Bloating. Gas. Pain. Constipation. Diarrhoea. All these things can be embarrassing to talk about, but they are common digestive issues that affect many of us. This article on yoga for digestion aims to help you relieve some of these symptoms.
These are all symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and digestive discomfort. If you’re suffering from these symptoms it can be uncomfortable and potentially cause long-term health problems if not addressed.
I remember when I was ill, I felt bloated ALL THE TIME. It was not fun. While I believe diet changes helped me in the long run, yoga for digestion was also a great relief from digestive problems.
I found that practicing yoga helped keep me regular and could often reduce bloating. As I began deepening my practice, I found specific poses and sequences really helped ease digestion. Whether it was from eating too big a meal at a holiday or indulging in some foods I KNOW I don’t digest well (hi there, gluten.) these yoga for digestion poses helped ease some of the symptoms of my digestive pain.
Below are my favourite yoga poses for digestive fire. I’d love to hear if you have any to add to the list!
Yoga for Digestion:
1. Side bends
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale and raise your arms above your head. As you exhale stretch your arms over to the right side of the body. Try to keep the hips in place, and stretch only the torso. Stay for 2-3 breaths. Inhale return to a neutral position and repeat on the opposite side.
2. Cobra pose
Lie down on your stomach with your forehead on the ground and arms by your side. Begin to slide your hands forwards, and come up onto your forearms. Align the elbows under your shoulders. If this causes pinching in your lower back then slide the hands forwards slightly until the pose is comfortable. Gaze forwards, keeping your neck neutral. Hold this pose for one minute.
Begin on your hands and knees with a neutral spine. As you inhale, lift up your hips, let your belly lower, open up the chest and shoulder,s and look up. As you exhale, tuck your hips down, arch your spine, and let the head and neck fall loose. Continue 5-10 times on your own breathing rhythm.
4. Seated twist
Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. If your knees are above your hips when seated, you may find it helpful to sit on a pillow or cushion. Bring your left hand to your right knee, and place your right hand behind your hips. As you inhale, sit up tall, and as you exhale look over your right shoulder and twist the spine. Stay here for 5 breaths.
Repeat on the opposite side.
5. Legs into chest
Begin by lying on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you. Take a couple breaths, and when you are ready, draw your knees into your chest and wrap your arms around them so you are giving yourself a hug. Stay here for 2-3 minutes. Some people also find it helpful to make small circles with the legs in this pose to massage out the lower back and gut.
Repeat each pose 2-3 times per day.
Many healthcare professionals are now starting to link gut health to a variety of chronic illnesses. By using yoga as part of your strategy to heal your gut and improve digestive health, you can stop feeling bloated and start feeling better.
Want to learn more about how yoga can help ease the symptoms of living with a chronic illness? Chronically Kind Yoga starts October 17! Learn more here.