Our digestive health can sometimes take a back seat when it comes to overall wellness. Going out to eat with friends or ordering takeout when you just don’t want to cook are great treats, but these diet and lifestyle factors can also throw your gut health off track. If you’re feeling bloated, constipated, or just uncomfortable, it may be time to roll out your yoga mat and try these yoga poses for better digestion.
Functional medicine expert and practitioner, Dr. Will Cole, says that certain yoga poses and exercises can help increase blood flow and circulation to your stomach. “[Yoga can] encourage movement in your digestive tract to move gas and food along,” explains Dr. Cole.
Yoga is known to reduce stress and anxiety, both of which can be key players in our digestive issues. Practicing yoga can alleviate these feelings and also help to ease physical symptoms such as gas, cramping, and bloating.
“Movement helps kick start the digestion process, through enhancing peristalsis — muscle contractions that help move food through your digestive tract,” Dr. Cole says. “It also helps enhance blood flow to your digestive system.”
Try these seven yoga poses — which are all demonstrated by yogi Yogoskenz — if you’re having digestion issues:
Child’s pose may soothe and relax the digestive system. “In general, cat-cow, child’s pose, cobra pose, and any similar poses are great since they all aim to stretch the stomach muscles and digestive tract,” Dr. Cole says. A lot of people also find doing this pose helpful after eating a big meal.
Watch Yogoskenz demonstrate child’s pose here:
Watch Yogoskenz demonstrate the seated twist here:
Camel pose may help improve circulation throughout the body — since you’re flexing your spine, blood may circulate better. While in this pose, your abdominal muscles are being massaged, which may help improve digestion.
Watch Yogoskenz demonstrate camel pose here:
This inverted yoga pose might help digestion, as it stretches your abdominal organs while also shifting the gravitational pull on your organs (you’re upside down!). The pose can possibly stimulate bowel movements and help loosen any blocking you feel in your gut.
Watch Yogoskenz demonstrate the shoulder stand here:
Moving from a shoulder stand, you can easily flow into the plow pose. This pose is a more relaxed version of the shoulder stand and, since it’s an inverted pose in which your hips are above your shoulders, it may relieve gas or discomfort that you feel in your gut by stimulating your digestive system.
Watch Yogoskenz demonstrate plow pose here:
Forward folds are known to support circulation throughout the body, especially through the abdominal organs. When your organs are compressed in this pose, circulation is stimulated, which in turn can encourage digestion. Grab a pillow, a folded towel, or blanket after a big meal and put it under your stomach for support as you lean forward, breathing and massaging out your abdomen.
Watch Yogoskenz demonstrate the supported seated forward fold here:
This is the final pose you will do after any yoga flow. It is a full-body, relaxing and restoring pose that calms your body and mind after exercise. The immediate benefits include a lowered heart rate and lowered blood pressure, and there might even be long-term benefits such as improved digestion and increased energy levels.
Watch Yogoskenz demonstrate savasana here:
When you’re feeling bloated, perhaps the last thing you want to do is exercise — but moving your body is essential to feeling relief, and key to maintaining your gut health.
“In addition to aiding in the actual process of digestion like I mentioned previously, exercise, in general, has been shown to improve overall gut health by promoting healthy gut bacteria and microbiome balance,” Dr. Cole says.
The next time you finish a big meal, feel too full, or are experiencing general discomfort in your gut, roll out your yoga mat and try the above movements for better digestion.
About the author
Jessica is a recent graduate from the Ohio State University, now based in New York. Jessica loves to read, is passionate about fitness and nutrition, and is always looking for new restaurants with the best pasta dishes. On the weekends, you can find her playing with her dog Wilson, at the beach with a good book, or doing pilates.