Yoga was introduced into my life about seven months ago, and boy am I so happy it was. It has become a way for me to regulate my stress, mental health, anxiety, anger, and mental clarity. You are probably thinking, "there's no way yoga can do that." Here's how... while doing yoga flow you flow with your breath, deep breaths in + out, ultimately practicing breath-work. Breath-work helps stop an acute stress response + diverts the health problems associated with chronic stress. Isn't it crazy how something as simple as breathing + moving your body can do so much for your health.
There is a communication system linked from your gut to your brain called the gut-brain axis. The gut-brain axis is a communication system of nerves and biochemical signals that travel in the blood, connecting the digestive system to the brain. This is how your gut reacts directly to psychological and physical stress with symptoms like stomach aches, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and changes in appetite and digestion. It is believed that yoga helps with digestive health by reducing stress, increasing circulation, and promoting physical movement, or motility, of the GI tract.
Yoga poses for digestion... you're welcome for these awkward videos 🤪
Seated side bend (Parsva Sukhasana):
is a beginner move that helps stretch the obliges, abdominal muscles, lower + upper back, and shoulders! One of my favorite poses after any core exercise.
This stretch might help alleviate bloating and gas and support general digestion.
sit on the floor in a cross-legged position, with your hands on the floor or by your side.
on the inhale, raise your right arm, elongate your side
and on the exhale, lean to the left (for a deeper stretch put your left hand down by your side.)
stay here for a few breaths
on the inhale, come back to center
repeat on other side
Seated twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana):
there are a few variations to this pose... I will show you the version with one leg extended.
What's cool about this position, is the twisting motion is thought to promote bowel regularity by aiding the small + large intestine in peristalsis. It's also thought that the twisting motion rings out toxins in your body! I have always felt better after doing these poses!
This pose may also help alleviate bloating.
pull your left leg in and place your foot on the other side of your right leg.
on the inhale, lift your right arm, put your left arm behind your back, place your right hand on your left knee
and on the exhale, twist
release on the inhale
and twist on the exhale
do this for a few breaths
return to center on an inhale
repeat on other side
Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana): another twisting move!
This pose is great for stretching the lower back + increase spinal mobility. If you have lower back issues, be careful with this pose.
It is believed that this pose alleviates constipation + bloating + aids in general digestion.
lay flat on your back
on the inhale, pull your right leg in
and on the exhale twist to the left, laying your knee on the floor (you may need to work up to this. You can use a yoga block, book, blanket, etc to fill the gap from your knee to the ground for support)
lay right arm to the side and twist head to the right
stay for a few breaths
on an inhale, come to center
on the exhale, release your leg
repeat on other side
Knees to chest (Apanasana):
this relaxing movement can also help relieve lower back pain!
This pose is said to gently massage the large intestine to promote bowel movements.
lay flat on your back with your back straight
on the inhale, slowly bring your legs into your chest
use your hands to pull them in
hold for 4-5 breaths
Cat-Cow (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana): this pose is so much fun and relaxing. Don't make it weird or sexualize this pose!
This is a combo of cat pose and cow pose. Together they stretch your back and abdominal muscles. It's honestly like a very nice massage.
It's said this combo improves circulation and gently massages your organs to promote gut peristalsis.
start on your hands and knees with a neutral spine - meaning, with a flat back and neck. Ensure your knees are under your hips and your wrists are under your shoulders
on the inhale, go into cow pose - tilt your pelvis so your tailbone goes up and your belly moves down, engage your core - do this move with your breath
on the exhale, go into cat pose - tuck your tailbone, draw your belly button towards your spine, and roll your shoulders forward so that you are arching your back
move from pose to pose with each inhale and exhale