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Reduce digestive discomfort with yoga!

Feeling bloated and uncomfortable? Calming and gentle movement techniques, like yoga, can help!

Yoga is well known for how it benefits the body and mind. But what you may not know is that yoga can also have a profoundly positive impact on your gut health and digestion.

Evidence1https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25207649/ suggests that yoga poses tone the vagus nerve which communicates information between the gut and the brain. Low vagal tone has been connected with gastrointestinal disorders.

Stress inhibits the vagus nerve and has damaging effects on the gastrointestinal tract2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5808284/. Stimulating the anti-inflammatory properties of the vagus nerve could help restore balance along the gut-brain axis. This is helpful when you experience digestive discomfort like bloating and indigestion.

Certain yoga postures can gently compress and release the stomach and colon, including twists and forward folds. Here are some brilliant poses/stretches that target the abdominal organs, helping to relieve a wide range of digestive discomforts. We recommend combining the movements with diaphragmatic breathing.

You may find it helpful to search for a visual of these poses online.

Cat / Cow

Start on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and knees beneath your hips. Inhale and drop your belly towards the earth while simultaneously lifting your tailbone and your gaze upward (cow pose). Then drop your head and neck down as you exhale and gently round your back, tucking your tailbone under, and let your head hang down (cat pose). Repeat five to 10 times, moving steadily from cow to cat on the inhale and exhale, respectively.

Supine Twist

Lie on your back and bring one knee up toward your chest. Then cross that knee in front of you and drop it onto the opposite side of your body. You can use the opposite side hand to press your knee or thigh gently to deepen the stretch while keeping the other arm extended out to the side. Relish in this deep, releasing twist as long as feels good. Return to centre and repeat on the other side.

Downward Dog

Start in a plank position, making sure your hands are shoulder-distance apart. Send your hips up and back and let your heels sink as close to the floor as possible. (You should be making an upside-down triangle shape with the floor as the base). Push your shoulders away from your ears, let your head hang down, and breathe deeply to give your entire body a stretch. Use Down Dog to take deep breaths into your belly, pulling the navel up and in toward the back of your heart each time you exhale. Breathe for 5 to 10 rounds.

Thread the needle

Start on all fours with hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees aligned directly under your hips. Inhale, and on the exhale slide your right arm through the opening between your left arm and thigh, keeping the right palm facing up to the ceiling. Let your right shoulder lower and drop to the floor and your right cheek rest on the floor. Your hips should not drop or shift—keep them up and as level as possible. Readjust to make sure your neck and head are not bearing all of the weight. Breathe deeply for several cycles, then repeat on the opposite side.

Seated Spinal Twist

Start by sitting on the floor with your legs bent (knees pointing up). Thread your right leg between your left heel and left butt cheek so the outside of the right leg is resting on the floor. Inch your left foot across toward your right hip even more (left knee should be pointing upward still). Inhale and as you exhale gently twist your upper body toward the inside of your left leg.

You can place your left hand on the floor beside or behind you for support and cross your right elbow over your left knee to hold the twist position. Try not to let your left butt cheek lift off the floor and keep your spine as tall and straight as you can. Hold and breathe deeply for several cycles, then repeat on the opposite side.

Half Gas-Release Pose

This pose compresses the ascending colon on the right side and the descending colon on the left, stimulating the nerves to aid elimination. Hug your right knee toward the right side of your ribcage. Keep pressing your straight left leg into the earth. You may clasp your hands around your right shin to pull it closer to you. Hold for one to two minutes. Repeat on the other side.

Read more about how yoga can improve your gut health here.

Any questions? Contact one of our Nutritional Therapists via live chat, weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm.

Not all yoga poses are suitable for all persons. Please use good judgment and don’t put yourself or others in positions that may feel uncomfortable or are unsuitable for you as an individual.

References

Questions? Talk to a Nutritional Therapist on live chat!

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