The connection between our mind and our gut is immense, meaning digestive issues are not only physically uncomfortable, but can also really get us down – so having some tools for fast and effect relief is invaluable.
Yep, whether you suffer from persistent conditions such as IBS or IBD, or are simply looking for relief from the bloating that accompanies those occasional overindulges, yoga might have just the thing.
In this article we’re going to walk you through:
- Digestive Issues – What Are They And What Causes Them?
- How Yoga Poses For Digestion Can Help Relieve These Conditions
- The 7 Best Yoga Poses For Digestion
digestive issues – What are they and what causes them?
Most of us will have experienced some form of digestive issue in our lifetimes. But what causes them?
Digestion describes the complex processes through which our bodies turn the food we eat into nutrients for energy, repair and growth – and of course, the creation of waste products to be expelled (usually down the loo!).
While sophisticated, sometimes these digestive processes don’t go so smoothly, leading to uncomfortable side effects such as cramps, nausea, bloating, gas, discomfort, diarrhea and constipation.
Because our digestive processes are so complex, the exact causes are often hard to pinpoint, and disturbances to our bowel function can be down to a number of things. These include:
- Eating too much too fast
- Unbalanced diet
- Bad posture
- Lack of activity
- Extra-sensitive nerve endings along the gut
In addition to these physical stressors, psychological factors such as anxiety, depression and other stresses can also negatively impact our digestive system and cause these symptoms.
Indeed, the connection between the mind and the gut is so strong that it even has its own name – the gut-brain axis through which your digestive system can react directly to emotional stress.
While it is completely normal to experience these uncomfortable symptoms from time to time, if they are persistent it may be down to an allergy or chronic digestive issue in which case you should seek medical advice. Some of the most common digestive diseases being:
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) such as Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Celiac Disease
How Can Yoga Poses For Digestion Help?
Now that you know a little about what causes these issues, it’s time to learn how yoga poses for digestion can help.
Yoga for digestion and yoga poses for gas expertly coordinate mindful breathing techniques and physical movements that have a range of positive effects on our digestive system.
#1: Reduces stress
Every heard of emotions leaving knots in your tummy? Well, there’s a reason.
The emotional stress that we store causes tension and tightness all along our digestive tract, particularly in our abdomen. This can lead to many of the uncomfortable symptoms listed above such as constipation and cramps.
The conscious breath work and meditative nature of yoga for digestion is great for alleviating emotional stress, while the mindful movements open the body and release the tension we store in our muscles.
#2: Increases circulation
Another benefit of yoga poses for digestion is its positive effect on your circulation.
By encouraging your whole body into motion, yoga activates your muscles and stimulates blood flow to your digestive system, delivering to your digestive organs and cells the nutrients and oxygen they need to function properly.
#3: Stimulates digestive tract
Thirdly, yoga poses for digestion stimulate our digestive tract, helping to ‘move things along’ and relieve tummy discomforts.
Yep, the dynamic movements of twists, stretches and bends act like a little massage on your internal organs, promoting digestion, detoxification and nutrient absorption.
#4: Symptom management
The final bonus? the combination of the above effects can help to reduce and relieve the uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms of digestive troubles.
Yep, yoga for digestion can be an amazing remedy for occasional tummy discomforts and be a great supplement remedy for persistent conditions such as those listed above.
However, more scientific research is needed to fully understand its role in specific digestive issues. For this reason it should not be used to replace medications or other treatments without a doctors approval.
The 7 best yoga poses for digestion
#1: Half Gas Release Pose (Ardha Pawamuktasana)
It’s all in the name! This position is perhaps the queen of yoga poses for gas.
- Beginning lying flat on your back in Corpse Pose, bend your right leg and bring it up to your chest.
- Clasp your hands around just below the knee and hug the knee in towards your heart. Try to push your sit bones towards the floor and keep pelvis against the mat.
- This is Half Gas Release Pose. On each exhale, try to bring the knees even tighter to the chest to deepen the stretch.
- After resting here for 2-6 deep breaths, release the leg and return to Corpse Pose. Repeat with the other leg.
