No matter how healthy or fit you might be, you can’t escape the occasional discomfort of indigestion. We all experience it from time to time—especially around the holiday season. While digestive disturbances like bloating, cramping, or constipation are relatively minor, you don’t have to endure the discomfort. Besides, chronic constipation and frequent indigestion can give rise to other gastrointestinal disorders if not addressed early. 

That’s where yoga can come in handy. Most of us recognize the efficacy of yoga for stress relief, managing back pain, and improving joint flexibility. But there’s growing evidence for the therapeutic benefits of yoga for digestion, with some studies suggesting that yoga can even provide relief from more serious conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. Here are some yoga asanas (postures) for better digestion to help you get started.

Yoga Poses For Healthy Digestion

Chair Pose
The chair pose is a fantastic way to encourage digestion, as it encourages a downward flow of energy through the lower body and stimulates your metabolism by working the larger muscles such as the glutes and quads. 

  1. Stand with the feet together and knees bent as if seated so that the thighs are parallel to the floor.
  2. Raise your hands and extend them fully as you exhale so that the arms are beside your ears.

Cat & Cow
Moving between these poses helps warm up the spine, relieving any muscular tension in the back, neck, and shoulders. Your breathing during the pose is important as this combination works to massage the digestive organs, alternately compressing and lengthening the intestines, encouraging better blood flow to the epithelial cells.

  1. Start on all fours, with hands and knees resting on the floor directly beneath the shoulders and hips respectively.
  2. Engage the abs and keep the back flat as you inhale for the cow pose.
  3. Lower your head and arch the back as you exhale for the cat pose.

Knees to Chest
This is one of the simplest yoga stretches for digestive health. Literally translated from the Sanskrit, it’s the ‘wind-relieving pose’ and it lives up to that name. This pose provides quick relief from gas and bloating and should be your go-to pose to fight indigestion.

  1. Lie flat on your back with your hands placed on the knees.
  2. As you exhale, pull the knees up to your chest, using your hands to hold them there.
  3. Rock your knees in a sideways motion to increase the stretch.

Spinal Twist 
Spinal twists are great for stimulating digestion and can be practiced by individuals of any fitness level. They’re easily adaptable with several variations. Even a basic spinal twist pose has a soothing and toning effect on the abdominal muscles, improving digestive function. 

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched before you.
  2. Pull the right foot back so that the knee bends before your chest and the right foot rests next to the left knee.
  3. Use your left arm to hug the right knee towards the chest as you place the other hand down, resting the right palm on the floor just behind the hips.
  4. Turn your head and torso slightly to look over the right shoulder.

Bridge Pose
This mild inversion helps to stimulate your digestion as the bending motion compresses the digestive organs. As an inversion, it also encourages blood flow to the heart and reduces symptoms of fatigue caused by indigestion.

  1. Lie flat on your back, then bend the knees and draw the feet back so that they come to rest on the floor beneath your buttocks.
  2. Inhale and raise the hips off the floor activating your abdominal muscles and spine as you do so.
  3. Your chest can also be raised, but make sure that your shoulders and arms remain grounded.

Half Wind-Relieving Pose 
Another pose that speaks for itself, the half wind-relieving pose compresses both the ascending and descending colon, triggering the nerves to facilitate elimination. The pose is effective at relieving gas and bloating and improves overall digestive function.

  1. Lie flat on your back and raise your legs slowly to form a 90 degree angle as you inhale.
  2. As you exhale, bend your knees and bring them to rest on your chest so that the thighs press into the abdomen.
  3. Wrap your arms around the knees, clasping to hold the knees in place.
  4. Bend your neck and bring your chin and nose as close as comfortably possible to the knees.

Child’s Pose 
Stress has a greater impact on digestion than we realize. Experts are only now recognizing this link. The child’s pose is one of the best for relaxation, making it the perfect way to end any yoga routine, especially for indigestion. 

  1. Begin on all fours with your knees at about hip width apart and the upper side of your feet (not the soles) resting on the floor.
  2. Bring your buttocks to rest on your heels and lean forward so that your tummy rests between the thighs and your forehead touches the floor.
  3. While doing this you can stretch your arms out before you or bring them back alongside the thighs.

Full article originally posted on artofliving.org; reprinted with permission.

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