A lot of us have been there. We laugh on a full bladder and leak. We sneeze and oopsy—urinary incontinence. We walk down the street and have to stop (or even cross our legs) to sneeze so we don’t leak. Is there any way yoga can help?

Yes! Strengthening our pelvic floor muscles or BAP’s (back abs and PF) at yogabellies.

One quick fix is to engage a superficial mula bandha or root lock – basic pelvic floor muscle contraction prior to loading the pelvic floor with an event that could potentially cause urinary incontinence, such as coughing or sneezing.

This means that as you feel a sneeze or cough come on, you pull your pelvic floor muscles up and in. You can do this before lifting, too.

Why does this work? As you may know, the pelvic floor has three layers of muscles.

The outermost layer acts to close around the terminal aspects of the urinary, reproductive (for ciswomen), and digestive systems. This first layer, along with help from the second layer, act as sphincters to “clamp down.” The third layer, which helps support the pelvic organs and contributes to lumbopelvic stability, also helps elevate and support the urethra.

Research shows women who contract the outer first layer before the deepest third layer leak less urine. The coordination and timing of these muscle layers creates the optimal force closure at the urethra. This means that the pressure on the outside of the pelvic floor is higher than the pressure on the inside of the pelvic floor.

An easy BAPs practice  you can do is cough with mula bandha:

  • pull your pelvic floor up and in
  • fake a cough
  • relax your pelvic floor

You can repeat 10 times a few times a day. You can make it more difficult by doing it while balancing on one leg or when your bladder is fairly full.


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