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These 6 Habits Might Be Causing UTIs

UTIs are the worst thing ever, especially when they keep coming back, over and over again. Caused by a proliferation of bacteria (usually E. coli), these infections are both incredibly common and insanely uncomfortable. And if you’re suffering from recurring UTIs, some of your everyday habits just might be to blame.

Surprising, simple and common routines can be at the root of those here-we-go-again UTIs. If you have any of the following six habits, it’s time to change them – and potentially get some relief from those frustrating infections. Plus, we’re sharing easy ways to change those UTI-causing habits and make them better for your health.

1. Your desk job

A sedentary lifestyle is associated with chronic health problems, and sitting is especially dangerous. Dozens of studies show lengthy sitting increases the risk of heart disease, mood disorders, some cancers – and, as it turns out, UTIs. 

New research links prolonged sitting, like at a desk job, with a higher risk of kidney problems and UTIs. People who sit less and move more are less likely to develop UTIs or other urinary tract issues. Being in a seat all day impacts nerves, muscles and connective tissues related to bladder and urinary tract function. 

If you live at your desk, take hourly breaks to get moving. Run up and down the stairs, jump rope or jog around the block, and set a timer to remind you when you’re due to move. Or, invest in a standing desk; you’ll find basic models for as little as $100.

See also: Sitting All Day? Give Your Spine a Stretch With This Backbending Sequence

2. Your date-night panties

Those clingy, sexy undies may be triggering UTIs. Tight underthings trap bacteria in the vaginal area and irritate sensitive tissue, leaving you vulnerable to infections. Even worse, bikinis and thongs made from nylon or synthetic fabrics trap moisture, allowing pathogens to proliferate and leaving you more susceptible to UTIs (and yeast infections). The same goes for tights, leggings, yoga pants and snug swimsuits. 

Save racy, lacy lingerie for steamy encounters and stick to lightweight cotton panties for everyday wear. Change your undies frequently, and shed damp workout pants as soon as you’re done exercising. Hanging out in sweaty clothes lets bacteria flourish.  

3. Your savage sweet tooth

Snacking on cookies, candy, soda and other sweets may be setting off your UTIs. Sugar disrupts the pH balance of urine, creating an environment in which E. coli thrive and multiply. Plus, blood sugar spikes impair immune function, weakening the body’s ability to fight off infections. 

Cage that savage sweet-tooth beast, and snack on foods that lower your risk. Try:

  • Serve hummus with strips of red bell pepper; they’re rich in vitamins shown to hamper bacterial growth, protect against UTIs and enhance immunity.
  • Blend unsweetened cranberry juice concentrate with sparkling water and a squeeze of lime, and sweeten with stevia; research suggests cranberries reduce the risk of UTIs and prevent recurring infections.
  • Stir chopped peaches into unsweetened yogurt; peaches contain D-mannose, a compound that blocks E. coli from adhering to and invading the urinary tract, and probiotics in yogurt balance intestinal bacteria and boost immunity.
  • Spread almond butter on apple slices and top with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon; studies show it blunts the growth of bacteria and thwarts E. coli colonization.

4. Your personal hygiene routine

You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: After you go to the bathroom, always wipe from front to back. If you wipe from back to front, you’re transporting a slew of bacteria from the anus right to the urethra, where they can travel into the urinary tract and cause painful problems. 

And when you have to go, don’t hold it. As urine lingers in the bladder, bacteria continue to multiply. Peeing flushes out troublesome pathogens and lessens your risk. 

While we’re talking about personal hygiene: Douching irritates delicate tissues and throws off the balance of vaginal flora, allowing bacteria to flourish and increasing the likelihood of infections. The same goes for harsh or heavily scented soaps, cleansing wipes or bubble baths. Skip fragrant cleansers, and don’t over-wash; mild, unscented soap and warm water is really all you need.

