7 Basic Yoga Poses that are Safe for Your Pelvic Floor

Are you seeking basic Yoga poses that are pelvic floor safe? Basic Yoga Poses

This Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist information teaches you how to do 7 basic Yoga poses that improve your strength and flexibility while protecting your pelvic floor.

You will also learn safety tips and modifications for each Yoga pose that help you exercise effectively with comfort and avoid unsafe Yoga poses.

These 7 basic Yoga poses are suited to most women including those with:

  • Prolapse problems
  • Weak pelvic floor muscles
  • Bladder or bowel control problems
  • Previous prolapse surgery, bladder repair or hysterectomy

7 Basic Yoga Poses to Get Started Now

General Guidelines

  • If you’ve recently undergone surgery for pelvic floor problems or prolapse, seek your surgeon’s approval before recommencing exercises
  • All your Yoga poses should feel comfortable and pain free
  • Aim to hold each of your basic Yoga poses for up to three full breaths starting out
  • Gradually progress the number of diaphragmatic breaths you can do for each pose over time
  • Counterbalance your poses to avoid strain e.g. forward bending pose is followed by a backward bending pose
  • Gradually progress the complexity of your poses as your strength, control and flexibility improve

Basic Yoga Pose 1: Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

 ✔ Pelvic floor safe basic standing Yoga pose

Mountain Pose is one of the basic Yoga poses and forms the foundation for many standing Yoga poses. It’s important to feel confident and controlled in Mountain Pose before progressing to more challenging standing poses.

Physical Benefits of Mountain Pose

  • Improving posture
  • Balanced standing
  • Thigh strengthening

Mountain Pose Technique Mountain Pose

  • Place your feet hip width apart
  • Spread your toes apart without gripping the ground
  • Soften your knees slightly
  • Activate the front of your thighs to lift your knee caps slightly
  • Stand tall by lengthening through your spine
  • Lift the crown of your head towards the ceiling
  • Gently activate (contract) your lower deep core abdominal muscles
  • Lift your chest
  • Draw your shoulder blades back and slightly down
  • Breathe normally as you maintain this pose

Safety Tip for Mountain Pose

Protecting your lower back

If you suffer from a large inward curve in your lower back (lordosis) in standing, modify your posture to reduce this curve and strain on the joints in your lower back by:

  • Softening your knees as you stand
  • Tucking your tail bone under
  • Lengthening your spine lifting through the crown of your head

Basic Yoga Pose 2: Warrior 1 Pose (Virabhadrasana)

 ✔ Pelvic floor safe basic standing Yoga pose

Warrior 1 Pose promotes strength and flexibility.

Physical Benefits of Warrior Pose

  • Strengthening thighs and ankles
  • Strengthening ankles
  • Stretching hips and calves
  • Training balance

Warrior 1 Pose Technique Warrior 1 Pose

  • Start in Mountain Pose
  • Step your right leg back with the arch of this foot in line with the heel of your left foot and your back heel down
  • Raise your arms overhead, palms facing and shoulder width apart
  • Draw your shoulders backwards and slightly down to lengthen your neck
  • Bend your front (left) knee above your left ankle in a right angle
  • Keep your back (right) leg straight
  • Breathe as you maintain this pose
  • Return to Mountain Pose and repeat with the left leg back

Safety Tips for Warrior 1

a. Protecting your shoulders

Modify this pose by folding your arms across your chest rather than reaching overhead if you have shoulder problems

b. Protecting your knees

If you have sore knees, keep your lunges safe and shallow – don’t allow your front knee to bend forwards past your front ankle

c. Protecting your lower back

Avoid overarching your lower back as you maintain this pose

Basic Yoga Pose 3: Downward Facing Dog

(Adho Mukha Svanasana)

✔ Pelvic floor safe basic inverted Yoga poses

2 versions of Downward Facing Dog are described below:

