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Most Helpful Yoga Poses For Digestion & Gut Health

Are you looking for ways to get your digestive system working well again? Can you imagine less bloating, less gas, less stomach pain? These yoga poses for digestion are easy to incorporate and can be done practically any place. Helping your digestive issues should be a priority, and using the yoga poses below is a simple step to get you there.

cobra pose for digestion

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Anyone following this blog knows I am a big advocate for helping better your health problems with all natural means. Yoga poses are another way this can be done.

These poses are easy to practice and have many great health benefits besides just helping your digestive health. I love exercising, but yoga would not be my first fitness choice in general. However, I do it because it so helpful when it comes to bettering specific body ailments.

The health benefits it has to offer concerning digestive issues in the body range from increased blood flow and stretching of the abdominal organs to reduced stress and increased digestive flow. These benefits are simply too good to pass up.

I incorporate yoga poses into my stretching routine before and after my daily exercise routine and have found it to be extremely beneficial. It also makes it easier to ensure that I am fitting them in.


This post goes over all of the most helpful yoga poses for digestion to better or maintain a healthy digestive system.


Why is Yoga good for digestion

Reduces stress levels:

  • The body's digestive system works better when it is in a relaxed state. Stress impacts inflammation in the gut as well. If yoga reduces stress, then gut inflammation can decrease.
  • This study shows that teens with irritable bowel syndrome experienced less IBS symptoms when they participated in yoga practice regularly for a given amount of time. 

The Gut-Brain Axis & The Vagus Nerve:

  • The cranial nerve called the vagus nerve is the longest in the body. It is connected from the brain stem to different organs in the body, one being in the gastrointestinal tract. Yoga has the potential to activate this nerve network and positively impact how the digestive tract works.

Stretches & massages the abominal wall

  • Stretching the stomach can stimulate parts of the stomach to work better and create healthy digestion. 
  • Massaging and stretching the organs in the stomach also helps creates movement of blood to the gut and creates space in the stomach.

Blood Flow

  • Certain yoga exercises are really helpful for increasing blood flow to the intestines. It is vital to have good blood flow to have proper digestion. The oxygen helps in the transportation process of particles and keeps things moving. This in turns helps maintain blood pressure.

Helpful Yoga Poses for better digestion

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

cobra pose for digestion

The cobra pose is a meditation asana. According to the International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, the cobra pose assists in better digestion and is one of the best yoga poses used in treating digestive problems and diseases.

Cobra Pose also helps with other internal organs such as the liver and kidneys. Circulation and flexibility are both increased when the this pose is frequently added into a yoga sequence, a workout, or a meditation routine.

How to Perform:

  1. Lie on your stomach, legs stretched out hip width, tops of feet laying against the floor and toes pointed back
  2. Put hands flat on the floor, palms facing down, close to your side, a little below shoulder level
  3. Keep the arms close to the side of the body, elbows pointing back, fingers pointing forward as you slowly stretch arms to a straightened position
  4. Slowly tilt head back, point chest and upper body forward and upward as your chin naturally goes upward (Inhale In as you go up)
  5. Push back of neck to the back of shoulders until you feel a nice stretch while keeping pelvis on the ground. (Do not overstrain the neck) 
  6. Hold this position for a few breaths (Breath normally)
  7. Slowly bend your elbows back down to the floor in the original starting position. (Exhale as you go back down)
  8. Repeat this slowly several times.

Belly Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)

belly twist for digestion

The belly twist is another great pose to aid the digestive process. This is because the twisting motion stimulates the digestive tract.

Also, it relaxes and releases tight abdominal muscles. In turn blood flow is increased to organs in the stomach allowing it to work better.

How to Perform:

  1. Lie flat on your back with your arms out so your body is in a t shape.
  2. Bend knees into the chest
  3. Gently lower your bent knees to the left and lie on the floor while turing your head and looking to the right
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds naturally breathing, focused on being relaxed (Keep shoulders pressed to the floor)
  5. Slowly return your knees (still bent) to neutral position while inhaling
  6. Gently lower your knees to the right and twist your spine and lower back and lie your bent knees on the floor while turning your head and looking to the left. 
  7. Hold for 20- 30 seconds naturally breathing (keep shoulders pressed to the floor)
  8. Bring knees back to neutral position while inhaling

Forward Fold (Standing or Seated) (Uttanasana)

forward fold pose for digestion
forward fold for digestion

The forward fold allows blood to circulate the body better while also gently massaging the abdominal area. The liver, spleen, and intestines all benefit from this yoga pose.

How To Perform while standing:

  1. Stand your feet closer together than shoulder width.
  2. Raise your arms straight into air and inhale.
  3. Gently fold the body from the hips exhaling on the fold.
  4. Fold your body over until your head points towards the floor.
  5. Place your hands around your calves, ankles or feet, depending on where you can reach.
  6. Hold this for several, regular breaths.
  7. Gently unfold to standing position raising your arms to the air and then gently bringing them down to your side.
  8. Repeat this several times slowly.
  9. This may be performed standing or seated on the floor with your legs straight out as pictured above.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

bridge pose for digestion

Another great way to maintain healthy digestion is incorporating the bridge pose into your workout. It helps with blood flow and circulation stimulating digestion.

