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

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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.

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