Yoga app can reduce urinary incontinence

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People with loss of urinary control who have used the Yoga of Immortals mobile app – an app used worldwide that combines specific yogic postures in the Sanatan tradition with breathing exercises, sound therapy and meditation – found a significant improvement in the frequency and severity of urine leakage at four weeks of practice, according to a Rutgers study.

Urinary incontinence is more common in women than in men. It is estimated that 25-45% of women worldwide suffer from this disease, which can impair quality of life and create difficulties in social, psychological and sexual functioning. However, only less than 20% of those affected seek treatment, which includes medication, pelvic floor muscle physical therapy to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, or surgery.

“While these treatments are effective, they have many shortcomings: the drugs have poor compliance and potentially significant side effects; patients often lack the knowledge to identify specific pelvic muscles and motivation to undergo physical therapy and the surgical procedures are invasive with potential complications,” said Hari Tunuguntla, lead study author and associate professor of urologic surgery at Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

“However, daily 30-minute application sessions are easy, safe, effective and convenient because they can be performed anytime and anywhere without the need for in-person visits to the healthcare provider,” said he continued. “The app-based YOI practice involves specific breathing exercises, stimulation of specific energy centers in the body for urinary control, postures to engage the pelvic floor, promote relaxation and muscle control, and techniques alignment to strengthen the pelvic floor.”

The researchers selected Yoga of Immortals for study because it provides precise video and audio instructions for this comprehensive program that engages the pelvic floor and specific energy centers of the urinary system. It was shown in the study that YOI protocols are easily understood by participants at all levels of education. The YOI practice also includes breath work to enhance detoxification, mindfulness, and meditation. YOI has also been shown to address mental health and quality of life issues resulting from depression, stress and anxiety.

The study, published in the journal Urology (the Gold Journal), is the first researchers know to determine the effectiveness of a Yoga of Immortals mobile app-based intervention for urinary incontinence globally among different age and ethnic groups in men and women. (Tunuguntla also recently published a study in the journal International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health who found that people who used the Yoga of the Immortals reported that it reduced their anxiety, depression, and insomnia.)

In this study, researchers sent a survey to app subscribers to identify those who experienced loss of bladder control of different types – leaking urine due to not being able to reach the toilet in time or losing urine after sneezing, coughing or laughing; or a combination – and all types of urine leakage severity. The 258 subscribers from 23 countries aged between 18 and 74 – the majority being women and between 18 and 44 – received four-week and eight-week questionnaires to report on their improvement. The researchers then assessed their responses using specific questionnaires and the Patient Global Impression of Improvement scale, which measures the subjective effectiveness of the therapy.

Researchers found that 76% of those surveyed felt significantly better after four weeks, with significant improvement in the frequency and severity of urine leakage without in-person visits to the healthcare provider – many of whom reported continued improvement after eight weeks. Those with more severe leaks reported the greatest improvement in activity of daily living and quality of life. Most study participants felt “much better” at the end of the study.

The app has the potential to increase treatment adherence and can be used to complement other treatments, the researchers said.

“Because of its convenience, flexibility and effectiveness, the app may improve access to care and serve as a first-line treatment for women and men with urinary incontinence. an easily accessible self-management treatment,” Tunuguntla said. “However, further studies are needed to test the efficacy of the app in improving this condition in the long term.”


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