Yoga Poses For Digestion: How To Do and Benefits

If you suffer from digestive issues, you’ll know how uncomfortable they can be. Naturally, you’ll want to find an effective treatment for any side effects.

While medication is one option, some may prefer to find natural ways of improving their digestive health. Yoga is one of these methods, as many people say that certain poses can improve digestion.

If you’re wondering if you should try it for yourself, keep reading. We’ve covered how yoga may be good for digestion in this article. We’ve also ended with 5 yoga poses for you to try at home.

The Practice Of Yoga

For thousands of years, people have practiced yoga as a way of linking the mind and body together. This may be spiritual for some, but others simply use yoga for its multiple health benefits.

It connects the mind and the body through moving in gentle sequences, different breathing styles, and meditating. These methods can help to engage your rest-and-digest system, also known as the parasympathetic nervous system.

How Does Yoga Help Digestion?

Digestion refers to the way food breaks down in our system to give our body the nutrients it needs, while also getting rid of any waste products.

Nevertheless, the term is also used when people suffer from digestion issues, like bloating, gas, and irregular stool.

Nerves and biochemical signals within the blood make up a structure called the gut-brain axis.

This is a communication apparatus that links the brain and the digestive system together. This axis allows your gut to react to any mental or physical stress, causing symptoms like nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.

Overall Gut Health

Some think that yoga is good for digestion as it encourages the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to physically move. Yoga also increases circulation and reduces stress, which can all have positive effects on digestive health.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

People with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) may find yoga useful. Researchers believe that IBS occurs as a response to stress, when the sympathetic nervous system becomes overactive.

IBS can look different for everyone, but the main symptoms include bloating, diarrhea, gas, and constipation.

Several studies have shown yoga to have promising effects on IBS sufferers. A 2016 study looked at participants who undertook 16 yoga sessions every two weeks. They found that IBS symptoms improved after the course of the study.

The research was promising, but the study did find that participants had the same results after walking. This could mean that yoga in particular doesn’t help IBS, but adding movement and lowering stress levels does. In the end, yoga is an effective way of providing these themes to your lifestyle.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) refers to two conditions that occur when the gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed. These are called ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Yoga can help to manage IBD symptoms, but it shouldn’t be used in place of medications or treatment.

There isn’t much research on what specific yoga poses may help GI issues, as most assertions are made after anecdotal evidence. More research is needed to find out if yoga can help IBD.

However, yoga may help some external symptoms of IBD. For example, joint pain is one side effect that regular exercise can help. Yoga in particular helps with flexibility and strength, which can help relieve joint pain.

Yoga Positions To Help Digestion

Yoga Positions To Help Digestion

Here are some yoga positions that can help aid overall digestive health. 

1.Parsva Sukhasana (Seated Side Bend) 

This pose gently stretches the belly muscles, side abdominals, back, and shoulders. Seated Side Bend is a light stretch that’s suitable for all levels. As it stretches muscles on your core, it might help relieve gas or bloating caused by digestion issues. 

How it’s performed:

  1. Sit cross-legged on the ground. Place your hands on either side of you and let them touch the floor. 
  1. Lift your left arm upwards overhead, then lean gently to the right. 
  1. Make sure your right forearm faces outward and remains on the ground. 
  1. Keep breathing slowly and deeply. Breathe in and out 5 times. After your last breath, repeat on the other side. 

2. Apanasana (Knees To Chest)  

This is a simple pose that can ease lower back pain. Some say that this relaxing movement kneads the large intestine. This can encourage bowel movements in those suffering from constipation

How it’s performed: 

  1. Lie flat on your back with your face and torso facing upwards. Straighten your legs and keep them together. 
  1. Begin to bend your knees at a slow pace. As you do, start drawing them towards your chest. Use your arms to bring them closer to your upper body. 
  1. Remain in this position, holding it for 5 even breaths. 

3. Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Twist) 

Though this is a straightforward pose, some think that it supports gut peristalsis and increases circulation, promoting digestive health in the process. 

How it’s performed:

  1. Lie down flat on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Lift your arms to your side and extend them outward. Move your hips slightly to the right, by no more than an inch. 
  1. Keep your feet and knees close together, then raise your feet off the floor.
  1. Turn your hips so that your bent legs move toward the left. Your upper back should remain pressed lightly to the floor. Work with gravity to let your legs fall toward the ground. 
  1. Remain in this position, holding it for 5 even breaths. 
  1. After your last breath, rotate your hips back to the middle. Use your arms to draw your knees in towards your chest. Leave the position by gently straightening your legs. 

4. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) 

As the name suggests, Bhujangasana is reminiscent of a cobra’s standing position. People say this pose is good for digestion as it elongates the belly muscles and helps with posture. 

How it’s performed:

  1. Lie on your front, keeping your feet hip-distance apart. Place the palms of your hands flat on the ground, keeping them by your lower ribs. Your elbows should be bent.
  1. Straighten your feet so that the tops of your feet are in contact with the floor. 
  1. With your hands still by your sides, press your palms into the floor. As you do so, raise your head and chest slowly. Start extending your arms so that they are straight, but your elbows should remain bent.
  1. Rotate your shoulders down and back. Don’t lift your chin, but think about raising your sternum instead. 
  1. Move your upper body upwards and forwards. Your pelvis should remain on the ground as your chest, shoulders, and upper back move. 
  1. Look slightly upwards, but don’t lift your chin or elongate your neck. Remain in this stretch, holding the pose for 5 deep breaths. 

5. Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) 

This pose resembles an archer’s bow (read here to discover the secrets of the Standing Bow pose). Other than stretching and relieving tension in the back, people say it helps digestion, stool issues, and can even aid menstrual cramps.

How it’s performed: 

  1. Lie on your front with your hands by your sides. Keep your legs straight and rotate your palms so that they face upwards. 
  1. Move your feet towards your buttocks so that your knees bend backward. Use your arms to reach behind you, then grab hold of your ankles with your hands. Don’t let your knees buckle, they should stay within hip distance of each other. 
  1. Draw your feet inwards towards your body, raising your thighs off of the ground. As you do this, raise your head and chest upwards. Your pelvis should remain on the floor. 
  1. Hold this stretch for 5 breaths. This may be difficult for some. If it is too hard to breathe, don’t stretch as far upwards, only raise your head and thighs as far as you can. 
Laura Simmons
Latest posts by Laura Simmons (see all)