Yoga is hailed for its many health benefits, such as stress reduction and joint pain relief, but we bet you didn’t know that there are certain yoga poses that can help with your digestive problems, including constipation.
Constipation can happen from time to time, or it can be chronic. Constipation is defined as the inability to pass a bowel movement, or when passing a bowel movement is infrequent, painful, and straining. There are numerous causes for constipation, such as not getting enough fiber, changing your daily routine, ignoring the urge to pass stool, not getting enough exercise, not drinking enough fluids, having a fever, being underweight or overweight, having anxiety or depression, being pregnant, suffering IBS or IBD, taking certain medications, being diabetic, having multiple sclerosis, and living with psychiatric problems, to name a few.
As you can see, constipation can be linked to a busy and an unhealthy lifestyle, so taking the time out of your day to relax, unwind, and practice yoga can keep you focused, calm, and healthy.
Yoga can ease digestion in two ways. First, it helps reduce stress, as it can wreak havoc on your digestive system. There is a higher risk of constipation during times of stress.
Secondly, yoga’s twisted and inverted poses offer a gentle massage for your digestive system, increasing the blood flow and oxygen delivery.
Rachael Weiss from The Playful Yogi explained, “People who are very bloated, have distended bellies, or just have a little extra body fat around the middle may find twists extremely challenging or uncomfortable. My rule of thumb is, if it is painful, don’t do it. A little discomfort is okay, as long as it is not painful. If you struggle with twists, consider sticking to supine twisting — on your back — or seated twists.”
Supine twisting: Lay on your back with knees to chest. Extend one leg straight out and keep the other bent to your chest. Twist the bent knee over the straight leg and try to get the bent knee as close to the floor as possible for the best twist. Hold this position, then switch with the opposite leg.
Matsyasana twist: Sitting on the floor upright, keep one leg straight out in front and have the other knee bent, foot on the floor. Cross the bent leg over the straight leg. For example, if your left leg is stretched out, your right foot will be on the outside of your left knee. Now bend the straight leg so the heel of your foot comes towards your buttocks. Gently twist your torso in, so that you are looking to the side of your outer thigh. Hold this position and switch legs. (Refer to the image for a visual example).
Crescent twist: Stand in a forward lunge – forward knee is bent, back leg is straight. Twist your torso and fold forward so your elbow is on the outside of your forward knee. Hold this position, release, and switch legs and twist.
Wind-relieving pose: Lay on your back, hug your knees to your chest and hold.
Child’s pose: Sit on your knees upright, fold forward with arms stretched out in front of you. Try to bring your head as close to the matt as possible.
These are just some basic yoga poses you can complete on your own. If you’re unsure about doing yoga on your own, you may want to try it in a class setting first to receive guidance from the instructor. Once you become familiar with the poses, you can try these moves in the comfort of your home and experience the digestive benefits that yoga has to offer.