Yoga is hailed for its many health benefits, such as stress reduction and joint pain relief. But did you 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. 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. Taking the time out of your day to relax, unwind, and practice yoga can keep you focused, calm, and healthy.
How yoga can ease digestion
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 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.”
Yoga poses to relieve constipation and digestive problems
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 it as close to the floor as possible. 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. 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.
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.
Yoga for constipation: Advanced poses
The following are some advanced yoga poses you can try if you are feeling up for it. However, it is important to stay safe and to only do what you are capable of.
Garland pose: Start in a squatting position with your feet as close together as possible and slightly pointing outward. With your heels on the floor, a folded towel can be placed underneath them if this isn’t possible at first. Now separate your thighs slightly wider than your body, and then lean forward between your thighs. While doing this, place your elbows on the inside of your knees with your palms together in a prayer position and gently push against your knees. Hold for 30 seconds while breathing gently through the nose.
Chair pose: Stand up straight with your feet together and arms down at your sides. Now raise your arms over your head so that your palms touch in prayer pose above your head. While stretching your arms and hands upward, slowly bend your knees as much as you can without causing pain or injury. While doing this, your arms will naturally start to lean forward. It is important to keep your thighs touching or as close as possible during this time. Now try to get your arms up alongside your ears. Now tilt your pelvis and round the spine creating a bit of a hollow abdomen. Hold for 30 seconds and breath slowly through your nose
Vajrayana: Sit on the ground with your lungs straight under your buttocks while keeping your hands on your thighs. Remain still for 15 to 20 minutes. This pose is also known as diamond pose, and one of the best yoga poses for constipation and indigestion.
Dhanurasana: Also called the bow pose and can be done by starting in a lying position on your stomach and using both hands to grab both ankles behind you. This pose strengthens the ankles, thighs, groins, chest and abdominal organs and spinal cord. Do this pose for 3 to 4 minutes.
Suryanamaskar: Known as Sun Salutation. This is a pose that involves 12 different moves which exercise the whole body.
Bhujangasana: Also going by the name Cobra pose, this can be done by starting in a lying position on your stomach and lifting your upper body with both arms. Keep your legs straight and look forward.
Halasana: Also called the plow pose, this can be achieved by starting on your back and lifting your legs above your head and over your shoulders. This pose may be difficult as it requires much flexibility as your toes will need to be placed above the head while lying on your back.
Ardha halasana: Also called half plow pose, this can be done starting on your back and raise your legs 90 degrees straight upward. Hold for a couple of minutes and breath slowly.
Uttanpadasana: Also known as leg raised posed. This can be achieved simply by staying on your back while keeping your palms flat on the ground. Now raise your legs up at 45 degrees and hold for a couple of minutes.
Downward facing dog: A common yoga pose and one that starts down on all fours. Raise yourself on all for limbs and raise your buttocks into the air. Your body should be in a triangle-like position. Hold this position for 10 breaths.
Standing forward bend: This move will require a lot of flexibility. It starts by standing straight and bending forward, dropping the palms onto the floor. You may bend your knees a bit to help make this move more comfortable. Hold this position for 10 breaths.
Half plow: By lying on your back, kick up your legs up over your head and use your hands to support your torso. Your feet should go above your head, possible touching a wall if near one. Do not rotate your head during this pose and keep the shoulders pulled back.