the kidney and bladder

by julee snyder


The kidneys play a significant role in detoxifying our bodies.  They filter blood, removing nitrogenous wastes, toxins, minerals and salts.  Each kidney has one million filtering units.  Together they filter 185 quartz of blood per day and utilize 1/8th of the body’s total oxygen resources.  They are part of the urinary system.  They purify the blood and produce urine which drains into the ureters which pass to the bladder.

The kidneys are bean-shaped, not very large and quite thin.  They are four inches long, two inches wide and one inch thick.  The kidney is composed of the outer cortex and the inner medulla.  The right kidney is located between the lower border of the 12th rib and the 3rd lumbar vertebra.  The left kidney is covered by the 12th rib and extends down to the 2nd lumbar vertebra.  The right kidney sits lower than the left due to the liver.


The ureters collect the urine from the renal pelvis of the kidneys.  They are shaped like a slightly flattened tube 4-7 mm in diameter running approximately 30 cm.  They run along the psoas muscle and penetrate the bladder at its fundus, 4-5 cm apart from each other.


The bladder is a muscular sac that lies in the center of the pelvis behind the pubic arch.  The bladder is shaped like an inverted pyramid when empty.  As it fills it expands in an upward and forward direction becoming more spherical.  The function of the bladder is to collect urine and to expel it from the body via the urethra.  It is subperitoneal and supported by the muscles of the pelvic floor.  In the female, it rests directly on the pelvic floor with the vagina and the rectum posteriorly.  In the male, the prostate rests between the bladder and the pelvic floor with the rectum posteriorly.


energize each organ through breath

Become aware of the breath.  Visualize the organ, focusing attention on its center point.  Breathe into the organ, sensing its expansion in all directions.  Exhale with hiss, continue expansion.  Hiss only as long as organ continues to expand.  Play with various body positions.

movement of each organ on its axis and in all planes

Tilt each organ medially/laterally; forward/backward; rotate right/left.

relate organs to extremities

Begin to relate the kidneys, individually and as a unit, to the brain, the feet, the arms.  Consider the the triangle of the kidneys through the ureters to the bladder, working to take out the slack between them.  How does that inform your twists and spirals?  Also relate the bladder to the pelvic floor.

kidneys as pivot or base of support

On stomach with arms overhead, create kidney-bladder triangle.  Connect right kidney to right arm.  Lift the arm.  Do the same on the left.  And then both together.  Connect kidneys to head, lift the head.  And then lift all three.

In supine, breathe into kidneys.  As kidneys go into the floor, feel how they can lever the legs into vertical.

kidneys as suspension support

In sitting or standing, take out the slack between the right kidney and the right arm.  Swing the arm diagonally across the body and the side supporting with the right kidney.  Now try the left.

moving kidneys in relationship to space

In table, release and support your back body with the kidneys.  Move through cat/cow/neutral.

In walking and crawling, let the kidneys support the homolateral and contralateral reach of the limbs.

Begin to notice how the kidneys work individually and a unit to support your various asana.

Happy Practicing!


*credit here is owed to Jean-Pierre Barral and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen.  Some of this material comes directly from their manuals.