I truly believe yoga is for everyone. There is no population or demographic that is exempt from this rule. Yoga is not simply a way of moving your body, but a way of life. I know, I’m *that* person, but it’s true. There are 8 paths to yoga, with movement being one of them. Other parts of it, like being a compassionate human, practicing breathwork and making time for meditation are just some of the other paths. This is why I truly believe yoga is for everyone.
That being said, the physical practice (asanas) is not to be overlooked. Yoga, in the physical sense helps to bring awareness and breath to certain areas of your body. They of course also help to increase strength and flexibility which is always a benefit. Each yoga posture has a different benefit and activates different parts of the body. Some help to stimulate your thyroid, some help to detoxify your liver and others help to encourage digestion. The list could go on, but know that with any yoga practice there is more going on than meets the eye. This is why we’ve been doing the same postures for thousands of years.
Now that I’m a certified yoga instructor, one of my passions is bringing you targeted yoga practices that can help support different areas of your life. Things like yoga for sleep, yoga for stress-relief and today’s post, yoga for digestion are all practices that I use and find beneficial in my life. Yoga is one of the many tools available to help support your health, and I love that it is accessible to anyone. So long as you have a body and a surface, you can do the physical practice of yoga.
I’m going to be sharing a lot more targeted and specific yoga flows over the coming months but I knew I wanted to start with yoga for digestion. As someone who struggled with chronic stomach issues for a long time I know the impacts that poor digestion can have on your over well-being. In addition to taking Align probiotic every day, a regular yoga practice has helped to encourage balanced digestion, regular bowel movements and a healthy gut. It’s also one of my favorite tools to use when my digestion isn’t feeling so hot. Seriously, have you ever tried yoga when you have gas. It’s a miracle tool…TMI?!
So with that I wanted to share 8 yoga poses for digestion. They can be done individually or as part of a flow. It’s really about what suits your lifestyle and the amount of time you have. I’ve also included some helpful tips if this is your first time practicing yoga. Let’s jump in:
What it is: breath work is at the core of yoga. If you’re practicing a posture but you aren’t breathing, you aren’t really practicing at all. I encourage everyone to start a yoga practice with a short (or long!) breath work practice. And yes, it’s as simple as it sounds, you focus on your breath.
Start by sitting up tall, closing your eyes and placing one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Take a deep breath in and then exhale everything through your mouth. Repeat x 3. Then breath in for 4, hold for one count at the time before releasing to the count of 4 through your nose. Repeat x 10 or until you feel grounded.
How it helps digestion: On a basic level, deep breathing increases oxygen flow which helps provide the necessary resources and energy to perform healthy digestion. Think about it, when you’re anxious you might get a knot in your stomach and find yourself shallow breathing. Deep breathing reduces anxiety and allows for proper movement in your digestive tract.
Helpful tips: If sitting on the ground is uncomfortable, try sitting in a chair. If you’re having trouble keeping count, try setting a timer.
What it is: One of the classic resting postures, child’s pose is key to any yoga practice. On bent knees simply fold over with your arms in front of you laying flat on the floor. Sit back on your heels. Release your shoulders so they aren’t at your ears. Breathe for 10 breaths.
How it helps digestion: Child’s pose actually compresses the digestive organs which helps stimulate digestion.
Helpful tips: Your knees can be as wide apart or close together as you like. Whatever is most comfortable. If your knees hurt, try placing a blanket below them.
What it is: Forward fold is pretty straight-forward and accessible to most people. Start by standing hips distance apart and slowly roll down folding at your hips. Keep your knees as bent as you need and place your hands wherever you can behind your legs (anywhere except the knees). Pull your heart towards your thighs and breath for 10 breaths. Slowly release and roll up.
How it helps digestion: Similar to child’s pose, forward fold compresses the digestive organs and stimulates circulations which helps to encourage digestion.
Helpful tips: Forward fold is an awesome posture for anyone who has knee troubles in child’s pose. Feel free to bend your knees as much as you need to. The goal is not straight legs, but a straight spine pulling towards your thighs.
What it is: Twisting chair is a more advanced posture but is great for anyone looking to not only support their digestion but also build some heat in the body (especially those thighs!). Start by standing with your toes touching and your heels slightly apart. Sit back on your heels as though you’re sitting on an imaginary chair. Bring your hands to prayer position in front of your heart and twist to the right, bringing your left elbow to your right knee. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
How it helps digestion: Twisting postures are one of the most common ways to aid digestion. Twisting helps with two things: mobility and motility so put simply, twisting helps get things moving down there!
Helpful tips: Take breaks as needed. This is a tough one! Don’t forget to sit back on your heels. Your toes should feel like they’re floating up from the earth.
