There are several practices within yoga that have been proven to alleviate painful, unwanted digestive symptoms. What makes this even more alluring is that yoga techniques can also improve digestive function – unlike pills which usually only provide temporary relief for symptoms.
Scientists have discovered there is a strong connection between what is happening in our digestive system and what is happening in our brain. Have you ever noticed your brain feels foggy or that you’re more forgetful when you’re bloated, gassy, or backed up? This is just one of many ripple effects that occur when our gut is not flowing at a healthy rate.
So, let’s discuss some yoga practices that can help stop digestive troubles and get your system on track.
Pranayama for Pooping
Pranayama is the practice of controlling the breath. Our breath is strongly correlated with our nervous system so tapping into these techniques can help switch things from a fight-or-flight state to a rest-and-digest state. Unless you’ve intentionally practiced improving the efficiency of your breath, chances are good you generally breathe pretty short, shallow breaths. When we focus on taking deep, slow, nourishing breaths, our nervous system understands that we’re no longer in danger or stressed (ie we’re not being chased by a lion or more accurate to modern day, we’re not juggling three tasks at once while trying to complete a project by the deadline) and it can work on sending hormones and blood flow to our digestive system, among other areas.
To start this breath inhale for a period of time and exhale for twice as long. Beginners can generally start with a 2 second inhale followed by a 4 second exhale. While inhaling, allow the torso to expand in all directions. You can place a hand on your belly to help bring awareness to this expansion. After a 2 second: 4 second breath feels comfortable, try increasing to 3:6, 4:8, maybe even 5:10.
Nadi Shodana – Alternate Nostril Breathing
This is a great breath to use when you feel anxious. Use your right thumb to gently close your right nostril. Inhale through your left nostril. At the top of your inhalation use your right ring finger or pinky finger to gently block your left nostril, remove your thumb from your right nostril, and exhale through the right side. After a complete exhalation, leave your hand in place and inhale through the right nostril. At the top of the inhalation, remove your finger from he left nostril, use your right thumb to block the right nostril, and exhale through the left. Continue this for several rounds or about 3 – 5 minutes, alternating in through the left, out through the right, in through the right, out through the left.
Asanas to Alleviate Digestive Pain
Movement in general, yoga or not, can be beneficial in eliminating constipation problems. Yoga poses, also known as asanas, are a great way to move your body. Poses help to stimulate blood flow throughout the body, massage the organs that help our digestive system thrive, and create space through the torso so there’s more room for movement. Here are a few poses that may be soothing while you’re experiencing bloating, cramping, or other painful symptoms.
Knee To Chest (Wind Releasing Pose)
If you’re constipated, you might find the following poses to be helpful since they are a bit more stimulating to the digestive system.
Standing Forward Fold
By using these yogic techniques your mind and body will become more relaxed and better able to handle stress. And as we discussed using the poses helps to literally move your system so you don’t have stagnation that leads to pain and discomfort. These poses can provide relief and benefit the digestive system when done alone or paired together. As with most things though, the benefits are best when practiced consistently.