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Yoga For Digestion

by Shannon Herbert, RYT


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We have all heard some of yoga’s amazing benefits: reduced stress, mental clarity, improved flexibility and balance, among many others. The benefits of yoga appear limitless. It helps our bodies feel good from the inside and out. Whether you’re dealing with bloating, indigestion, or other digestive ailments, a regular yoga practice may help improve your digestion. There are several poses that target the abdominal organs, primarily twists that help to massage the intestines, relieving the discomfort of stomach pains due to gas, bloating, or constipation. Try adding some of the poses below to your practice, along with deep breathing exercises, and reap the benefits of improved digestion!

 

Here are my top five yoga poses for digestion:

 

  1. Apanasana: Knees to Chest Pose
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Begin by lying on your back with your legs extended out in front of you. On an inhale, draw both knees into your chest, either holding onto each knee or wrapping your arms around your shins. Pull your knees closely into your chest. Hold this pose for three to five breaths.

Variation: On each inhale, pull the knees closely into the chest, tuck the chin in towards the chest. As you exhale, gently release to the starting position, holding onto each knee. Repeat this three or four times.

 

2.     Supta Matsyendrasana: Spinal Twist

 
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Image courtesy of yogajournal.com

Begin by lying on your back with your legs extended out in front of you. On an inhale, draw both of your knees towards your chest. Extend your arms out to a T, and drop your knees over to the right side, your gaze will go to the left side. Hold the pose for three to five breaths before drawing your knees back into your chest and dropping your knees over to the opposite size.

Variation: For a deeper stretch, when your knees are dropped over to the right side, use your right hand to gently push your left knee closer to the mat. You can also extend the left leg out towards your right arm. This variation can be repeated on the opposite side as well.

 

  1. Ardha Matsyendrasana: Half Lord of the Fishes Pose


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Image courtesy of yogajournal.com

Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you, sitting up tall with a straight spine. Bend your right foot and cross your right leg over your left leg, so that you right foot is planted firmly on the outside of your left thigh, your right knee will be pointing towards the ceiling. Placing your right hand behind you, inhale your left arm above your head. As you exhale, hook the left arm on the outside of the right knee, twisting deeply. Use each inhale to lengthen the spine, sitting up straighter, and each exhale to twist deeper. Hold this pose for three to five breaths, then switch and repeat on the other side.

Variation: Instead of keeping your left leg extended straight in front of you, you can bend your left leg so that your left heel comes on the outside of your right hip. You can repeat this variation on the opposite side as well.

 

  1. Parivrtta Trikonasana: Revolved Triangle Pose

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Image courtesy of yogajournal.com

Start by standing tall at the top of your mat in Tadasana, Mountain Pose, with your feet together. As you exhale, step your right foot back about three to four feet behind you. Turn your right foot about forty-five degrees, so that your right toes are facing the right corner of your mat. Inhale both of your arms above your head, squaring your hips towards the front of your mat. As you exhale, bring your right hand down on the mat, on the inside of your left foot and extend your left arm towards the sky. Your gaze will go up towards your left hand. Make sure to keep the back heel grounded. Hold this pose for three to five breaths before switching and repeating on the opposite side.

Variation: If you have trouble getting your right hand on the mat, place your hand on a block to help you achieve the full twist of this pose.

 

  1. Paschimottanasana: Seated Forward Bend 
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Image courtesy of yogajournal.com

Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you. Inhale your arms above your head. As you exhale, slowly hinge forward and lower your torso towards your thighs, keeping your back straight. Stay here for five to ten breaths.

Variation: If you have trouble reaching forward towards your toes while keeping your spine straight, wrap a strap around your feet, holding the strap firmly. As you progress in this pose, you can walk your hands further down the strap, pulling your torso closer to your thighs.