8 Yoga Poses to Strengthen and Stretch Your Pelvic Floor and Glutes

Recently, I read an article about a woman named Katy Bowman who discovered some real scientific reasoning behind a weak Pelvic Floor (PF). We have all heard that doing Kegels will strengthen the pelvic floor, which we want because of several reasons including urinary incontinence (which happens to both men and women so read up boys!), but Katy, during her years of research, has discovered that

Weak glutes + too many Kegels = PFD (Pelvic Floor Disorder).

Interestingly enough, if your pelvic floor is too tight, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is strong! A kegel attempts to strengthen the PF, but it really only continues to pull the sacrum inward promoting even more weakness, and more PF gripping (or tightening).

Based on this new information, I have compiled a list of yoga poses that will both help strengthen and stretch your pelvic floor/glutes by lengthening your pelvic floor in poses that require you to NOT tuck your tailbone!


  1. UTKATASANA: CHAIR POSE

 

  • Contraindications:
    • Headache or low blood pressure
  • Compensation pose:
    • Tadasana: Mountain Pose (stand tall with navel slightly engaged, leg muscles activated to prevent locking your knees out, root down into you big toe mound and your heel evenly and take several deep breaths.)
    • Uttanasana: Standing Forward Fold (keep knees bent, let head and neck relax towards the earth, continue to breath deeply)
  • Tips:
    • Try this pose by the wall so you can stay for a few more breaths, especially if you are a beginner!
    • Allow your weight to rest a slightly more in the your heels and engage your low belly (if you’re not pregnant) and glutes while keep your heart lifted.
  1. UTKATA KONASANA: GODDESS POSE

 

  • Contraindications:
    • Chronic or recent injury to the hips, legs
  • Compensation pose:
    • Prasarita Padottanasana: Wide Legged Forward Fold (Turn your toes in from goddess pose, let you head and neck relax, breathe)
    • Tadasana: Mountain Pose
  • Tips: Try different arm variations for your shoulders.
    • Eagle arms: Eagle Pose but just the arms, keeping the legs in Goddess. One elbow on top of the other, make sure to switch which elbow is on top.
    • Hands to hips (Especially if you have any shoulder injuries)
  1. URDHVA PRASARITA EKA PADASANA: STANDING SPLIT POSE

 

  • Contraindications:
    • Back, knee or ankle injury
  • Compensation pose:
    • Balasana: Child’s Pose (Come to hands and knees, bring your knees together or out wide, take your hips to your heels and rest your arms out in front of you or on either side of you. If your forehead does not rest comfortably in the floor, use a block or bolster to rest on)
  • Tips: Use one or two blocks to bring the floor closer to you
  1. VIRABHADRASANA III: WARRIOR THREE POSE

 

  • Contraindications:
    • Low back injury, knee or ankle injury
  • Compensation pose:
    • Uttanasana: Forward Fold (keep knees bent, let head and neck relax towards the earth, continue to breath deeply)
    • Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose (lay flat on you belly, hands underneath your shoulders, lengthen your neck and lift your chest and you draw your shoulder blades towards each other, lower down, repeat a few times.)
  • Tips:
    • Start from tadasana and slowly tilt forward lifting your floating foot off the ground only about two inches, maintain a strong line of body from the ball of your foot to the crown of your head and continue tilting until your head and foot are no longer in line. This pse is about strengthening your posterior muscles and the pose is not as effective if your toes are not in line with the crown of your head.
    • Also, try different arm variations. you can have you hands out by your side by your hips or palms touch in front of your heart for less extreme variations.
    • Make sure to do both legs!
  1. SALABHASANA: LOCUST POSE

 

  • Contraindications:
    • Pregnancy, neck or spine injury
  • Compensation pose:
    • Balasana: Child’s Pose
  • Tips:
    • Keep your crown of your head reaching towards the wall in front of you. You want to maintain a neutral spine with the chin slightly tucked
    • You can try different arm variations. Hands out in front for a more extreme version of the pose
    • make sure to keep drawing your shoulder blades towards each other and away from the floor.
  1. SETU BANDHA SARVANGASANA: BRIDGE POSE

