Bloating, constipation, cramps and indigestion, we all experience these from time to time, and it’s just no fun. Movement is sometimes the last thing we want to do when we’re feeling like this, but a little bit of stretching and twisting can do you the world of good. So I've put together this Yoga to aid digestion guide to offer you a few poses and practises to try out.
The average length of the small and large intestine combined is around 8.5 metres long in adults. That’s a long way for our food to travel, but with some gentle yoga stretches, breathing and movements we can begin to relieve any discomfort and help us feel better, from the inside, out.
Here are some simple yoga poses you can do to help relieve any un-comfort and get things moving. Ideally do these 2 hours after eating, (to avoid feeling sicky during) and drink plenty of water afterwards to help flush out the toxins. You can link these yoga poses together for a little sequence and hold each pose for around 5-8 breaths or as long as feels good.
Lying on your back, hug one knee in towards your chest, if it feels more comfortable for you, hug the knee more in towards the armpit. You can also bring the sole of the foot of the lengthened leg to the mat, to take down the intensity. From here, breathe down deep into your belly, feel the belly press against your thigh. This is great for massaging the internal organs. Repeat on the other side.
Bring both knees in towards your chest and start off by taking gentle rocks from side to side, giving yourself a little lower back massage (some lower back pain can be caused by poor digestion). Then allow the knees to drop to one hand side, keep the knees as close as you can to your body and relax both shoulders down to the mat. Relax into this one and let gravity do the work. Knee twists are great for gently compressing the digestive organs, kind of like wringing out a sponge! Repeat on the opposite side.
Come up to a seated position with the legs lengthened out straight. Make sure you are sitting on both sit bones evenly and with an inhale reach the hands up over head, as you exhale fold over the legs, holding onto knees, ankles, toes, whatever you can reach. With each inhale create space through the sides of the waist and as you exhale, melt the belly towards the thighs. Avoid forcing this one too much, we're not looking for an intense stretch through the back of the legs, we want to allow the stomach area to be gentle compressed.
GENTLE BACK BEND WITH BLOCK
To counter-pose the forward bend, bend the knees and come down to lying on your back, use a block, a book, a pillow, - whatever you have to hand to prop up the hips. This creates a passive opening through the front side of the body, giving your organs a little more space after compressing them a little. Make sure you feel supported and relax.
Coming up to seated, lengthen out one leg and hug the other knee in towards you. As you’re a little bit warmer now from the previous poses, you can maybe twist a little more here. Turn in, towards the bent knee and if you want a little bit more hook the elbow onto the knee and use it as leverage to twist a little deeper. Repeat on opposite side.
Take a few moments after these poses to breath deeply, see if you can make your exhale twice as long as in the inhale. This will relax your nervous system, switching it to ‘rest & digest’ mode, this is where the body works to heal and restore itself and hopefully reduce bloating and constipation.