From time to time, we all pass gas. Flatulence is a completely normal part of the digestive process. When we digest food, it is reduced to its molecular form—this also results in the release of hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide gas that needs to be expelled from the body somehow. Luckily for us, our digestive tract is situated in a way that gas can be released, voluntarily or not. This helps relieve bloating, discomfort, and pain associated with gas build up.
However, sometimes we need a bit of help to get the gasses moving, as holding it in can be particularly uncomfortable. The use of stretching exercises like yoga can help promote intestinal mobility, helping ease flatulence release. Positions to relieve gas help keep you regular and avoid that bloated feeling.
Causes of stomach gas
Gas can form in the body in two ways: either by swallowing air while we eat or from the breakdown and fermentation of food in the colon by gut bacteria.
“Substances that don’t get absorbed in the intestines go into the colon, where they are acted upon by bacteria, releasing gas,” says Douglas A. Drossman, a gastroenterologist and president at the center for education and practice of biopsychosocial care.
When the gut bacteria get a hold of partially digested food, such as plant fiber, sugar, and gluten, it begins the process of gas formation. Certain food tends to produce more gas than others, such as beans, cabbage, onions, and cauliflower. Fatty foods—due to their slower digestion—allow the bacteria more time to produce gas, and high fiber food also behaves similarly. Eating too quickly, carbonated beverages, and even smoking can all contribute to gas formation.
Symptoms of stomach gas
Accumulation of excessive gas in the digestive system may present as:
- Increased frequency of passing gas
- Feeling bloated
- Jabbing pain felt in the chest
- Tightness felt in the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
It is not uncommon for flatulence to be confused with more serious abdominal pain conditions like gallstones and appendicitis. These ailments, however, tend to be more painful than the typical bloated feeling of holding in gas. Positions to release gas from the stomach may be a good first step when deciding whether it’s time to seek professional help.
Yoga positions to relieve gas
Performing yoga can be a great way to stretch the stomach and help the body release unwanted gas. Excessive gas can be uncomfortable and embarrassing in the wrong setting. By doing some of the following yoga poses, you will compress and massage the digestive tract, helping release any trapped gas and reduce bloating. Positions to relieve gas and bloating include:
Wind-removing pose – Designed specifically for releasing trapped gas from the digestive system
- Begin by lying on your back with your legs extended
- Bend your right knee and wrap your hands around your shin, just below the knee cap
- Pull the knee into your chest toward your right shoulder, keeping your elbows close to your sides and your shoulder blade on the floor
- Take several deep belly breaths
- Release and switch sides, repeating the same steps
- Lastly, pull both knees into your chest and wrap your arms around your shins and take several deep belly breaths
Supine twist – Pose combining torso rotations and deep belly breathing
- Lie down on your back with your legs extended and arms out in a “T” shape
- Bend your right knee and bring it up toward the chest
- While keeping both shoulder blades on the ground, let your knee drop over toward your left side
- Turn your head to the right
- Take several deep belly breaths
- Switch and repeat on opposite side
Cat-cow pose – A pose that is great for constipation relief
- While on the ground, get on your hands and knees
- Make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists and your hips over your knees
- On an inhale, drop your belly down toward the ground and raise your hips and shoulders, staying broad across the chest
- On exhalation, reverse the position, rounding the spine like a cat and dropping your tailbone and head
- Continue to alternate back and forth for about six to ten repetitions, taking deeps belly breaths.
- Start by lying on your back
- Hug both knees into your chest and flatten your entire back into the floor
- Release your shins, so that the soles of your feet are facing the ceiling
- Your feet should be positioned directly over your knees
- Grab the outsides of your feet and relax your shoulder blades into the ground
- Take several deep belly breaths
Sleeping positions to release gas from stomach
Yoga poses aren’t the only method to ease tension felt in the gut due to gas build up. There are particular sleep hygiene habits and sleep positions one can employ to aid in digestion and gas release.
- Avoid eating two hours before going to bed
- Avoid spicy or fatty foods
Sleep positions: Best sleeping position for gas and proper digestion
- Head elevations: Using pillows to lift your head about six to nine inches helps relieve heartburn and promotes digestion by preventing stomach acid from flowing back up to the esophagus.
- Left side-lying position: Helps prevent heartburn at night due to stomach acid reflux, according to research by the Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia
- Face down: lying face down helps aid in easy digestion during the nights, according to the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service. One of the more popular sleeping positions to relieve gas.
If you are not seeing any relief from the various sleep habits or sleep positions noted, it may be a wise decision to speak to your doctor about alternative methods.
Other tips to release gas from stomach
There are several other things that may help naturally release built-up gas from your system, and they all involve moving your body. Taking a walk is a form of mild exercise that can help massage the gut, helping gas pass more quickly. Laying on your side and drawing your knees up to your chest puts a gentle pressure on your intestines and helps release trapped gas. Lastly, simply squatting down until your bottom is almost at the floor may also help relieve gas anatomically speaking, as this position perfectly aligns the digestive system, relaxing the puborectalis muscle and straightening the rectum.
When to see your doctor
If all the various methods mentioned here do not help you relieve unwanted gas, it is a wise idea to seek the help of your local physician. You may be suffering from a gastrointestinal disorder, or even be exposing yourself to particular foods or substances that might be the culprit. While excessive gas is usually not a sign of any serious life-threatening condition, it can be a hindrance. Seeking the aid of a doctor can give you a better understanding of the digestive process and can even prescribe a tailored diet, exercise plan, and medications to help you get back to feeling normal.