Yoga For Pelvic Floor: 6 Science-Backed Exercises

Despite its critical importance, this area is frequently overlooked in mainstream fitness routines, leading to a host of issues ranging from pelvic pain to urinary incontinence.

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The pelvic floor, situated at the base of the pelvis, plays a pivotal role in maintaining core stability, supporting organ function, and facilitating healthy bodily functions.

Despite its critical importance, this area is frequently overlooked in mainstream fitness routines, leading to a host of issues ranging from pelvic pain to urinary incontinence. Let’s take a look at yoga for pelvic floor health and how we can use the practice to support this area of our bodies.

A model of a pelvis being held up.

What Is The Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor1 (n.d.). Pelvic floor – Better Health Channel. [online] Available at: refers to a network of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that span the bottom of the pelvis like a hammock or sling.

It comprises three layers of muscles – the superficial perineal muscles, the deep urogenital diaphragm, and the pelvic diaphragm – which work in harmony to provide support and stability for the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum.

Function and importance

  1. Support: The pelvic floor acts as a supportive platform for the pelvic organs, preventing them from descending or prolapsing into the vaginal or rectal spaces.
  2. Continence: Strong pelvic floor muscles help maintain urinary and fecal continence by supporting the bladder and rectum and controlling the release of urine and stool.
  3. Sexual function: The pelvic floor plays a role in sexual function by enhancing sensation, promoting blood flow to the genital region, and supporting erectile function.
  4. Core stability: Integral to core stability, the pelvic floor works in conjunction with the deep abdominals, back muscles, and diaphragm to provide a stable foundation for dynamic movement and postural alignment.

Common issues

  1. Weakness: Weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and diminished sexual function.
  2. Tension and dysfunction: Conversely, hypertonicity or excessive tension within the pelvic floor muscles can contribute to pelvic pain, discomfort, and sexual dysfunction.
  3. Pregnancy and childbirth: Pregnancy and childbirth can place significant strain on the pelvic floor, leading to postpartum issues such as pelvic floor dysfunction, overactive bladder control problems such as urinary leakage when sneezing, and pelvic organ prolapse.
A pregnant woman doing backwards plank on a yoga mat.

It’s not just for women!

Very often in classes where I cue or dive deeper into the pelvic floor, I will get confused looks or questions from some men asking if they ‘have one’ or if they need to engage their pelvic floor as well as all the female students.

It is a pretty common misconception that the pelvic floor is solely a concern for women. In reality, the pelvic floor is just as important for men as it is for women, yet many men may overlook its significance or assume they don’t have one.

Men have a pelvic floor just like women do!

While the pelvic floor anatomy may differ slightly between sexes, the basic structure and function remain the same.

Just like in women, the male pelvic floor consists of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that support the bladder, bowel, and sexual organs.

It plays a key role in everyone’s core stability and postural alignment, providing a foundation for dynamic movement and physical activity.

A man lunging in yoga clothes.

Yoga For Pelvic Floor: Why Is It Important?

As we’ve seen, the pelvic floor serves as a crucial foundation for the body, providing support for pelvic organs, maintaining continence, and facilitating sexual function.

Weakness or dysfunction in the pelvic floor can lead to stress urinary incontinence2 Mayo Clinic (2019). Urinary incontinence – Symptoms and causes. [online] Mayo Clinic. Available at:, bladder leaks, pelvic pain, low back pain, and pelvic organ prolapse. All of this can impact your quality of life!

Through yoga (even for beginners), we can develop targeted techniques and practices to strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscles, enhancing their ability to provide support throughout our daily activities.

A strong and balanced pelvic floor is integral to core stability and postural alignment – a foundation for optimal movement and biomechanical efficiency.

Yoga helps to target the core and cultivate strength and flexibility throughout the body’s center of gravity.

By increasing our stability and alignment, we can reduce the risk of injury and enhance overall physical performance (if that’s something you’re looking for). Even if you don’t want to increase your performance, a functioning pelvic floor is crucial just for the enjoyment of everyday life.

Ultimately, yoga for pelvic the floor serves as both a preventive measure and a rehabilitative tool for addressing pelvic floor dysfunction.

By incorporating specific asanas, breathwork, and mindfulness practices, you can mitigate risk factors associated with pelvic floor disorders and alleviate symptoms of existing conditions.

Whether recovering from childbirth, managing pelvic pain, or navigating menopausal changes, yoga offers a gentle yet effective approach to support pelvic floor health at every stage of life.

A woman standing on a hill with her arms up.

Yoga For Pelvic Floor: How Does It Work?

Physical strengthening

At its core, yoga for the pelvic floor encompasses a series of asanas (postures), pranayama (deep breath techniques), and mindfulness practices designed to awaken, strengthen, and restore balance to this vital region of the body.

Through gentle stretches, targeted movements, and mindful breathing, practitioners can gradually improve strength, increase flexibility, and enhance proprioception within the pelvic floor muscles.

The diaphragm, a primary muscle involved in respiration, shares functional connections with the pelvic floor through the deep core musculature.

Diaphragmatic breathing, a foundational aspect of yoga practice, enhances pelvic floor support by promoting coordinated movement between the diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles.

