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Yoga Asanas for Prostate Health
Reducing your risk of prostate cancer should, of course, be high on your list of preventative health priorities, but other aspects of prostate health are also important. Prostatitis affects about 50 percent of males, most under age 50; benign prostatic hypertrophy afflicts half of men older than 60 and 90 percent of men older than 85. These prostate conditions cause pain and discomfort, frequent urination as well as urinary challenges.
You may think pharmaceuticals are your only option to manage your prostate health, but certain natural strategies can be as effective — without all the potential side effects. Dietary interventions, such as eating plenty of fresh vegetables and whole grains while reducing your intake of red meat, can be effective, for example.
Yoga can be part of a strategy to support prostate health. A comprehensive, regular practice is most effective, but certain asanas are particularly beneficial.
The "locks" of the body aren't asanas, per se — they're binds or muscle contractions that make poses more effective and enhance your control of energy. Mula bandha is your root lock, in which you engage the muscles of your pelvic floor. Using the lock strategically in your practice gives you control over these often overlooked muscles, so you aren't chronically tensing them or allowing them to get too slack and lazy. This gives you a positive relationship to the region in which your prostate sits.
Use mula bandha is poses such as Downward-Facing Dog, Hero pose or Bridge pose, for example.
Men benefit from the breathing work in yoga.
The prostate is located just in front of the rectum and under the bladder. It's in the region of the second chakra, so poses that stimulate that energy zone also help to heal and soothe the walnut-sized gland.
Reclining Hand-to-Big Toe Pose
Reclining-Hand-to-Big Toe pose is generally thought of as a hamstring stretch, but it compresses the pelvic floor and stimulates the region in which the prostate exists. To do the pose, lie on your back with your right leg extended. Loop a strap around your left foot, or hold onto the big toe with your left fingers, and extend the leg up to the ceiling. Gently draw the leg closer to your torso. Hold for several breaths, release and repeat on the other side.
Bound angle opens your groin and hips. Engage mula bandha in this pose to further engage the prostate. To do the pose, sit on your sits bones and draw the soles of your feet together. Allow your knees to fall out to the sides of the room like butterfly wings. Inhale, sit up tall; as you exhale, fold forward from the tops of your hips to aim your chest to the inside of your feet. Hold the fold for five or more breaths.
Boat pose is a challenging, stimulating pose for your lower abdominal region. Build up the full variation over time. To do Boat pose, sit on your sits bones with your knees bent and feet planted. Lean back slightly and engage your abdominal muscles. Lift your feet off the floor to balance on the backs of your sits bones. Keep your back long and your chest lifted. More intense versions of the pose have you lift the feet higher so the shins are parallel to the floor or the legs straighten to form a 45-degree angle with the floor.
Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.