With gut health being such a prevalent issue in the lives of so many, I want to address how yoga can improve digestion and overall gut health. Our gastrointestinal tract is such a vital piece of our everyday lives, and millions of individuals around the globe struggle to maintain a healthy gut microbiome, which can cause anything from mild discomfort and bloating to Chron’s disease, diverticulosis, leaky gut syndrome, and more.
Eating a diet that promotes gut health is incredibly important, and is discussed in a previous blog post that I encourage you to check out. Lifestyle factors such as exercise can improve gut health as well, and today I am going to talk about how practicing yoga can improve digestion and the gut.
Gentle yoga , stretching, twisting and deep breathing all promote gut (and full body) relaxation and act as a massage for your internal organs. Twisting poses such as seated spinal twist, crescent lunge twist, exalted warrior, revolved triangle, and supine twists are all beneficial because they help aid digestion by wringing out the organs in your belly, and even encourage the liver and kidneys to detoxify. Twisting poses allow the body to be positioned so that the colon is compressed in a way that stimulates movement of excrement, as well as undesirable toxins that hang out in the lower GI tract.
Abdominal stretches such as backbends like camel pose are wonderful for digestion as well. Having your tummy muscles stretched up and expanded allows for the intestines to be stretched and opened, which can alleviate constipation and bloating. Practicing yoga allows the combination from internal heat (which is generated by deep breathing) and circulation to the gut area, which promotes motility in the GI tract and enables healthy digestive movement.
The last point I want to touch on in this post is that yoga is a form of stress relief. Stress and gut health have been found to be intricately related, and the more stress that one has, the worse their digestion and gut health is. Practicing yoga and taking extra time in poses such as child’s pose and savasana (the motherlode poses of stress relief) will naturally stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which will ultimately result in the body to return to a calm, stress-free state.