  1. Downward Facing Dog
  2. Modified Downward Facing Dog

Physical Benefits of Downward Facing Dog

  • Promotes flexibility of the spine, hamstrings (back of thighs) and calves
  • Strengthens arms and shoulders

* Avoid downward facing dog if you suffer from lower back disc problems

       Downward Facing Dog Technique Downward Facing Dog

  • Begin kneeling on your hands and knees
  • Walk your hands about one hand length in front of your shoulders
  • Plant your hands and toes firmly on the ground
  • Lift your tailbone towards the ceiling and breathe out as you raise both knees off the ground to weight bear through your hands and feet
  • Keep your knees bent and both heels raised off the ground
  • Lengthen your spine
  • Lower your head between your arms
  • Shift your weight evenly between your palms and feet
  • Slowly lower one or both heels to the ground
  • Breathe and maintain this pose for as long as feels comfortable

Modified Downward Facing Dog Technique

If your body is inflexible or if your suffer lower back, wrist or shoulder discomfort this modified version may help you perform Downward Facing Dog with increased comfort and safety.

  • Position a dining chair with the back of the chair firmly positioned up against a wall
  • Stand and face the seat of the chair
  • Bend your knees as you lean forwards to position your hands shoulder width apart and either side of the base of the chair
  • Lean forwards and breathe out as you support some of your body weight through your arms
  • Look down and lower your head to align your head between your arms
  • Lift your tailbone keeping your knees bent and both heels off the ground
  • Slowly lower your right heel to the ground keeping your left heel raised off the ground
  • Alternate by lowering your left heel to the ground and raising your right heel
  • As your flexibility improves try to lower both heels to the ground
  • Breathe and maintain this pose for a few breaths when starting out
  • Keep both knees bent and support your body weight with your hands on your thighs as you return to standing

Safety Tips for Downward Facing Dog Pose

a. Protecting your lower back

  • If you are prone to lower back problems commence with the modified Downward Facing Dog pose described above
  • Keep both knees bent throughout the pose
  • Avoid lifting your buttocks too high to the ceiling
  • Avoid overarching your spine or rounding your lower back
  • Support your body with your hands on your thighs when returning to standing

b. Muscle tightness

  • If you suffer from tight hamstring (back of thigh) or calves, keep your knees bent during the pose and work gradually into alternating your heels down to the ground
  • Minimise the height of lifting your tailbone to the ceiling

c. Protecting your wrists and shoulders

Reduce the amount of weight bearing through your shoulders by commencing with modified Downward Facing Dog. If you are very flexible you may choose to increase the challenge and protect your wrists by performing Elbow Dog where the upper body is supported through the forearms

Basic Yoga Pose 4: Cobra (Bhujangasana)

 ✔ Pelvic floor safe basic counterbalance Yoga poses

Cobra Pose promotes spinal strengthening and flexibility with some additional benefits.

Physical Benefits of Cobra Pose

  • Improving spinal flexibility
  • Spinal strengthening
  • Stretching hip flexors, upper arms and chest

Cobra Pose Technique

Cobra safety: please note the image right shown ‘Full Cobra’ and this pose can aggravate lower back problems. Baby Cobra where the head and shoulders are lifted a small distance off the ground is a much safer exercise for the lower back.

Cobra Pose

  • Start lying down prone on the ground
  • Keep your feet flat and legs together
  • Place your hands either side of your chest
  • Breathe in and raise your head, shoulder and chest
  • Keep your hips and pelvis in contact with the ground throughout
  • Draw your shoulders back and down away from your ears
  • Return your upper body back to your starting position

Safety Tips for Cobra Pose

a. Protecting your neck

Avoid extending or arching your head backwards if you are prone to neck problems – keep your gaze directed down in front of your body

b. Protecting your lower back

  • Avoid lifting your chest too far from the ground as you raise your upper body – keep your backward movement within a comfortable range.
  • Follow this backward bend pose with a forward bend counter pose
  • Keep both feet on the ground throughout this pose

c. Protecting your wrists

Weight bear through your forearms rather than your hands as you move your upper body

Basic Yoga Pose 5: Cat Cow (Chakravakasana)

 ✔ Pelvic floor safe basic counterbalance Yoga poses

Cat Cow is a combination of the Cat and Cow Yoga poses. These two complementary counterbalance poses are often linked together in succession.