5. Your carnal pursuits

Having sex is one of the best ways to trigger a UTI. During lovemaking, the urethra is exposed to a multitude of bacteria from the genitals, the anus, the mouth or toys. Having multiple partners heightens your risk, but even copious coupling with the same partner (especially over a short period of time) makes UTIs more likely. 

When you’re feeling frisky, take care of yourself. Keep toys rigorously clean, protect against anal bacteria and pee right after. Emptying the bladder post-sex flushes out any bacteria that may have been introduced during bedroom play. You may also want to check your birth control. Spermicides contain nonoxynol-9, a chemical that alters vaginal pH and destroys protective microorganisms, allowing E. coli to flourish. In one study, women whose male partners used condoms coated with nonoxynol-9 had a significantly higher risk of UTIs. 

See also: This Sex Meditation App Wants You to Tap Into Your Sexuality—And Yourself

6. Your Starbucks addiction

That venti caramel macchiato isn’t doing your bladder any favors. Like sweets, coffee disrupts pH balance and promotes bacterial proliferation. And sugary coffee beverages are a double-whammy. 

Coffee’s diuretic effects also promote dehydration, making urine more concentrated and irritating the bladder. Curb your coffee habit, and swap your morning brew for green tea, which is rich in antimicrobial compounds that inhibit the growth of pathogens. Research shows drinking green tea daily enhances immunity. 

You can also double down on daily hydration. Drinking more water dilutes urine, minimizes irritation and helps you flush out bacteria and other toxins. 

See also: I Tried Mushroom Coffee—And It Helped Me Beat the 3 p.m. Slump

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How to Build Strength with Your Yoga Practice – Daily Cup of Yoga

By Kyle Shrivastava

When people think about yoga, strength isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind. But this doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be a part of your practice!

Traditional asana practices often feature long holds (which build endurance) and passive stretching (which increases passive flexibility). However, as yoga evolves we’re seeing a shift towards building power and increasing active flexibility through dynamic movement. Perhaps the most distinct shift is the strength that yogis are now cultivating. This is partly spearheaded by yogi’s bringing in lessons and knowledge from other athletic disciplines such as dance, martial arts, and calisthenics. 

The physical practice of yoga is actually quite well-suited for strength building for two reasons. The first is that it utilizes repetition. When we repeat a motion, whether it be a Chaturanga or Warrior II, we progressively fatigue our muscles which allows them to grow back stronger. Secondly, each posture in yoga has numerous modifications that allow us to make it easier or more difficult. Therefore, as yogis build strength, it’s easy to find more demanding and difficult progressions that will allow us to continue that growth. By utilizing reputation and adaptation, we’re able to achieve the principal of progressive overhead (i.e. increasing demand on the musculoskeletal system to gain strength, size, and endurance) just as we would in any other athletic discipline.

However, gaining strength in yoga requires us to actually incorporate principles from exercise science into our approach to structuring our yoga practice. So let’s discuss how learnings from gymnastics and strength training can help us create yoga flows that build strength (and allow us to master fun new skills). 

The Science

To very quickly summarize (before we get into what it all actually means) –– to gain strength with yoga, we first need to think about how strength is built. Let’s try and simplify this as much as possible.

Exercise science tells us that strength is equal to neural adaptations –– how our body responds to stimulus, plus cross sectional muscle growth –– the size of our muscles (Lowe, 2016). The former is more influential on our overall strength (Nathaniel et al, 2017). When talking about neural adaptations, we can think in terms of motor units (motor neurons sent by the brain to the muscles), and the type of muscle fibers being activated. The two ends of the motor unit spectrum are Low Threshold Motor Units (LTMUs) and High Threshold Motor Units (HTMUs). LTMUs correspond with slow twitch, endurance focused muscle fibers and take a weaker electrochemical brain signal to activate. HTMUs correspond with strength and power. These innervate fast twitch muscle fibers and are activated by a higher-intensity electrical impulse in the brain. Put simply, this means that if we want to gain strength (and nail that press to handstand), we need enough stress to activate HTMUs and fast twitch muscle fibers. Still with me? Great, let’s get started!

