The holiday meals didn’t end with Thanksgiving. There are still a lot of opportunities to eat and overeat in what’s left of the year. To keep your digestive system healthy, we’ve got a list of yoga poses that can aid your digestion!
The practice of yoga has been investigated in people who suffer from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and other gastrointestinal problems. When medication alone was insufficient, pairing medicinal treatment with daily yoga has been effective for the reduction of stubborn symptoms.1 Even in children with gastrointestinal problems, yoga has aided the symptoms and yielded statistically significant results.2
With research to support its effectiveness, we’d like to present these 6 yoga poses that are known for their stimulation of the digestive system.
This practice involves controlling your breathing and contracting and expanding your stomach muscles. It is important not to do this one immediately after eating. The ideal time would be first thing in the morning, after you have used the restroom, or at least 4 hours after a meal.3
- Sit comfortably in the easy sitting pose and place your hands gently on your knees. (Note: you may also do this from the lotus pose.)
- Breathe normally, and after your exhale, hold your breath.
- For as long as is comfortable for you, pull your stomach muscles in and out rhythmically.
- Inhale and relax, and then repeat steps 2 and 3. Expand and contract your stomach muscles at least 10 times. You may do this for up to 15 minutes, but you may want to start with just a few minutes until you are more accustomed to this exercise.
Twists are good for your digestion because they can compress and decompress the colon. This helps to “push” things in the right direction and relieve digestive discomfort.4 An article on Integrative Nutrition recommends twisting first to the right, and then to the left. The Seated Spinal Twist is one example of a twisting yoga pose.
- Sit with your legs extended in front of you
- Bend your right knee and bring your heel close to your body
- Extend your right arm behind you and place your palm on the floor
- Place your left elbow on your raised knee to help you twist
- Remain in this position for 5 or more breaths
- Repeat on the other side
The Revolved Triangle Pose is another twisting movement that activates the colon. Because it effectively does this, Parivrtta Trikonasana is not recommended for individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).5
- Standing straight with your legs together, take a big step back with one leg.
- Lower your left hand to the ground and level your hips. Keep your legs stable and strong as you lift your right arm with the palm facing away from your body.
- Reverse your legs and repeat (Note: If your left leg is back, your left hand is on the ground and vice versa)
The Child’s Pose helps you stretch and relax. Sometimes it’s the tension we carry in our bodies that causes stress on our digestive system. Even if you’re careful with your holiday food habits, the stress of this busy season can still impact your digestion. This pose helps tackle stress-related digestive issues.
- Kneel down and sit back on your heels with your legs set apart.
- Lean forward and stretch your arms out in front of you.
- Place your forehead on the floor and rest in this position
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
The Bridge Pose helps with blood flow which, in turn, works for the benefit of your digestion. In the basic bridge pose, you will simply rest your hands on the ground. You can do a variation by holding your ankles, but only if you are comfortable doing so.
- Lie flat on your back and place your feet flat on the floor as close to your rear as possible. Take a breath in.
- Release your breath and press your inner feet and arms into the floor while pulling your hips up and stretching your knees forward.
- Breathe 10 deep breaths before you slowly roll your spine down.
The Wind Release Pose, you guessed it, can help you release pent-up gas. When your body is protesting your heavy holiday meals, this pose aligns your system in a way that allows that gas to release more naturally.
- Begin by lying on the floor with your back flat and your legs extended
- Fold your knees and bring them as close as you can to your stomach
- As you exhale, bring your knees even closer to your chest with the help of your hands
- Lift your head off the ground and try to touch your nose to your knees
- Remain in this posture for 10-30 seconds and hold your breath
- Repeat 3 to 5 times
- Kaswala, Dharmesh, et al. “Can Yoga Be Used to Treat Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?” International Journal of Yoga, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, July 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734640/.
- Narasingharao, Kumar, et al. “Efficacy of Structured Yoga Intervention for Sleep, Gastrointestinal and Behaviour Problems of ASD Children: An Exploratory Study.” Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, JCDR Research and Publications (P) Limited, Mar. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5427410/.
- “Agnisar Kriya.” 101yogasan, 2018, 101yogasan.com/diarrhea/agnisar-kriya.htm.
- DiCenso, Becca. “Twisting for Digestion.” Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Integrative Nutrition, 31 May 2019, www.integrativenutrition.com/blog/2019/05/twisting-for-digestion.
- Coviello, Casey. “8 Poses for Better Digestion.” Yoga Journal, 25 July 2014, www.yogajournal.com/practice/8-poses-better-digestion#gid=ci0207568e70162620&pid=woman-in-revolved-triangle-parivrtta-trikonasana-yoga-pose-for-digestion-MTQ2MTgwNjczNTU0ODE4NTky.