Yoga for Digestion: If you experience even the occasional bout of bloating or indigestion or have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you will agree that tummy troubles are anything but fun.
Stress-relieving practices such as mindfulness can certainly help, as may dietary adjustments.
A healthy digestive system in Ayurveda is referred to as the mainstream of well-being. The root cause of most of the diseases is inefficient digestion.
The metabolic energy of digestion called ‘Agni’ assists in eliminating the body’s waste and toxins.
It breaks down the dense physical matter into subtle energy the body needs, generates internal warmth, and produces a clear mind.
Yoga combines asanas (postures) with rhythmic breathing. Breathing brings prana (life force) into the body and eliminates the body of toxic materials formed due to poor diet choices, unhealthy lifestyle, and accumulated stresses.
Yoga improves Agni, creates body balance and longevity – rejuvenating the whole system.
Yoga works on a physical level stimulating the internal organs via various asanas.
It also helps to soothe the sympathetic nervous system, decreasing stress levels and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps us rest and digest.
Yoga also works on a deeper energetic level, stimulating the energy systems or meridians of the body.
By choosing asanas that stimulate the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and liver meridians we can create harmony and balance within the body by aiding digestion and bloating.
In reality, when digestive woes strike, most people feel like staying home rather than going out into the world. And when you are gurgling, bloated, and possibly needing to keep a washroom insight, you don’t feel like going to a yoga class.
The good news is that certain yoga asanas that you can do at home can help relieve short-term discomfort and, as has been my personal experience, may even help decrease the severity and frequency of such episodes.
If you do feel up to attending a class, don’t worry about the rumbles from the depths, as everyone gurgles in yoga at some point.
As a teacher I witness many shifts being mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually in my students.
I have seen first-hand students openly claim to have problems with digestion, until a month or so of consistent practice see things turn around.
Twists and forward bends, in combination with conscious breathwork and an emphasis on drawing the navel to the spine at the end of an exhalation, have proven to be excellent for digestion.
Both groups of postures are like giving your internal organs a massage which is ideal for detoxification and releasing stagnation, ultimately helping things ‘move along’.
In the background of each of our lives is stress and this is one of the main reasons for digestive issues in the first place.
Once again, science has proven yoga can reduce the onset as well as the intensity of stress.
Bloating is another result of stress and can be caused by many other physical and emotional triggers.
Yoga is a way of life transcending the practice on the mat. It is living with presence, where you observe your mind, body, and breath connection.
Deep breathing releases tension in the abdomen, a place where many of us hold onto tension. This tension in the belly can cause all kinds of issues for digestion and result in bloating.
Yoga Poses for Better Digestion
This is an easy yoga sequence to do the next time you feel bloated. And you don’t have to be a yogi to give them a go.
1. Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Supta Baddha Konasana (supported by a bolster or pillow and block)
To get into this position-
1. Lie down on your back.
2. Place the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to gently fall apart.
3. Do slow, deep breathing, and use as many blankets and pillows as you need to make yourself comfortable.
4. Hold for five minutes.
2. Seated Side Bend
1. Sit in this crossed-legged position
2. Start stretching on the sides by inhaling and raising the right arm
3. Then exhale and take the right arm over to the left side, bending into a side stretch.
4. Hold for at least five breaths.
5. Repeat on the other side.
3. Seated Side Twist
1. Place your right hand behind you, resting on fingertips.
2. Place left hand to the right knee, inhale to lengthen the spine and sides of the body, and exhale to twist to look over the right shoulder.
3. Hold this pose for five slow breaths, then release and repeat on the opposite side.
1. From a seated position, make your way to Tabletop (neutral spine), with your hands underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips.
2. Inhale, draw your navel to the floor, look up to the ceiling, and exhale, draw navel to spine, tuck the tail bone, chin to the throat.