Putting this into practice

First, let’s get this out of the way–-building strength will not make you overly muscular or necessarily decrease your flexibility (unless you’re exclusively tossing barbells overhead in the weight room). So get that powerlifter image out of your head, and think more about the lean and muscular physique of a gymnast or circus performer. 

So how do we do it? And how will this be different than how yoga is usually practiced? Here are a few ideas? 

  1. Begin with a warm-up that doesn’t kill you. 

The idea behind this approach is that part of your strength-based yoga practice is going to be putting a heavier-than-usual stress on the body, which means it’s essential to warm up thoroughly without wasting energy or exhausting yourself. Just warm up until your heart rate is elevated and you’re sweating lightly. This could mean a few Sun Salutations, or short flow like one of these

2) Do some skill-based work first.

Trying to nail Eka Pada Bakasana (one-legged crow) or a freestanding handstand? Do it after your warm-up. This is going to be the time when you have the most energy and focus to work on skill-based movements. In yoga, we often put these challenging positions as peak poses at the end of a practice. While not necessarily harmful, this doesn’t allow us to approach them with our full ability since we’re often already exhausted.

Please note that there are two exceptions to this approach. Firstly, if you’re working on drills to support difficult postures (i.e. handstand holds against the wall, etc.), do that after your skill work. Secondly, if you’re working on positions that mainly require flexibility (as opposed to strength or balance), place these later in practice once you’ve spent more time opening up.

3) Add some strength-based work early on.

After warming up and working skills, now is the time for your strength work. One of the best ways to do this is with a short but challenging (think very challenging) flow that you can repeat 1-3 times. After each repetition of the flow, take a long rest in Childs pose. Make the difficulty of this mini-flow match your (or your students) level, while throwing in one or two “reach” movements or postures. You/they will eventually adapt to the challenge. For an example of a challenging strength-focused flow for intermediate-advanced practitioners, check out a “Super Human” Strength sequence here.

4) Move through the rest of your regular practice after strength work.

After having used your maximum strength in your mini-flow, feel free to move through the rest of your practice as you usually would. This could focus on more dynamic movement, slow endurance-focused postures, breath work, or whatever other priorities you have. 

5) End with additional mobility and flexibility work.

Since you’re putting an extra level of stress on the body during your difficult strength-focused flow, be sure to end by giving those parts of the body a little extra love. If you were hand-balancing, open up the wrist joints. If you were working the core, take some time in Sphinx pose. The extra work means you’ll need a little extra cool down to assure that you’re able to avoid injury and keep up with your practice. 

Yogi’s are able to accomplish some amazing feats. But to do so, we have to be experimental and scientific about our approach to practice. Part of this should be drawing on what we know from other disciplines. Gaining strength in yoga isn’t difficult. However, it does require us to structure our flows so that we explicitly perform strength-focused movement at the right times, while using repetition, and adapting to use progressively harder variations of each posture as we grow.

Hopefully, these quick tips can help you along your journey? Have you tried our (or a similar) approach? Let us know about your experience! 

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Kyle Shrivastava. Kyle is a yoga teacher based in Washington D.C. and co-founder of, a resource site for new and aspiring yoga teachers. Kyle is certified in yoga anatomy and works to showcase the many diverse offerings yoga can provide from strength, to functional mobility, to meditative focus.


Low, S. (2016). Part 1. In Overcoming gravity: A systematic approach to gymnastics and bodyweight strength. Houston, TX: Battle Ground Creative. 

Nathaniel D. M. Jenkins, Amelia A. Miramonti, Ethan C. Hill, Cory M. Smith, Kristen C. Cochrane-Snyman, Terry J. Housh, Joel T. Cramer. Greater Neural Adaptations following High- vs. Low-Load Resistance Training. Frontiers in Physiology, 2017; 

Photo by Ginny Rose Stewart on Unsplash

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