Physical Benefits of Cat Cow

  • Spinal flexibility (back and neck)
  • Postural awareness and control

Cat Pose Technique (Marjaryana) Cat Pose Yoga

  • Begin kneeling on all fours
  • Position your hands beneath your shoulders and knees directly beneath your hips
  • Commence with your spine in a neutral position i.e. midway between fully flexed and extended
  • Breathe in and as you breathe out lift the middle of your spine towards the ceiling as if being drawn upwards by a string
  • Allow your shoulder blades to move apart and outwards around your chest wall
  • Lower your forehead and tailbone towards the ground as you lift upwards through your middle back
  • Gently lower your spine back to neutral starting position before moving into Cow pose

Cow Pose Technique (Bitilasana)

Cow Pose Safety: Avoid over-arching your lower back with Cow Pose. Hyperextending the lower back can aggravate lower back problems. For many women it is sufficient to return the spine to normal curve position having once perfromed Cat pose as shown in the Cow pose image right.

Cow Pose

  • Begin kneeling on all fours in the same starting position as Cat Pose
  • Breathe in as you raise your tailbone and move your chest forwards and upwards to lengthen your spine
  • Control the lengthening of your spine as you bring your head to look forwards or upwards
  • Gently return your spine back to neutral starting position before moving back into Cat pose.

Safety Tips for Cat Cow Pose

a. Protecting your neck

Avoid hyper extending your neck during Cow (i.e. arching your head backwards) – if you suffer from neck problems reduce the strain on your neck by keeping your gaze down or forwards

b. Protecting your lower back

Avoid letting your stomach hang downwards and overarching your lower back during Cow pose. Simply return to neutral spine and repeat Cat pose rather than moving into Cow pose if you notice any lower back discomfort with Cow pose

c. Protecting your knees

If you are prone to knee pain use a cushion support or a padded mat for kneeling poses

Basic Yoga Pose 6: Sunbird (Chakravakasana)

  Pelvic floor safe basic kneeling Yoga pose

Sunbird promotes core muscle strengthening and endurance.

Physical Benefits of Sunbird

Technique for Sunbird Pose

  • Commence kneeling on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees Sunbird Yoga Poseunder your hips
  • Extend your right leg straight behind your body toes pointed downwards
  • Raise your right foot off the ground so that your heel is approximately buttock height
  • Gently engage your lower abdominal muscles
  • Keep both hips facing square to the ground
  • If you feel balanced extend your opposite left arm in front of your body
  • Maintain this controlled pose for up to 3 full breaths when starting out
  • Lower your limbs to starting position and repeat on using the left leg and right arm
  • Progress to variations on Sunbird Pose as appropriate

Safety Tips for Sunbird Pose

a. Protecting your knees and sacroiliac joints (SIJ’s)

Perform this pose lying prone on your abdomen to avoid overloading your knees or sacroiliac joints (joints in your pelvis beneath your buttocks)

b. Protecting your lower back

  • Avoid raising your lifting leg too high off the ground to avoid hyper extending or overarching your lower back
  • Ensure that both hips face downwards during this exercise and avoid rotating through your lower back as you raise your leg

c. Protecting your neck

Avoid hyper extending your neck by keeping your gaze down just in front of your hands – extending the neck in this pose can cause neck discomfort in some women

Basic Yoga Pose 7: Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

  Pelvic floor safe basic backward bending Yoga pose

Bridge Pose can usually be performed by most women with comfort. The antigravity position makes it an ideal pelvic floor safe basic Yoga pose.

