You might need quick digestive relief after overindulging in a meal. Yoga and gentle movements can help naturally relieve stomach issues and significantly reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. It might be the answer if you are looking for ways to alleviate digestive symptoms and improve gut health.
Digestion is how your body breaks down food to provide nutrients and eliminate waste. Sometimes you can experience symptoms of discomfort while this bodily process goes on. Gas, bloating, frequency and more can often occur when the digestive system is off.
The brain and gut are linked by the gut-brain axis, which is a communication system of nerves and signs that travel in the blood. They can send psychological and physical stress reactions to one another and cause symptoms like stomach aches and nausea.
Gut health and digestion are essential to keep your body functioning to its best ability. If not taken care of, other organs cannot utilize nutrients and effectively metabolize food. For example, your pancreas is responsible for producing digestive fluids and breaking down your macronutrients. You will want to ensure your gut is functioning correctly so you can get nutrients from the food you eat.
How Yoga Can Help
People believe yoga aids digestion by reducing stress and improving circulation. It’s known for its calming practices that allow you to flow through certain positions and poses. This promotes movement and mobility and can affect the gastrointestinal tract.
Those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may particularly benefit from doing yoga for relief. IBS can be a result of an overactive sympathetic nervous system, which is what deals with stress. One study found that adolescents with IBS who did yoga reported fewer symptoms than those who didn’t practice.
There were also findings that walking could do similar things for IBS as yoga. Movement and reducing stress are the main factors that can help relieve the symptoms. Since yoga is designed to promote movement and connect with your body to encourage relaxation, it could be the ultimate way to aid digestion and have a healthy gut.
Yoga Poses to Try
You can try some yoga poses at home to see how they benefit your digestion. Yoga can help digestive issues by promoting specific movements that help gut mobility and circulation.
1. Cat-Cow Pose
This pose works to stretch your back and stomach muscles. The movement can help with circulation and gently massage your origins.
- Start on your hands and knees with a neutral spine in a tabletop position.
- Move into Cat Pose by tucking your tailbone, pulling your belly button to your spine and rolling your shoulders forward to create an arched back. Keep your head lowered.
- Transition to Cow Pose by tilting your pelvis so the tailbone goes up and the belly button is pushed to the floor while engaging your core.
- Repeat transitioning through while keeping a steady breathing pattern.
2. Knee-to-Chest Pose
Use knee to chest to gently release tension from your stomach and massage your organs. This increases blood flow and oxygen to your digestive system and muscles. It can particularly help with gas relief.
- Lay on your back and bend one knee up toward your chest.
- Grab your shin and hold your bent leg to your chest.
- Switch legs after a couple of breaths.
3. Chair Twist Stretch
A twisting motion creates movement in your spinal muscles and digestive organs. This stimulates blood circulation and can release muscle tension, promoting fresh blood flow and oxygen.
- Sit in a chair with your feet hip-width apart.
- Reach around with your left hand to grab the other side of the chair while keeping your feet straight.
- Look behind your shoulder while taking deep breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
Use Yoga to Soothe Your Stomach
Yoga may be the answer to your digestive problems. Making sure your gut health is in good shape can dramatically improve any issues you may have with digestion. The calming properties of yoga can improve your stress levels and get your blood flowing to improve digestion.
Photo by Dane Wetton.
Mia Barnes is a health and wellness freelance writer with a passion for yoga, mindfulness and self-care. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine. Follow Mia and Body+Mind on Twitter and Linkedin!