Can yoga help with digestion?
One study found that adolescents with irritable bowel syndrome who practiced yoga reported significantly fewer gastrointestinal symptoms than those who did not. Another study also found a significant reduction in symptoms for patients with this disease and suggested that a 12-week recovery yoga program could be an effective treatment or integrative option for patients.
Yoga can also be an incredibly helpful tool in supporting gut health. It can help relieve digestive symptoms like gas and bloating.
Diaphragmatic abdominal breathing can have a marked impact on reducing stress levels by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is a key part of supporting gut health. The meditative part of yoga lowers stress levels, which positively affects the gut-brain connection, lowers cortisol, and boosts overall gut health.
If we are looking for ways to alleviate digestive suffering along with optimal sleep hygiene and a balanced diet, doing some yoga poses for digestion is recommended.
yoga poses for digestion
This yoga sequence for digestion uses a series of breathing techniques, twisting asanas, and calming and restorative postures to aid digestion.
The diaphragm is the main muscle responsible for breathing. Using the diaphragm to breathe fully gently massages the intestinal organs and stomach, reducing pain and promoting digestion.
- We will sit upright in a comfortable place and place both hands on the abdomen.
- We will close our eyes and bring our attention to our breathing.
- We will inhale deeply through the nose, guiding the breath to the lower part of the abdomen and noticing that the abdomen expands.
- We will exhale and observe the abdomen gently floating towards the spine.
- We will continue for 5-10 minutes, supporting the natural movement of the diaphragm.
Cow – cat
The cat-cow pose mobilizes areas that stimulate the vagus nerve, which then activates the parasympathetic mode of our nervous system. Synchronizing breathing and movement also relieves stress and promotes digestion.
- We will start in a tabletop position (on all fours), with the wrists stacked below the shoulders and the knees below the hips, and maintain a neutral spine.
- As you inhale, gently press your chest forward and allow your stomach to fall toward the floor as your tailbone rises. We will raise our heads to open the pose.
- As you exhale, press through your hands, round your spine, bring your tailbone down, and gently bring your chin toward your chest.
Crocodile Pose stretches and relaxes the paraspinal muscles, strengthens the respiratory diaphragm, and stimulates the connective tissue of the stomach, which activates the vagus nerve and slows the heart rate. It is not recommended to do during pregnancy.
- We’ll fold a blanket, then lie on our stomach and place our abdomen on the blanket with our ribs just above the top edge and our hips below the bottom edge.
- With your feet hip-width apart, turn your toes in or out. We will cross our arms and rest our foreheads on them.
- We will bring attention to the breath, noticing that the stomach receives a gentle massage as we inhale and exhale.
- We will deepen the breath to further stimulate the vagus nerve and help relaxation.
The twists create movement around the muscles of the spine and digestive organs, which stretches the muscles of the back and gently stimulates the gastrointestinal organs. Twisting also stimulates blood circulation and releases tension from the abdominal muscles. It also creates intra-abdominal compression, which provides fresh blood flow and oxygen to the digestive organs.
- We will sit upright in a chair, with our feet hip-width apart and planted firmly on the floor.
- We will press the left hand on the right thigh and the right hand behind the right hip, on the seat of the chair.
- We will inhale and keep the column stretched.
- As we exhale, we will gently rotate the torso with the stomach forward and look behind the right shoulder.
- We will hold for 3 to 5 breaths, gently turn towards the center and repeat on the other side.
This yoga squat makes it easy to poop. It increases blood flow to the kidneys and intestines, creates space in the lower back, and stretches and relaxes the pelvic floor. This combination reduces stagnation and bloating, and stimulates digestive flow.
- We will move the feet a little wider than the hips, with the toes pointing at 45 degrees.
- We will squat down and place the palms of the hands together on the chest, then we will press the elbows against the inner part of the knees.
- We’ll make sure the heels stay on the ground (if they don’t, we’ll slide something under them or put a block or books under the butt). The knees should point towards the toes without collapsing inward.
- We will soften the stomach and allow the breath to flow freely, noticing how we press the thighs.
- To release the pose, we’ll press our hands on our thighs and support ourselves on our feet as we slowly come up into the pose.
The forward folding action massages the digestive organs such as the liver, spleen, pancreas and intestines. This improves blood circulation and improves the functional capacity of these organs.
- We will sit with our legs extended forward and the soles of our feet pressed against a block or wall.
- While inhaling, we will extend the arms above the head.
- As we exhale, we will roll forward at the hips and bend.
- We’ll reach for the ankles, feet, or block, as this will add the intensity of a shoulder stretch.
- We will hold for 5-10 breaths.
knees to chest
As the name suggests, this gentle stimulating pressure releases tension in the stomach and massages the intestinal organs. This increases the flow of oxygen and blood to the muscles and digestive system.
- We will lie on our back, bend one knee and hug it against our chest.
- We will press against the shin of the bent leg and press towards the chest.
- We will breathe evenly and hold for 5 to 10 breaths, then we will change legs.
- We will add a soft rock from side to side.
- We will release the legs, stretch them and relax.