Yoga for Down There Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 12

Yoga for Urinary Incontinence

20 min - Practice


Shannon guides us in a slow yoga flow designed to strengthen the pelvic floor. This practice is helpful for those who may suffer from urinary incontinence.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

About This Video


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One out of four women and one out of nine men that we know of deal with urinary incontinence. This is a yoga flow that will help to strengthen pelvic floor and give some information along the way for urinary incontinence. So the first place we start is standing and we're going to start with some heel pumps. So we start to bring the heels up on one leg and the other. And you might be thinking, what does this have to do with urinary incontinence?

There's actually a nerve that runs from the calf muscle up towards the bladder and it affects the bladder. So if we can do some heel pumps here, this is one of the best tools for urge incontinence. So let's chat about the different kinds of incontinence that we have as we do heel pumps. Urge incontinence is that feeling of where you get your keys in your hand, you're going to put them in the door and then all of a sudden you think, oh my gosh, I have to go right now. So when we have that moment, we're going to do our heel pumps.

So we know we have our tools in place, we let the body know it's okay, I've got this. We stand outside of our car with our keys in our hand and we start to do heel pumps and we start to slow down the breath. And this is how we practice. This is how we tell the brain, it's okay, I've got this. A lot of it is a message, so we'll do our heel pumps.

The other kind of incontinence is stress incontinence. That's where we cough, sneeze, laugh, jump, and that's when we leak. So we'll do some poses as well to help with that. Another great tool that we can use is even bringing the fingertips into the, like our nail into the fingertips and pressing. So that's a way to distract the mind a little bit.

So we could do the heel pumps and that if we wanted to, or count backwards from 100 by sevens. Not everyone like that, or any one of, you know, a meditation, a mindfulness technique that you have, that sort of thing is what we use for that urge incontinence. Next we're going to move into chair with the breath and this helps us to be able to deal with that stress incontinence where we feel like I sneezed and then I'm leaking. So we're going to exhale as we sink down into chair and inhale as we come up. So with that, the arm movement you can do if you want.

Arms can come up as we exhale down and inhale come up. Then we're going to switch this movement. So we're going to inhale as we come down and exhale as we come up. So inhale as we come down and exhale as we come up. And then moving forward to the front of your mat, we're going to step back with one foot into a warrior one stance, but wiggle around and find where the feet feel comfortable here.

That's really key. We're going to raise the arms up here on the inhale and then get ready to, in whatever way is your way, to step forward into a baby tree, a wobbly tree. That's not really the point here. So we're inhaling arms up and then as we exhale, we could even drag that foot and step forward into tree. And then on the inhale, we step back.

Make this as slow as you would like. We're going to continue to exhale and move into some version of tree, could be wobbly and inhale, come back. So this lets pelvic floor know that even when we change the breath around and we're moving, we're going to develop that strength. So the exhale is where we're coming into some version of tree and the inhale is where we're stepping back. And then we'll switch to the other leg after this next exhale.

So we place the legs back there, stepping the opposite foot back. Again wiggle around, this side might be different. The inhale, arms come up, that's in our warrior, then we're going to get ready, this side might be different. To exhale and you can even drag that foot forward, it can be in a little baby tree. We're going to lower the arms down on that exhale, inhale, coming back into that warrior, exhale and come forward.

Notice if the breath feels funny, if it feels like it's backwards or if it's more of a struggle because we're going to switch it around in a second. So we find the inhale where we step back and then an exhale we step forward into our tree, place both feet down and we're going to set up for warrior on the other side and now this with the arms up is our exhale. So we're going to take a deep breath in here, exhale here and then inhale to step forward. Exhale to step back, inhale to step forward and if your brain just got all confused it's okay, that's our exhale to step back or inhale to come forward. Then we're going to do it the other side, so we step back into our warrior, bring the hands up, take an inhale here and then an exhale and then inhale to step forward, exhale to step back, inhale to step forward, exhale to step back and then inhale coming forward and place both feet on the floor.

That's come down to all fours, bringing hands underneath the shoulders, knees underneath the hips, finding table here, stretching the left leg out. So this is another great place to find that calf stretch, so you can do this little heel pumps here, that calf stretch, right arm reaches forward and we can find a nice stretch there. So this is a modified version of where we're going into bird dog. If this feels like I just want to do that we're going to bring right hand underneath the shoulder, left knee comes down to the earth, right foot extends out, right leg extends out, toes tucked under, find that little heel pump there. Left arm extends out to straight, find a nice stretch in that one.

So if that felt good you can come back to that version. We're going to start in the same way, so left leg reaches back, toes are tucked under and see what it's like to lift on the exhale, so lifting the foot on the exhale as slowly as possible. So we'll take an inhale here together and exhale and lifting that leg, maybe the opposite arm wants to reach forward. Nice breath here and then we'll slowly lower the hand down, lower the leg down, take a little pause to come back to center, extend the right leg out back behind you, taking an inhale here and then on the exhale to lift that leg as slowly as possible, extending maybe the left arm out if you want and then lowering that down, lowering the knee down, coming back to table. We'll start to do some rib cage circles, so that's where rib cage gets really close to the floor, over to the side, up to the top, over to the other side.

