Exercising and strengthening the pelvic floor is one way to improve symptoms from an enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Benefits of strengthening the pelvic floor muscles include:
- improved bladder and bowel control
- improved recovery after prostate surgery
- increased sexual satisfaction and orgasm potential
- increased social confidence and quality of life
Yoga postures, or asanas, and Kegel exercises are low-impact ways to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Performing the following yoga stretches can help you develop muscular control and flexibility in the pelvic region. The calming nature of these exercises may also help relieve stress and pelvic tension.
If you feel relaxed and comfortable, you may hold the poses for up to five minutes at a time. Hold more strenuous poses for up to 30 seconds. Remember, always modify or adjust the pose to suit your body as you go.
Kegel exercises are simple exercises you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. You can do these exercises on your own.
First, correctly identify your pelvic floor muscles. They’re the group of muscles that support your bladder and regulate your urine flow. They include the bladder, sphincter muscles, and pelvic floor muscle.
To identify the pelvic floor muscles, imagine that you’re trying to stop your urine flow while urinating. Do not do this while actually urinating. Squeeze, hold, and release the muscles a few times. Do the same with the sphincter muscles.
Now imagine that you are squeezing and lifting the pelvic floor muscles. You can do these exercises sitting, standing, on lying down on your back with your knees bent.
Make sure you have correctly identified the pelvic floor muscles and feel comfortable completing the exercises. Aim to do 3 sets of 12 squeezes per day. Hold each inward squeeze for up to 10 seconds and release. Relax for a few seconds between each repetition.
A 2013 study found that men who did pelvic floor exercises each day for 12 weeks following prostate surgery improved their urinary function and overall quality of life. They reduced lower urinary tract symptoms and had maximal urinary flow rate.
- Sit between your feet with your knees down and your toes facing backward.
- You may sit on a pillow for added support.
- Keep your spine lengthened and rest your hands on your thighs, palms facing down.
- Keep the weight in your hips and not your knees.
- You can do your Kegel exercises while doing the pose.
- To release the pose, roll over to one side and release your legs.
- Sit down with your legs extended in front of you.
- You may sit on the edge of a cushion for additional support in your hips.
- Bend your knees to the side and place the soles of your feet together.
- Pull your heels closer into your body to deepen the stretch, and move them farther away to lessen the stretch.
- You may interlace your fingers and place them under the pinky toe sides of your feet.
- After some time, walk your hands forward, round your spine, and tuck your chin to drop into a forward fold.
- Breathe deeply and focus on relaxing and letting go of tension.
- Release the pose by walking your hands back up and releasing your legs in front of you.
- Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you.
- Bend your right knee and bring the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh.
- You may place a pillow under your sit bones or under your right knee for support.
- Turn your torso to the left so your naval lines up with the inside of your left leg.
- Place your hands on the floor beside you, or slowly walk them out in front of you.
- Tuck your chin into your chest and hinge from the hips to come closer to the floor.
- It’s okay to round your spine and to bend the extended leg.
- Slowly release on an inhale and walk your hands back as you lift your body.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Lie on your back with both legs extended and with a strap nearby.
- Bend the left knee and pull your left thigh into your chest.
- Press the right leg heavy into the floor while drawing your right toes back to your shin and pressing out through the sole of the right foot.
- Put the strap around the arch of the left foot and hold the strap in both hands.
- Straighten the left leg as you press the sole of the foot up toward the ceiling.
- Walk your hands up the strap toward your foot, if possible, and press your shoulders into the floor while broadening across the collarbone.
- If it’s comfortable, you can take hold of the strap with your left hand and allow your leg to fall out to the left side. Keep the right leg heavy and grounded to the floor.
- To release, bring the leg back up to the top, release the strap, and hug the left leg back into your chest.
- Repeat on the opposite leg.
- Lie down on your belly with your arms alongside the body, palms facing up.
- Slowly bend your knees so your feet come up, and reach back with your hands to grasp the outside of your ankles.
- Raise your head, chest, and shoulders off of the mat, if possible.
- Try to keep your knees from splaying out to the side.
- Look forward or up while taking long, deep breaths.
- Hold for up to thirty seconds and release.
- You may do this pose two times.
You can practice yoga at home or, if you’d like some extra guidance, you can go to a yoga studio. It’s important to find a studio that suits your needs and makes you feel comfortable. Check out a few different studios in your area so you can decide which one is best for you.
Look for a studio that offers a variety of classes. Make sure the styles are suitable to your level and personal preference. You may want to choose a studio that focuses on the spiritual side of yoga as well as the physical.
Different styles may include:
This is one of the most traditional styles of yoga. It focuses on breathing and classical yoga postures that are done slowly. The class is usually slow-paced and may focus on alignment. Meditation may also be included.
This is an excellent choice because it focuses on relaxing and letting go of tension, especially in the hips, pelvis, and lower spine. You work on lengthening connective tissues while in a meditative state. Poses are held for up to five minutes each.
This type of yoga focuses on opening the body and relaxing the muscles. You use various props to hold poses for up to 20 minutes while entering a deep state of relaxation.
The aim of kundalini yoga is to bring up the energy stored at the base of your spine. It focuses on moving this energy up the spine and increasing physical vitality. Classes include meditation, mantra chanting, and physical postures.
Yoga may help improve symptoms of an enlarged prostate without surgery or medications. Engaging in these exercises on a daily basis and eating a healthy diet may help improve your symptoms and your overall quality of life.
Emily Cronkleton is a certified yoga teacher and has studied yoga in the United States, India, and Thailand. Her passion for yoga has laid the foundation for a healthy and inspired life. Her teachers and practice have helped shape her life experience in many ways.