In general, emotional issues (like stress), food sensitivities, and poor diet choices can cause problems with digestion. Some of the resulting digestive symptoms you could experience include bloating, constipation, and even diarrhea.
If you have some of these symptoms, we're sure you have wondered, what things you could do (naturally) to support a more consistent digestive tract.
Yoga may just be one of those daily interventions that can help with digestive issues. In this post we'll specifically explore yoga for digestion!
Yoga may just be a way in which to "re-calibrate" your gut and get yourself feeling calm and relaxed, so your gut can go back to normal.
Yoga is known to support many issues related to your health. This can includes symptoms of stress or anxiety, helping to improve flexibility (with certain positions and slow breathing, which help warm up the muscles), reducing risk for injuries, and even weight loss.
Yoga for digestion, might not seem like the obvious fix to your stomach issues at first with all the over-the-counter medications, however in this article, we'll do our best to explain how this ancient practice can potentially help improve your digestive health, based on research!
How Yoga Helps With Digestion:
1. Yoga Reduces Stress and Promotes
Your digestion could be impacted by your emotional and mental state. Think of times when you got nervous or anxious and it felt like your stomach became "upset". Issues such as stress and anxiety, both, are often the cause of stomach issues.
If your digestive issues are at all related to stress and emotional turmoil, yoga may just help. Yoga can aid you in calming your mind and warding off stress, to help with digestion.
This concept that the gut influences brain and behavior and vice versa has been studied. This idea indicates that not just physical stress, but psychological stress can influence gut activity, such as cramping, aches, and nausea to name a few.
So it's only logical to think that activities that help to lower stress and support how you deal and cope with stress can therefore have some influence on gut performance. Yoga has been studied extensively to help support things such as mental health.
2. Yoga Encourages You To Take Better Care of Your Body
Digestion issues can be set off by a number of factors. Food choice is one of the more obvious culprits.
This is not the case with every individual, but usually, yoga can help to making better food choices. Yoga has been linked to healthier eating behaviors and higher levels of physical activity in practitioners, as opposed to non-practitioners.
In personal experience yoga (as well as exercise in general), just has a way of making you feel energetic and healthy, most likely do to the "feel good" hormones released during sessions.
Oftentimes, when we feel this good, and work that hard, we become more cognizant of the foods we put into our bodies that can lead to digestive issues.
Yoga may just create a cascade effect on your health, as it helps to heal your mind, maybe your body follows suit. In turn, you'll want to start actively helping yourself by eating right and living a more conscious life.
3. Yoga Presses On The Digestive Tract To Relieve Gas And Tension
The effect that yoga has on digestion may stem from the pressure of certain postures. Deep breathing techniques, coupled with abdominal focused stretches helps to massage this area and relax smooth muscle.
Twisting poses and forward bends are especially effective in relieving individual digestive issues, especially when coupled with (like mentioned above) breathing, as well as focusing on pulling your belly in toward your spine at the end of exhalation.
Some poses also enhance the compression and lengthening of the intestines, potentially helping better blood circulation to the gut.
Yoga For Digestion
You might not know which poses are best for your digestive health. In this final part of the post, we'll introduce you to some yoga poses, specifically that may support digestive health, this way you can improve your gut health.
Grab your yoga mat and let's go!
A Short Yoga Routine for Bloating/Digestive Health
1. Seated Forward Fold
A seated forward fold is a simple beginner pose done in a sitting position. It stretches muscles and focuses on the upper and lower back, as well as the hamstrings and hips.
To perform this pose, it's much like it sounds. From a seated position on your mat, stretch your legs straight in from of you, with your legs together. Begin by taking a deep breath inward, and then as you exhale reach your arms down toward your feet, grasping the heels if possible.
This position puts pressure on the digestive organs, pelvic region and thorax. It is said to promote and improve blocked gas, alignment of the vertebral column as well as help improve respirations.
2. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is similar to a seated fold, in that you fold your body over your legs to create sufficient stomach pressure, touted to stimulate your bowels. However, instead of staying seated on your bum, you are kneeling.
To start a child's pose you want to be kneeling. Your legs and feet should be tucked under your butt, securely. Then you should lean forward and extend your hands in front of you. The child's pose in one of the more popular yoga poses. It is oftentimes part of a restorative yoga session. It benefits the lower back (stretches' the spine), upper back, hips, knees, and neck.
This pose is said to massage internal organs, calm the mind and body, and relax the shoulders and neck regions.
3. Triangle Pose
An intermediate standing yoga pose that offers a great side-bend and stretch, the triangle pose differs from the two previous poses, but may still offer an effective solution to your gut issues.
This standing pose can benefit your arms, shoulders, back, biceps, core, hamstrings, chest and quadriceps.
To start the triangle pose, you need to spread your legs wide (3 feet apart). Inhale, placing your arms out and above your head, then reach down and twist to one side. Turn your right foot outward, keeping your left foot/toes pointing straight ahead. Switch to the other side, once you've held the triangle pose for several breaths.
This pose places pressor or compresses the side of the abdominal muscles closest to the floor, the other side of the abdomen/hip area is stretched. It is said to help with stimulating your bowels.
4. Reclined Twist
A reclined twist is touted as another beneficial posture for gut health and digestion, said to help strengthen not only abdominal muscles, but improve the function of various organs and the digestive tract. Other benefits include flexibility of the spine, hips and shoulders.
To preform this maneuver you'll need to be supine, with the back straight, then bend both your legs upward. Slowly lower both your legs to one side of your body. They should be stacked, and your arms should be shaped like the letter T. You should attempt for both shoulder blades to make contact with the mat.
Pay attention to your breath as you sink into the reclined twist, and hold the pose for a least a minute.
5. Seated Twist
The seated spinal twist is the final pose we'll talk about in our post, and it involves another twist like maneuver. An intermediate type yoga pose, that can benefit and stretch muscles in your back, biceps, core, hips and neck.
Twists, in general, are said to hit many of the body's organs, and provide even-pressure throughout the torso region. The pressing of the lower abdomen, simulates the internal organs for better digestive functioning. This pose also helps to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles with longer holds.
A seated twist is done, just how it sounds, however does have multiple variations. Begin by sitting and having your legs out on your mat, straightened. Then, you'll want to choose one leg to cross over your other. Cross this leg so that your knee is bent and your foot is near the kneecap of your straightened leg.
After this, you'll put your arm around the bent knee and twist your body. You'll want to twist on both sides.
Yoga can have many positive health benefits. However many of the benefits are about determination, consistency and believing you can change your life through exercise, stretching and creating the right mindset.
If able, start with these basic asanas, and progress to more advanced postures and poses.
Please share your experiences with yoga and any other additional exercises that you feel can provide digestive support in the comments section of this blog.