By synchronizing breath with movement, individuals cultivate greater awareness of intra-abdominal pressure dynamics, supporting more efficient pelvic floor engagement.

an annotated image of a woman doing warrior 2 pose

Mind-body connection

Central to the practice of pelvic floor yoga is the cultivation of somatic awareness – an acute sensitivity to the sensations, movements, and energetic currents flowing through the body.

Chronic stress, anxiety, and emotional tension can manifest as muscular holding patterns and neuromuscular imbalances within the pelvic floor, compromising its ability to provide adequate support.

Yoga offers a pathway for releasing stored tension by cultivating a deep sense of embodiment.

Through gentle exploration and mindful inquiry, practitioners learn to attune themselves to the subtle nuances of their pelvic region, nurturing a sense of embodiment and presence.

By engaging in somatic3 Salamon, M. (2023). What is somatic therapy? [online] Harvard Health. Available at: practices such as body scanning, breath awareness, and mindful movement, we can gradually unravel the layers of tension, resistance, and unconscious holding patterns stored within the pelvic floor.

In doing so, we can learn to reclaim agency over our bodies, developing a deeper connection to our innate wisdom and inherent vitality.

With awareness growing around pelvic health issues, the integration of yoga into mainstream healthcare and rehabilitation programs offers a gentle yet powerful tool for empowerment and healing.

Nervous system regulation

The practice of yoga for the pelvic floor also exerts a profound influence on the autonomic nervous system4 Waxenbaum, J.A., Reddy, V. and Varacallo, M. (2023). Anatomy, Autonomic Nervous System. [online] PubMed. Available at: – a network of nerves that regulates essential bodily functions such as heartbeat, respiration, and digestion.

The autonomic nervous system, composed of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches, regulates involuntary bodily functions, including those of the pelvic floor.

An imbalance between these two branches can manifest as tension or weakness within the pelvic musculature.

Through breath-centered practices such as diaphragmatic breathing and other pranayamas, we can learn to modulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system, nourishing our system back into equilibrium.

Yoga for pelvic floor can therefore help rebalance the systems which is conducive to optimal pelvic floor support.

a diagram of the nervous system

Pelvic Floor Exercises & Yoga Practices

1. Engagement and activation

Many yoga poses inherently engage the pelvic muscles to provide stability and support.

Poses such as Chair Pose (utkatasana), Warrior II (virabhadrasana II), and Bridge Pose (setu bandhasana) encourage conscious activation of the pelvic floor through deliberate engagement and awareness.

By actively drawing the pelvic floor upward and inward, practitioners develop greater strength and tone within these crucial muscles.

2. Balancing and stability

Balancing poses in yoga, such as Tree Pose (vrksasana) and Eagle Pose (garudasana), Mountain Pose (tadasana) require a strong foundation and core stability, both of which rely on pelvic floor strength and engagement.

These poses challenge practitioners to cultivate a deep sense of rootedness and stability from the pelvic region upward, building resilience and dynamic balance within the body.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing eagle pose

3. Core integration

The pelvic floor forms an integral part of the body’s core musculature, working synergistically with the deep abdominals, lower back muscles, and diaphragm to provide support and stability.

Yoga poses that target the core, such as Plank Pose (phalakasana), Boat Pose (navasana), and Dolphin Pose (ardha pincha mayurasana), promote integrated activation and coordination of these muscle groups, enhancing overall strength and pelvic floor integrity.

4. Dynamic movement

Dynamic, flowing sequences in yoga, such as Sun Salutations (surya namaskar) and Vinyasa flows, encourage fluid movement and mindful engagement of the pelvic floor throughout transitions between poses.

By synchronizing breath with movement and maintaining pelvic stability during dynamic sequences, practitioners cultivate strength, flexibility, and proprioception within the pelvic region.

5. Pelvic floor-specific

Certain yoga practices are specifically designed to target and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles directly.

Poses such as Cat-Cow Pose (marjaryasana-bitilasana) and mula bandha (root lock) provide focused activation and awareness of the pelvic floor, facilitating increased tone, endurance, and neuromuscular control over time.

Mula bandha involves contracting the muscles of the pelvic floor, including the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle group.

By consciously engaging these muscles, practitioners increase blood flow and nerve stimulation to the pelvic region, promoting strength, tone, and endurance within the pelvic floor.

In addition to this, in yogic philosophy, mula bandha is believed to facilitate the flow of prana, or life force energy, throughout the body.

By directing energy upward from the pelvic floor, practitioners can awaken dormant energy centers (chakras) and enhance vitality, creativity, and spiritual awareness.

Mula bandha serves as a gateway to accessing deeper states of consciousness and inner transformation within the yoga practice – so you may get some added benefits!

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing cat cow pose

6. Restorative and supported poses

In addition to dynamic strengthening practices, restorative and supported yoga poses offer valuable opportunities for relaxation, release, and deep rejuvenation within the pelvic floor.

Poses such as Supported Bridge Pose with a block or bolster, Reclining Bound Angle Pose (supta baddha konasana), and Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (viparita karani) promote gentle stretching, decompression, and restoration of pelvic floor tissues.

More on the core

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Liz is a Qigong and Yoga teacher based in Gloucestershire with a love for all things movement, nature & community. She strives to create a trauma-informed space in which everyone is empowered to be their authentic selves.

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