#2: Cat-Cow (Bitilasana Marjaryasana)
- Begin on all fours – ankles directly beneath shoulders and hips directly above knees, toes untucked. This is Table Top Pose.
- With a deep in breath arch your spine lifting your sit bones up to the ceiling and eyes up to the sky, bringing your shoulder blades together as you roll your shoulders back and down.
- This is Cat Pose – stay here for 2-3 breaths.
- As you exhale, round your spine tucking your sit bones under. Here, roll shoulders in towards your heart, chin falling to your chest and your gaze moving to your navel.
- This is Cow Pose – stay here for another 2-3 breaths.
- Repeat alternating between Cat and Cow 6-8 times.
#3: Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
- Beginning lying flat on your back, body straight and relaxed, then bring your knees towards your chest.
- Stretch both arms out between your bent legs and grasp both big toes in a ‘toe lock’. Your shoulder blades and the entire length of your spine should be against the floor.
- Your head should be resting on the floor, back flat and ankles stacked directly over the knees so that both shins are perpendicular to the mat underneath you.
- Widen your legs and allow your thighs to fall alongside your torso, legs bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Pull the knees toward the floor with the help of your hands, while simultaneously pushing your heels up to the sky feel the deep stretch in your hips, groin, and thighs.
- Remain here for one or two minutes, adding in some rocking movements if you wish.
#4: Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
- Begin on your mat, lying flat on your front, with the tops of your feet resting on the floor.
- Stretch your legs to the back of the mat as you place your palms flat on the mat underneath your shoulders, fingers splayed. Keep the elbows hugged in tight to the sides of your torso.
- Inhale and straighten your arms to lift your chest off the floor. The goal here is to lift your chest as high as possible while still being comfortable and maintaining contact between your pubis and the mat (it’s normal that your arms will still be slightly bent here!).
- Tuck your tailbone under towards the navel, as you press the tops of the feet, thighs and pubis down into the mat. Draw your shoulder blades back and down.
- Remain here for 5 deep breaths – maybe incorporating a hissing exhale to show of their best cobra impression!
#5: Thread the Needle Pose (Urdhva Mukha Pasasana)
- Start off on all fours, knees directly under hips and your shoulders directly above your wrists (table top pose).
- Slide your right arm forward towards the top of the mat and extend your left arm out to your side so that it’s straight and then thread your left arm under your right until your left shoulder and ear rest on the mat and your right arm is flat on the mat beneath you.
- Hold for 2-6 minutes, breathing deeply as you do. Then, repeat on other side.
- Following this, rest in Child’s pose (Balasana) for a minute or so.
#6: Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Start on all fours in the tabletop position (on your knees and hands, as with #5).
- With your hands shoulder width apart and fingers spread press your palms into the matt and lift your hips up and back as you come into an upside-down V position.
- Keeping your shoulders back and away from your ears try to bring your heels closer to the mat – but remember, it’s more important to have straight legs than to have heels on the floor.
- Bring your navel in and up, try to bring your chest towards your thighs. Look between your knees or up towards your navel with a relaxed neck.
- Stay here for 4-8 deep breaths, deepening the stretch on each exhale.
#7: Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- Lie on your back with knees bent, legs and feet hip distance apart, arms resting alongside you with soles flat on the floor. Then bring both feet towards your buttocks.
- Pressing down through your feet, inhale as you lift your hips, raising from the pubic area rather than from the belly button.
- Shuffle your hands together to clasp them under your back, flat against the mat. Broaden the shoulders and open your chest to tuck your upper arms underneath you.
- Keep thighs parallel, while you press into your heels to help raise the back of your thighs and your buttocks higher to intensify the stretch.
- Stay here for 3-4 deep breaths if you can. Lower back down, rest for 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat alternating between raised and rested 4-8 times.
Looking to get your little ones into the world of yoga? Look no further!
Emerging studies evidence not only the benefits of yoga for digestion, but also the incredible benefits of kiddies yoga – from self-esteem, to school behavior, to emotional balance.
But how can you get them excited about yoga? Intrigued? Read this: 6 Best Animal Yoga Poses For Kids