Why Pelvic Yoga?
We don’t like to talk about our pelvic floor, our bladders, or our bowels, because they are private parts and the sometimes messy sometimes uncomfortable parts of our bodies where we deal with our own waste. But we should talk about our pelvic floor health, because it drastically impacts every other aspect of our lives.
According to a University of Michigan healthy aging poll, 43% of women over 50 and 51% of women over 65 are dealing with incontinence. Approximately 11% of men over 60 and 31% of men over 85 are dealing with the issue. And incontinence can have major impact on quality of life. For instance, it reduces sleep quality and duration. It can impact what people feel comfortable doing, and where they feel comfortable going, and how confident they feel engaging in the world. Among individuals with chronic health conditions, incontinence can be a further barrier to independence and self-efficacy for daily living activities. Even medical professionals may not ask – in fact, the University of Michigan study says that “There are few medical conditions as common as urinary incontinence for which routine screening does not already exist.”
So we NEED to talk about our pelvic floor, which is a muscle, and like every other muscle in your body, needs both exercise and relaxation in order to be most effective.
If you’re dealing with any form of incontinence – talk to your doctor! First, it can be a sign of other health conditions, so you’ll need to be screened and checked for a variety of conditions. Second, pelvic floor physical therapists can work wonders with identifying your particular issues and challenges, and helping you to develop a personalized exercise plan to improve pelvic floor health and reduce symptoms of incontinence. When I first started learning about pelvic floor health, and incorporating it into my yoga classes for women, pregnancy, and older adults, it was 2000, and there were only a handful of pelvic floor physical therapists in the entire US. Now, it’s grown enough that the multi-state Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy company Origin published a 2023 State of the Pelvic Floor report (and provides nation-wide virtual therapy!) Odds are good that your local hospital system has a pelvic floor physical therapist, so ask your primary care doctor or urology for a consult. Pelvic Floor therapists are wonderful, caring people who want to help you live your best life. I’ve worked with them in my own pelvic floor training multiple times (after pregnancy, in support of my mom during her menopause, and I’m going again now as I approach menopause – that’s how much I believe in this profession!).
For your at-home health, I have a variety of pelvic yoga programs (full-body yoga programs that included pelvic floor exercise): Right now, on YouTube (totally free!) I offer a 5-minute review of pelvic floor exercise, a 25-minute totally seated pelvic yoga / chair yoga practice, and a 40-minute pelvic yoga / chair yoga with supported standing poses practice. (I’ll be adding more videos to my Pelvic Yoga collection in the future, so subscribe if you’re interested).
My YouTube Pelvic Yoga playlist:
I also offer, via Amazon, an introductory book and several video practices:
I wish you pelvic health, and please let me know how I can be of support!
Resources and references:
University of Michigan Healthy Aging Poll: https://www.healthyagingpoll.org/reports-more/report/urinary-incontinence-inevitable-part-aging
BMJ 2023 article about incontinence in men: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9923276/
2023 State of the Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Report from Origin: https://www.theoriginway.com/state-of-pelvic-floor-physical-therapy