Yoga for Digestion
by the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Team
Minimal indigestion is not typically a serious problem, but it is an annoying one, involving bloating, feeling too full at the beginning of a meal or after, nausea and stomach pain. If you have it, take heart you’re not alone. Millions are suffering right along with you. And even though it’s not often serious, it is the kind of thing that can really interfere with your life and keep you from feeling your best. It can interrupt sleep, cause you to cancel appointments, make you feel like not working out, and just generally put a damper on things. Surprisingly, yoga is a valid treatment or compliment to your treatment plan.
You probably won’t find a “yoga for indigestion” class, but you can help yourself by knowing which poses are most effective for this problem. The Cat-Cow pose is known to help. Women’s Health provides the perfect description: “On all fours with your wrists under your shoulders, knees under your hips, begin to breathe in as you lift your breastbone to the front of the room. Have a sense of stretching the skin from the pubis to the throat, and then exhale as you round your spine up towards the ceiling – feel as if you are stretching the skin from the tailbone to the crown of the head. Do this a few times, gently stretching your tummy out.”
Apanasana (knees to chest) is another pose that can provide relief. “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,” writes our own Shannon Herbert.
Yoga Journal recommends the Downward-Facing Dog, the Triangle Pose, Revolved Triangle Pose, Extended Puppy Pose (particularly if your digestion issues are meal-related), the Bridge Pose, the Half-Gas Release Pose, The Supine Twist, and the Corpse Pose. I include instructions and a picture guide for Downward-Facing Dog and Corpse in The Women’s Health Body Clock Diet.
Healthline reported that there has been encouraging research about yoga’s effectiveness for GERD and peptic ulcers. And the International Journal of Yoga reports, “Practicing yoga in conjunction with medications can be helpful in controlling and/or alleviation of symptoms related to digestive diseases.” Reclining Boundary Angle, Warrior I, and Triangle are some suggested poses to try for acid reflux relief.
Pregnant women may have indigestion, and prenatal yoga, which we have offered at the L’ifestyle Lounge, is a treatment for that temporary issue. Yes, you can do yoga while pregnant!
Remember: you don’t necessarily need to do specialized poses to feel the results. Stress by its very nature can exacerbate indigestion, so if you lower your stress, that in itself could help.
It’s always recommended to see your doctor when dealing with any recurring health issue, or if indigestion appears along with other issues, but for occasional bouts of indigestion, you might want to give yoga a go. You may find it helps more than just your digestion!
If you’re determined to get a handle on your stress and/or digestive issues in the new year, and if you’re in or near Closter, NJ, check out our offerings for 2019. We’re offering Buddha Flow, a beginner yoga option, Yin, which is targeted towards those who lead super stressful and busy lives, and our “Ashtanga-inspired” Breathe and Bend, to name a few. Don’t forget our classes for kids, like Yoga for Junior Athletes. Kids are under stress too and may experience indigestion. They always can just generally benefit from yoga.
Resolve to make 2019 a healthier year for the whole family, whether it’s addressing indigestion or other symptoms of anxiety. And if our yoga has made a difference in you or your family’s stress or digestion, let us know on social media or Yelp!