So up to the top and continuous breath, we're going to imagine that we're scraping the inside of a peanut butter jar and our ribs are the spatula, reversing the direction of that circle. And then we'll start to sink back towards child's pose, we don't have to come all the way back and then we're going to come forward. So continuous breath, we might walk the hands forward a bit more, I want to see if we can open up around the ribs, around the hips, reversing the direction, coming back to table. So then moving from table, we're going to come down to lie down on the back. The knees are bent, the feet are planted on the earth and we're going to start to feel rib cage breath, so we might actually bring our hands to the rib cage, feel the expansion of the rib cage out to the sides on the inhale, feel the ribs closing in towards themselves on the exhale.

Just letting yourself sink into the floor here, extend the arms out to the sides and we'll start to windshield the knees, so exhale and the knees go over towards one side, inhale back to center, exhale to the other side. Play around and see if having the feet together feels better or the feet further away from each other, so it's that inhale to the center, exhale to the side. Continuous breath and really allow the breath to move you. Come back to the center with the knees, reaching the arms up overhead, holding onto opposite elbows with the hands and starting to let this window that we've just created with the arms, letting this window move over to one side on the exhale, inhale back to center, exhale to the other side and then we'll allow the knees to go in the opposite direction. It's okay if it takes the brain a moment to figure it out, it's actually really good.

So we inhale, everything comes back to center, exhale and elbows and knees are going in the opposite direction on that exhale. Then just notice where is the head going? Is the head going with the knees or the elbows? And if it's going with the elbows, see what it's like to let it go with the knees. Or if you come back to center and you're thinking, my brain just has to figure that out for a moment.

And then coming back to center, relax the arms down to the sides. As we come rolling over to the side, maybe you have a block handy at home, we're going to roll all the way over to the right side. If you don't have a block, you can use a pillow or a blanket, we're going to prop ourselves up so that the head is really supporting for a moment. Extend the bottom leg out to straight, bend the top knee and bring that block underneath the top knee. Until that feels like, I'm going to lift it a little bit higher right now.

Until it feels like the hips are sort of stacking in that. Now I changed my mind. So find where you feel comfortable there. Then extending the bottom arm out to straight so that we're really resting on that bottom arm and letting the head get heavy there. Top arm comes back behind the head.

We're going to exhale, curl in on the exhale, let the forehead come down towards the floor. Inhale and open. Exhale and curl in. So we make lots of space in the thoracic cavity with this inhale, open. Exhale, curling in.

The amazing thing is when we make space in the thoracic cavity, we take the pressure off of pelvic floor. So we're going to finish up on that side and then coming back to our side, use the hands to bring you up and we'll get ready to switch to the other side. So bringing the block under the knee again, we'll start to transition onto the left side. Notice the block, this side might be different. So that the knees are stacked, or sorry, so that the hips are stacked and we'll extend the bottom arm out to straight.

Top arm comes back behind the head. So we're going to exhale, curl in, forehead rolls towards the floor. Inhale and open up as much as feels like that feels like you're. Nice, gentle thoracic twist. So the inhale opens, the exhale closes, coming back to the side, bringing the hands onto the floor, releasing, coming up just to move our block out of the way and we'll come down to lying down on the back.

So then setting up for relaxation, shavasana, we're going to start to extend the legs, extend the arms out to straight, settle in, allowing the body to get heavy, maybe the eyes close or soften, see if you can find comfort, maybe a micro movement to sink in and get a little more comfortable there. And when you're ready, we'll start to make small movements with fingers and toes. If you're feeling like you need a little more time in relaxation, for sure stay here. Starting to stretch the arms up overhead, lengthen through the legs, really take up lots of space. Starting to roll over to one side when you're ready, placing the hands on the floor and we'll start to come up to sitting.

So thank you for being here, for doing a little practice for overall pelvic health, but specifically for urinary incontinence. It's not something that everyone talks about, but doing a little bit of yoga can make a huge difference here. So thank you for practicing with me today. Namaste.


Louisa C
1 person likes this.
Thank you for leading me in this wonderful yoga! It was just what I needed !
Shannon Crow
Thanks for practicing with me Louisa. So glad you enjoyed this.
Liisa K
Thank you! This was amazing. So simple, yet so powerful. It’s not so much about doing a lot of repetitions and sweating it but more about getting in touch with your pelvic floor and moving with awareness. Love it! I’n also going to try the heelpumps the next time I feel like I really need to go. 😁
Shannon Crow
Thank you for practicing with me Liisa. It is great to hear that you are feeling the awareness with this movement practice. That is my favourite part of yoga. Yay for heelpumps!
Ciara M
loved this. thank you

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