Digestion isn't just about what you eat (though that is a big part of it). It's also about how you move. If your system isn't working as well as you may like, yoga may help. Here's why yoga is a great choice for improving your digestion, and which poses are most likely to keep things working smoothly.
Why is Yoga Helpful for Digestion?
You've heard of "fight or flight," but now it's time for "rest and digest." When we feel stressed or threatened, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in. Your body slows its digestion to focus resources on staying alive. This is why your appetite may disappear when you're feeling nervous or tense.
But what happens when you're feeling calm and relaxed? Your parasympathetic nervous system takes over. This leaves your body free to focus on digestion, which is a very good thing for gut health. Practicing yoga helps train your body to transition into this relaxed state, activating the parasympathetic nervous system and boosting digestion. Some poses can even stimulate your system, bringing more nutrients to your cells and improving the way your whole body functions.
4 Poses that Support Great Digestion
Cat-Cow: Cat-Cow is a sequence of two poses that stretch the back and spine. It also stimulates your abdominal organs - a very good thing if you're interested in getting things moving. Cat-cow is performed on your hands and knees and involves first stretching your back towards the sky, then down to the earth. Visit this page for an excellent rundown: https://www.yogaoutlet.com/blogs/guides/how-to-do-cat-cow-pose-in-yoga
Twists: Feeling bloated or constipated? A twist may help. These moves help "wring out" your system, improving blood flow and moving things along. Twists can be done while seated, keeping your hips still and gently twisting your torso to the left or right. You can also complete a twist while lying on your side. Learn more about this pose here: https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/health/lets-twist/
Goddess Pose/Malasana: Sometimes all you need to stimulate your digestion is to get the blood flowing. Goddess pose and Malasana (garland pose) are both excellent ways of doing this. Goddess pose involves standing with your feet wide and pointed outward, bending at the knees, and holding your arms at shoulder height (look here for a more detailed explanation: https://www.openfit.com/goddess-pose-yoga) . Malasana offers similar benefits, with the bonus of putting a little pressure on your abdomen. Learn how to do it here: https://www.verywellfit.com/garland-pose-malasana-3567079
Bridge Pose: Bridge pose is a lot like what it sounds like: pushing your body into the shape of a bridge. Lying on your back, bend your knees so your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Push upwards, creating a bridge with your back and legs. This pose aligns your organs to support great digestion, as well as stimulates and stretches your abdominals. Here's a more detailed look at how to complete this pose: https://www.yogaoutlet.com/blogs/guides/how-to-do-bridge-pose-in-yoga