Yoga instructor and therapeutic wellbeing practitioner Libby Stevenson shares five simple yoga moves for easing tummy discomfort and bloating.

One of the biggest complaints of women in midlife is bloating. Although bloating may be due to several factors such as IBS, not getting enough fibre in your diet, not drinking enough water, how quickly you eat, lack of exercise, stress, or as a side effect of some medications, it may also be a possible symptom of menopause.

In menopause, the decline in oestrogen levels can affect every part of the body including the gut, making it sluggish and resulting in bloating, gas, or constipation.

Your gut consists of several organs that are part of the digestive system (gastrointestinal tract): the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, rectum, and anus. The oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, and rectum are made up of smooth muscle.

These gut muscles work involuntarily without conscious control, unlike the muscles of the mouth and anus, which we can control and move at will. Through a process called peristalsis, digested food is pushed along the gut by repeated contraction and relaxation of the smooth muscles.

The imbalance of hormones in menopause, however, disrupts the normal functioning of the gut making the contractions weaker and, as a result, less efficient at moving food along the gut causing bloating, gas, or constipation.

The good news is that yoga poses can stimulate the digestive tract to move digested food through the gut. The following poses gently massage the abdomen to help move digested food along.

These moves are suitable for everyone but should any of them cause pain or discomfort, then gently come out of the pose.

1. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

  • From standing, bring feet together.
  • Inhale and raise your arms, palms face each other and fingers are spread.
  • Exhale, and bend your knees to sit in an imaginary chair.
  • Stay for 5 breaths or for as long as is comfortable.
  • To come out of the pose: inhale to standing then exhale and lower your arms down by your sides.

2. Boat Pose (Navasana)

  • Sit with your knees bent and heels close to buttocks.
  • With your hands holding the back of your thighs, sit back and lift your feet off the mat.
  • Stay balanced. Slowly lift your feet as high as you can.
  • Release your hands from your thighs and stretch them alongside the body.
  • Keep your chest lifted. Stay for 5 breaths or for as long as is comfortable.
  • To come out of the pose: on an exhale, bend your knees, lower your legs and place your feet back on the mat.

3. Seated Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

  • From a seated position with your legs stretched, bend your left knee and cross it over your right leg.
  • Place left foot flat to the outside and close to your right knee.
  • Wrap your right arm around your left knee and place the palm of your right hand on your left thigh.
  • Inhale to lift your chest, exhale and twist from your waist to the left.
  • Keep hips level and on the mat.
  • Place your left hand behind you with the fingers pointing away from your body.
  • Look over your left shoulder and hug your left knee for a deeper twist.
  • Stay for 5 breaths or for as long as is comfortable.
  • To come out of the pose: on an exhale, turn your head and twist your body back to centre. Bring your left arm forward. Release your right arm from your left leg. Uncross your left leg.
  • Repeat on the other side with your right leg over your left.

4. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

  • Start on hands and knees.
  • Bring your hips towards your heels.
  • Lay your belly and torso forward onto your thighs.
  • Place your forehead on the mat.
  • Extend your arms with the palms faced down.
  • Relax your arms and shoulders.
  • Let the face and jaw muscles relax.
  • Stay for 5 breaths or for as long as is comfortable.
  • To come out of the pose: place hands underneath your shoulders and push up onto hands and knees.

5. Wind-Relieving Pose

  • Come to a seated position with your knees bent.
  • Lie back keeping both of your knees bent.
  • Lift your feet and bring both knees towards the chest.
  • Wrap your arms around your legs.
  • Inhale and on the exhale, raise your head towards your knees, lifting shoulders off the ground too.
  • Stay for 5 breaths or for as long as is comfortable.
  • To come out of the pose: lower your head onto the mat.
  • Release your hands from your knees and place your feet on the mat, keeping your knees bent.
  • With both knees bent, roll over onto one side.
  • Using the hands, push yourself up into a seated position.

For more info, find Libby online at and on Instagram @libbystevenson.wellbeing.

Words: Libby Stevenson. Images: Libby Stevenson