Elke Brown: Yoga offers solutions to bladder problems, incontinence | TheUnion.com

Elke Brown: Yoga offers solutions to bladder problems, incontinence

Whether you are a new mom or menopausal woman, leakage can happen at the most embarrassing moments, disrupting your life.

A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association, reported that at any given time, 25 percent of all women are coping with some form of pelvic floor disorder including urinary incontinence.

There are two common varieties:

— Leakage triggered by a rise in intra-abdominal pressure, such as sneezing, laughing, or heavy lifting.

This is referred to as stress incontinence and often related to weak (hypotonic) pelvic floor muscles.

— Leakage due to an overactive bladder.

The bladder triggers sudden or too frequent urges to urinate. If it contracts so forcefully that you spurt before reaching the toilet, you have urge incontinence and the pelvic floor muscles are too tight (hypertonic).

Other conditions can result from this as well: irritable bowel syndrome, lower-back-pain, painful intercourse and – in men – prostate problems.

Since it is often hard to know which condition is at the root of the pelvic floor disorder, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

The Kegel exercises (squeeze — squeeze — squeeze) only strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.

You also need to be able to relax them — and not everybody can do that.

For many people, the pelvic floor is like a dead zone — referred to as “down there”.

As yoga practitioners, we learn to access our pelvic floor through breathing exercises, strengthening movements and postures that release tension, bringing it back to elasticity.

We are able to both contract and release the pelvic floor muscles, giving us a firm, balanced pelvic foundation.

We work with the pelvic floor in many different of ways: lying down, sitting, standing, twisting, forward folding, backward bending and inverting.

The yoga practice is like a playground where you learn to use a wide variety of tools in a controlled environment, with the goal of being able to use them in your daily living when it really counts.

Some examples are:

— When laughing riotously (lifting and holding the pelvic floor);

— When lifting a heavy grocery bag (exhale fully and lift the pelvic floor before you lift);

— When engaging in other activities that might challenge your bladder control.

Through a regular yoga practice, your oops-moments can be a memory of the past by keeping pelvic floor muscles supple, toned and elastic. Be proactive now!

Full Life Yoga Studio in Nevada City is offering a Pelvic Floor Workshop from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 30.

The workshop will be followed by a four-week yoga class focused on pelvic floor health from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursdays Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25. (See box for more information).

Elke Brown is the owner of Full Life Yoga Studio.

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