Yoga for DigestionYoga for Digestion

Yoga for Digestion: 12 Postures for Gut Health

Does this scenario sound familiar? You hear that telltale gurgling, and all of a sudden, you've got an upset stomach, bloating or other digestion issues — and it's date night. Whether the cause was an overindulgent meal or eating too quickly, when your stomach speaks, it’s time to stop and listen — immediately.

If you're feeling off-kilter and unbalanced, your belly may be to blame. Fortunately, yoga can help stop digestion woes from derailing your plans. There are yoga postures that you can practice on the regular to balance the mind and body, including your belly.

Yoga for Digestion

The benefits of yoga extend far beyond simply finding your Zen. Certain yoga postures work to promote more easeful digestion. These yoga poses stimulate the digestive organs of elimination to do their job: Filter and remove waste.

Practicing yoga poses and breathwork that regulate the digestive organs — think colon, kidneys, liver and spleen — can, in turn, bolster the health of your stomach's all-important gut microbiome. By working to stimulate and regulate the parasympathetic nervous system, these types of yoga poses can lead to improved digestion.

In addition, the health benefits of yoga also include:

Related: 8 Yoga Postures for Healthier Hair

Trust Your Gut

Going with the flow and trusting your intuition is great and all, but there's actually science that supports why the gut microbiome is often referred to as the “second brain” of the body. Yeast, viruses and bacteria are among the trillions of microorganisms that exist and live within the gut microbiome.

This part of the digestive tract is where much of the body’s processes begin, including digestion, mood and immune function. Approximately 300-500 different species of bacteria live within the digestive system. Some are harmful to health, while others are necessary and beneficial.

These types of “good” bacteria — which are also known as probiotics such as L. acidophilus — help create balance by stimulating the natural detoxification process of eliminating waste. Hence, why you'll want to accelerate this waste removal process with yoga poses that stimulate the organs of elimination. Maintaining a consistent yoga practice can also help minimize hair loss caused by stress.

Related: Here's How Gut Health and Hair Loss are Related

Make Movement Part of Your Routine

Regular movement, along with stress reduction, are key factors in improving both your gut and overall health. Including the following digestion-supportive poses will help promote and enhance the digestive organs of elimination to function at their optimal level.

In B.K.S. Iyengar’s "Light on Yoga," often called the bible of yoga postures, an extensive range of yoga poses are offered as ways to address various conditions, such as acidity, colitis, constipation, flatulence and indigestion.

Read: 6 Probiotic Health Benefits for Your Whole Body

Treat Your Gut With TLC

Your gut bacteria use enzymes to break down the foods you eat, which is why your diet plays a major role in digestion and the health of your stomach. The process of breaking down the enzymes present in these foods produces and allows the body to access essential nutrients, including:

Taking a supplement like GRO+ Advanced Gummies, (which includes CBD for an extra Zen factor), is another way to boost your immunity and further support your gut health (while also supporting beautiful hair). Or you can try GRO Biotin Gummies, containing biotin, folic acid, zinc and A, B, C and E vitamins.

Related: The Ingredients of GRO+ Advanced Hair Care Gummies Have 4 Major Benefits

Do The Twist(s)

Practice yoga for digestion by including yoga poses that involve twisting. By “wringing” out toxicity and congestion from the body, twists are helpful in enhancing better digestive function and promoting waste elimination. Another type of pose that supports and enhances digestion is a forward fold.

These movements act like a massage for those internal organs of elimination such as the colon, liver, spleen and kidneys, along with stimulating the intestines and adrenal gland with the movement necessary to remove toxins from within the body.

Yoga poses can help promote regular, healthy bowel movements. And, increasing the amount of oxygen and stimulating circulation to specific areas can help alleviate bloating, gas, cramping and other digestive issues.

Yoga Sequence: 12 Yoga Poses for Digestion

For a happier, healthier belly, try the following yoga for digestion poses:

1. Urdhva Mukha Pasasana (Thread the Needle) 

Thread the Needle Yoga Pose

  • Begin by pushing out of child's pose onto your hands and knees.
  • Place one hand in the center of the mat, directly under the face.
  • Extend the opposite arm up toward the ceiling, stacking the shoulders for one round of breath.
  • Then wrap the extended arm under the body toward the opposite side, resting the shoulder and cheek on the mat.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.

2. Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (Revolved Crescent Lunge)

Revolved Crescent Lunge Yoga Pose

  • Start in plank position.
  • Lower one knee to the ground as you step the opposite forward into a low lunge.
  • This knee is bent directly above the ankle while the opposite back foot is angled slightly toward the side of the mat.
  • Inhale, pressing palms to the center of the chest in a prayer position.
  • Exhale as you rotate the torso toward the bent front knee, joining elbow to the knee.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.

