The state of your digestive system is likely one of those things you don’t think about until something goes wrong. And that makes sense, as digestion is a process that happens automatically, without conscious control.
But what’s going on in your gut often holds the key to your overall well-being. Just as we nourish our bodies with thoughtfully chosen foods, we can also nurture our digestive system through the practice of yoga. This ancient discipline offers a unique harmony between mind and body, with the potential to alleviate digestive discomfort and promote optimal function.
Dr. Sebi's holistic approach to health reminds us that our well-being is an intricate symphony, and these seven yoga poses can be the gentle notes that encourage the flow of energy and enhance our digestion.
How Yoga Can Help Digestion
Yoga is not merely a series of physical postures; it's a holistic practice that encompasses breath control, mindfulness, and movement. When it comes to digestion, yoga can provide several benefits.
Gentle twisting and stretching motions, combined with mindful breathing, can stimulate the digestive organs, enhance blood flow, and alleviate tension in the abdomen. Yoga's emphasis on relaxation can also reduce stress, which is known to impact digestion negatively.
A July 2021 study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies suggests that specific yoga postures can aid digestion by improving gut motility, enhancing peristalsis (the wave-like muscular contractions that move food through the digestive tract), and reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and constipation. Furthermore, yoga helps reduce inflammation and promote a balanced nervous system, which are essential factors for healthy digestion.
Here are seven yoga poses that can contribute to better digestion:
1. Cat-Cow Pose
Cat-cow pose is a gentle spinal flexion that massages the abdominal organs and stimulates digestion. Alternating between arching and rounding your back encourages a healthy flow of movement along the spine.
- Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
- Inhale, arch your back, lift your tailbone, and look up (cow pose).
- Exhale, round your back, tuck your chin to your chest, and draw your belly button towards your spine (cat pose).
- Repeat the sequence, synchronizing your breath with the movement.
2. Puppy Pose + Thread the Needle
Puppy pose opens the chest and stretches the abdomen, while thread the needle adds a gentle twist that aids digestion and promotes spinal mobility.
- Begin in a tabletop position.
- Walk your hands forward while lowering your chest to the ground (puppy pose).
- From puppy pose, thread your right arm under your left arm, twisting your torso and resting your right ear and shoulder on the ground.
- Hold for several breaths and switch sides.
3. Seated and Supine Spinal Twist
Spinal twists massage the internal organs, helping to enhance digestion, alleviate bloating, and improve the flexibility of the spine.
- Sit with your legs extended.
- Cross your right foot over your left knee and if you can, up to your thigh, place your left hand on top of your right knee, and twist to the right.
- For supine spinal twist, lie on your back, bend your right knee, and cross it over your body to the left.
- Extend your left over your right knee and gaze in the opposite direction.
- Hold for several breaths and switch sides.
4. Knees to Chest
This pose compresses the abdomen, stimulating digestion and massaging the internal organs.
- Lie on your back and hug your knees into your chest.
- Rock gently from side to side to massage your lower back and sacrum.
5. Deep Squat
Deep squat, also known as Malasana in Sanskrit, promotes healthy bowel movements by compressing the colon and encouraging peristalsis.
- Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart.
- Squat down deeply, bringing your elbows inside your knees and pressing your palms together at your heart.
6. Bow Pose
Bow pose stretches the front of the body, including the abdomen, and stimulates the digestive organs.
- Lie on your stomach with your arms alongside your body.
- Bend your knees and reach back to hold your ankles.
- Inhale, lift your chest and legs off the ground, and kick into your hands.
- Hold as long as is comfortable before lowering back down to your mat and lying on your belly.
7. Savasana With Deep Breathing
Savasana, or corpse pose, allows your body to fully relax and assimilate the benefits of the practice. Deep breathing enhances oxygen supply to the cells and supports overall relaxation, which is essential for healthy digestion.
- Lie on your back, arms alongside your body, and palms facing up.
- Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths, filling your lungs fully with each inhale and exhaling completely.