Talking about poop seems to be quite a taboo subject even in the most intimate of circles, yet bowel issues, and more specifically constipation, affect 16 out of 100 adults, and even more as we age.
Everyone’s bowel movements are different, but it is considered constipation when an individual goes 3 or more days without having one, so talking about yoga for constipation matters.
When you haven’t had a bowel movement in too long and are feeling bloated and uncomfortable, practicing yoga for constipation can be quite helpful in easing the symptoms and providing you with alleviation.
Yoga for constipation is not intended to be a remedy but paired up with diet and other techniques it can support you in easing symptoms and improving your overall health.
In this article you will find:
- Digestive System Basics
- Main Causes of Constipation
- Main Symptoms of Constipation
- Ayurveda for Constipation
- Benefits of Yoga for Constipation
- Best Yoga Poses for Constipation Relief
Digestive System Basics
Before we explore some of the best yoga poses for constipation, it is important to take a look at the basics of digestion.
The digestive system is made up of the IG Tract:
The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are also considered a part of the IG tract.
This digestive system is inhabited by trillions of microorganisms (microbiome) that help in digestion and also influence your mood and energy levels, and it interacts with the nervous and circulatory systems of the body.
There are also hormones and nerves that are important for digestion, and it is often called the Gut Brain.There are 6 stages of digestion:
- Mechanical Digestion
- Chemical Digestion
Constipation is a sign of a weakened digestive system, and when the digestive system is sluggish, a whole plethora of physical, mental, and energetic issues can arise.
Main Causes of Constipation
Short-term and chronic constipation are mainly differentiated in the fact that chronic constipation’s infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools persist for several weeks or longer.
- Lack of exercise
- Not enough liquids
- Not enough fiber in the diet
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
- Changes in habits or lifestyle (travel, pregnancy, aging)
- Problems with intestinal function
If you want to know a bit more about your poop, check out the Bristol Stool Chart.
Main Symptoms of Constipation
Symptoms of constipation vary from person to person and instance to instance, but here are a few common ones:
- Bowel movements fewer than three times a week
- Passing lumpy, hard, or dry stools
- Straining or pain during bowel movements
- Feeling of fullness, even after having a bowel movement
- Feeling bloated or uncomfortable
- Feeling sluggish
- Abdominal pain
Ayurveda & Constipation
As the sister science of yoga, Ayurveda can give us even more insight on causes of constipation, and ways to alleviate and prevent it.
According to Ayurveda, we are not what we eat, but what we digest, and that means everything that we consume and take in, way beyond food.
Digestion is influenced greatly by the state of Agni, our fire within, also known as the digestive fire.
According to Ayurveda, when agni is too strong and imbalanced, you may experience diarrhea, and when agni is weakened is when you’ll experience constipation.
Constipation relates to an imbalance in the element of Vata in the body, which creates dryness, coldness, and is quick and changeable.
Benefits of Yoga for Constipation
As mentioned above, yoga is not meant to replace any treatment for constipation or other digestive issues, but it can be a great compliment to other therapies.
For example, studies have been conducted for conditions like IBS (a condition that can both cause diarrhea and constipation) where yoga practices were introduced, and many people reported considerable relief.
Yoga can help you:
- Revitalize Your Body
- Increased Blood Flow
- Balance Agni
- Reduce Gas and Bloating
- Regulate Bowel Movements
- Improve Your Breath Awareness
All those are important components to support a healthy digestive system.
7 Best Yoga Poses for Constipation Relief
Both Ayurveda and Yoga for constipation suggest the following when intending to balance the gut and ease the causes and symptoms of constipation and regain balance:
- Movement practices like yoga
- Pranayama exercises like Nauli Pranayama
In general, any postures that invite twisting, forward bends and some heart opening can help diminish the discomfort caused by constipation.
Here are some of the best yoga poses for constipation relief:
#1. Supine Twist Pose (Jathara Parvasana)
Jathara meaning stomach in Sanskrit is a clear indication of the benefits of this posture.
