Yoga exercises for common women's woe

June 21, 2010 9:27:56 PM PDT
We are talking about having a weak bladder. Some say yoga can help.

This is a problem that affects one out of every three women over the age of 40. Even though you do not hear many women discussing it in public, a simple internet search will show you many are discussing it online? and looking for solutions to a leaky bladder.

Dhyana D'Amato of Dhyana Yoga practices yoga to keep her mind and her body strong? and it's not just her arms, legs and core getting a workout.

Yoga instructor John Vitarelli says many poses can also help women tone muscles that are difficult to reach, such as those of the pelvic floor, which supports the bladder.

As he guides D'Amato through poses, he explains, "As she creates this suction with her legs, the muscles of her inner thighs and the pelvic floor become completely engaged."

Urogynecologist Dr. Stephanie Molden of the Female Pelvic Center at St. Mary Medical Center says the exercises can help women who suffer from two types of incontinence. Urge incontinence refers to feeling like you won't make it to the bathroom in time, or stress incontinence which happens to many women especially after giving birth.

Stress incontinence can lead to leakage when coughing, sneezing, exercise, or even while laughing.

Dr. Molden says, "Most of the time they say when they laugh they have to put their legs together and squeeze or cross their legs."

She says for mild to moderate cases, doctors recommend doing kegel exercises, roughly the same concept as what Vitarelli calls accessing the pelvic floor.

Dr. Molden says, "It's really strengthening the levator muscles- the levator muscles create a bowl, a type of muscle structure in the pelvis itself that supports several structures in the pelvis."

Vitarelli and Dhyana take us through some of the simple, but most effective poses.

First is Warrior 1 - legs apart, feet facing forward, arms stretch up, and you should feel as if you are squeezing your thighs together. Try to hold from 3 to 15 breaths.

Warrior 2 is also helpful... it's similar to warrior one... but arms are stretched out and hips rotate out.

He explains as Dhyana takes the pose, "She is going to exhale and draw her belly back and try to let her tail tuck underneath."

Another good move is the Eagle. Try to wrap one leg around the other,as far as you can go. Again, hold for 3 to 15 breaths.

"This clearly accesses the muscles in the inner thighs thus causing the pelvic floor to engage," says Vitorelli.

One more pose, which is a bit more complex is the bridge. You can use a foam yoga block or a phonebook. It's done lying on your back on the floor, knees bent, about hip width apart.

"As she inhales she is going to just lift her hips up off the ground pressing into the feet, you are going to bring the thighs together literally trying to squeeze the book or the block," says Vitorelli.

Dr. Molden says studies have shown exercises like these are effective, and can help when it comes to avoiding embarrassment.

And by doing these exercises a few times a week, experts say women can start to notice a difference in just a few weeks. Of course if the problem is more severe, medication or surgery may also be needed.