3. Repeat 8-10 times.
5. Sun Salutation
Sun Salutation is a series of energizing poses performed in a sequence to create a flow of movement. By performing two rounds of this Sun Salutation to warm the body and digestive Agni (or fire).
1. Start standing up with your toes touching and your heels slightly apart.
2. Inhale arms to the ceiling, exhale, Forward Fold.
4. Inhale, Halfway Lift with your fingertips on your shins and then Exhale, Forward Fold.
5. Step right leg back into High Lunge, inhale, raise both hands to the ceiling for Five breaths.
6. Bring hands to prayer, hook left elbow overtop right thigh to twist to the right, and then Hold for 5-10 breaths.
7. Place hands back in front of you and move into Plank.
8. Go through Chaturanga (from Plank position: exhale, lower yourself down to the mat evenly, inhale, move into Upward Facing Dog, exhale, Downward Facing Dog, inhale, exhale, step feet to meet at the top of the mat, inhale Halfway Lift, exhale Forward Fold, inhale arms to ceiling).
9. Repeat on the opposite side, then do each side again once more.
6. Locust pose ( Salabhasana )
1. To get into this back and stomach bending pose, lay down on your stomach with your arms by your side.
2. Engage your gluteal (bum) muscles and on an inhale breath, lift your head, upper torso, arms, and legs away from the floor.
3. Reach strongly through your legs and arms, and keep the big toes turned slightly toward each other. Exhale and release to the ground.
4. Repeat pose for five breath counts.
7. Bow pose
1. In the same position lying down on your stomach, bend your knees and hold your ankles or feet.
2. Engage your gluteal muscles and on an inhale breath, lift your head, upper torso, arms, and legs away from the floor.
3. With strong legs and arms, gently pull on your ankles/feet so you create a bow shape.
4. Still in the position, the breath can be used to create a rocking boat motion and stimulate the digestive tract. Inhale to let the upper abdomen expand and exhale to contract.
5. After five inhalations and exhalations, release to the ground.
8. Reclined Spinal Twist
To release the back and reverse this pose, its time for a gentle reclined twist and the transition from Bow pose by lowering to the ground and rolling over onto the back.
To move into Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclined Spinal Twist)-
1. Lie on your back and extend your legs. On an exhalation, hug both knees into your chest.
2. Stretch your left leg out, keeping your right knee hugged in.
3. Extend your right arm along the floor and place your left hand on the outside of your right knee.
4. On an exhale breath, drop your right knee over to the left side of your body and keep your left hand resting on your knee.
5. Turn your head to the right, relax, and hold the pose for at least 10 slow breaths.
6. On an inhale breath, slowly come back to the center, hug both knees into your chest, and repeat on the other leg.
On an inhalation, slowly bring both knees to your chest (Apanasana) and stay here for at least five breaths.
1. Corpse pose, the greatest asana of all.
2. To move into Savasana from Apanasana, gently release your knees and extend your legs along the floor, spreading your legs and arms slightly.
3. Stay still in Savasana for at least five breaths
Summary of Yoga Poses for Digestion ( Infographic )
To seal this article are these wise words:
“When you do not consciously relate to your body, your mind does not relate consciously to you.”
– Yogi Bhajan
Article Written By-
Sofija Vracar ( Internationally Qualified Yoga Teacher )
Know More About the Author
Namaste I am Sofija Vracar,
Being present with the ‘unity consciousness’, balancing my career with relationships, as well as staying physically and energetically aligned requires a positive and resilient mental outlook.
My unified approach in fitness, real food nutrition, growth mindset and soul coaching underscored by my personal experience in business management provide a holistic style mind-body transformation while staying connected to oneself.
I am a fully qualified and registered Metabolic Precision Nutritionist/Transformation Specialist, a Weight Loss Consultant with full professional membership to the Global Weight Management Federation, a Registered Exercise Professional, Level 3, with Fitness Australia, and an internationally qualified Yoga Teacher, Pilates Instructor, Life Coach, Meditation Teacher, and Akashic Records Healer.
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