What it is: My favorite posture – or postures rather! Dancing warrior is the movement between Warrior II, Reverse Warrior and Extended Side Angle postures. Start in Warrior II by angling your back foot at 45 degrees and your front foot facing forward. Tuck your core and extend both arms, turning your head to face your front hand. This is Warrior II.
On an inhale reach your front arm up towards the sky and your back arm down your back leg. This is Reverse Warrior.
On an exhale bend your front knee and bring your front elbow to your front knee. Extend the back arm up or over your head. This is Extended Side Angle.
To “dance”, move between reverse warrior on your inhale and extended side angle on your exhale. Repeat 10 times on each side.
How it helps digestion: Movement! Any kind of movement stimulates blood flow and the dancing piece of these postures encourages blood flow to your gut by extended your abdomen in both directions.
Helpful tips: Get settled into Warrior II before moving into Dancing Warrior. There’s no rush. Make sure your front foot is perpendicular to your back foot so the heel of your front foot is in line with the arch of your back foot.
What it is: A deep squat position balancing on your feet while keeping your butt lifted and your chest open. Sounds complicated right? If you don’t have any knee or hip troubles this position can actually be quite comfortable but for others it can be a huge challenge. Work with where you’re at. The main piece is to keep your chest open and your heart reaching towards the sky. Sit back on your heels and squat down until your booty *almost* touches the floor. Bring your hands to prayer position at your heart and use your elbows to push against your inner thighs. Hold for 10 breaths.
How it helps digestion: It isn’t necessarily cute, but this posture helps to bring everything into alignment for proper digestion and “release” if you get what I’m saying…
Helpful tips: Not everyone has the flexibility (yet!) to sit back on their heels. If you need some assistance sit back onto a block for extra support or sit back on your heels without squatting towards the floor with your hands on your knees.
Supine Spinal Twist
What it is: Back to twists! If you had trouble with chair twist, you might enjoy supine spinal twists. These are twists done while laying on the floor. Start by laying on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Roll your knees, stacking them one on top of the other to the right side of your body, keeping both shoulders firmly rooted on the ground. Turn your neck and head towards the left. Breath for 10 breaths. Bring your knees back towards your chest and twist to the other side. Hold for 10 breaths on the other side.
How it helps digestion: Twisting encourages detox and movement. As mentioned above, any kind of twists induces mobility and motility so if you’re having trouble getting things moving, this posture is for you.
Helpful tips: The goal is not to bring both knees to the ground, but to twist from the hips while keeping both shoulders planted firmly. Tendency is to lift a shoulder to reach the opposite knee to the ground. Try not to do this.
What it is: You’ve probably tried some version of bridge pose in other types of exercise. It’s a great strength builder for the glutes but is also an accessible posture for encouraging digestion. Start by laying on your back and bend your knees. Bring your feet as close to your butt as possible so that your fingertips touch the back of your heels. Squeeze your glutes and lift them high towards the sky. Breathe for 10 breaths cycles.
How it helps digestion: It’s a very mild and accessible inversion that helps encourage blood flow (in the opposite direction).
Helpful tips: If you’re having trouble holding the posture bring a block below your sacrum for a supported bridge.
Pin this or download it to your phone the next time you’re having tummy trouble or you just want to boost your digestion system!
As I mentioned above, yoga is one of the many tools available to help with digestion. Our health lives in our gut so it’s truly a multi-level approach to supporting our digestion. I so get that not everyone can stop, drop and yoga. While I’d love to encourage you to make time for yoga daily, I also never want yoga to feel like a burden. So if you don’t have time for your practice, know that there are other things you can do to support your digestive health.
One of the simplest ways is to start taking a daily probiotic. Probiotics are good bacteria that support many essential bodily functions, including healthy digestion. Align Probiotic is the #1 gastroenterologist recommended probiotic brand‡ so if you’re not sure where to start, I encourage you to try out Align. Align also contains Bidobacterium 35624™, a unique, pure-strain probiotic that was developed by gastroenterologists to help promote and support a healthy digestive system*. It also comes in Align Extra Strength which contains 5x more good bacteria than Align Probiotic <– Note: if you’re new to probiotics, start with Align and then work your way up to extra strength.
Taking a probiotic is probably the easiest and simplest way to support your digestion. We all need a good probiotic and I love that I can trust Align to be my source.
If you’re interested in learning more about gut health and how to support it, check out this post I wrote a few months ago.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Align. I was compensated for my time. Thank you for supporting the brands who help make THM possible.
How do you support your digestion? What types of yoga practices do you want to see next?
ǂAmong gastroenterologists who recommended a brand of probiotic in a QuintilesIMS 2017 survey.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
**Please consult your doctor before trying any new physical activity.
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