Whether you’ve got IBS or are just feeling a bit bloated, yoga can offer both short- and long-term relief for tummy troubles.
Improved digestion through yoga
During times of anxiety your parasympathetic nervous system can shut down or become less efficient, as your body plunges into ‘fight or flight’ responses. As this system is responsible for good digestion by increasing intestinal activity and relaxing sphincter muscles, it can mean that you could suffer digestive problems, such as bloating or constipation. But yoga could help – a study of participants who suffered from gastrointestinal disorders, who started using stress management techniques including yoga and meditation, found that their symptoms were significantly reduced even as long as three weeks after their weekly sessions stopped.
- Easy ways to improve your gut health today
Can yoga help IBS?
Studies have found that regular yoga sessions can have a big impact on people suffering from IBS and its related complications. A group of adolescents with IBS found that four weeks of daily home practice led to significantly reduced gastrointestinal symptoms as well as lower anxiety levels, according to a study from British Columbia.
Around two in 10 people suffer from IBS, and stress is often a major factor in exacerbating symptoms. But, as anyone who’s enjoyed a class will know, yoga is great for calming down a busy mind and slowing a racing heart, not to mention its physical benefits for your digestion.
- Try the FODMAP diet for IBS help
Yoga can help trapped wind
So it’s not the sexiest topic, but there’s no doubt that gentle yoga postures are a great way to relieve wind. ‘A gentle back bend could give the kidneys a gentle squeeze, while poses with your knees to your tummy squeeze the colon and give a little massage,’ says Clare Maddalena, yoga teacher and founder of LushTums (lushtums.co.uk). ‘Once the pressure is released the blood flow to that area will increase, helping reduce bloating.’ You might want to try these moves in the comfort of your own home!
Improve your posture for good digestion
‘As well as soothing your digestive system, yoga improves your posture, so rather than being in a hunched position and constricting your organs, it helps lengthen the spine and create space for your organs to work properly,’ says Clare.
Two moves to try, from Chantal di Donato, founder of Live Lean Health (liveleanhealth.com)
A yoga pose to help digestion
Cat and cow
This classic yoga sequence has a motion that lengthens and compresses your intestines, improving blood flow.
Cow: come onto all fours, placing your wrists directly beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath hips. Inhale, pushing your belly button towards the ground, and lifting your chest and hips to the sky.
Cat: exhale, rounding your upper back and dropping your gaze to your naval. Repeat the sequence 10 times.
A yoga pose to help you fart!
Half gas release pose – Does exactly what it says on the tin!
- Lying on your back on your mat, hug your right knee straight in towards your ribs, keeping your left leg straight.
- Hold for a minute, then repeat on the other side