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  • Contraindications:
    • Neck,shoulder or knee injury
  • Compensation pose:
    • Apanasana: Knees to Chest Pose. Lay down flat on your back and gently bring your knees into your chest.
  • Tips:
    • You don not have to bind your hands underneath your low back.
    • You can gently move your hips up and down from the floor before you hold this pose for a few breaths.
    • Keep your tailbone reaching towards your heels to protect your low back and target your glutes.
  1. MĀLĀSANA: YOGI SQUAT POSE

 

  • Contraindications:
    • Hip, knee or ankle injury. Tight glutes
  • Compensation pose:
    • Uttanasana: Forward Fold (keep knees bent, let head and neck relax towards the earth, continue to breath deeply)
  • Tips:
    • Place a blanket underneath your heels if they do not touch the ground
    • Let your hips sink towards the earth but keep your heart lifted.
    • Press your triceps into your knees for a slightly more active stretch
  1. SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA: SUPINE BOUND ANGLE POSE

 

  • Contraindications:
    • Knee injury or tight hips
  • Compensation pose:
    • Apanasana: Slowly bring your knees together and then into your chest, gently rock side to side massaging your low back.
  • Tips:
    • If you do have tight hips and your knees are high, place a block underneath each thigh to help support you through the stretch.
    • You can gently bring your knees towards each other as you breathe in and take them back down to the floor as you exhale. This simply movement will connect you with your breath, helping to reduce stress, and it will gently strengthen your inner thighs and glutes.

Hold each pose for at least 5 deep inhales and exhales. Repeat each pose once or twice if you like and be sure to rest after.

The Bending Habit You Want to Cultivate

How many people do you know that have strained their a couple hours of yard work, going through a big move or simply by picking a piece of paper up off the floor? Most of us know someone who has or have experienced this type of injury ourselves. My goal is to show you that you can learn to do all that day to day bending safely and with relative ease.

Yoga can definitely help you prevent back injuries and there are several asanas which can help support your bending habits by strengthening the front and back core muscles. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to build the core muscles slowly to give your fascia, muscles, ego, mind, and belief system time to adjust to the new you.

Examples of good asanas to build your back core:

Salabhasana (locust pose)

Vimanasana (airplane pose)

Virabhadrasana III (warrior three)

urdhva hastasana

With these or other variations, keep the back straight and core muscles engaged when lifting the torso. Be sure to use all of the core — front, sides, and back.  Yoga Yoga has many great core strength classes worth a weekly visit that can help you develop full core stability.

We are made to move, and the more we move, the freer we become because we keep our fascia elastic, and energetically responsive. This is why I like yoga better than a gym:  the body/mind in yoga utilizes our entire energy system when moving, rather than a concentration on a specific muscle group.

Have I ever “pulled” my back? Yep, many times in the distant past, but not since I have adopted new movement habits. These habits are not just derived from experience. They are alignment techniques based on the structure and function of the physical body.  They aren’t limiting – you move freely. The most important aspect of back safety is the posture when bending and standing.

Rules for building a safe bending habit:

  • Be aware of your strength and flexibility.  That means move rather slowly, at least the first few times before you start your practice
  • Stick your butt out!!! Well, technically, keep the back straight with the sacrum anteriorly tilted relative to the torso.  This is NOT the same as swayback

SWAYBACK (INCORRECT)

ANTERIOR TILT OF SACRUM (CORRECT)

  • Keep the thigh bones well back in the hip socket (this automatically happens with the proper sacrum tilt.)
  • Begin to exhale, and hinge from the hips, not from the back.  If you cannot get down all the way, then bend the knees to prevent hinging in the back.

DONT: BACK HINGE

DO: BEND YOU RKNEES, HINGING FROM THE HIPS

  • Engage! (yes, Captain Picard) Engage the back core before rising
  • Test the weight of the object slowly (unless you know that piece of paper is manageable! ) This entails mindfulness when you power up the legs and back to lift
  • Lift on an inhale or exhale, your choice