3. Malasana (Garland)

Garland Yoga Pose

  • Bend knees, lowering the body into a squat with toes angled to the outer edges of the mat.
  • Moving from the hips, fold forward, placing your hands on the mat in between the knees.
  • Gently tuck the chin in toward the chest, allowing the crown of your head to relax toward the mat while lengthening the cervical spine.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths. 

Also: Yoga Poses for Better Sleep

4. Paschimottanasana (Forward Fold)

Forward Fold Yoga Pose

  • Sit on the ground with straight legs extended forward, soles of the feet pressing against a block or in the air.
  • Extend arms up, directly next to ears.
  • Hinging the hips, fold forward.
  • Reaching for the ankles, feet or the block will intensify the forward fold for a deeper shoulder stretch.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths. 

Learn: Why You Should Try Forest Bathing for Stress Relief

5. Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana Variation

Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana Variation

  • Start on the mat seated with both legs extended forward, feet flexed.
  • Bend the right knee up in the air, bringing it into half lotus pose by wrapping hands underneath the foot and ankle to encourage rotation of the hip.
  • Draw the right foot in close to the navel, allowing the ankle and foot to rest on the left thigh, as close as possible in the crease of the left hip.
  • Hold the right foot in place with the left hand as you extend the right arm up; then, fold forward and grab the inner edge with the right hand.
  • Now that the foot is held in place, massaging the abdominal muscles and organs of elimination, you can extend the left arm forward to grab ahold of the outer edge of the flexed left foot.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.

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6. Marichyasana A 

Marichyasana A Yoga Pose

  • Begin with legs extended straight in front of you.
  • Bend the right knee, placing the sole of the foot on the floor about a fist’s distance from the opposite thigh.
  • Keep the foot of the extended left leg flexed or alternatively tucked in towards your thigh.
  • Inhale, reaching the right arm upward; on the exhale, fold forward, bringing the right arm inside the right knee.
  • Flip the right arm so that the elbow bends, wrapping it around the right shin while still folding forward.
  • Wrap the left arm behind your back and clasp fingers together (or use a strap to grip with both hands). As you continue to breathe, visualize moving forward toward the shin, keeping the spine long and moving from the hips.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.

7. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge)

Bridge Pose - Yoga

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and the soles of the feet on the ground.
  • Place hands next to your hips. Press evenly into your feet and hands to lift the pelvis upward.
  • Slide a block underneath to support the spine if desired.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths. 

Read: Why Exercise Should Be a Part of Your Hair Growth Routine

8. Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel)

Wheel Yoga Pose

  • Lie on your back with knees bent over the ankles.
  • Place your hands next to your ears with elbows bent and fingers pointing downward.
  • Take an inhale, pressing evenly into hands and feet to lift the body upward.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths. 

9. Supta or Ardha Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist)

Supine Spinal Twist

  • Lie on your back, bending knees in the air toward the chest.
  • Place your arms in a cactus shape around the ears with the back of the hands, forearms and upper arms pressing down into the mat.
  • Drop bent knees to one side; rotate head and neck to the opposite shoulder for a deeper stretch in the neck.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.

10. Pavanamuktasana (Wind Relieving)

Wind Relieving Pose

  • Begin by laying down on your back.
  • Bend and hug one knee at a time into the chest.
  • Hold the front of the shin on the bent leg, pressing it into your chest.
  • Breathe evenly, hold for 5-10 breaths.
  • Release legs and repeat on the opposite side. 

11. Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall)

Legs Up on Wall Yoga Pose

  • Lie down on your side, placing the glutes as close to the wall as possible.
  • As you bend your knees in toward the chest, flip to lie on your back, extending straight legs upward with the back of your legs supported by the wall.
  • A rolled-up blanket can be placed on top of the feet, and a block resting on the low belly can be used for a deeper sense of feeling grounded.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths or as long as desired. 

Also: Is Meditation Missing From Your Hair Growth Routine?

12. Savasana (Corpse)

Savasana Yoga Pose

  • Lie flat on your back with arms alongside the body, palms facing upward.
  • Legs are splayed out to the sides as wide as is comfortable.
  • Allow your eyes to stay closed, consciously softening the muscles along the cheeks and jawline.
  • Relax your shoulders and spine into the mat.
  • As your back body grounds down, feel the expansive quality of the front body opening up.
  • Allow your breath to flow at its natural rhythm and pace for as long as desired.

Also: Want to Boost Your Immune System? Here's What Doctors Recommend

Improve Your Digestion and Decrease Stress With Yoga Poses

It's a win-win! The yoga poses detailed here can not only help you find your Zen and minimize stress, but they can also help with digestive issues, including bloating, gas, cramping. And less digestive issues and stress are the perfect combo for a happier, healthier you.

Crystal Fenton is a freelance journalist and E-RYT-200 YACEP yoga instructor.


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Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.