How does yoga help digestion? Great question! For the most part, our digestive system is regulated by hormones and the nervous system, specifically the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible to the body’s rest and digest response). In yoga, a lot of the classes are focused on deep, full breaths and this act of deeply breathing stimulates this response in the body.
When it comes to the act of physically moving food through our system, the dynamic movements we practice in yoga stimulate peristalsis; the contraction of the intestinal muscles that help propel food along.
Yoga poses to improve your digestion
Now that you’re nodding enthusiastically, you’re probably wondering what yoga poses are best to help regulate our hormones, care for our nervous system and stimulate peristalsis. Before we get into this, it’s important to know that some of these poses will do more harm than good if you practice them on a full stomach, for example twisting, dynamic movement and inversions. But all these movements are ideal for you to practice before a meal or at least two hours after.
Okay, so not a yoga pose exactly but an important part of every yoga practice and a key player when it comes to soothing the nervous system to create a digestive response in the body. If you’re new to yoga and you can’t even pronounce that word, Pranayama simply means controlled breathing. So just sit up straight and take big, deep breaths in and out of your nose and voila! You’re doing it!
Poses that involve twists such as Revolved Triangle, Revolved Side Angle, Half Lord of the Fishes and Supine Twists work deeply into the digestive system giving the muscles around the intestine a motivational kick that stimulates peristalsis and gets everything moving.
Squat & Goddess Pose
These two are actually both squatting poses, but some people can struggle to sit comfortably in a full squat with their knees wide and heels down. In that case Goddess Pose, where your bum is a little higher above the ground will do the same work. This position puts the digestive tract into alignment ready for the, ahem, big show.
Bridge Pose or Any Gentle Inversion
Inversions (any position where your hips are higher than your heart) increase blood flow to the upper part of your body, and an increase in blood flow gets the digestive muscles pumping.
Childs Pose & Forward Fold
Turning our bodies inward does two great things for our digestion: it compresses the digestive tract and stimulates peristalsis, and it soothes the nervous system which in turns helps to rebalance the hormones responsible for digestion.
Hey Joyfreshers, have you tried any of these poses? How did they help your digestion? Tell us below.