How You Can Use Yoga for Digestion
Breathe in, breathe out. It’s time to find your ~zen~. Yoga zen, of course. Yoga is thought to date back all the way to 3000 BCE and has since transformed into a staple piece in Western and Eastern culture and medicine. Yoga is touted for its health benefits but the benefit it has on our digestive system is hardly ever mentioned. And let me tell you, yoga for digestion may be an answer we have all been searching for.
So, what are the benefits I so vaguely mentioned? Great question. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are 7 main benefits in addition to aiding digestion.
1. Improvements in Balance, Strength, and Flexibility
Yoga activates almost every muscle in your body, most notably your core. Holding poses increases strength and flexibility. Slow movements and deep breathing increases circulation in blood flow and warms up your muscles.
2. Better Heart Health
Yoga is a relaxing practice, contributing to a reduction in stress levels and body-wide inflammation. These reductions greatly benefit heart health. Moreover, heart disease risks such as high blood pressure and weight can be managed through practicing yoga.
3. Better Sleep
Yup, if you’re looking for better sleep too, yoga can definitely help you out. Aside from yoga during the day, a nighttime yoga routine can relax your body and mind, preparing your body for sleep.
4. Brighter, More Energetic Moods
Yoga sparks an increase in mental and physical energy and boosts alertness. It’s also likely you will feel more positive after exiting your practice.
5. Creation of a Community
Whether you’re practicing in a studio or online, you are a part of a larger yogi community that can reduce feelings of loneliness.
6. Relieves Lower Back Pain
Yoga is synonymous with stretching for lower back pain. Yoga can ease the pain and increase mobility in the lower back. In fact, The American College of Physicians recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic lower back pain
7. Reduces Stress
If you have practiced yoga, you can probably attest that this is indeed true. As a matter of fact, there is scientific evidence linking yoga to better stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss, and better sleep. And that’s on downward dog.
Yoga for Digestion
Now, let’s jump into the topic we’ve all been waiting for… yoga for digestion. There have been a handful of studies studying the benefits of yoga on the digestive system.
Unsurprisingly, these studies revealed how effective yoga is for improving digestion and acting as a natural remedy for managing symptoms associated with chronic digestive GI disorders like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disorder). Here are some of the results from these studies:
- Adults with IBS experience significantly fewer symptoms after a six-month yoga program (2015, University of California)
- Researchers concluded that yoga provides a comparable improvement in stress, anxiety, and health status which indirectly improved digestion (2007, Australian Traditional-Medicine Society)
- Practicing yoga in conjunction with medications can be helpful in controlling or alleviating symptoms related to digestive diseases (2013, International Journal of Yoga)
As these studies have already indicated, yoga for digestion helps directly and indirectly.
Different yoga poses directly benefit the digestive system by
- Stretching the body and abdomen, thus massaging the body’s abdominal muscles which helps food move along the digestive tract.
- Stimulating the digestive system which can help increase appetite and metabolism.
- Applying gentle pressure on abdomen organs, promoting more efficient bowel movements, and relieving constipation
- Increasing blood flow to digestive organs
- Detoxing accumulated toxins from the body built from diet, lifestyle, and stress
Moreover, different yoga poses indirectly benefit the digestive system by
- Reducing stress, a common trigger for digestive issues
- Relaxing muscles and organs, allowing our digestive system to run its course with no inhibitions
Yoga for Digestion: Poses
A plethora of poses exists to kick start and reset your digestive tract. These poses can be done any time of day, but to maximize results, it is recommended to practice in the morning or 2-3 hours after meals. It is also recommended to hold each pose for 30 seconds to a minute.
Here’s a list of 10 poses and video tutorials for each pose.
- Cat-cow stretch
- Camel pose
- Child’s pose
- Seated forward fold
- Boat pose
- Wind-relieving pose
- Sitting half spinal twist
- Triangle pose
- Supine Twist
- Corpse pose
You can practice these poses individually or all together. YouTube also has great yoga instructors who post yoga for digestion flow practices that you can follow along with as well. Here are a few!
- Sarah Beth Yoga - Yoga for Bloating, Digestion, Ulcerative Colitis, IBD & IBS
- Yoga With Adriene - Yoga For Digestion | Yoga for When You Overeat!
- Boho Beautiful Yoga - Detox Yoga For Weight Loss & Digestion | Yogic Immune System Boost
Yoga for digestion is a great tool to keep in your tool belt to help combat unwanted digestive symptoms and detox your system. I know I will definitely be adding a few of these poses to my morning routine to kick start my day and keep my gut happy.
Written by Lauren Conklin