Staying fit and active is a vital part of becoming and remaining healthy as we age. While we know that exercise is important, plenty of us struggle with working out especially when it comes to seemingly rigorous activities like running or weight lifting. Just even the idea sounds exhausting, so plenty of people (not just older adults!) have been turning to more low-impact and relaxing activities that still work the muscles, like yoga. While plenty of women of all ages are turning to the spiritually-driven practice to benefit both their physical and mental health, some are self-conscious to get into it because of a very common problem – light bladder leaks.
What is Yoga?
Yoga, as we know it in Western culture, is actually known in Indian culture as Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is “an old system that includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), which help bring peace to the mind and body, preparing the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation.” Because this kind of yoga has grown to become so broad, there are countless positions with varying degrees of difficulty. While this is the most commonly known branch of yoga in the U.S. and other Western cultures, there are technically six branches of yoga including Hatha, according to Medical News Today:
Raja yoga: This branch involves meditation and strict adherence to a series of disciplinary steps known as the “eight limbs” of yoga.
Karma yoga: This is a path of service that aims to create a future free from negativity and selfishness.
Bhakti yoga: This aims to establish the path of devotion, a positive way to channel emotions and cultivate acceptance and tolerance.
Jnana yoga: This branch of yoga is about wisdom, the path of the scholar, and developing the intellect through study.
Tantra yoga: This is the pathway of ritual, ceremony, or consummation of a relationship.
While yoga is now widely used today as a health tool for both physical and mental wellbeing, the practice was originally developed up to 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for wellbeing on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, using all six branches of the practice.
The Health Benefits of Yoga for Women
So, why are so many women jumping on the yoga bandwagon? Sure, part of it may be the fun classes and excuse to wear cute leggings, but as mentioned above, yoga has been used for thousands of years to benefit both physical and mental health. Women’s Health Connecticut has mapped out just some of the health benefits practicing yoga can have for women.
Flexibility – The different poses and reaches practiced in yoga can increase muscle flexibility over time and increase blood circulation, making you feel more limber.
Posture – By learning body awareness and strengthening core muscles in yoga, posture may be improved which, in itself, has a ton of benefits compared to slouching. Plus, you’ll look thinner and feel better!
Mood – Like mentioned before, yoga helps improve flexibility and blood flow which can actually help improve your mood by oxygenating (adding oxygen to) blood.
Mental Health – For those who suffer from anxiety and depression, yoga may be a natural way to help relieve some symptoms. By teaching meditation, breathing techniques, and releasing endorphins, yoga may help calm some anxiety and stress.
Menopause – Yoga may be able to help women with the most-dreaded of menopause symptoms: night sweats and hot flashes. According to the article, yoga can reduce high blood pressure and generate oxygenation and blood circulation in the body, helping with night sweats (Recommended pose: Savasana). Hot flashes are caused by an excess of pitta (the Ayuvedic dosha for “fire”) in the body that needs to be released, which can be achieved through number of poses (Recommended poses: Seated Half-Bound Lotus Pose, Half Lord of The Fishes Pose, and Reclined Lotus Pose).
Breast Cancer – Yoga may be able to help with the side-effects of breast cancer treatment like nausea, fatigue, and anxiety. Attending yoga classes also encourages socializing and reaching out for support.
How to Deal with Leaks
So, yes, yoga is amazing and seems to have incredible health benefits for women, but all of that bending and squatting and reaching could just mean bladder leaks if you have Stress Urinary Incontinence or SUI. Stress Incontinence is the loss of urine when the bladder, abdomen, or urinary tract is put under pressure or stress. SUI can impact both men and women but is more commonly found in women with around 15 million being impacted every year. Fret not! There are plenty of solutions for women that have light bladder leaks and still want to do the Goddess Pose without leaking through their yoga pants.
Pads and Liners – incontinence pads and liners can be worn to absorb urine, much like a menstrual pad or liner, and then disposed of once finished. While these are a quick fix to leaks, most of these are not very flattering in yoga pants, and they need to be changed every couple of hours to avoid irritation or odor.
Kegels – Kegels are almost like a yoga pose for your pelvic floor, which may help to strengthen those muscles and reduce leaks. Just like yoga, however, it takes time, patience, and practice to see results.
Estrogen – some women may be suffering from SUI post-menopause as a result of depleting estrogen that supports the urethra. If this is the case, a doctor may prescribe a hormonal ointment to help restore the hormone.
If you’re experiencing light bladder leaks, talk to your doctor so you can decide the best course of action to take for your lifestyle.
Another solution for women experiencing light bladder leaks as a result of SUI is a new, reusable bladder support device called Revive®. Revive works from the inside out to reduce leaks from happening for up to 12 hours a day. The ‘one-size fits most’ device is made out of comfortable and flexible silicone to move with your body in every position. The best part? Revive comes with an applicator,30 replacement retrieval strings, and a carrying case that is available over-the-counter without a prescription! Find a retailer near you with our store finder.