Jatharagni, is described by Ayurveda as the main agni, the digestive fire of the belly.
The supine twist will strengthen your back muscles and promote healthy digestion by stroking the inner fire and massaging your intestines.
To practice it:
- Lay down on your back and hug your knees to your chest.
- Inhale to lengthen your spine a bit more and open your arms to the sides.
- Exhale to take both knees to the left, creating space for the ascending colon and breathing into the right side of the belly and body.
- Your knees can rest on a block or come all the way down to the ground.
- Take a few breaths there, inhaling for 4, exhaling for 6, hold for 2.
- Come back to the midline and repeat on the other side, making space for the descending colon.
#2. Malasana (Garland Pose)
Also known as the yogi squat, this is a pose still widely used around the world as a way to sit for good bowel movements.
Mala in Sanskrit both means garland and impurity, once again hinting at the benefits of exploring this shape in order to let go of that which is stuck.
To practice this yoga for constipation pose:
- Begin standing with your feet a bit wider than hips-distance
- Gently turn your toes out and heels in and bring your palms together in Anjali mudra.
- Inhale to find more length.
- Exhale to slowly lower your hips down in between your heels.
- To soften the intensity, sit on a block or lean against the wall.
- Take a few breaths there, inhaling for 4, exhaling for 6 , for 2.
This is an excellent posture to use when going to the bathroom, you can use a device to assist, or simply bring two blocks under your feet!
#3. Apanasana (Wind Relieving Posture)
A must-try when exploring yoga for constipation is wind relieving posture.
As the name indicates, its practice can encourage release.
To practice it:
- Lay down on your back
- Hug your knees into your chest
- Take a few breaths there, inhaling for 4, exhaling for 6, hold for 2
- To promote further movement in the intestines, consider rocking yourself side to side as you breathe in and out on a count of 4.
If flatulence arises, let it happen!
#4. Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
Great to stimulate your pelvic muscles and help your stomach muscles work better. It can help massage the stomach muscles and aid in relieving constipation.
Practice it like this:
- Sit on the ground or at the edge of a blanket to promote a pelvic tilt
- Extend your legs in front of you and flex your feet.
- Inhale lift your arms by your ears
- Exhale, hinge at your hips taking your torso over your thighs
- Rest your arms by your sides or grab your feet with your hands
- Relax your head down
- Take a few breaths there, inhaling for 4, exhaling for 6, hold for 2
#5. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
One of the best yoga poses for constipation is Cobra.
When laying on your stomach, the gentle pressure promotes movement of the intestines.
To give it a try:
- Lay down prone, belly down, on the ground or your mat, legs extended behind you, forehead to the ground.
- Bring your hands right underneath your shoulders and squeeze your elbows toward your ribcage.
- Inhale, press into your palms, thighs, tops of your feet, and lift your chest of the floor.
- Stay there and breathe, or move a bit side to side to encourage energy flow.
#6 Cat-Cow Pose (Chakravakasana)
By bringing movement into the spine and the entirety of the torso, practicing cat-cow pose a few times can be a simple way to stimulate prana in the body, and with the added movement, promote softness and release for the digestive system.
Practice it by:
- Coming into hands and knees, onto table top pose.
- Inhale, lift your tailbone, dip your belly, and lift your gaze for cat pose.
- Exhale, round your back, gaze down to your navel, and engage Uddyanabandha
- Continue back and forth for a few breaths.
#7 Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose)
Practiced with the arms extended overhead, low lunge is one of the best yoga poses for constipation.
It allows space for the ascending colon when your left foot is forward, and it provides expansion for the descending colon, when the right foot is planted on the ground.
Constipation is a common ailment, and yoga for constipation is not the ultimate solution, but it’s proven to provide relief, especially when combined with diet, other natural practices as well as medication when needed.
If you’d like to put it to practice, check out this class on Youtube!