If you are susceptible to digestive issues, then yoga could be just what you need. Not only is yoga great for digestion, but a regular practice also has well-established benefits on several other areas of health. Here, Russell Jack, yoga and mindfulness teacher from Southland, shares five yoga poses to improve your digestive health. Whether you have irritable bowel syndrome, suffer from bloating, or have simply overeaten, these stretches can help ease your symptoms.
Cat-cow is one of those universal poses that has benefits for just about anything! Still, it is incredibly helpful for digestion, as your stomach and intestines get a good massage as you stretch. Starting on your hands and knees, inhale as you lift the head and drop the belly down to form a cow pose. Then, as you exhale, slowly lower the head and curve the spine upwards to form a cat position. Doing this 10-15 times is enough to get the maximum benefit.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward dog is one of the most popular yoga positions, and another excellent asana to massage your midriff. From tabletop position, lift your knees off the ground, and point your sit bones into the air, to form a triangle with the Earth. Be sure you are not rigid in this position, as this can lead to muscle strains and tension. Concentrate on bending your knees so that your heels touch the floor instead of locking yourself into shape.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
Depending on your body, bridge pose can be a little more challenging than other asanas. Lying on your back, place your feet flat to the earth, and with your arms by your side, raise your hips as high as you can as you exhale. Try to remain in this position for around ten breaths, and then slowly release by rolling your spine back to the ground. If you find this uncomfortable, or suffer from back pain, be sure to support your hips with your hands to avoid aggravating any injury.
Spine Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)
This asana targets the midriff and back, massaging your intestines and stretching your abs. Lying on your back, pull one foot up to your sit bones and lower the knee over your other leg as you twist. As you turn, fix your gaze in the opposite direction to further stretch the abdominal muscles. Hold this position while you feel comfortable, switch to the other side, and repeat the exercise. Do this as much as you like until you begin to feel loose.
Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
With your legs spaced a little over hip-width apart, turn one foot so that it points forward. Keeping the legs straight, and with your arms in a T-shape, bend sideways to try and touch your toes. It is easy to fall forwards as you try to reach out, so it can help to practice against a wall to keep check of where your back is. It is unlikely you will be able to reach your toes at first, so go as far as is comfortable and feel the stretch along the side of your body. Hold this position for a few breaths, and then switch to the other side.
Yoga has the power to help our bodies in so many ways. Adding these poses into your workout routine is only going to give you benefits in the long run. The key to practicing yoga is motivation and getting yourself to the mat every day. Digestive issues can make this a challenge, but a little yoga every day will soon bring massive benefits to your health.
About Russell Jack
Russell Jack is a yoga and mindfulness teacher from Southland, New Zealand. He specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations, helping clients achieve harmony of body, mind, and soul. Russell is passionate about animal rights protection, regularly volunteering with the World Animal Protection Organization and donating to protect endangered species in New Zealand.