Yoga prolapse guidelines are designed to help women with pelvic prolapse or having had previous prolapse surgery to exercise safely and minimise the risk of pelvic floor injury.
This article teaches you the Yoga exercises and techniques that improve prolapse support, and Yoga poses with potential to worsen prolapse and pelvic floor problems.
Read on now to learn:
Can yoga fix a prolapse?
Yoga prolapse poses to alleviate and strengthen prolapse;
How can yoga worsen a prolapse; and
Yoga poses to modify or avoid with pelvic prolapse.
Can Yoga fix a Prolapse?
No, the only way to completely repair a pelvic prolapse is via surgery. Appropriate exercise can however alleviate and in some cases eliminate prolapse symptoms in women with mild to moderate prolapse.
Prolapse occurs when the supportive tissues within the pelvic floor and around the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and bowel) stretch beyond their limit and lose their elasticity. When the supportive tissues lose their elasticity they become thin, floppy and weak. While pelvic floor muscles can often be rehabilitated with exercise, the pelvic floor connective tissues having once failed and stretched beyond their normal limits, cannot recover with exercise.
Yoga Prolapse Exercises to Promote Support
These Yoga exercises and poses may assist women with prolapse by improving pelvic floor support and alleviating prolapse symptoms:
- Mula bandha (“the root” or pelvic and deep abdominal core muscle exercise) If performed correctly this exercise in should promote improved support for the pelvic organs. Mula bandha can be practiced on its own or incorporated into other poses such as Mountain Pose for improved prolapse support. Avoid strong abdominal muscle in draw particularly if the pelvic floor is at risk. The abdominal activation in this exercise must be gentle, if forceful it may have the capacity to force the pelvic floor and prolapse downwards, particularly with pelvic floor muscle weakness.
- Pranayama (breath exercise) can be valuable for women with prolapse. Breathing is closely integrated with the function of the pelvic floor, in fact the pelvic floor moves up and down in coordination with the breath. Some women with pelvic floor dysfunction need to attend to the breath before they can contract and relax their pelvic floor muscles.
- Tadasana (Mountain pose) may be a beneficial posture exercise for women with prolapse and pelvic floor dysfunction. Posture affects the pelvic floor with slumped posture increasing pressure on the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor and deep core abdominal muscles that support the pelvic organs (and prolapse) work most effectively when using the postural muscles effectively and maintaining a natural slight inward curve in the low back. Mula bandha in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) is an ideal combination of exercises to promote pelvic support.
- Inversions (Upside down/incline positions) may help to alleviate prolapse symptoms such as bulging and dragging however not all inversions are appropriate. Wall Flower Stretch will take pressure of the pelvic floor by elevating the legs. Wall Flower Stretch has potential to aggravate low back conditions in some individuals and should be either modified using cushion support to elevate the pelvis off the ground or avoided by those with or at risk of low back pain. Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand) may also provide prolapse relief by simply revering the effect of gravity on the prolapsed tissues. Shoulder stand has the potential to place force upon the neck and should be undertaken with caution and avoided by individuals with or at risk of neck pain and neck dysfunction.
Can Yoga Worsen Prolapse?
Some Yoga poses may have the potential to increase pressure on the pelvic floor and prolapse. Women can often be guided by their prolapse symptoms; increased prolapse symptoms during and/or following Yoga may suggest that the exercises performed increased pressure on the prolapsed tissues. When repeated over time, symptom producing exercises may worsen a prolapse.
Yoga Prolapse Poses to Modify
If your pelvic floor is at increased risk of injury, there are some Yoga exercises to be mindful of that may need to be modified or avoided depending upon how well your pelvic floor is working. Speak with your instructor about those intense core Yoga exercises, and poses that increase pelvic floor pressure if you feel concerned about your exercises and require modified exercise or alternative exercises. The following Yoga exercises and poses may increase pelvic floor pressure:
Yoga intense core abdominal poses and exercises
Intense core abdominal Yoga exercises should be avoided or modified with a prolapse. Strong activation of the upper abdominal muscles increases downward pressure on the pelvic floor (and prolapse). If the pelvic floor cannot withstand the associated pressure it is forced downwards. If repeated with intense force or repeated often this can result in weakening of the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues. This is why prolapse symptoms can feel worse after performing intense core abdominal Yoga poses.
Yoga prolapse poses to avoid and modify include:
- Double Leg Lift (modify by raising one leg only);
- Boat Poses (modify raising one leg only);
- Plank (shown above- modify by weight bearing through knees rather than through feet); and
- Uddiyana bandha (“belly lock”) - this bandha should be avoided by women seeking to avoid increasing pressure on their prolapse. The action of drawing the abdomen in strongly and simulating an in breath increases pressure within the abdomen which is transferred directly down onto the pelvic floor.
Deep squat poses
Avoid poses involving deep squats to reduce pressure on the pelvic floor including:
- Garland Pose; and
- Noose Pose.
Forward bends with wide legs
Avoid or modify wide leg forward bends which increase downward pressure in a vulnerable wide leg position such as Forward Bend with V-Legs.
Upper body weight bearing
Weight bearing through the upper limbs increases downward pressure on the pelvic floor with poses such as Crane Pose.
This Yoga prolapse information is designed to help you continue your Yoga practice with confidence even if you do have pelvic floor problems. The strength and function of your pelvic floor muscles is ultimately the major determining factor of which Yoga exercises your body can withstand. If you remain unsure about Yoga prolapse exercises having read this article, seek the assistance of a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist for assessment of your pelvic floor strength and for appropriate exercise prescription.
‘Yoga Prolapse Poses’ is by Michelle Kenway, Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. Michelle is the author of the internationally acclaimed guide to pelvic floor safe exercises for women Inside Out – the essential women’s guide to pelvic support
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