It’s estimated that about 43% of the U.S. population suffers from intermittent digestive disorders, which is almost half of the population. While the food we eat and the consistency in which we exercise can all help alleviate digestive problems, so can yoga. Practicing the following yoga poses can aid your digestive system and provide some relief from symptoms like bloating and constipation.
5 Yoga Poses That Aid in Digestion
While yoga is often thought of as a meditative exercise or one that promotes flexibility and strength, yoga can also promote better functioning of our body’s systems, including a healthier digestive system.
If you’re feeling bloated, blocked up and constipated, or feeling stomach cramps, then give these 5 poses a try to give your digestive system a boost:
1. Wind-Relieving Pose
This pose is very helpful if you feel like you have trapped gas in your stomach. The stretch will put gentle tension on the lower stomach muscles and stimulate them to release some of the built-up gas.
- To carry out this pose, simply begin by lying flat on your back with your legs extended straight out and your arms by your side.
- Bring one knee in towards your chest and clasp your hands around your knee. Hold this pose for a minute.
- Take your knee back out and repeat the pose with the other leg.
2. Reclined Spinal Twist
A reclined spinal twist is a natural transition from the wind relieving pose and will soothe your abdomen and get new blood flow going to your digestive organs.
- Begin by lying flat on your back. Bring your knees into towards your chest and clasp your hands around them, effectively hugging your knees.
- Hold the pose for 10 seconds, then gently drop your knees off to one side of your body, keeping your knees stacked on top of each other.
- Turn your head and neck in the opposite direction of your knees, giving your abdomen a slight twist and stretch. Hold for a minute.
- Repeat this pose, dropping your knees to the other side.
3. Half Spinal Twist (Half Lord of the Fishes)
This pose is very helpful in that when you twist your body, you temporarily stop blood flow to the digestive organs. When you release, new blood begins flowing to these organs, refreshing the digestive system and give it the little jolt it needs to get things moving.
- To perform a half spinal twist, begin by sitting upright on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you.
- Draw both legs in so that your knees are bent and the soles of your feet are flat on the floor.
- Lay your right leg down onto the floor, on its side. Scoot your right foot underneath the upright left leg.
- Move your right elbow to the outside of your left knee, placing your left hand on the floor behind you, effectively creating a twist in your posture.
- Hold the pose for a minute before releasing and repeating the twist with the other leg and arm.
4. Cat and Cow Pose
Like the other poses shared here, the cat and cow pose is all about increasing blood flow. You will be lengthening and compressing the intestines with this pose, which helps bring new blood flow to the epithelial cells that support healthy gut function.
- To practice this pose, get on all fours with your hands, knees, and feet all touching the mat.
- Curl your head and neck upward to face the ceiling, arching your back so that your belly extends out. Inhale slowly as you hold this pose.
- Exhale as you curl your head and neck in towards your chest, tucking your tummy in and arching your back up to create a “rainbow” curve with your spine.
- Repeat this pose for a handful of slow breaths.
5. Child’s Pose
Perhaps one of the most relaxing poses in yoga, child’s pose will help you not only release some of the stress and tension in your body that could be keeping you blocked up, but it will also compress the abdomen muscles and massage your internal organs, assisting with digestion.
- Start out by sitting down on your knees, with your buttocks resting on top of the soles of your feet.
- Gently bend your upper half of your body forward so that your forehead is touching the mat.
- Stretch your arms out in front of you on the mat, hold this pose for a minute, breathing slowly and deeply.
Avoid practicing these poses if you have any recent or chronic injuries. These poses should be approached with caution. Never perform any poses that cause any pain. Instead work in your own range of comfort and flexibility. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor first.