Physical benefits of Bridge Pose

  • Strengthening buttocks, legs and spine
  • Stretching hips and spine

Technique Bridge Pose Bridge Yogaa Pose

  • Start lying down on the ground with your legs extended and your arms by your sides
  • Slide one heel at a time towards your buttocks so that your knees are above your ankles
  • Position your feet flat and hip width apart
  • Push down through your heels and lift your buttocks off the ground
  • Keep your shoulders back and down
  • Maintain the natural curve in your neck throughout
  • Take up to 3 breaths in this pose before lowering your buttocks back to the ground

Safety Tips for Bridge Pose

a. Protecting your neck

Avoid raising your buttocks too high and keep your shoulders in contact with the ground to avoid placing too much strain on your neck

b. Protecting your lower back

  • Avoid raising your buttocks too high to avoid straining the joints in your lower back – raise your buttocks only to that height that feels comfortable for your spine
  • Avoid clenching your buttocks as you bridge

These 7 basic Yoga poses are designed to help you get started with pelvic floor safe Yoga practice and enjoy the physical and emotional benefits that regular Yoga practice can provide. Speak with your Yoga instructor about how to modify Yoga poses that aggravate your pelvic floor problems either during or after your Yoga practice.

PROLAPSE EXERCISES BOOK

prolapse exercises

with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway

Learn how to exercise safely, strengthen your prolapse and reduce your risk of repeat prolapse.

Prolapse Exercises is a complete exercise guide for women after prolapse surgery seeking to exercise safely and protect their pelvic floor.

READ MORE NOW

 

Comments

  1. oriana says:

    thanks for these Michelle, I hunted far and wide to try and find out which moves were safe.

  2. Tracey Robinson says:

    Hi Michelle
    I have found this particular information email very helpful. Your information is just wonderful and very supportive to us women! I think its great that you give this information out freely to all as well of course all the other information you provide through your website etc. Nice to see some new exercise videos for sale ( they may have been there a while but I just haven’t noticed). It’s very reassuring to purchase these dvd’s knowing that I won’t be hurting my prolapse if I do them.
    thanks
    PS if you have time could you do a break down on safe cycling in your up coming emails – on cycling/prolapse/riding out of the saddle.
    kind regards
    Tracey

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Tracey

      Thanks so much for taking the time to contact me and comment online! I am glad you feel confident in your ability to exercise safely – that’s what it’s all about.

      Tracey would you mind taking a look at this article on cycling and prolapse? Can you let me know if there are other things you would like me to cover in another article or if this answers your questions. I think this is a big issue as cycling is one of those exercises many women with pelvic floor problems can do to get a great workout so I would like to have this issue covered comprehensively.

      Many thanks again Tracey
      Michelle

      • Hi Michelle
        Thanks for the link to the cycling article. Cycling is a great sport for life. It’s also something us mum’s can do with their families. Staying in the saddle on longer rides leads to very sore sit bones. I currently stand up in the saddle when rolling down a gentle slope to give my rear a rest, but to watch my family ride they definitely have an advantage in getting out of the saddle more frequently. Also mountain bike riding ……..perhaps not one for the pelvic floor?
        Thanks again for your information support.
        Tracey

        • Michelle Kenway says:

          Hi Tracey

          • I agree – cycling is a great family activity too that the kids enjoy as well.
          • Re your comment on bike seat discomfort have you seen the fairly inexpensive gel bike seat covers? Proper cycling shorts also provide some added padding too.
          • I don’t see a pelvic floor issue standing in the saddle on the downhill slopes. Mountain biking is probably not as kind to the pelvic floor as flat asphalt/road cycling

          Enjoy Tracey!

