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Mula Bandha Strengthening Exercises:
Practicing yoga can have many benefits, including balance, flexibility, and a calmer mind. One practice in particular — called Mula Bandha — may even help strengthen your pelvic floor and improve bladder control.
A Sanskrit term meaning “root lock,” Mula Bandha is the yogic practice of drawing the root chakra up and in. The root chakra is said to be located at the base of the torso, or the perineum, which is the area between your anus and genitals.Your pelvic floor muscles support your bladder, bowels, and womb. Weakening of these muscles due to age or childbirth can lead to urinary incontinence.
Physically, Mula Bandha resembles what Americans call “a Kegel exercise”. Kegels involve contracting the muscles at the center of the perineum and “lifting” the pelvic floor. One way to get the feel for this exercise is to practice stopping your urine mid-flow.
Practice No 1:
- Sit comfortably on a chair or bolster. Relax your shoulders and jaw, and bring awareness to your breath.
- As you inhale, begin to contract and lift the muscles of your pelvic floor.
- While breathing slowly, draw your pelvic floor muscles up for a count of 5. It may help to imagine an elevator/lift rising up one floor with each number. Then lower down slowly, releasing a little bit with each number.
- Hold this for up to 10 seconds. Then lower down slowly, releasing a little bit with each number.
- You can start off holding for 3 seconds, and then build up to 10 seconds over time with regular practice.
- Lay down on your mat with knees bent.
- Begin to come into a bridge very slowly, raising up vertebrae by vertebrae.
- Raise and lower, using your pelvic floor muscles.
- You can also pulse the pelvis up and down very slowly, feeling the strength of the pelvic floor (Mula Bandha!).
- Lay down on your mat with knees bent. Press the lower back into the floor to root yourself down.
- Place a yoga block between your knees and slowly repeat Practice No 2 (above). Raising and lowering down while squeezing the block.
- Lay down on your mat with knees bent. Come into a bridge with the yoga block between your knees.
- Squeeze the block and then release, repeat. Increase the amount of time that you squeeze the block, as long as it’s comfortable and it doesn’t cause any strain.
- You can change the position of the block (short side, sideways, whatever suits) and repeat again.
- Finish with hugging your knees and squeezing into a ball.
- Then relax and practice Savasana for a while. You may wish to open the legs into Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana) while resting in Savasana if this is comfortable.