Try this simple yoga routine to de-stress, improve flexibility, and build strength.

By Amy Brightfield

Yoga is an all-star for building flexibility and strength, and that includes the muscles in your pelvic floor. “Doing poses that engage the pelvic floor and the muscles surrounding it can help those muscles better support the organs in the pelvic area, including the bladder,” explains Kristin McGee, Peloton yoga instructor. And that can mean a lower risk of embarrassing symptoms like leaking. In fact, research has shown that women enrolled in a yoga program designed to strengthen pelvic muscles had a 70 percent decrease in symptoms of stress incontinence.

Image courtesy of Getty.

Try these four poses to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles (and lots of other muscles too!)

1. Bridge

Lie flat on your back with your feet hip-width apart, facing forward, arms at your sides, palms down. Bend your knees. Inhale, then as you exhale lift your hips, pressing into your feet. Keep your thighs and feet parallel. You can squeeze a yoga block between your thighs to activate the adductors (upper thighs), which also support the pelvic floor and core. Repeat 3–5 times.

2. Cow/Cat

Position yourself on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale and lift your chest, head, and ‘sitting/sits bones’ so the of your middle back dips in like a hammock. Focus on relaxing your pelvic area. As you exhale, round your back, lifting your abs. Feel your pelvic floor muscles lift as you bring your chest to your chin, rounding your back like a cat. Repeat the cow/cat sequence 8–10 times.

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3. Goddess Squat

Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart toes turned out. Bend your knees so they go a bit over your ankles. (Make sure they don’t roll in). Engage your outer hips, buttocks, and inner thighs, which help and support the abs and pelvic floor muscles. Inhale, hold for 5–8 counts, focusing on lifting pelvic floor muscles on the exhale. Return to a standing position and repeat the squat 2–3 times.

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4. Mountain Pose

Stand in front of the mat with feet together, pressing all four corners of each foot into the ground. Lift and spread your toes, then lower them back down. Tense your thighs so you feel the lift up of the fronts and backs of thighs and the inner thighs leading to the pelvic floor. Imagine you’re lifting the crown of your head to the sky. Inhale and relax your pelvic area, then as you exhale, engage the pelvic floor and feel the lift.

With these easy but effective poses, you can strengthen your core and pelvic floor, and decrease incontinence. Want more ideas? Try these beginner-friendly yoga moves.

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