The excretion of waste materials from the body is a vital function that occurs daily to ensure removal of toxins, maintenance of acid-base balance, optimal retention of water/fluid levels, regulation of blood pressure, control of body temperature, thereby guaranteeing overall health. In this regard, while elimination of liquid wastes in the form of urine released via the bladder and urethra is a crucial bodily operation that takes place every day facilitated by the pelvic muscles, when these muscular tissues become weak and lose their sturdiness, it results in bladder leakage, loss of pelvic floor functions and gives rise to a condition termed as urinary incontinence.
In the excretory/urinary system, the kidneys filter out waste substances from food, blood circulation and transport them to the bladder as a liquid – urine - via the ureters. Once the bladder is full, the liquid waste contents are emptied out via the urethra, by means of contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. In a normal, healthy individual, these functions are preserved and urination happens anywhere between 3 – 7 times in one day i.e. a 24-hour period. However, in adults above the age of 40, owing to old age and fragility of muscle tone, bladder operations occur in an uncontrolled manner, prompting the leakage of urine by accident. This condition is referred to as urinary incontinence or overactive bladder and invariably causes uneasiness as well as embarrassment to the affected person.
Several factors trigger urinary incontinence, with the foremost among them being increasing age – men and women who are 40 years or older, aside from bladder/pelvic injury and recurring urinary tract infection (UTI). Furthermore, prostate enlargement or prostate cancer also leads to urinary incontinence in men, while this urinary ailment is reported more widely in women, owing to pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. Urinary incontinence undoubtedly induces stress, discomfort, awkward situations of bladder leaks, aside from stress, depression, lowered self-esteem and even hampers sexual functions in both men and women.
While prescription medications given by the doctor help deal with symptoms of urinary incontinence, routine physical activity in the form of pelvic floor exercises as well as yoga asanas work wonders in strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and restoring bladder control. Yoga, the ancient practice that originated in India thousands of years ago, is chiefly about holistic wellness to attain oneness and enlightenment of the body, mind and soul and comprises umpteen asanas i.e. exercises, that entail coordinated muscle stretches, breathing patterns and still postures. Specific yoga asanas that engage the lower back and abdominal region when performed on a daily basis confer remarkable merits for fortifying pelvic floor muscles, improving stability, mobility, control of hip muscles and bladder movements and effectively combat urinary incontinence and restore normal excretory functions.
Proven Yogasanas For Urinary Incontinence To Boost Bladder And Pelvic Control:
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
Start the posture by lying flat on your back. Now bend your knees and elbows. Place your feet flat on the floor close to the hips and your hands firmly on either side of the head. While supporting both your hands and legs on the ground, slowly try to lift your body up into the air. Hold this arching posture for 20-30 secs and slowly bring your body up into a standing pose.Veerabhadrasana (Warrior Pose)
Stand straight on the ground looking in the forward direction. Move your feet about 4 inches apart in the forward direction. Turn your left foot out by 90 degrees and right foot in by about 15 degrees. Lift both the arms sideways till it levels with the shoulders. While breathing out, bend your left knee. Slowly turn your head and look to the left. Keep breathing and stretch your hands further apart. Gently push your pelvis down and hold the posture with the determination of a warrior. Repeat with the other side with the right foot forward. Do it 3-4 times keeping a minute in between for relaxation.
Maala Asana (Garland Pose)
Start by placing yourself on the floor in a comfortable squat position, with heels flat on the ground, thighs wide apart and feet closer to each other. Exhale, then bend the body forwards, to fit your torso in between the thighs. Fold the hands, place the elbows on the inner thighs, applying some pressure. Swing your arms, slightly elevate your heels, then gradually come back to the squat position and relax.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Sit down on a flat, even surface on the floor. Stretch both legs completely forward, with the feet pointing directly upwards. Inhale deeply and raise both arms over the head. Then breathe out and curve the body forwards to try and touch the knees, maintaining a comfortable posture of the spine. Hold the big toes with the thumb and index finger of both hands. Stay in this posture for 10 seconds, then gradually release the hands, lift the torso and come back to the initial seated position.
Uttanapadasana (Raised Leg Pose)
Begin by lying down flat with the back to the ground. Keep both hands close to the body by the sides and feet placed together. Breathe in deeply and raise both legs simultaneously off the ground, Initially lift it to a 30-degree angle from the floor and bring it back to the surface, then elevate the height, bringing it to 60 degrees, back down again and then finally 90 degrees. Hold this pose for 20 seconds, then exhale and gently relax the body coming back to the initial position of lying flat on the back.