          Cheers
          Michelle

  3. Hi Michelle, and thank you, thank you, thank you. Yours was the first helpful site I found after my dr informed me that I have rectocele and cystocele (stage 1 at age 60). It’s a whole new world now. I especially appreciate this info on yoga poses. Other than yoga, for exercise I have relied on walking and the general work that comes with living on a farm. I know I have to adjust the latter activities, but it is difficult to gauge the extent to which I must do that. What would you say is the defining sensation or problem I should look out for? For example, if I have to hold my breath when lifting a bucket of water or turning over the garden with a shovel? Some things are obvious (heavy wheelbarrow), but others are not. I discovered yesterday that snowshoeing in heavy wet snow is a definite no-no and wish to avoid such learning experiences if possible!
    Thanks again Michelle. You and your extensive info are a godsend. Pen

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Penny

      This is a really good question, thanks for submitting it. I think the defining sensations are the prolapse symptoms of bulging, dragging, lower abdominal ache and others listed here in this article on prolapse symptoms to watch out for during exercise It is such an individual problem and unfortunately only you can guage how much you can do.

      All the best
      Michelle

      PS Try to breathe out when you lift rather than breath holding, breathing out with lifting decreases the load on the pelvic floor

  4. Oh Michelle, thank you so much for this! It is just the information I was looking for and as soon as I send this off, I’m sharing the link with a couple other women.

    After the shock and then acceptance that I have pelvic issues, and also realizing how many women also deal with it, AND hearing my doctor talk about the huge TABOO that exists around this subject, I decided to be more open and bring it into conversation when I felt it was appropriate. It’s been very interesting. I had one woman cut me off who just simply didn’t want to hear about it, but I also listened to a younger woman’s story…and she was almost in tears. And I am amazed at how many women are affected by some form of prolapse! So, once again, thank you for your work and for creating such a comfortable space for women to get information, find solutions, and know that they are not alone.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Roxanne

      Thank you for your comments. Yes for goodness sake are we living in the dark ages? The more women that speak about prolapse the better we can all feel about ourselves and our own bodies let’s face it, the stats are 1 in 2 women that have a vaginal delivery will have some degree of prolapse.

      One of our lovely readers wrote this article sometime back, you may like to read it if you haven’t already What Dr Google never told me about prolapse

      Thanks again Roxanne!
      Michelle

      • What a great article! Please, everyone who happens to read this, please click on that link. Such a wonderful, supportive article. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. What a brilliant website! Thanks so much. I have practised yoga for many years and did not realise the damage some exercises can do. I feel so fortunate to have found this information.

  6. Hi Michelle!
    I used to go to yoga classes twice a week & enjoyed them very much. They were very easy classes for women 55 years & up. I started the classes when I retired as a letter carrier at the age of 60 after 27 years of walking & packing heavy mail. I knew I was having some osteoarthritis issues in weigthbearing joints & over the last 4 years I had to have both hips & a knee replaced.
    My concern is I’m nervous about trying yoga again incase I dislocate a hip! At 69 I only want to keep fit & I’ve been doing water aerobics as an alternative,& am very happy with that! My question is would it be safe for me to try yoga again?
    Thank you.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Helen

      I understand you feeling nervous about trying Yoga and yes there are some poses you need to be very careful with to avoid hip dislocation. I think it really comes down to the knowledge of the instructor – if you can find an instructor that really understands the poses you need to avoid then that would be the best scenario. You might be fortunate enough to find a Physio who also teaches Yoga? I’m not sure where you are world wide however there are many very experienced Yoga instructors with good understanding biomechanics and hips. If you’re in Australia you might contact the Australian Physiotherapy Association, or likewise contact the national body in other countries.

      All the best
      Michelle

  7. Hi Michelle: your website information has been invaluable to me with recent prolapse issues. Very helpful to know which yoga poses to avoid and which to continue to do…as well as the kegel information you provided. Saw a pelvic floor physiotherapist today, here in Canada, and she also knew all about your site. Thank you for sharing your information so openly.
    Regards,
    Pat

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      That’s great to hear Pat!
      All the best for your future health & wellbeing
      Michelle

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