The Valsalva maneuver, which involves forcefully exhaling while bearing down on the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, is a common practice in activities such as weightlifting and childbirth. However, this technique is not recommended during a chaturanga pose.
During a typical yoga class, practitioners may perform 10 to 30 vinyasas, which include the Plank-Chaturanga-Updog-Down Dog sequence. If the Valsalva maneuver is employed (bearing down), there can be a significant amount of pressure on the pelvic floor. This can be ineffective and even harmful for your pelvic floor health.
In this blog post, we will explore the potential risks associated with bearing down on the pelvic floor during yoga practice.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
One of the primary risks of bearing down on the pelvic floor is the development of pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus, or rectum, drop down and bulge into the vaginal canal. This can cause discomfort, pain, and urinary or fecal incontinence. Bearing down on the pelvic floor can increase the pressure inside the abdomen, which can lead to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles and, consequently, the development of pelvic organ prolapse.
Another risk associated with bearing down on the pelvic floor is urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine and is often caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. Bearing down on the pelvic floor can put excessive pressure on the bladder and weaken the muscles responsible for controlling urine flow, which can increase the risk of urinary incontinence.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectum or anus that can cause pain, itching, and bleeding. Bearing down on the pelvic floor can increase the pressure inside the rectum and anus, which can cause the veins to swell and become irritated. This can lead to the development of hemorrhoids and worsen existing hemorrhoid symptoms.
Bearing down on the pelvic floor can also lead to sexual dysfunction. The pelvic floor muscles are responsible for supporting the pelvic organs and maintaining sexual function. Excessive pressure on the pelvic floor can weaken these muscles and cause sexual problems, such as pain during intercourse, difficulty achieving orgasm, and decreased sexual sensation.
Diastasis recti is a condition that occurs when the rectus abdominis muscles separate during pregnancy or due to excessive abdominal pressure. Bearing down on the pelvic floor can increase the pressure inside the abdomen and worsen diastasis recti. This can cause abdominal bulging and weakness, back pain, and pelvic instability. (DR) is not the same as a hernia. A hernia is a condition where an organ or tissue bulges through a weak spot in the muscle or tissue that surrounds it. A hernia can occur in different parts of the body, such as the abdomen, groin, or diaphragm.
While the Valsalva maneuver may be common in activities such as weightlifting and childbirth, it is not recommended during a chaturanga pose in yoga. In a yoga practice, practitioners may perform several vinyasas, over a lifetime which can put significant pressure on the pelvic floor if the Valsalva maneuver is employed. Bearing down on the pelvic floor can lead to several potential risks, including pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, hemorrhoids, sexual dysfunction, and diastasis recti. To maintain a healthy pelvic floor, it is essential to use proper techniques and seek guidance from a knowledgeable teacher. If you experience any of the symptoms from above, seek medical attention from a healthcare professional. Protecting your pelvic floor can help you avoid these potential problems and promote overall health and well-being.
In our next post, we'll review how to properly engage breath and abdominal muscles for pelvic floor strength and optimal efficiency in your vinyasa.
Keep flowing and growing!
All my love,
Hello, my name is Vikky, and I am thrilled to share my passion for yoga with you. I have been teaching yoga for over 13 years in South Florida, and my journey with this ancient practice started over 37 years ago. As a registered yoga teacher and 200 Yoga School with Yoga Alliance, I hold expertise in multiple disciplines of yoga, including yogic anatomy, 500-hour yoga teacher training, yogic philosophy, and meditation. My classes are a blend of dynamic movement, breathwork, and meditation, providing a holistic experience that nurtures the mind, body, and spirit. I believe yoga is for everyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or experience. My approach is welcoming and inclusive, creating a safe and nurturing environment for all my students to explore the many benefits of yoga. Through my teachings, I hope to inspire and empower students to connect with their inner selves, cultivate mindfulness, and lead healthier, happier lives. Join me in my classes to experience the transformative power of yoga firsthand.