How To Perform:

  1. Lay on your back and bend knees with feet flat on the ground and arms vertical to your side, palms facing down.
  2. Press your feet into the ground while lifting your pelvis in the air. Look up at the ceiling while keeping your chin in a neutral position. (Inhale on the way up)
  3. Tuck your arms slightly under the body as you continue to raise your chest and ribs to the ceiling. Interlace hands or keep them pressed into ground depending on your preference. (naturally breathe and hold for 20-30 seconds or several breaths)
  4. Slowly lower the body back onto the floor and repeat as necessary.

Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

downward facing dog for digestion

The downward dog is a well-known yoga pose performed in many yoga routines. The vagus nerve, mentioned previously above, manages and keeps the parasympathetic nervous system ("rest and digest system") working well.

The downward facing dog yoga pose destresses the vagus nerve allowing it to better regulate digestion.

How To Perform:

  1. Place body in a plank position with your palms pushed down into the floor and arms pushed all the way up. Your legs should be shoulder width apart with your toes will be propping up your legs ups (as if doing a push-up).
  2. Push your butt into the air and lengthen your arms and legs. (Exhale on the way up)
  3. Keep your head in line with you spine.
  4. Press your heels down onto the floor if you can or press your feet down as much as you can. Also, keep your fingers spead apart.
  5. You can stay here for several breaths or gently pedal your feet up and down for a nice added stretch in the calves.

Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)

triangle pose for digestion

The triangle pose is also great for helping with digestion and even more specifically constipation. 

How To Perfom:

  1. Standing, spread your legs apart a little more than shoulder width distance apart.
  2. Turn your left foot out to a 90 degree direction and your right foot in the same direction as the left until you reach 45 degrees.
  3. Face the direction of your left turned out foot without moving the whole body while raising your arms to the side to form a t shape.
  4. Straighten your leg and slightly bend your body towards your left foot.
  5. Exhale and stretch your left arm out and bend down towards the ground while raising your right arm up to the ceiling. You will keep the t shape but just move it approx. to 90 degrees while bending.
  6. Your arms and waist should stay straight.
  7. Gently turn your head to gaze to the ceiling while reaching for your shin, foot, ankle, or the floor. This will depend on your flexibility. Do not go further than your ability.

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

bow pose for digestion

This pose helps with the flow of blood to the GI tract which assists in digestion. Additionally, the bow pose massages stomach organs. This could help with bowl movements and constipation, blood pressure, and general digestion.

This pose is a bit more difficult than some of the poses and should be done carefully to avoid injury or straining your body. Since it is at the intermediate level, make sure you have the flexibility and get the go ahead from your doctor or a certified yoga instructor before performing this.

How to Perform:

  1. Lie on the floor, arms by your side, palms facing the ceiling.
  2. Carefully and slowly reach to grab your ankles. While doing this raise your upper body off the floor and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  3. Your feet should be close to your butt and your knees should be hip width apart.
  4. Gently raise your chest up and lift your head up aligning it with your spine. 
  5. Lift your thighs off the ground as much as you can without straining until you feel a nice stretch.
  6. Try to keep your upper back and lower back muscles as relaxed as possible when doing this.
  7. Hold for 15 seconds or several breaths and then lower.

Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

camel pose for digestion

The camel pose helps digestion by opening up the abdomen and stomach region, creating space for better digestion, and helping with bloating.

How to Perform:

  1. Come to the floor sitting on your knees and bring your upper body upright.
  2. Lean back and grab your lower back and genty work your hands downward until you reach your heels or ankles depending how far you can bend back.
  3. Lift your chest and sternum up to the ceiling while doing this.
  4. Gently tilt your head back without straining and look up.
  5. Hold for 15-20 seconds or several breaths and then gently bring yourself back up.

Seated Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

seated twist for digestion

Another great exercise to perform is this seated twist. It is relatively easy and can help alleviate bloating. The twisting motion massages the organs in the stomach.

Additionally, the seated twist may help with constipation by creating movement and moving food in the intestines.

How To Perfom:

  1. Sit with your legs crossed on the floor, back straight and elongated.
  2. Reach your left arm back and place your right hand near your knee.
  3. You should feel a nice, gentle stretch.
  4. Hold for several breaths or 15 - 20 seconds before releasing and moving to the other side.

cat pose (cat and cow)

cat cow pose for digestion

The cat pose is performed with the cow pose. These yoga poses stretch the abominal area as well as massage the muscles. This helps with constipation and stimulates digestion.

How To Perfom:

  1. Comes to all 4s on the ground with your arms and legs shoulder width apart.
  2. For Cat Pose, push your belly downward while tilting your head up and pushing your butt up in the air.
  3. Feel a gentle stretch in the stomach. Hold for about 5-8 seconds.
  4. Transition right into cow pose, push your lower back up to ceiling and bring your belly button in, lower the head downward, and tuck your butt in. Hold for about 5-8 seconds.
  5. Repeat this motion several times slowly.

These Yoga poses for digestion are easy to incorporate into any exercise routine or simple to perform separately. However, it is more helpful to do several of them at a time to best benefit digestion.


References

  1. https://www.ijfmr.com/papers/2023/2/1794.pdf
  2. Kuttner L, Chambers CT, Hardial J, Israel DM, Jacobson K, Evans K. A randomized trial of yoga for adolescents with irritable bowel syndrome. Pain Res Manag. 2006 Winter;11(4):217-23. doi: 10.1155/2006/731628. PMID: 17149454; PMCID: PMC2673138.
  3. https://www.livescience.com/yoga-for-digestion
  4. https://yogauonline.com/yoga-practice-teaching-tips/yoga-practice-tips/how-to-calm-the-belly-brain-downward-facing-dog-pose-with-tias-little/
 

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