Yoga is a terrific way to support both physical and emotional wellness -- that can also support your overall gut health and digestion! It doesn’t take much to get started, and you certainly don't need to bend and twist like a pretzel to get benefits. You simply need a calm environment, a supportive, comfortable surface to lie on (like a yoga mat or a rug), and an open mind. We’ve partnered with yogini Lauren Loy to bring you a gentle sequence of yoga asanas, perfect for those days when you want to aid digestion and get your digestive fire moving. This asana sequence is intended for stimulating your internal organs, including your intestines and colon, and to relieve abdominal symptoms like bloating and constipation. Besides being supportive for a happy belly and good digestion, these simple yoga asanas are great for promoting relaxation and stress relief -- and who couldn’t use some more of that?
Before beginning, it’s important to take a few minutes to focus your mind on your breathing. Start by simply taking a few extra deep breaths; inhale through your nose and exhale out through your mouth. A good place to start would be in a comfortable, seated position on your yoga mat. After 5-10 long breaths, move onto your back to begin the asanas. We’ve provided some instructions below for how long you should hold each yoga pose using your breath as a guide, but we recommend holding each asana for as much time as feels good for you, whether that’s just a few seconds or a few minutes. Whatever time you can devote to your yoga practice, your body and your digestive system will thank you as bloating and constipation melt away.
Ardha Pawamuktasana (Half-Wind Removing Pose): Hug your right knee into your chest while you extend your left leg along the length of the yoga mat. Flex both feet. This pose compresses both the ascending (right) colon and descending (left) colon, stimulating digestion and helping to relieve bloating. Repeat this step on both sides.
Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist): From the position above, place your left hand on your right knee to twist your torso, lowering your right knee down to the left while looking over your right shoulder. You may need to shift your hips to the right. Relax and take 3 deep breaths. Inhale into your lower belly and exhale while pulling your belly button into your spine. Repeat on both sides. This should feel excellent for all of the muscles along your spine as well!
- Adho Mukha Shavasana (Face Down Corpse Pose): Either roll up your yoga mat, a thin towel, or a blanket. Place it horizontally, then lay face down on your yoga mat with the roll compressing the very top of your belly, where your transverse colon is located, about 4 inches below the base of your sternum. Take 20 breaths. You may feel a pulsing as if you can feel your heart beating in the compressed area and that’s totally normal and welcomed! When you’re finished, roll over to your back on your yoga mat.
- Pavanamuktasana (Wind-Relieving Pose): For this knees-to-chest pose, hug both knees into your chest while still on your back. This yoga pose massages your organs and may improve digestion and elimination. By rolling gently back and forth a few times, you can also massage the muscles around your spine as they press downward into your yoga mat, which feels heavenly, and is one of my favorite yoga go-to's. Great for diminishing constipation, minimizing a bloated abdomen, and promoting general gut health.
- Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose): From the position above, lower your left leg with your foot placed on the ground. Bring your right foot to your left knee. Repeat on both sides.
- Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose): From the position above, place both legs back on the ground and roll over. Bring your right leg forward and extend your left leg backward. Cross your right foot slightly in front of you and rest your right leg down into a fold. Hold this pose and repeat on your left side.
- Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (Revolved Crescent Lunge): Rise from the position above, step your right foot to the back of the yoga mat, and frame your hands around your left foot. Your left knee should be above your left ankle. Lift your left hand to the sky and look up at your thumb. Take 3 deep breaths in this twist, compressing your internal organs. This is a great strengthener for the torso too! Repeat on both sides.
This yoga sequence can be done daily, either as a gentle start to your day or as a way to slowly unwind in the evening in preparation for a restful night of sleep. I love to relax afterward with a steamy cup of low FODMAP herbal tea, like peppermint, which is also wonderfully supportive of a happy belly and good digestion.
Disclaimer: Although yoga poses are generally safe, certain poses may be contraindicated in some conditions (such as back injury or pregnancy). Always first discuss changes in activity with your healthcare provider.