Need to ease digestive issues ASAP? Look no further than these yoga poses for digestion that can both stimulate your digestion and help you de-stress.
Is there anything a good yoga class can’t fix? Even when you’re struggling with digestion, taking it down to the mat can help when you need it most. Just ask Kendra Thomas, a certified yoga instructor and trainer at Mind Body Project in New York City.
Whether you’re dealing with digestive woes like heartburn or constipation, or the occasional too-stuffed or bloated feeling, yoga can help with digestive distress. One way that yoga can aid digestion is via strategic poses (like the ones below) that help you twist and bend in a way that aids digestion.
“It’s no secret that movement in general aids with digestion and getting everything moving. Yoga, specifically, offers the additional benefit of poses (or Asana) that can help not only to go deeper and move things around, but also relax the mind and body when things are feeling a little tense,” says Thomas.
Speaking of tension, stress can be a major cause of digestive issues since your body needs to be in a calm or neutral state to digest well. “In short, stress is a major cause of digestive issues, and yoga, whether a vigorous flow or chill beginners class, can help to calm the nervous system, while also moving the body in various ways that help to stimulate the digestive organs,” explains Thomas.
5 Easy Yoga Poses For Digestion
Why: “Pretty much any twisting posture will help to stimulate movement in the ascending and descending colon. This is why, in the yoga world, we strongly encourage people to twist their torso to the right of their hips/thighs before the left,” explains Thomas. “The ascending colon runs along the right side of the abdomen and the descending along the left so when you twist to the right you can apply pressure to the ascending colon and get things moving ‘in the right direction’ before twisting to the left and stimulating the descending colon to get things moving down and out.”
How to Do:
Start in a low lunge position with your knee down and slowly twist your torso to the right first and then to the left. Once you’re in the twist, hold the pose for three full breaths in and out (take slow, deep breaths into the abdomen).
Malasana (squatting pose)
“This squatting position is one of the most natural positions for our bodies. Modern-day inventions (think toilets) and medicine (giving birth laying on your back) have gotten us out of the habit of resting in this position,” says Thomas. “Squatting this way gets blood flowing to the pelvis and it is actually the perfect position to be in for birthing and pooping,” says Thomas. (Maybe why so many people love the squatty potty!)
How to Do:
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Lower into a deep squat position and hold for a four-count inhale, eight-count exhale.
Wind removing pose
“Drawing one knee up into the pelvis and creating compression (similar to twisting) while laying down is a great way to passively stimulate digestion while calming the body,” says Thomas.
How to Do:
Start lying on your back and begin with hugging your right knee towards the body, compressing your thigh against your belly as much as is comfortable. Move your leg a little side to side and up and down, creating more compression against your right side body. Keep your head, shoulders, and neck relaxed. Repeat on the other side with your right leg extended, and left knee pulled in. Hold for at least 30 seconds on each side.
“You can do Child’s Pose with your knees together or apart, but for this pose, I like to keep the knees together. Because your legs are together in this Child’s Pose, you can create compression in your belly. It’s almost like a gentle massage with your fists against your belly, and it’s really soothing for digestion or even menstrual cramps,” says Thomas. (Period cramps? You can also try these yoga poses for period cramp relief)
How to Do:
Come into a child’s pose with knees together. Place your fists on your abdomen, just below the ribs and above the hip points. Foldover your fists to create compression almost like a massage. If you need support for your head, use a pillow or block. Focus on breathing into your fists and abdomen, and hold for at least three deep, slow breaths.
Inversion/Legs up the wall
“Anything [inverted] from legs up the wall to down dogs and handstands can help with bloating/cramping because it increases blood flow to the digestive organs. This also helps to calm the nervous system,” says Thomas.
How to Do:
Sit close to the wall and lie down with your legs propped straight up against the wall. Stay in this position for a minute or as long as you’d like.