of muscles and connective tissues that help stabilize your core. They also assist with essential bodily functions, including urinating, defecting, and having sex. Your pelvic floor can weaken over time as a result of aging, but an injury can be the culprit as well. A weak pelvic floor can lead to conditions like incontinence or pelvic floor prolapse, but exercising these muscles can help combat those issues.
In yoga, the pelvic floor is the root of your body, making it an essential component for overall stability. Although kegels may be the first exercise that comes to mind regarding the pelvic floor, yoga is an effective form of exercise to keep them strong and flexible. Tension can easily build up in those muscles from sitting for extended periods of time. Things like childbirth and aging can also cause them to become weak or stiff.
Tight hips often accompany a tight pelvic floor, especially if you sit a lot. If you deal with pain or discomfort in the pelvic floor and hips, practicing yoga may offer some relief, especially if you do it consistently. The poses in the restorative yoga sequence below are designed to target the muscles in and around the pelvic floor and hip areas. Practicing these moves for five to 10 minutes per day can help relieve tension and improve mobility.
Reclined Cobbler’s Pose
This pose is a great posture that works to stretch the inner thighs and groin, which can easily tighten from everyday activities. By stretching the muscles in the front of the pelvis, this pose helps to release tension in the pelvic floor and lower back. To do the pose:
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet planted firmly on the ground about a foot away from your butt. Take a big inhale into your ribcage and hold for a few seconds.
- Place your hands on the outsides of your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Exhale fully and simultaneously allow your knees to fall to the sides, lowering them as much as you comfortably can.
- You can let your legs continue to fall until you feel a deep stretch along your inner thighs. Support the outsides of your legs with your hands and take at least 10 deep breaths in this position.
Happy Baby Pose
A great beginner pose to help relax the mind and body, especially the hips. Happy Baby benefits the pelvic floor because it stretches muscles in and around the pelvis, including the groin, glutes, hamstrings, and hips. To do the pose:
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet planted flat on the floor about a foot away from your butt.
- Take a big inhale and then on your exhale, draw your knees up toward your armpits. With your shoulders pinned on the floor, reach to grab the outsides of your feet with your hands. If you cannot reach your feet, grab hold of your shins.
- Pull your feet down (or wherever you’re holding) toward your face, ideally facing the soles of your feet toward the ceiling.
- Keep your tailbone pressed against the ground and lengthen your spine. Remain in this position for 10 deep breaths.
Reclined Pigeon Pose
Known as the “figure four” stretch, but not the same as Ric Flair’s submission, this stretch works to increase blood flow to the entire pelvic area. Reclined Pigeon Pose also works to stabilize the muscles in your hips and keep the large rotator muscle from becoming tight. To do the pose:
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet planted on the floor with your heels close to your butt.
- Keep your knees bent and place the outside of your left ankle just above your right knee. Open your left knee out to the side.
- Use your left hand to press your left knee away from your body. You will feel a stretch in your glutes and hip area. Keep your lower back pressed firmly into the mat.
- Lift your right foot off the floor to bring the figure four toward your upper body. Reach your hands to grab behind your right thigh and pull towards you to deepen the stretch.
- Take 10 deep breaths in this position, aiming to relax your pelvic muscles with each exhale. Release the stretch and then repeat on the other side.