Yoga may help relieve digestive issues and aid digestive health by reducing stress, increasing circulation, and promoting physical movement of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Keep reading to find out how!
Benefits of Yoga for Digestion
Few people associate yoga with better digestion and reduced bloating. However, this physical activity may be the missing piece in your daily routine to help you avoid digestion issues and uncomfortable nights after dinner. But how can yoga help improve digestion?
Yoga smoothly activates your body, and this is mainly responsible for increasing blood circulation and peristalsis – the movement of food through the intestines - promoting gut motility. Some yoga poses are particularly digestion-friendly as the body movements they promote, help massage the internal organs and keep them functioning properly.
Finally, yoga’s mindfulness also helps us control our impulses to eat only when we are hungry and to stop before we are full. The breathing movements promoted by some yoga poses to activate the diaphragm and deep, full breaths help keep our metabolism revved and our body oxygenated.
See below what yoga poses are good for digestion and how you can implement them in your daily life to improve your gut and overall health.
The best yoga poses that help improve digestion
Big Toe Pose
Step 1: Start standing, with your feet hip distance apart. If you are unsure of the distance, measure the space to be two feet apart.
Step 2: Inhale, and bend forward to hold your big toes with your first two fingers and thumb of each hand.
Step 3: Keep your spin aligned and look forward, lifting your head up.
Step 4: Exhale and release your head towards your knees as best as you can. Allow for a gentle small curve in the spine.
Step 5: Hold the fold and breath at least 5 full breaths.
Step 6: Inhale and raise the head to look forward, straighten your spine.
Step 7: Exhale, release the hold of the toes and slowly come up to standing.
Repeat as often as needed.
Perhaps the simplest yoga exercise to help your digestive system starts with you lying on your back, bringing your legs to your chest. Then extend your left leg out.
Inhale, and draw your bent right leg to the left across your body, while keeping your shoulders flat on the floor.
Look toward the right.
Hold, and then switch sides.
Child’s pose (Bālāsana)
Start by sitting on your heels, keeping the knees together and the feet together.
Slowly, lengthen the spine upward.
Take a deep inhalation, and as you exhale fold forward from your hips. Stretch your arms out in front, and place them down on the floor, shoulder-distance apart.
Rest your forehead on the mat. If the forehead doesn’t reach the mat, you can place a block, pillow or folded blanket below. For this exercise to be done correctly, it is crucial that the entire body rests down.
Breathe deeply and feel the movement of the abdomen against your thighs. As you inhale slowly, feel the compression that it creates, and with every exhalation observe the slight gap.
After you remain in the pose for a few breaths, you may notice that the body loosens up and can go down deeper. Stay for 10 to 20 breaths and then on an inhalation come up again.
These are just the top-3 of many yoga poses that can help you overcome digestive problems and other issues such as bloating during the warmer months that are coming ahead. Don’t forget to complement these practices with a lot of water - at least 1,5 litres every day, regular exercise, a healthy diet and good nights of sleep.
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